3 weeks New Zealand - Apr 2017

Old Jul 13th, 2016, 03:55 PM
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3 weeks New Zealand - Apr 2017

I am finishing up my plan for New Zealand in April 2017.
I plan on renting a car in Auckland dropping in Wellington. Pickup a car in Picton and drop in Greymouth.
I am trying to decide if I should do this trip North-South (as below) or reverse it and do South-North.
I know there is school holidays the second half of April and of course the weather.
Any advise? I am also interested in a sanity check on my plan as well. Open to all comments.

Fly to Auckland April 1 9:45 - 14:55
Auckland Day 2
to Waitomo - Rotorua Day 3
Rotorua Day 4
to Taupo Day 5
Taupo Day 6
Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay
to Wellington Day 7
Wellington Day 8
to Picton - Kaikoura Day 9
to Christchurch Day 10
Whale watching in the morning....
Christchurch Day 11
to Dunedin Day 12
Dunedin Day 13
to Te Anau Day 14
to Milford Sound Day 15
to Queenstown Day 16
Milford Sound Scenic Cruise
Queenstown Day 17
Queenstown, afternoon to Wanaka Day 18
to Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier Day 19
to Greymouth - Christchurch Tranz-Alpine train Day 20 13:45 - 18:05
Christchurch to Auckland Day 21
Fly home from Auckland.... April 22 13:20 - 20:13
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Old Jul 14th, 2016, 01:13 AM
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Too fast paced and too much driving IMO. Slow down and enjoy the holiday. You've planned a lot of 1 night stays which doesn't give you much time to explore when you are there.
New Zealand roads are not like American highways - roads are narrow, winding and hilly/mountainous in the South.
Skip Dunedin.
Stay 2 nights at the glaciers not one. It is a very long drive from Wanaka to Franz Josef.
Check if you can leave a car in Greymouth. It might cost you more.
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Old Jul 14th, 2016, 10:36 AM
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As with almost every single NZ itinerary posted here, yours is very fast paced with a lot of driving and consists of mostly one and two night stays. Is that really how you like to travel?

Some comments regarding the SI portion specifically:

What time do you arrive in Picton? Picton to Kaikoura is well over a two hour drive.

Kaikoura to Christchurch is close to 2.5 hours w/o stops.

Christchurch to Dunedin is about a five hour drive w/o stops and some of the drive is along the least scenic bits of the SI - the east coast.

I've said it before and I'll stay it again - it is VERY difficult to see both the north of the SI and the south of the SI (in your case the very south) in less than three weeks. You will be spending the bulk of your hard earned holiday looking at NZ from behind your car's windshield.

You have no wiggle room for bad weather, road work delays, etc. You will be exhausted.

My advice - choose one island. If you're unwilling to do that, which I suspect you will be, consider flying to the SI and forgo the ferry OR make a one way trip from the north of the SI to the south of the SI then fly back to Auckland from QT (or Dunedin if available). Speaking of which, is there a particular reason you want to go to Dunedin?
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Old Jul 16th, 2016, 03:27 PM
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I have reworked things and changed to travel south to north.
What do people think of this? Would removing a day at Taupo and adding to the south be recommended?
Day 1 - arrive Auckland (from Sydney)
Day 2 - Auckand
Day 3 - fly to Christchurch, drive to Mt Cook
Day 4 - drive to Queenstown
Day 5 - Queenstown
Day 6 - drive to Te Anau 2N
Day 7 - Milford Sound
Day 8 - drive to Wanaka
Day 9 - Wanaka
Day 10 - drive to Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier
Day 11 - Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier
Day 12 - drive to Christchurch
Day 13 - Christchurch
Day 14 - drive to Kaikoura
Day 15 - drive to Picton, Ferry to Wellington
Day 16 - Wellington
Day 17 - drive to Taupo
Day 18 - Taupo
Day 19 - drive to Rotorua
Day 20 - Rotorua
Day 21 - drive Waitomo to Auckland
Day 22 - fly home
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Old Jul 16th, 2016, 04:45 PM
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So you've changed the order, deleted Dunedin and deleted the Tranzalpine, correct?

Still full on, but I suppose it's doable if you're energetic and like to move quickly.

I suggest you don't break up the NI though - why stop there twice? Just fly to Christchurch from Auckland and do the NI bit on the way back.

Less moving about, changing hotels, less hectic.

You've not left any time to see Mt Cook - do you want to hike there? If so, allow two nights, which will only give you one full day. The day you arrive and the day you depart will be mostly dedicated to driving, plus that flight, plus picking up rental car and getting sorted.

Another possibility is to drive from Mt Cook to Wanaka, spend your nights there, then drive Wanaka to Te Anau, spend your nights there with trip to Milford, then Te Anau to Queenstown, then up the West Coast.

This will add about an hour to an already full drive day from QT to the glaciers, but its quite doable - I've done it myself many times.

It will prevent you having to go into QT twice - instead you'd skirt it on the drive from Wanaka to Te Anau. It would also give you a wee bit of extra time in Wanaka on day of arrival, as it'd cut an hour off the drive to QT.

Either way works though.

Day 8 - you're driving to Wanaka from Te Anau, right, not Milford?
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Old Jul 16th, 2016, 04:57 PM
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Why don't you catch a connecting flight to Christchurch on Day 1? That way you can save yourself the time and expense of going from the airport into the city and back to the airport again later. You can save Auckland for the end of your trip when you'll already be on the NI, and you'll have a car. Depending on what you plan on doing, you might not need a car for Auckland and just turn your car in when you get into the city. Make sure to reserve your hotel for Auckland well in advance you plan on staying there at the end of your trip as the World Masters Games start on April 21, 2017.

Or fly "open-jaw," that is, fly from Sydney into CC and then fly out from AKL (as planned). Or vice versa, if you decide to start your trip on the NI and end it on the SI.

The weather in April is generally not bad, and is often described as "settled." The days grow shorter, but it's my favorite month because of the fall colors. It's a popular time to visit because of this, and, as you noted, school holidays are Friday 14 April – Sunday 30 April.
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Old Jul 16th, 2016, 04:59 PM
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Sorry, I left out a word. I meant to write, "Make sure to reserve your hotel for Auckland well in advance if you plan on staying there at the end of your trip as the World Masters Games start on April 21, 2017."
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Old Jul 17th, 2016, 09:21 AM
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Yes, changed the order, deleted Dunedin and deleted the Tranzalpine. Although I could add the Tranzalpine back in as an option.

"It will prevent you having to go into QT twice - instead you'd skirt it on the drive from Wanaka to Te Anau."
I am doing just that but from Te Anau to Wanaka. I am not stopping in QT twice. I have added another variation below. Going to FJG first and Mt. Cook 2N on the way back. My head is spinning with all the options.
Another option would be to fly Auckland to Queenstown and drop Mt. Cook. and add a day someplace else.
"Day 8 - you're driving to Wanaka from Te Anau, right, not Milford?" Yes, correct.

Taking a flight to Christchurch on Day 1 I have considered. I can't do a connecting flight as such so would need to pass immigration, collect my bag and then check-in to the flight to Christchurch. Would mean I would be in flying and in airports all day. Also, going the morning of the 3rd, I can just pickup the car at the airport and drive directly to FJG without staying the night in Christchurch. I would need to allow 4hrs to be safe. When I am back on the 21st I may not be going into the city, just stay near the airport and drop the car there on the 22nd.
Open jaw would be the best but this is not an option with my flights. Auckland is a stop-over on the trip from Sydney back to Canada.

Here is a variation going to FJG first and 2N Mt. Cook
Day 1 - arrive Auckland
Day 2 - Auckand
Day 3 - fly to Christchurch, drive to Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier
Day 4 - Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier
Day 5 - drive to Wanaka
Day 6 - Wanaka
Day 7 - drive to Te Anau 2ND
Day 8 - Milford Sound
Day 9 - drive to Queenstown
Day 10 - Queenstown
Day 10 - drive to Mt Cook
Day 11 - Mt Cook
Day 12 - drive to Christchurch
Day 13 - Christchurch
Day 15 - drive to Kaikoura
Day 16 - drive to Picton, Ferry to Wellington
Day 17 - Wellington
Day 18 - drive to Taupo
Day 19 - drive to Rotorua
Day 20 - Rotorua
Day 21 - drive Waitomo to Auckland
Day 22 - fly home
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Old Jul 17th, 2016, 01:58 PM
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My mistake, I misunderstood.

It's hard to help someone when information is only being provided piecemeal.

So, you're flying from Canada. Are you spending time in SYD, or flying to Auckland from Canada via SYD? This makes all the difference in the world with suggestions. Fatigue and jetlag are HUGE factors to be considered, as is your experience or lack of with left side driving.

<Taking a flight to Christchurch on Day 1 I have considered. I can't do a connecting flight as such>>>

Because?

>

You will have to clear immigration, collect your luggage and clear customs anyway to enter Auckland. Then take your luggage to your hotel for what two nights? Then take it back to the airport and check it in again for your domestic flight.

If you connect to Christchurch with more than an hour to spare, all you need do is clear immigration and customs, then take your luggage the very short distance to the luggage transfer desk within the International terminal.

Then you can walk the 10-15 minutes to the domestic terminal, which personally I find rather refreshing after long haul flights.

All you need do is have your luggage tagged to Christchurch when you check in for your flight in Canada - this is assuming you're not staying over in SYD.

If you have less than an hour, you have to do it yourself, which is definitely a pain, but why not plan to leave more than an hour?

The flight from Auckland to CHC only adds about 90 minutes of flying. Believe me, I fully understand being completely disgusted at the thought of even a short flight after flying across the world. It's gross, I get it, but I still think it's a more efficient use of time.

The drawback of course is that you absolutely will not want to hop right into a car on unfamiliar roads, with the steering wheel on the opposite side, until you've had a full nights sleep.

<Would mean I would be in flying and in airports all day>

Such is the nature of flying to NZ!

Day 3 of your latest itinerary isn't really a good option, unless you arrive very, very early into Christchurch, and only if you're fully rested. Then you still have to collect your luggage, collect your rental car.



No, you need to allow SIX hours to be safe.

Instead of making yourself crazy with rearranging an essentially unchanged itinerary, why don't you narrow down the options based on what you absolutely don't want to miss.

Is the ferry a must? You've not allowed any time to see Kaikkoura or Picton, so I have to wonder why you're bothering going there at all? Is there a reason you're unwilling to make a loop to Christchurch, then fly to Wellington or Auckland and save a bunch of time driving?
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Old Jul 17th, 2016, 02:01 PM
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Meant to say -

Then you still have to collect your luggage, collect your rental car and still drive 5-6 hours.
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Old Jul 18th, 2016, 06:09 AM
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I just wanted to add a note to clarify for anyone reading this thread in the future.
In regard to the question of taking a domestic flight after arriving from Sydney. In the case you have flights on a separate ticket (as I do)then you cannot check your bag through. You need to pass immigration, collect your bag, walk to the domestic terminal and check-in to the domestic flight. You cannot use the transfer belt. This is perfectly fine provided the flight is not delayed or there is a longer than expected time to get through immigration. After talking with the Air NZ customer service the solution is simply to purchase the "Flexi" fare for $20 more. Then if there is a delay they will simply put you on a later flight.
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Old Jul 18th, 2016, 06:11 AM
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My itinerary is now as follows:
Day 1 - arrive Auckland, flight to Christchurch
Day 2 - drive to Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier
Day 3 - Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier
Day 4 - drive to Wanaka
Day 5 - Wanaka
Day 6 - drive to Te Anau 2ND
Day 7 - Milford Sound
Day 8 - drive to Queenstown
Day 9 - Queenstown
Day 10 - drive to Mt Cook
Day 11 - Mt. Cook
Day 12 - drive to Christchurch
Day 13 - Christchurch
Day 14 - drive to Kaikoura
Day 15 - drive to Picton, Ferry to Wellington
Day 16 - Wellington
Day 17 - drive to Taupo
Day 18 - drive to Rotorua
Day 19 - Rotorua
Day 20 - drive Waitomo to Auckland
Day 21 - Auckland
Day 22 - fly home
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Old Jul 18th, 2016, 06:28 AM
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Yes, separate tickets make all the difference.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2016, 07:47 AM
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I am trying to tweak the days between Christchurch and Picton. Hope to get some opinions here.
Day 13 - Christchurch
Day 14 - Kaikoura - 10am whale watching,
Day 15 - Ferry to Wellington,
(10:45am - 1:55pm)
or (2:15pm - 5:45pm)

So there are two options for each of Day 13 and 14:
Day 13:
1. drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura afternoon/evening Day 13 and stay the night in Kaikoura.
I am not really sure if 1/2 day in Christchurch would be enough.
2. Day 13 night in Christchurch, drive to Kaikoura in the morning.
Day 14:
1. Day 14 afternoon, drive to Picton, night Picton
2. Day 14 night Kaikoura, drive to Picton in the morning.
I prefer Day 14 option 1 which saves the early morning drive to the ferry.
Is it worth spending a little more time in Picton or Wellington? Meaning taking the 2:15pm ferry or the 10:45am ferry.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2016, 07:50 AM
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Also, it I stay the night in Picton, then could also take the 9am ferry arriving in Wellington 12.35pm
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Old Sep 22nd, 2016, 08:16 AM
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I don't think you're going to like my opinion. This itinerary doesn't make any sense to me. You're spending all of your time getting to places and then not leaving any time to see those places. You might as well sleep in your car.

The drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura is 2.5 hours - so if going with option #2, you'll need to leave Christchurch around 7 am, make no stops en route, hope for no traffic/weather delays, and go directly to the whale watch.

Are you suggesting that you take a whale watching trip AND drive to Picton on the same day?

>

It's 'worth' spending more time in every single place you're driving to.
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