4 weeks in NZ in Feb. 2015

Apr 17th, 2014, 12:10 PM
  #21  
 
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You can have those tearooms annhig (not to be confused with NZ cafes, which are lovely). If I could find a NZ tearoom with a proper flat white I'd give it a go, but most seem to do the Nescafe thing (gag, choke)>>

mel - what on earth is the difference between a tearoom and a cafe, in NZ terms? i'm talking about the roadside stopping places that you see out on the road or in the smaller towns, usually offering a selection of light meals, cakes, coffee, tea, etc. The vast majority had very good coffee - not a nescafe in sight. Are we talking about different sorts of places?
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Apr 17th, 2014, 01:13 PM
  #22  
 
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I find it amazing now that even in the most remote places in New Zealand now you can find a cafe or tearoom that serves flat white, cappucino's etc. When we did trips in the old days, we used to take a thermos flask of tea, and sandwiches!!!. My brother still does this when he comes to visit us from Christchurch.
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Apr 17th, 2014, 01:23 PM
  #23  
 
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I find it amazing now that even in the most remote places in New Zealand now you can find a cafe or tearoom that serves flat white, cappucino's etc.>>

that was more or less our experience too, Nelsonian.

glad to have it endorsed by a local!
annhig is offline  
Apr 17th, 2014, 03:23 PM
  #24  
 
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Yes, annhig, we're talking about different places. Perhaps my terminology isn't correct, but you're describing what I consider a café. A tearoom (at least to me) is roadside takeway-type joint with plastic furniture and tablecloths that sells thawed and fried this and that, white bread sandwiches and lousy coffee. They're usually found in tiny remote towns and on the fringes of larger towns. Haast and Makorora spring to mind.

As I said above, dining has improved dramatically in the years we've been visiting NZ and (hopefully) the old tearooms are a dying breed.
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Apr 18th, 2014, 12:24 PM
  #25  
 
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Yes, annhig, we're talking about different places. Perhaps my terminology isn't correct, but you're describing what I consider a café>>

thank goodness for that, I was thinking that perhaps I'd been imagining things. That said, I'm reasonably sure that at least a few roadside places we stopped at called themselves teashops, even if they served decent coffee. [as they all did, so far as i recall].

alternatively of course, we've just got lousy taste in food and coffee!
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Jun 15th, 2014, 02:44 PM
  #26  
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I know it's been a while but have been working on our itinerary. After talking to a few travel agents I was conflicted about whether I could do this on my own and now after reading so many reports from travelers on this site and trip advisor, I am jumping in with both feet! I will use a travel agent to make the plane reservations as they are complicated.
We will be traveling around the 6th of February from Boston. We are planning on NZ for about 4 weeks and Australia about 2 to 3 weeks. We have given up the idea of Fiji for this trip, especially since many comments were to save it for another time. I agree it only adds more luggage and may be vacation overload.
We will fly from Boston to LA or San Francisco, then to Auckland where we will start our journey. So the North Island will be first on our agenda. We would like to spend a day in Auckland to help get over the long flight,
Day 2 travel to the Bay of Islands where we will go to Paihai, and take a tour from there to Hole in the rock and maybe se the dolphins.
Day 3 Bay of Island (Rainbow Falls, maybe scuba dive for my husband)
Day 4 Back through Auckland to Waitomo Caves & Rotorau
Day 5 Rotorau, Mud pools, maybe the geothermal spa & the Maori Dinner & concert
Day 6 Rotorau
Day 7 Lake Taupo, Huka Falls, Maybe jet boating
Day 8 Taupo
Day 9 Napier, look around at the art deco type town, Maybe Gannet bird safari
Day 10, Wellington, Tour of Wellington, Museum, Botanical gardens, sightseeing
Day 11 Ferry to Picton

I thought we would make reservations for the first few nights and then make them as we go along in case we just want to stay a little longer in one place. Is that ok during this time of year?

We will be renting a car. Should we pick it up at the airport or get it in Auckland and have our transportation from the airport to the hotel booked by the hotel?

Also, are we giving enough time each day considering the distance driving from place to place? Any suggestions or changes on things to see, how long to stay in each place, places to stay,. are appreciated. I am looking at B&B's, motels, etc. Not fancy but clean.

I will stop here for now. I will be asking many questions about the SI on which way I should start out but I would like to firm up the North Island first.
I thank you all for your help. This is the first time I will be doing this without the help of a travel agent and although it is intimidating, I also am very excited about it.
One more question - When we get on the ferry do we leave our rental on the North Island and pick up another car on the SOuth Island and i it done by the same rental company?
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Jun 15th, 2014, 04:32 PM
  #27  
 
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It depends on the rental car company. Some let you take their cars on the ferry (like APEX) others don't.

Good for you planning this yourself - I think you'll be glad you did.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 01:20 AM
  #28  
 
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Annie - I hope you don't mind my saying so but I think that you are falling into the error which we committed on the NI, in that we simply didn't allow ourselves long enough to recover from the driving, which is very hard work. using my trusty Pathfinder NZ Atlas, which includes a very helpful [and in our experience accurate] map showing driving times, I have added those times to your itinerary, thus:

Day 4 Back through Auckland to Waitomo Caves & Rotorau -7 HOURS
Day 5 Rotorau, Mud pools, maybe the geothermal spa & the Maori Dinner & concert
Day 6 Rotorau
Day 7 Lake Taupo, Huka Falls, Maybe jet boating - 1 HOUR 20 MINS
Day 8 Taupo
Day 9 Napier, look around at the art deco type town, Maybe Gannet bird safari 2 HOURS 30
Day 10, Wellington, Tour of Wellington, Museum, Botanical gardens, sightseeing 6 HOURS
Day 11 Ferry to Pic

The long drive from Paihia to Rotorua isn't such a problem as you then have 3 nights [giving you 2 days] to recover, but you will be hard pressed to do more than a stroll round Napier on your arrival day there [the gannet safari takes a good half day and you will have no time at all to visit the wineries, which are a lot of fun, or to do any bike riding, ditto] and you will have even less time to spend in Wellington after your drive from Napier, though you could always try to fit the museum in in the morning before you catch the ferry. [we actually did that and it was fine]. if you are arriving in Wellington on a Thursday night you could see Te Papa then as it opens late on Thursdays.

I think that if you could "borrow" another night for Napier from Rotorua/Taupo then you might get more out of that section of your trip - it's quite a long way to go for one night and the gannet safari is very good - it was one of the highlights of our trip. if you had a full day you could do the safari in the morning, and a wineries tour in the afternoon, which would make a very nice day in that area.

Apex do let you keep your car on both islands which we found very convenient. we were not terribly impressed with their service on collection of the car - they bus you from the airport to a depot about 10 mins drive away, they don't give you a map [hence our purchase of the Atlas though we had to stop at 2 petrol stations to find it] and they wouldn't even give me a glass of water though I was parched so we had to stop for that too! The car however was absolutely fine and very easy to drive. automatics are more or less standard which I suspect you will appreciate. I would strongly counsel against picking up/starting off in the Auckland rush hour which we did not enjoy at all, though as you will be starting off from downtown Auckland your experience might not be as bad as ours!

I really envy your having a whole month in NZ - we had only 17 nights and it wasn't anything like long enough.
annhig is offline  
Jun 16th, 2014, 03:12 AM
  #29  
 
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Agree that bay of Island to rotorua via waitomo caves is a very long day. Without the detour to waitomo it is a 3.5hr and a 3hr drive combined and this is for a local. Same goes for taupo to napier and Napier to Wellington, both long days. Do you have to go via Napier? If you are looking to see a gannet colony I don't know how murawai stacks up but if you took the well signposted secondary route sh16 back to Auckland you drive past murawai beach.

Re scuba diving, the best would be poor knights otherwise goat Island (Leigh), both are between bay of Islands and Auckland.

Enjoy your planning
osteorach is offline  
Jun 16th, 2014, 05:33 AM
  #30  
 
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annie - we loved Napier, despite the non-stellar weather that we had there, but it does rather take you off route. if you omitted it, you could do this:

Day 3 Bay of Island (Rainbow Falls, maybe scuba dive for my husband)
Day 4 Back through Auckland to Waitomo Caves
Day 5 Waitomo caves [or similar] to Rotorua
Day 6 Rotorau, Mud pools, maybe the geothermal spa & the Maori Dinner & concert
Day 7 Rotorau
Day 8 Lake Taupo, Huka Falls, Maybe jet boating
Day 9 Taupo to Wellington
Day 10 Wellington, Tour of Wellington, Museum, Botanical gardens, sightseeing
Day 11 Ferry to Picton

this enables you to break the mega-drive from the Bay of Islands to Rotorua [still quite a long drive each day] and gives you a whole day in Wellington.

As we discovered, if you try to fit in everything, you can spread yourself too thin and get very tired. We changed our plans en route because we realised that we had bitten off more driving than we could chew and we were so glad that we did.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 11:40 AM
  #31  
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Thank you so much. I am trying to avoid that overly ambitious driving. I realize we should skip a few things and that is one of the reasons I am so happy to have found this forum. I will take all the advice I can get.Since I haven't made my plane reservations yet, (it will be done this week hopefully), I am still flexible. Annhig, since you just did the trip, I appreciate your thoughts on my itinerary. I would like to limit the driving to around 3 hours if possible. I think I will scrap Napier, as I would like to spend some time in Wellington.
Is there anything that any of you think I should see in the cities I have chosen that I did not mention. Since this is my first time, I am open to all thoughts on favorite places. We are not real hikers but we could easily walk 3 or 4 miles to see something spectacular! I love to see things I would never see here in the states, and I love the beauty in nature.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 11:42 AM
  #32  
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Melnq8, I know you said we should have reservations in some of the small towns, but since we may deviate from our route a bit, do you think it would be ok to make them while in NZ or do they need to be made months in advance?
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Jun 16th, 2014, 02:14 PM
  #33  
 
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Annie, we only had 4 nights on the NI, hence the overload with driving that we lumbered ourselves with, and two of those were in Napier, so that's not much use to you.

definitely aim to see Te Papa, and possibly the Museum of Wellington and the sea, though try to miss the exhibition about the ferry disaster if you're about to get on the boat. When they delayed our ferry for a few hours we wanted to use the cable car to get up to the botanical gardens but it was raining too much so we went to the Museum of Wellington instead and it was really good. This website may help:

http://www.museumswellington.org.nz/

if you have time, it's also worth going up to the top of Mount Victoria - the B&B we stayed in was towards the top and had terrific views over the whole of the bay, though it shook a bit as it was rather windy.

We decided to book our accommodation from the UK but it was clear when we got there that we needn't have done so, except for our first night or so; when we changed our plans we had no problem in finding alternative places to stay when we got there. The tourist information offices are really useful in that regard and will phone for you to make sure that there is a vacancy. The only problem might be making sure that you get to Wellington in time for the ferry but it is very easy to find and there are no customs or passport offices to worry about which makes it much simpler!
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Jun 16th, 2014, 05:46 PM
  #34  
 
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Annie -

No need to book months in advance. I think you'll be okay making those reservations while in NZ for the most part, but places like Mt Cook, Arthur's Pass, Franz Josef and Fox Glacier in February do worry me.

You might contact the Visitor's Center in each of the small towns you plan to visit and ask them their take on things. Perhaps they have some sage advice.
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Jun 17th, 2014, 01:53 PM
  #35  
 
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good point made by Melnq8 about booking ahead in areas where accommodation is relatively scarce.
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Jun 19th, 2014, 07:10 PM
  #36  
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I am wondering how I should avoid the 7 hour ride from Bay of Islands to Waitomo Caves. Is there a better route so that I will not do more than 3 or 4 hours driving in a day. Maybe some other place to see that would be interesting?
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Jun 20th, 2014, 11:17 AM
  #37  
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I am ready to start planning my itinerary for the SI. I will have about 20 days there. I am thinking that we will take the boat to Picton and probably focus on the west side of the island. I know Melnq8 you mentioned doing a figure 8 tour. Punakaika is said to be the start of a great road to Greymouth. I would like to take the train there also. Other places of interest is Franz Joseph,
Want to see the glaciers, Mt. Cook, Milford Sound, Wanaka, Queenstown and end in Christchurch. Any help or sugestions on how I should do this and stops along the way will be greatly appreciated.
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Jun 20th, 2014, 02:20 PM
  #38  
 
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Annie - the route we planned to take in the SI was this - Picton - Nelson - Franz Joesph - Wanaka - Te Anau - QT - Mount Cook - Christchurch. We altered it en route because we realised that it involved too much driving in the time we'd got on SI [13 nights] but that won't be such a problem for you.

You can of course see Mount Cook from Franz joseph, and in the time you've got, you could go from Te Anau to Dunedin which is one of the places that we missed that we wish we'd seen.

another alternative is to go south from Picton down the east coast as far as Arthur's Pass and then to drive across to the west coast from there, which means that you have opportunities to go whale watching and other similar activities, rather than the walking and boating that we did around Nelson.

Melnq8 is probably your best resource when it comes to planning trips to the SI - she was extremely helpful and patient with me when I was going through the planning process.

and Annie - I have an apology to make regarding Waitomo caves - when i looked again, they are of course as far south as Rotorua so there is no advantage in going there instead. What you need is somewhere to stay either just north or just south of Auckland, which is more or less equidistant from Paiha and Rotorua. A guide to Auckland might help in identifying nice places to stay near but not in the city.
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Jun 20th, 2014, 05:19 PM
  #39  
 
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Hi Annie -

<>

This would be SH 6, and yes, it's a pretty coastal drive, takes about 45 minutes to get from Punakaiki to Greymouth.

Regarding taking the train...are you referring to the Tranz Alpine from Christchurch to Greymouth?

If you arrive into Picton, it makes logistic sense to travel south to Punakaiki via SH 6 and then continue down the West Coast.

If you want to take the train, you'd board the train in Christchurch, detrain in Greymouth and collect a car, then make the detour to Punakaiki before turning south to head down the West Coast. Or do the reverse - Greymouth to Christchurch.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 10:54 PM
  #40  
 
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Re North Island.
3hrs driving will likely get you between 250-300km give or take. Most of the roads other than around the main cities are single lane with passing lanes. Given you will be there in summer expect the roads outside of the major centres to be busy as we all leave the cities and go to the beaches.

There is no real alternate route to get you from bay of Islands to rotorua and/or waitomo. There are occasional side roads but I would leave these to the locals unless you have a good gps as they tend to be poorly signposted.

As I've mentioned to someone else, rather than go to the bay of Islands you could go to the coromandel peninsula which is South East of Auckland and much closer to rotorua and waitomo. It really depends on what exactly you want to see. While the bay of Islands is beautiful IMHO the beaches on the coromandel are nicer. Paihia in the bay of Islands would likely be your choice for accomodation and the base for hole in the rock / a short ferry ride to quaint Russell / trip to waitangi for some Maori heritage (doubtless bay further north has nicer beaches). Likewise you might chose any of a number of places in the coromandel peninsula / bay of plenty (matarangi, whitianga, cooks beach, hot water beach, pauanui, whangamata, mt mounganui). It takes about 2.5-3.5hrs to drive from Auckland to the coromandel and then maybe 2hrs from there to rotorua. Just an option for you to throw around.

So, if you go to bay of Islands and want ~3hr drives you will need to put a night in between to get to waitomo / rotorua. Auckland would be your mid way point and there are lots of options depending on what you fancy doing. if it's simply a stop over you could stay somewhere in Auckland CBD as it's close to the motorway that will take you straight through Auckland. You might otherwise stay somewhere near kumeu (sorry I don't have an actual recommendation). You could then go to muriwai to see the gannets and I could also recommend the riverhead tavern for a great meal. Again this would be a relatively straightforward location with easy access to the motorways that get you South.

You seem like you are getting there, have fun with your research.
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