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Advice on New Zealand Adventure

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Sep 20th, 2015, 07:22 PM
  #1
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Advice on New Zealand Adventure

Hello! My husband and I are traveling to NZ in November. I have already bought and paid for the airfare. We are flying into Auckland and out of Queenstown, plus we are driving ourselves. I would like advice on what we have planned. I feel as though this is going to be exhausting, but to cut down drive times I thought that it might work.

1 night in Auckland
1 night in Tauranga
1 night in Taupo
1 night in Wellington
1 night in Takaka (thinking of of staying 2 nights here and stopping in Punakiki for a break on the way to Franz Josef)
1 night in Punakiki ??
1 night in Franz Josef
1 night in Queenstown
1 night Doubtful Sound overnight cruise
1 night Queenstown

We are flying out of Queenstown and staying in Moorea for 3 night to just relax.

Can someone please give me there expert advice on this itinerary?

Thank you!
Kate K
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Sep 20th, 2015, 09:13 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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I can't comment on the South Island, but your North Island itinerary feels a bit rushed to me - a lot of driving and not much time to see or do anything.
We spent 10 days on the North Island in 2004. Keeping in mind that was 11 years ago, you might want to take a look at my trip report to see how we spent our time.
http://www.fodors.com/community/aust...april-2004.cfm

Lee Ann
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Sep 21st, 2015, 06:08 AM
  #3
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Thanks Lee Ann. I appreciate your advice.

Kate
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Sep 21st, 2015, 07:40 AM
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No, no, no...exhausting is an understatement, you're setting yourselves up for disaster.



Where have you cut down on drive times? This is a serious driving itinerary...you'll see NZ from behind your wind screen.

Ten nights, ten destinations, two islands? With all due respect, I think this itinerary is nuts.

I highly recommend you pick ONE island, and then limit yourself to one end or the other. Trying to fit the far north (Takaka) and the far south of the SI into one 10 day trip is quite challenging.

You've left absolutely no time to do anything but drive from place to place. What do you hope to see and experience other than NZ roads?

I personally prefer a three night stay in each location, which gives two full days to explore the area. Sometimes two nights is sufficient, yes, but 10 one night stays is nothing more than an exercise in unloading the car, unpacking, packing again the next day and then reloading the car. Just thinking about it makes me tired.

A few possibilities that will work with your existing flights...add a flight to Wellington from Auckland, and then spend a few nights there, maybe take the ferry to Picton and spend the rest of your time exploring the north of the SI.

OR, add a flight to Christchurch from Auckland and begin your visit there, driving down towards Queenstown via Mt Cook.

Or, add a flight to Queenstown from Auckland and spend your time making a driving loop of sorts, ending back in QT for your return flight.

Curious why you chose Takaka...I like it a lot, but don't see it on many first time visitor's itineraries. It's about a 3.5 hour drive from Picton with no stops, and that's after you've spent the better part of a day on the ferry.
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Sep 21st, 2015, 11:42 AM
  #5
 
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Somehow I missed that you only have 10 nights; I just kind of looked and thought, "Hmmm, that's a lot of moving around."

In that case, I agree with Melnq8. Pick an island and spend all your time there.

Lee Ann
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Sep 21st, 2015, 01:25 PM
  #6
 
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Hi Kate,

Yes, I agree with the other posters. New Zealand is actually bigger than it looks on a map, so you would spend the whole time driving and not see very much.

For example, you could spend a couple of days in Taupo alone and Taupo is only a small city in New Zealand. It is world famous for its trout fishing, which takes place on Lake Taupo or in the many rivers that feed it. A variety of cruises explore the lake, taking in features such as Maori carvings and the tall, fluted Karangahape Cliffs, sites that are not accessible by road.

At the outlet of Lake Taupo is the world famous Huka Falls.

http://www.newzealand.com/us/feature/huka-falls/

From the summit of dormant volcano Mt Tauhara, just outisde Taupo off SH5 there is to be had a splendid 360 degree view of the entire district, including the forests on the Kaingaroa Plains.

I believe that writing a travel report is a great idea because it helps you remember your trip and shares it with others. Here is an example of a report about things to do in Taupo. Vote for the article if you like it.

https://www.theor.com/content/5683203939500032

Thank you very much

Joshua Russell
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Sep 21st, 2015, 04:03 PM
  #7
 
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My eyes glazed over with the 1 night stays. I give a little leeway for campervan travel, but 1 night stays will leave you exhausted.

10 nights? 2 islands?

You need to pick and choose wisely. To give justice to both islands on a driving-only itinerary, you need 3-5 weeks. So the question will be from where on the North Island to where on the South Island will you fly?

What sights are important to you? What are your priorities?
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 12:34 AM
  #8
 
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This is definitely exhausting and you would need 3 weeks in Moorea to get over it. Far far too much driving impossible distances and don't underestimate driving in New Zealand. We have narrow winding hilly roads and you get stuck behind a campervan or bus and it takes ages...trust me it does.
Melnq8 has given some good ideas - Christchurch to Queenstown via Mt Cook would give you lovely scenery and doable in 10 days.
http://maps.aa.co.nz - check all distances on AA maps never Google.
No mention of Rotorua? It has more to offer the tourist than Tauranga.
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 02:04 PM
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I was in your shoes until a few weeks ago when I abandoned the idea of a self-drive tour. (We have traveled extensively, and I have never felt more daunted in choosing where to go and what to leave out in New Zealand. ) Our Kiwi friends now agree we are going to have a wonderful time being taken everywhere in Mercedes mini-vans, the train, on guided hikes, jet boat, kayaks and a helicopter trip as well. This is actually not costing as much as I thought, because the tour company gets it done in a shorter time period, which gave us time to hit the beach at the end of the trip.

Just be sure of what you really LIKE to do and how you enjoy spending your days. If you plan for that, no matter what happens, you won't regret it.
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Sep 22nd, 2015, 04:54 PM
  #10
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Thank you everyone for the wonderful advice and bringing me back to reality!! I was having a hard time picking what I wanted to do and that is why I thought I would try and do it all.

I really wanted to go to Takaka because of the reviews I have read but will have to make the time to come back in the future to do so.

For my new itinerary, I am thinking of spending:
1 night in Auckland
1 night in Tauranga (A friend highly suggested this area)
2 nights in Taupo (I want to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing)
Fly from Rotorua to Christchurch
1 night in Christchurch
1 nights in Franz Josef
2 night in Queenstown
1 night Doubtful Sound Cruise
1 night Queenstown

Can you guys critique this plan please?

Thanks!! Kate K
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Sep 23rd, 2015, 12:23 AM
  #11
 
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Hello Kate...it's still frantic and far too much driving.
Drop Tauranga - it's very nice but not a must see. Drive Auckland to Taupo for 2 nights.
If you want to walk the TC you have to stay 2 nights in Taupo as the start of the TC is 90 km away, 1.5 hours drive and it's a one way trek so someone needs to pick you up at the other end. Book a shuttle which will pick you up about 5.30 am and return you about 5 pm. It will be a long day but the next day is easy with Rotorua only 1 hour away.
Stay 1 night in Rotorua and fly to CHCH.
You have to drop FJ glaciers - it's just too much.
CHCH to FJ is about 5 to 6 hours on the kind of roads I described earlier. Then the next day get in the car again and drive the 7 hours to QTWN. Exhausting.
Pick somewhere on the way to QTWN for 1 night as that is a 6 hour drive as well.
The rest is okay, 1 day in Queenstown for looking around, the tour bus will pick you up for Doubtful Sound at about 8.30 am and return you at 3 pm the next day. I have only been to Milford Sound but Fiordland is another world.
Plan on returning...impossible to see everything so concentrate on enjoying what you can see.
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Sep 23rd, 2015, 01:33 PM
  #12
 
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I wholeheartedly agree, and Mt Cook is the obvious choice.
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Sep 23rd, 2015, 03:19 PM
  #13
 
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honestly, Kate, don't do it. we had an itinerary that was a lot less aggressive than yours, and even so we ended up cutting down on it before we were half way round. you simply haven't left yourselves any time for doing anything - all you would be doing is driving from one place to another.

if you can, I would fly from Rotorua to QT and then drive to Te Anau for your Doubtful sound cruise, and possibly to see Milford Sound, and then go back to QT and stay there for the rest of your trip.
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Sep 24th, 2015, 07:01 AM
  #14
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Thanks Everyone!

I have decided to just fly to Queenstown from Rotorua and spend our time around Queenstown and Te Anua. Thank you for saving me from bad decisions and making my trip unenjoyable! =) I really appreciate all your help and honesty.
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Sep 24th, 2015, 07:29 AM
  #15
 
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Good idea Kate, have a great trip and let us know how it goes.
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Sep 24th, 2015, 09:56 AM
  #16
 
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good decision, Kate. We really did try to bite off more than we could chew [despite the excellent advise I'd had here, notably from Mel] but fortunately we realised it reasonably early on, and were able to change out plans.

i'm sure that you will have a terrific time with the trip that you now have planned.
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