Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Australia & the Pacific
Reload this Page >

(ahem) NZ itinerary, take 3! NOW with more South Island!!! :)

(ahem) NZ itinerary, take 3! NOW with more South Island!!! :)

Apr 2nd, 2016, 07:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,704
(ahem) NZ itinerary, take 3! NOW with more South Island!!! :)

I've gotten some very helpful advice for my ten-ish day non-driving winter New Zealand (and on to Fiji) trip for August of 2016, and I've got just a few more questions. The international flights are in place, so here's where I am:

Arrive Christchurch (what? oh, about $900 to 1600US difference from landing in ZQN, that's what!) on Saturday, July 30, about 1:30PM. Booked into Rendezvous Hotel 'cause I got it for $30 with Expedia points. (Cheap, yes, I am. Of necessity.)

So here is the first question: (Sunday, July 31) There's a bus tour taking in Church of the Good Shepherd/Lake Tekapo, Mt. Cook and its national park, and various other orchard/jammy things from a number of companies, departing from Christchurch and landing in Queenstown about 7:30PM. This would be about twice the cost of a flight into Q'town, but certainly seems to provide some great sight-seeing. So, question (subjective, of course!) is, does this sound like a good plan or should we just hop a quick morning flight to ZQN? I should note that both Jess and I are amazing sleepers so would likely have slept most of the way on the plane. (You should have seen us on the way to Oz a few years ago: thirteen hours flat out. Her twin sisters were also with us and wanted to kill us as they stayed awake pretty much the whole time.) That might be TMI but just to say that while a 12 hour bus trip sounds exhausting, we should be in better shape than some. Or we'll fall asleep on the bus, also possible.

I'm looking at Queenstown Motel Apartments for our stay there, which would be Sunday PM until Wednesday AM. (Yes, it's now four days! Ish!!!) Anyway, Monday would be our day for a half-day LOTR tour, such as Pure Glenorchy, and then some leisure time in the afternoon. Tuesday I'm looking at the Barbecue Bus Milford Sound trip, which will again be a long day in the bus but, well, no longer than if we were driving it, and quite frankly a lot easier. I know this is still not enough time for the South Island (TA forum: "You need to stay in the South Island. End." {paraphrase}) but it does expand our time there.

Wednesday: Air NZ has an 8:15 flight into Wellington from Queenstown and then there's an afternoon flight into AKL on Thursday, so we'd have a day and a half for Te Papa, Weta, and the general wandering about Cuba Street etc. I'm waiting for a reply from Weta on the possibility of their "There and Back Again" tour dropping us at the airport, as of course Weta is nearer the airport than to Downtown Wellington, and therefore we could do the Weta Workshop/Cave Thursday AM. Or we could just get a taxi or Uber, but not sure about what to do with luggage.

Friday, August 5th we would leave Auckland on a three day Waitomo, Hobbiton, Rotorua, and Agrodome "Budget" tour, which includes, get this, a farm stay. And I wasn't even looking for one. I had been hoping for the train excursion I'd found earlier that was similar to this, but Kiwi Scenic Rail haven't posted anything beyond "We're hoping to have this up by the end of March!" and have taken down their links to book the tour on the train, so this trip seems much more likely to be a go. http://www.tourandtravel.co.nz/tour/...obbiton-tour63

That gets us back into Auckland on Sunday 12:30ish, with a Monday departure for Nadi, Fiji. First night in Fiji is at Raffles, then we take the Yasawa Flyer out to Navotua for a homestay in a bure on the beach with meals made by various villagers, then Ratsun Apartments near the airport for our final night before flying out.

It sounds a bit packed as I'm writing it, but it's a doddle compared to last year's five-hotels-in-the-first-five-nights escapade...in Spanish. (It wasn't actually planned that way...http://www.fodors.com/community/sout...r-colombia.cfm )

Any suggestions, warnings, thoughts--happily welcomed! Thank you again for the previous help!
Amy is online now  
Apr 3rd, 2016, 07:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,481
Hi Amy -

I assume that ridiculous price difference is due to ski season in Queenstown.

Since you're not renting a car, I think the bus ride sounds like a great option - especially if you've slept - it sounds like a great opportunity to see what you might not otherwise see.

Besides, getting into QT early will present problems of its own - very unlikely you'll be able to check into your hotel until 3, so you'll have lots of time to kill - no transportation - and you'll have your luggage (although there's likely a storage point at QT airport and you could probably hop a bus into town or arrange a tour of some sort to fill the day...)

I suggest you not commit to those tours from QT until you arrive and see what the weather is like. Weather in NZ can make or break a day of touring.

There is luggage storage in the Wellington Airport -


Alternatively, you could leave at your hotel and then return to collect it when you're ready to leave. I see the issue though - perhaps ask WETA (not sure what that is exactly) if they could keep it during the day? I think you'll find Kiwis incredibly helpful.
Melnq8 is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2016, 10:37 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,704
Thanks, Melnq8! That part about what to do without a room in Queenstown was definitely one of the things pushing me toward the bus, but wasn't sure if it was as good as it sounded. I really do like the idea of getting to see all of that area rather than flying over it, even if I do have callouses on my posterior between the flight and bus!

I got a lovely response from Kojack at Weta (the workshop where they made the props and such for the LOTR movies and others: http://wetaworkshop.com/visit-us/workshop-tours/ ) that they have a space for the luggage there. It's actually beyond the airport and about a five minute ride away, so we can Uber or taxi back to the airport from there no problem. It really seems like this is working out well considering how tiny the time is; weather will be a determining factor on how much gets done, of course!

If it is raining on the Milford Sound day, what would you suggest as an alternative? (I know it runs rain or shine, just thinking that the 8+hours of riding in the rain would get, well, pretty frightfully dreary, plus visibility isn't so great on the sound/fjord.)
Amy is online now  
Apr 3rd, 2016, 12:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,481
I'm not a fan of Milford in the rain, although the tour operators will tell you how fortunate you are to see all the waterfalls, so you might want to go ahead given you're already there. (?) I've seen it in all kinds of weather and a fine winter day is my personal favorite.

The advantage of visiting in August is the frost covered tussocks on either side of Milford Road - quite a sight. The disadvantage of course is potentially bad weather and a closed Milford Road.

It's best to check the weather (for Milford specifically) the day before IMO.

As for what else to do, well...

You could take the Dart River safari in Glenorchy - spectacular scenery (Mt Aspiring Nat'l Park), especially if a pretty day. The tour begins in QT, so no problems with transport. Hands down my favorite organized activity on the South Island.


Or you could take the Shotover Jet Boat in QT. It's a short thrill ride, vs the scenic Dart River trip, but a definite possibility - won't matter if it's raining because you'll get wet anyway.


There are loads of great hikes, but you'll need transport for most of them - which is possible to arrange if you're keen.

Winery tour, bungy jumping, Segway tour, Kiwi Birdlife Park?

Then of course there's perusing the shops, cafes and casinos.

More ideas here:

Melnq8 is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2016, 04:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 976
We loved Milford in the rain--an awesome array of hundreds of waterfalls poring down the steep cliffs, moody mist--but also saw it in glorious sunshine the next day, so we got both experiences (stayed overnight at the lodge). I wouldn't cancel a trip there even if rain is in the picture.
aprillilacs is offline  
Apr 4th, 2016, 04:50 AM
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 1
Hotels Christchurch
offers a complete range of facilities and services to guests.
jiya is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Australia & the Pacific
Nov 13th, 2016 11:41 AM
Australia & the Pacific
Mar 14th, 2016 04:53 AM
Australia & the Pacific
Oct 30th, 2015 05:21 PM
Australia & the Pacific
Jun 21st, 2015 05:25 PM
Australia & the Pacific
Jan 10th, 2014 02:12 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:12 PM.