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Can't decide between going to NZ in December or September!

Can't decide between going to NZ in December or September!

Old Mar 31st, 2006, 10:29 PM
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Can't decide between going to NZ in December or September!

Hello Fodors Folks:

A friend and I have a tentative trip to NZ planned for 2006. We were planning on going in December, and then I got accepted to grad school and I'm worried about trying to squeeze 3 weeks in NZ in between fall and winter quarters. Another option is to go before school starts... We'd leave September 3rd or 4th and come back the 25th. But, I'm worried that we won't be able to do much hiking at this time. Also, I'm interested in seeing some gardens, and can't imagine that there would be much in bloom in early spring. Also, what would the flora and fauna be like as we're driving through the country? I know it will still be beautiful countryside, but how much more beautiful is it in the summer???

The only other advantage is that it will of course be low season in September, and money is an issue.

Also, are the Routeburn and Milford tracks already booked for Dec 2006? I've been to the website, and it says there are no booking options open for December... Have they really already filled up?

Thanks in advance for any advice....
britomart is offline  
Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 11:11 AM
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Its cooler in NZ in September, however as long as you can cope with that, then there is no problem in travelling. Backpacker hotels are reasonably cheap (under $20us)and would be easy to get into without having to book ahead. December would be more of a problem for cheap accom.
Gardens are starting to bloom especially the public garden so that won't be to bigger problem. If you fly into Auckland and drive south you won't see much flora and fauna until you get to the South Island which is like a totally different place to the North. The best part about NZ is like you have stepped back in time the further south you go. In the North the little towns you drive through are certainly worth a stop just to get the feel of the place. My bet is you won't get out of NZ without some kiwi offering you hospitality in their home and you will love it.
Enjoy
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 05:17 PM
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If I were to return to New Zealand, I would definitely go in December. We spent the entire month of September traveling by car throughout both islands, and it rained at least part of every day plus was quite cool. We saw a lot of the islands, but it would have definitely been better if the weather hadn't been so wet.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2006, 07:46 PM
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We live in Seattle, so we're used to lots of rain. However, I'd like to not see so much rain on my vacation. September is so beautiful here, I'd rather leave in December when the weather is bad here. I think I'm leaning towards going in Dec.

So, are the Milford and Routeburn tracks filled up for December? I can't make heads or tails of the booking site. Do you have to make reservations months ahead to go on day hikes through Milford and Routeburn? How about for the Milford Sound cruise?
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Old Apr 3rd, 2006, 08:57 AM
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If you go in December, just make sure you book everything ahead of time. If you go in September, you could probably just show up for a hotel, tour, etc.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2006, 09:43 AM
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We went to New Zealand a few years ago in September and it was fortunate that we only did the North Island as the South Island had a terrific snow storm which killed hundreds of new born lambs. I would opt for December.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 04:31 AM
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I would not be at all surprised if the Milford and Routeburn tracks are already booked up for December. If that turns out to be the case, you might want to consider doing the Hollyford Track. We did this as a 3-day guided tour in Jan. 2002 and it was fabulous--very scenic! (We did it as a guided tour for the luxury of lodge sleeping and catered meals, but you can also do it on your own as there are huts available along the track.)
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 01:11 PM
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We spent the month of Feburary 06 in New Zealand and did several day hikes. You can do dayhikes on both the Routeburn and Milford Tracks without reservations. We hiked from the Glenorchy area Routeburn trailhead (1 hr from Queenstown) to the Harris Saddle shelter, which is about 7 or 8 miles one way. Round trip it took us about 10 hours, including breaks. Or, you could just go as far as the Routeburn Falls hut and see some great scenery. It was a long hike, but well worth it. You can catch the other end of the Routeburn from the Milford area at the Divide and hike to Key Summit.

We didn't do the Milford Track due to weather, but you can catch a boat in TeAnau to the trailhead. Check with Real Journeys in TeAnau for times and availability for the boat. We were there in high season and there was no problem getting last minute reservations for the boat. There is a guided day hike to Clifton Valley, but I'm sure you would need reservations for that.

We also did day hikes on the Kepler Track out of the TeAnau area. If it's a clear day, you can either start at the control gates or take a boat taxi to the trail that leads to Mt. Luxmore. We got some grand views from there!

Another Kepler hike we did was from Rainbow Reach to Lake Manopouri. You stay low in the rainforest, but it's quite lovely. It's about 5 or 6 miles round trip.

I'm sure there are other great dayhikes on many of the tracks. While going on a guided hike with a group and staying in the huts sounds wonderful, dayhikes are a good alternative if you can't get reservations or have limited time.

Good luck!
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 04:04 PM
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Trish:
Since you've done alot of hiking around the S. Island area, can you tell me where this picture is? I'd like to hike this trail but have NO idea where it is.....

http://www.blacksheeptouring.co.nz/a.../home/home.jpg
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 05:54 PM
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Sammy,
I can't be sure, but I think it may be Roy's Peak out of Wanaka. We hiked up to a cell tower just north of town on the road to Mt. Aspiring Nat'l Park. The view was fantastic and very similar to your photo. If it's a clear day, I guarantee you won't be disappointed. It's a stiff trek, though, climbing about 1300 meters in 8 km.

We had considered doing Rob Roy Track further up Mt. Aspiring Rd., but we decided not to take our rental car on the long gravel stretch. We have heard there are great views from there as well.
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Old Apr 4th, 2006, 06:30 PM
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Trish, thank you for your reply! I'll definetly have to look into that trail.
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Old Apr 6th, 2006, 08:33 PM
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Thanks for the info!!
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Old Apr 7th, 2006, 06:42 AM
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Hi Britomart,

Yes, it's no doubt true that the Routeburn and Milford tracks are booked up...they have a limited number of people on their hikes and they get filled quickly.

Last year I was trying to get a reservation for a client 8 months in advance and it was booked up; and so I did what Longhorn suggested and got him on the Hollyford Track, which he and his wife thoroughly enjoyed.

And, as Wally said, make reservations in advance. Really, anything that's a "must do" on your list should be reserved; with limited time, why take chances that a tour or excursion will be full?!

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Kiwi Specialist

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Old Apr 16th, 2006, 10:09 PM
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Just returned from a month in NZ. We drove both islands and chose this time of year as it was off season. The roads are narrow and can't imagine how busy it must be in their summer months - seeing the number of tourists in April.
GO - whenever you can. Make the best of the weather or the crowds.

Good luck - a fantastic country.

When booking in advance, be careful not to use the far eastern booking agents.....NO REFUNDS - so often the major hotels send you off into cyberspace when booking. We got burned a few times with cancellations!
 
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