Days in port - Dunedin, Christchurch,Wellington etc

Dec 10th, 2008, 05:26 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2006
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Days in port - Dunedin, Christchurch,Wellington etc

I am not nearly so fortunate as most posters on this forum as to time - my husband & I will do a cruise through AU & NZ in early Jan 09 & will spend a day in Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, & finally, Auckland.

Based on your experience - what to do in each port? We are active & fit & like to stretch our legs a fair bit. Love wildlife & want to see geysers & mud pools etc...BUT must be back at ship by ~5 to 6PM at each port...

I am certain we want to do the transalpine trip out of Christchurch (maybe Dunedin?) - but how to do it for less than $400/pp, $USA, which is the ship's price? SURELY this is possible!

We'd love to have a heads up on what to see out of each of these ports, & - & maybe I'm dreamin'! - a recommendation on a private guide...

Can anyone steer me in a realistic direction? Many thanks!
shedridt is offline  
Dec 10th, 2008, 07:00 PM
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The Tranzalpine leaves from Christchurch and ends in Greymouth. An adult return ticket which leaves Christchurch at 8:15 am and returns to Christchurch at 6:05 pm, is NZ $199 per person. You can book yourself on line and save a ton over what the ship is charging:

Check this out:
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2008, 07:01 PM
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For Dunedin, you might be interested in the Elm Wildlife Tourn. Haven't taken it myself, but it gets rave reviews here on Fodors.
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2008, 08:02 PM
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Thanks to you both & I'll investigate. My time of return in all ports remains 6 PM (Dunedin & Christchurch & Napier), 5PM in Wellington, & 8PM Tauranga & Auckland. I am so eager to connect with local guides in each port!!! Any recommendations out there?
shedridt is offline  
Dec 10th, 2008, 09:39 PM
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Downtown Wellington is fairly compact; you should be able to hop on a bus or walk a bit and get there pretty easily.

I Googled "Wellington walking tours" and found this link:

You should be able to do a self-guided walking tour as well. A number of guidebooks have them.

Te Papa Museum is well worth a couple of hours of your day.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Dec 10th, 2008, 10:13 PM
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"Thanks to you both & I'll investigate. My time of return in all ports remains 6 PM "

If you're thinking the return time will be a problem, how are the ship going to get people back any earlier even with more than twice the fee, unless they're going to have a bus charter service to leave earlier!

And re the guides, doing a couple of generic googles I found this site using Dundein as an example - and you'll be able to get personally tailored tours from just about all ports I'd expect but also expect to pay!, some obviously cheaper than others but locals probably have a feel for what cruises charge I'd suspect.

If you want to do it cheaper or are looking for someone to just show you about some of the various city precincts, not that any are too huge, I'd adopt a simple approach of having a look at and looking up a hostel in a particular port city and sending them an email saying you're looking for a local guide and prepared to pay - hostel owners/managers all have a good finger on local situations and I'd be surprised if they cannot rope in a suitable local.

You'll also find that all cities/ports will have good Visitor Information Centres where you'll be able to get good quality info/maps and do a self guide as Lee Ann indicates - being the NZ web site for "i" centres - haven't doodled around on it myself but if the various cenrtres have individual emails an option to bbh contact would be emailing them.
Bushranger is offline  
Dec 10th, 2008, 11:09 PM
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Thanks so much to all of you & keep the ideas coming. The thought seems to be that there's ONE train doing the tranzalpine thing - but please promise me that that's so!!! - & if the ship's people are on it we can hook up to the very same train - but are there other trains that somehow mysteriously get back to port earlier??? Pls advise...

You know that the whole idea is that the ship will wait for those on its own tours but the hell with the rest of ye....

shedridt is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 12:45 AM
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Only one a day per their timetable a couple of clicks away from Mels link -

And only an hour in Greymouth

But I say again, the shipping company will not have a coach at other end bringing cruisers back quicker will they?
Bushranger is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 07:44 AM
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I enjoyed Elm Wildlife Tours out of Dunedin. A few fodorites have mentioned that they were able to book a private tour with them. If you did that you wouldn't have to worry about returning on time. Perhaps you could also find another couple on your cruise to go with.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 11:01 AM
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There is only one train doing the transalpine run, shedridt. It normally leaves ChCh at 8.15am, arrives at Arthurs Pass at approx 10.30 and then goes on to Greymouth. On the way back, it leaves Arthurs Pass just before 4.00pm and arrives back in ChCh just after 6.00pm. Lyttelton, where your cruise ship will be berthed, is less than half an hour's drive from the ChCh railway station.

I'm not sure how this fits in with your ship arrival and departure times, but I assume that this has all been taken into account. If bus transport is being arranged one way or the other and the train trip will be one way only, the total time would be shortened considerably, since the bus will be able to depart at either end without having to wait for the train. Doing it independently, you would not have this as an option.

You could rent a car for a day and drive to Arthurs Pass, have lunch up there and then drive back in plenty of time to catch the ship's departure. ChCh to Greymouth is about a three and a half hour drive, about two hours to Arthurs Pass. The scenery is just as good as that to be seen from the train (possibly better), and you would have the flexibility of being able to stop whenever and wherever you want to and enjoy some of the short bush walks available. It would be a lot cheaper too.

If you did this, I would suggest that you go a bit further than Arthurs Pass village and drive over the pass itself down to Otira (or thereabouts) before returning. That is quite a nice part of the drive to Greymouth, but not seen from the train.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 02:25 PM
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I think Rob's suggestion is a good one. I've done the Tranzalpine both ways and wished that we had actually done one way with the train and driven the return.

You will certainly get the 'experience' by driving, so I would seriously consider it.

BTW Rob, how is your woolly family, particularly your niece?
stormbird is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 04:44 PM
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It turns out that I was mistaken, Stormbird. She wasn't my niece, just a wolf in sheep's clothing. She has run off with rest of the flock and, as is the way these days, fleeced me in the process! Baaaah!
kiwi_rob is offline  
Dec 11th, 2008, 08:27 PM
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Oh Rob, talk about rotfl - thanks for that.

I'm just not witty enough for a comeback buddy but Merry Christmas to you! And no baaah humbug!
stormbird is offline  
Dec 12th, 2008, 05:48 AM
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And wishing you and yours Peace and Happiness for the Festive Season and New Year, Stormbird.

Sorry about this temporary hijack of your thread, shedridt. We're just having a wee Private Moment here.

kiwi_rob is offline  
Dec 12th, 2008, 08:19 AM
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Hi Shed!

While I book cruises all the time, I advise my clients never to take the cruise lines' tours (or pre & post hotels for that matter); their mark up is ridiculous and I can always find it for less. In the case of the tours, in some areas (Caribbean islands, for example, not only do you get a better tour with a local person, you're helping their economy as well).

You are absolutely correct, the cruise line will wait for passengers who have booked shore excursions through them (and who will be on chartered, 50 passenger tour buses contracted by the cruise line); and will sail away without you if you're doing a tour on your own, so make sure that you have enough time to get back to the ship (at least 1/2 hr before departure) no matter what excursion you consider.

Hope this is helpful!


Certified Kiwi Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Dec 14th, 2008, 08:41 AM
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I cruised all your port areas last year and I'm returning in a month. In Tauranga I recommend a car rental and driving yourself to the geysers and mud pits. Very simple and direct to do so. There are a couple car rental companies that bring your car right to the dock.

The Antactic Center out of Christchurch is extremely interesting and easy to get to via city bus.

Wellington is also a great place for a car rental, or plenty to do right in the city area.

Head to your library and take out New Zealand travel books. A art deco walking tour is excellent and easy. Consider a stop in their museum on the rebuilding of the city. I walked to the Botancial garden and cemetery. I did end up just taking a cab back to the ship, since the comp ship shuttles ended a couple hours before you had to be back on board. Was $8nz and well worth the extra port time for me.

The ship will likely sell you town shuttle tickets. RCI was $9US each way. BUT there are city buses available for a fraction. I took these in Dunedin, Aukeland and Christchurch.
BudgetQueen is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 05:40 PM
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The ship's tours don't go all the way to Greymouth, just to Arthur's Pass, and then they return by bus to the ship. In other words, the ship WILL sail at 6 pm, and if you take the train all the way, it will sail without you!
That said, does anyone know of a company that would do a similar tour to the ship's tour? I know that if you buy tickets for the train, it's $199 NZ whether you go partway or all the way, but perhaps there's a local operator that will pick you up from Arthur's pass for return to Christchurch?

elainelam is offline  
Dec 19th, 2008, 06:10 PM
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Per the Tranzalpine site, you can purchase a one way ticket from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass for NZ $108. A round trip ticket for the same route is NZ $150 with a five hour stop at Arthur's Pass - same return time though, so that won't help.

There's a bus that travels from Arthur's Pass to Christchurch, but it leaves at 3:20 and arrives in Christchurch at 5:40, so making it back to the ship by 6 could be trouble.

There's a similar service on another coach, but it doesn't get back to Christchurch until 6:05 pm.

Here's a list of private tour companies that might be able to help you out:
Melnq8 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2008, 03:11 AM
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Christchurch is my favourite place in NZ. you can take a tour, hop on and hop off type, on a tram with a cheery taken for a punt on the beautiful Avon river.,,see the lovely art gallery... art centre, which has shops with glorius wool items!Have a meal or coffee in one of the dozens of delightful cafes along the Avon River.
moonrise is offline  

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