Driving distances in NZ

Aug 19th, 2002, 12:23 PM
  #1  
Evelyn
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Driving distances in NZ

We're going to be in NZ for 16 days, flying into Auckland and leaving from Christchurch. I'm concerned that I won't be able to see all the places I want to see in that time. We were planning on driving around but should we fly instead? Here are a few of the places I want to definitely see while in NZ:
North Island- Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Waitomo
South Island- Abel Tasman (for kayaking), Marlborough, Franz Josef, Milford Sound
We would also like to do a day of wine tasting somewhere.

Is driving feasible? We would like to drive to Wellington to take the ferry across.
 
Aug 19th, 2002, 03:22 PM
  #2  
John
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Evelyn:
You might consider flying from Wellington to Picton. Takes about 25 minutes. We flew with Soundsair. Not a whole lot more expensive than the ferry, but a lot quicker. Their website is soundsair.co.nz.
John
 
Aug 19th, 2002, 08:08 PM
  #3  
ALF
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It is certainly feasible to drive your itinerary in 16 days, although you won't by lying around much! All of your North Island spots are in the northern part of the island, so you might want to see if it would be more economical to return your vehicle (you ARE getting a campervan, aren't you?) to Auckland, then fly to Christchurch. You could do a big South Island circle, going up the east coast, then over to Marlborough/Abel Tasman, then down the west coast to the glaciers and Fjordland before circling back to Auckland. I guess either way (flying or ferrying), you will cover similar distances.
 
Aug 20th, 2002, 11:48 AM
  #4  
Evelyn
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ALF- Nope, we're not renting a campervan...just a normal car. Is that crazy? We were planning to drive to the ferry because we are also thinking of stopping in Hawkes Bay for some wine tasting. But if driving is going to take too long, I'd rather skip some places so we don't feel rushed.
 
Aug 20th, 2002, 08:14 PM
  #5  
ALF
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No, its not crazy to hire a car instead of a campervan, although my family likes to travel that way. There are tons of wonderful B&Bs along the way the you could stay in. If you are on a budget, almost every town has a, 'holiday park' where you can camp, or stay in a , 'tourist flat' (some sort of cabin).

You can drive the distances you specify, and much of the way will be quite scenic. That is the way I would do it, although I think you should still compare driving distances and costs to flying between islands and renting a car on each island.

One way to save time at Abel Tasman is to hire a water taxi to take you and your kayak out to the end of the park (or some midway point), and then paddle back. The other positively luxurious thing you can do is have a water taxi deliver fresh food to you at some beach along the way, as opposed carrying all your food with you.
 
Aug 21st, 2002, 02:23 AM
  #6  
kathy
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Much easier to drop the car in Wellington and pick up another on the other side. It's a waste of money paying to take a rental car on the ferry. There are many wine growing areas besides the Hawkes Bay so if you miss it there you will catch some somewhere else, near Queenstown for instance. Napier is worth visiting though and it is the wine area as you obviously know. You will need extra time to go up to the BAy of Islands, suggest leaving that out and driving round to the east coast from Thames and going down the coast there, it is just as nice as the Bay of Islands and you wil be on your way to Rotorua from there. From Rotorua cut across to Waitomo and then down through Taupo so you can see the National Park and Mt Ruapehu. You will have to choose whether to go that way or go Taupo to Napier, you would be criss crossing all over the place if you try to do it all. It might look small on the map but there is a lot of driving involved.
 
Aug 21st, 2002, 04:48 AM
  #7  
KieranB
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Evelyn I think you're trying to do too much in such a short time. Having travelled in both the North & South islands last year in about 20days I'm sorry I didn't confine myself to one island. I used a car on the South Island only & travelled 3738km in 17days going Christchurch, Kaikoura, Nelson, Westport, Greymouth, Franz Josef, Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Dunedin, Mt.Cook, Christchurch. Shortly before going I realized that NZ is a pretty big place and mileage between towns can't really be used to judge driving times. There's an excellent calculator at http://www.purenz.com/?4DC9A478-EB9A...F-3CF8F4855830 which should help your planning. Have a good trip.
 
Aug 21st, 2002, 06:53 AM
  #8  
Dawn
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Hi Evelyn - we found NZ very drivable, but we also did a 3 internal flights, to save time (and we were there in winter, so chose to fly from Queenstown to Christchurch, in case of difficult driving conditions, and to save time).

If you want to incorporate any flights, Air New Zealand has packages where you buy vouchers for flights...very reasonable. Freedom Air has really low prices, but when we visited, they didn't fly to Queenstown.

I agree with Kathy - is it very easy to drop a car in Wellington, and pick one up again in Picton - and much cheaper than paying to cross with the car.

We loved our wine tour in the Queenstown area - we used Awesome Wine Tours, and visited 5 wineries in the Otago region. If you are interested, I can find the phone number. Our guide was Russell.

Another possible wine region (if you don't make it to Hawkes Bay) is the Marlborough region, very accessible from Picton

 
Aug 21st, 2002, 11:12 AM
  #9  
Evelyn
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Thank you all so much for your insight!
Kathy- I was thinking of not going to Bay of Islands & just visit the Bay of Plenty area instead. I can't tell the difference between the two. Doesn't soudn like I will miss a lot by not visiting Bay of Islands.

As for flying, I'm considering staying in the northern part of North Island so that I can drive back to Auckland, fly to Wellington & take the ferry across to spend time in Marlborough & Abel Tasman. Will I save a substantial amount of time flying Auckland-Wellington rather than driving? Of course, no Hawke's Bay or Napier in that case.

Hubby wants to drive everywhere and doesn't mind spending 50% of our vacation in the car but I'm definitely against that!
 
Aug 21st, 2002, 11:32 PM
  #10  
kathy
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Hi Evelyn
Just to help you a little further, i am a kiwi and used to be a sales rep driving all over the north island. So here we go, the drive to the Bay of Islands (BOI) is not a relaxed one, there are a number of hills and some windy bits, it takes longer than it looks on the map. Paihia is not a very big place, in fact very very small and unless you want to just visit a museum and go to the beaches, there's not a lot else apart from tourist shops etc. If you would like to see Pacific history, the Auckland museum is the place.The BOI are scenic but then so are lots of other areas, for instance the Marlborough Sounds that you will see on the ferry is just magnificent. You will be tired already on returning from the BOI to Auckland and have lots of other driving to do. My suggestion is leave Auckland and drive south east to Thames, old gold mining town, over the ranges to Pauanui Beach, then Whangamata Beach then south to Waihi, also a gold mining town and lovely gorge to drive through as a little side trip, only take you an extra hour to do it and then return to Waihi and carry on south. On down to Tauranga and maybe overnight but any other place before then is fine, We have lots of lovely home stays, farm stays, motels, hotels whatever takes your fancy. From Tauranga you see farmland and then approaching Rotorua the scenery changes to lots of native bush and the lakes area. You'll need two nights at least in Rotorua. From there south to Lake Taupo and over the desert road, where there are the mountains, snow capped and spectacular driving through tussock and open country. After leaving that area, it's really just a case of seeing lots of small farming towns and attractive green rolling hills. Palmerston North is your next larger city but spend time in Lake Taupo area and the mountains. Go up to the Chateau on Mt Ruapehu, time it for lunch at the chateau and visit the museum, it's great only small but very interesting. History of the National Park and skiing in the area. Once in Wellington ,it's a compact city and the harbour front is great, lots to see and do. Make sure you go to Te Papa, our national museum but completely unique and a great experience. Take a short tour of parliament buildings if you can. Once in Picton, you have the whole of the top area to explore and as you mention kayaking you will love it there. A drive down the west coast would take in Franz Josef, but on arriving in Queenstown just do a day trip to Milford Sound and return to Queenstown that day. Might be an idea to fly to Christchurch from there if you are short of time. Wine tasting can be done near Queenstown or Marlborough (around Blenheim) which is a huge wine growing area. Don't forget to look for the olive farms also. As you like kayaking takng the ferry across to the Sth Island would be an experince for you as you will want to jump off and go kayaking along the foreshores.
Also message to everyone, Air New Zealand has just dropped it's domestic fares dramatically, No frills but great value now, check out the website and book online.
What time of the year will you be down here, Evelyn?
 
Aug 22nd, 2002, 09:26 AM
  #11  
Evelyn
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Kathy- Thanks so much for your suggestions! Funny you should mention Air New Zealand because I was just on their site and say that you can do a one way from Auckland to Wellington for $59! So that's why I'm thinking of flying instead - save on time. We'll be there the last week of Nov & fist week of Dec.
 
Aug 22nd, 2002, 07:01 PM
  #12  
kathy
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Hi Evelyn

The fare sounds tempting but don't miss out on driving down the north island, you will kick yourself for ever more. As the sth island is less populated, less towns etc. use the cheapo fare Queenstown to Christchurch to fly out again. It's a great time of year to be coming, no Xmas traffic. To get a feel of NZ as a whole you must experience both islands, as they are quite different from each other, hard to believe maybe but true.
If you need anything else, just ask.
 
Aug 26th, 2002, 10:57 AM
  #13  
Evelyn
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Thank you everyone for your comments! Kathy, thanks for the suggestion of flying between Queenstown & Christchurch...didn't even think of that!
 
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