Driving New Zealand

Nov 14th, 2007, 06:22 AM
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Driving New Zealand

Can you drive from the Bay of Islands to Queenstown at a leisurely pace in 2 weeks and still see all the highlights?
RTR1944 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 08:13 AM
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You can drive that route in 2 weeks, but it's hard to answer this question without knowing what are the highlights you want to see.

It's a long drive, even if you went straight through. Straight from Whangarei to Wellington is 12 hr, and from Picton to QT is 10 hr. Then you have to add in the ferry.


Jed is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 09:17 AM
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Here are some things we would like to see:
Bay of Islands
Coromandel Peninsula (Whangamata)
Waitoma Glowworm Cave
Rotorua Maori ceremonial feast
Arthurs Pass
Mt. Cook
Lake Tekapo
Milford Sound
Doubtful Sound
RTR1944 is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 11:16 AM
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In my opinion the short answer is "No". With two weeks I would either stick with one island or fly between the North and South.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 14th, 2007, 02:13 PM
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We spent 10 days just on the North Island in 2004, flying in and out of Auckland and doing a loop through Whakatane, Rotorua, Taupo, Tongariro National Park, Wellington, Wanganui, Egmont National Park, Waitomo, and back to Auckland. Pictures and a brief trip report are at http://community.webshots.com/user/ElendilPickle

We got to see the things we really wanted to see, but didn't have time to visit the Bay of Islands or the Coromandel Peninsula, and we quickly realized we had no time for the South Island.

You can do your plan, but you'll spend a good deal of time in the car. The scenery is beautiful, though.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 09:48 AM
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Thanks to mlgb, we'll probably do the north half of the North Island in the first week, fly from Rotorua to Christchurch, and do the south half of South Island in the second week. And we will probably do 1-3 day stops at any given spot
RTR1944 is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 10:43 AM
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If you've not been there before, it's easy to think because NZ looks like a dot on the world map, that it is small, but it isn't!

Many of the roads are winding and don't have many easy passing zones. On the south Island tourist loop in particular, you might not average more than 50 KILOMETERS per hour, between photo stops and slow moving trucks or campervans.

It's all beautiful, so no matter where you decide to go, enjoy!
mlgb is offline  
Nov 15th, 2007, 10:49 AM
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On our trip, we spent two weeks on just the south half of the south island, and felt like we didn't see it all. Then one week just in the north half of the north island (Aukland, Bay of Islands, Cape Reinga, 90 mile beach, etc.)
Theoretically you can do what you asked, but you may end up feeling rushed everywhere and frustrated with the total trip.
BillJ is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 06:44 AM
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I would suggest that you travel fewer kilometres and see more where you do visit. The more time you spend driving, the less time you will have to get a good look at the places you pass through.

My wife and I spent two months on the north island and that was not too much.

Go to your library, take out all the travel books on New Zealand. After looking them over, go out and buy the latest edition of the one you like best.

Read and note those places of interest then chart them on a map for your route.

The book investment will be the smallest cost of your trip and give you the best information and ability to organize your travel to get the most out of your trip.

New Zealand is a wonderful place. We were there 4 times and look forward to more visits.

Have a great trip.

georgewoodie is offline  
Nov 16th, 2007, 08:46 AM
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RTR, you're still going to need to edit your list of places to see even if you fly between islands. Eg, with a short time in the North Island, I might pick one of : Bay of Islands or Coromandel, and one of: Taupo or Rotorua (you can see Waitomo Caves on the way).

On the South Island, it depends on your interests and the time of year. You may want to do a one-way drive from Christchurch to Queenstown (or the reverse depending on flights), but you'll have to chose between the west side of the Southern Alps (Arthurs Pass to the glaciers to Queenstown) or the east (Mt. Cook). You can do a day trip to Fiordland (Milford or Doubtful) from Te Anau or Queenstown, it's a long day if from Queenstown.

Some of those places listed on your other post might be there primarily because of the luxury lodge, eg Huka Lodge.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 18th, 2007, 01:48 PM
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If I have to pare my itinerary down further, then I may have to take the approach of: "If I've seen it somewhere else, why would I want to see something similar?" For example, if we have seen the Matterhorn and hiked the Aletsch glacier in Switzerland, do I rule out Mt. Cook and/or Tasman/Fox Glaciers and see something that we haven't see before like the Dunedin area?

Your thoughts?

BTW, I have been thinking of forgetting Auckland altogether in deference to the Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Penisula. What do you think?
RTR1944 is offline  
Nov 18th, 2007, 03:35 PM
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I'm all for skipping Auckland entirely.

Unique things in NZ (perhaps they live elsewhere but it was a first for me).

Glow worms (you can see them in several places, not just Waitomo).

A walk thru the bush with iconic tree ferns (you can do this lots of places).

Maori culture (but if you've been to other parts of Polynesia less so). Unless you've been to Yellowstone, the geysers etc. in Rotorua.

Milford Sound (although I haven't been to Norway).

Queenstown for the requisite view of the Remarkables for a touch of Southern Alps. I thought the cruise on the old steamship TSS Earnslaw and a jetboat ride somewhere were also unique.

Yes, the albatross and penguin colonies in Dunedin, if you are into wildlife.

I think Lake Tekapo & vicinity is absolutely beautiful and wouldn't skip it. Mt. Cook is supposed to be one of the most beautiful peaks in the world, but if that isn't your thing...

Again, I wouldn't do both Cormandel Peninsula and Bay of Islands if want to visit North and South Islands. First timers should probably go to the Bay of Islands.

I might indeed skip the glaciers because enjoyment is weather dependent. Assume you've already walked up to the terminal face of a glacier, or don't care to.

mlgb is offline  
Nov 19th, 2007, 12:20 PM
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Thank and, yes, I am into wildlife. Where are there other places to see glow worms? Any suggestions for original (not the fake stuff) Maori culture?
RTR1944 is offline  
Nov 19th, 2007, 01:44 PM
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You can see glow worms in just about any cave in NZ. Waitomo is just the most well known.
Melnq8 is offline  
Nov 20th, 2007, 07:57 PM
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Try www.nzmaori.co.nz We went to the evening concert and hangi here; it didn't feel overly touristy and we had a good time.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2007, 10:46 PM
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Glow worms..the two better known ones on the South Island are at Te Anau (a cave) and they can also be seen outdoors in Hokitika in a grove just north of the main part of town on the highway.
mlgb is offline  

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