early planning for NZ...

Jan 12th, 2008, 03:00 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 85
early planning for NZ...

I THINK I ORIGINALLY POSTED THIS IN THE WRONG PLACE...

We are looking at a NZ trip from the US for February, 2009, for 3 weeks.

We are an active couple in our 40s, no kids. Money is somewhat a factor, although not an overriding one. We don't want to waste money obviously.

We are considering:

Flying into AKL.
Taking a bus to BOI for couple of days, using ferry and taxis while there, taking at least a day cruise, maybe kayaking. Or should we fly to Kerikeri?
Flying from Kerikeri to Nelson.
Rent car in Nelson.
Couple of days at Abel Tasman to kayak.
Rest of time driving through SI sightseeing.
Fly home from CHC (trying to use AA FF miles, hope this is possible!)

Want to definitely spend some time in Te Anau for Sounds cruises.
Maybe a hangi around QTown.
Want to spend a day fishing with a guide. Where is a good place on SI? River or lake fishing, not sea.
The glaciers are not a must since we have walked around on Athabasca Glacier in Alberta.
We don't want to be so rushed with driving around that we miss getting the feel of NZ.

Any thoughts on this? Absolutely do not miss places? Should we skip the NI altogether? This may be our only chance to go to NZ...

TIA for your ideas, comments!
mrpink is offline  
Jan 14th, 2008, 01:03 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8
Hi there - I'm an NZer repaying Fodorites for all their help planning a trip my partner and I did to Botswana - my thoughts for your trip:

- 1. Taking a bus to BOI for couple of days, using ferry and taxis while there, taking at least a day cruise, maybe kayaking. Or should we fly to Kerikeri? A: Brilliant, although Air NZ flights up to the BOI are not expensive and can be booked online. It's a long drive from Auckland and not so much fun on a bus - the scenery is farmland and its really in the Bay itself that you get the picturesque landscape. Day cruises and kayaks abound up there and can be booked on the day - a great boat to take out to the Hole in the Rock (not to be missed) is the MacAttack - a large super fast jet boat that will take you right into sea caves and through the hole in the rock depending on the tide and weather conditions.

- 2. Flying from Kerikeri to Nelson. Rent car in Nelson. Couple of days at Abel Tasman to kayak. A: Also brilliant I did the Abel Tasman a couple of years ago, make sure you only kayak one way through the park so that you go further up into the park from Marahau rather than having to double back on yourself. They bring your kayaks back on the jetboat. Blenheim - home of vineyards and a really good chocolate factory is only a short drive form Nelson and is a gorgeous spot.


- 3. Rest of time driving through SI sightseeing. A: Cool - also consider getting a small campervan, sounds terrible but the campervan spots in the South Island are some of the best spots and you'll find the views amazing. There are also hotels/motels though. The best parts of the SI are the central lakes in the Mackenzie Basin - Tekapo, Pukaki, Ohau, Wanaka and Wakatipu / Queenstown. Breathtaking. I personally prefer Wanaka to Wakatipu. There is also a great lodge on Lake Ohau, amazingly called the Ohau Lodge - it's old fashioned (think deer antlers on the wall and home comforts) but in a neat location and they recently (couple of years ago) renovated one of their wings so that it is more up to date.
Fly home from CHC (trying to use AA FF miles, hope this is possible!)

- 4. Want to definitely spend some time in Te Anau for Sounds cruises.
Maybe a hangi around QTown.
Want to spend a day fishing with a guide. Where is a good place on SI? River or lake fishing, not sea.
The glaciers are not a must since we have walked around on Athabasca Glacier in Alberta. A: Agreed - Dusky Sound and Milford Sound are the two best in my opinion, so a trip to Te Anau / Manapouri is a must. Trout fly-fishing (rivers) should easily be booked in Queenstown and can be done from Makarora or the guide will take you from Queenstown central. I would focus on the Mackenzie Basin and not worry too much about the east coast of the South Island - while places like Haast and the Moeraki Boulders are amazing, and Karamea at the top is also pretty special, they are spread out on the coast in between some fairly desolate places where accomodation is not so easy to find. That appeals to some though.

- 5. We don't want to be so rushed with driving around that we miss getting the feel of NZ. A: Yes - focus on the Bay of Islands, Nelson/Blenheim and then down to the Mackenzie Basin (lakes) and a bit further South for Te Anau / Manapouri.

Hope that helps - happy to answer more specific Qs, sorry if I don't get back to you I'm only on Fodors periodically.
bigglescat is offline  
Jan 16th, 2008, 09:10 AM
  #3  
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Thank you so much Biggles! That was very helpful.

So, do you think with only 3 weeks, we should skip the NI altogether, since we really only intended to do BOI there? We definitely want to spend a few days in the Abel Tasman area, and it may be similar enough for our purposes (of squeezing in the areas of NZ most appealing to us) to allow us to skip NI and BOI altogether.

Again, thanks for taking the time to respond!
mrpink is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 06:04 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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You're welcome I would say that if you spend a bit more and fly out of Auckland and up to the BOI, and then fly back again, to maximise your time on the ground, it would be worth including the NI. If you end up bussing, I would say skip it and just focus on the SI, leaving the NI to another time! The BOI has a lot of history for NZ, as one of the early places where Maori and the European settlers interacted, and where our founding document, the Treaty of Waitangi, was first signed (you can learn about this, and see one of the originals, at the Treaty Grounds, at Paihia). It would be a shame to miss it.

Abel Tasman and BOI are similar. However, Abel Tasman, once you're into the National Park, has no, or very little, evident history and human development, so its an experience of gorgeous, natural, NZ. The BOI on the other hand has aspects that are untouched, gorgeous and wild, but also has the history, great hotels, restaurants, cafes and adventure activities. I personally like the restaurants and boutique B&Bs on the Russell side - you can get a cute little ferry from one side to the other.

Marine mammal spotting etc, if you're into that, I would day is better in the BOI. I did see dolphin, Killer Whales and seals in Abel Tasman when kayaking, but I saw dolphins, Killer Whales, shark and whales (no seals) in the BOI. The BOI has, I think, better tourist operations that will take you out there with snorkel gear and let you swim with dolphins, if they find them that day. I don't think they have that in Abel Tasman.

Depends what you are keen on!!
bigglescat is offline  
Jan 20th, 2008, 11:12 AM
  #5  
GBC
 
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Hi mrpink,

As you are from the US and have some time to plan your trip I have two books that you might like. I have NZ B&B Guide for 2005 and Alexander Elder's softcover Straying from the Flock/Travels in NZ. They are both in excellent shape. We had them for a trip of our own. Cleaning out the closet now and if you are interested I'll send them to you anywhere in the USA for free. I'll need your name and address of course. Let me know.
GBC is offline  
Jan 20th, 2008, 03:40 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
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If you don't get a taker on the books I would love to have them. I am going to New Zealand the end of May.
wassy is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2008, 01:07 AM
  #7  
GBC
 
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wassey.....If you are in the USA, I would be happy to mail them to you. Please provide the details I'll need to send them off.
GBC is offline  
Feb 12th, 2008, 12:13 AM
  #8  
 
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I would look thru the many threads already on here regarding sensible itineraries for three weeks, a lot of very experienced travellers have replied to your very question many times.
KathyNZ is offline  
Feb 14th, 2008, 01:39 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,283
Hi Mr. Pink,

as you've gotton such good advice, I'll just address the one thing that caught my eye:

using AA miles --

1. American doesn't fly to/from New Zealand.

You might be able to try to use AA mileage on Qantas, as they're partners, but I know you can ACCRUE AA mileage when flying on Qantas, but I believe you actually need Qantas frequent flyer mileage to USE mileage to get a ticket. Check with Qantas on that.

Also, if it were possible, you'd end up flying Christchurch / Sydney and then to the U.S.

and a possible stop in AKL as well; even the Air New Zealand flights will sometimes have a connection through Auckland as well.

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Kiwi Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Feb 14th, 2008, 05:29 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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mrpink, when I was young and quick, my husband and I saw the North and South Island of New Zealand all in one short trip. We just blew right past some of the most amazing scenery on the planet Earth.

Years later, all that remains in my memory of that very first trip to New Zealand is magnificent Mount Cook and the awesome Milford sound, plus a lot of baby lambs dotting the green spring hillsides.

Therefore, when we planned our second trip to New Zealand, when we were older and slower and wiser, we knew that less is more. We had a fantastic 25th anniversary trip to the southern half of the South Island of New Zealand in February 2007.

Enjoy your trip to paradise on earth. if you click on my name, you might be able to find my enthusiastic trip report on New Zealand for February 2007. if you browse this forum, you will notice that New Zealand has inspired many poets writers dreamers hikers romantics and travelers to write trip reports about New Zealand.
Melissa5 is offline  
Feb 14th, 2008, 06:26 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Melissa5 - you hit the nail on the head, when you said, "Less is more". I keep telling people on this travel chat board, to slow down & smell the roses. Don't rush through NZ trying to see everything every site. I met a lovely NZ couple in a homemade campervan in he North Island, in a small village on the lesser travelled road in the North Island. They were working at various properties, saving money as they go, driving short distances each day, and seeing alot of the countryside, and people. I thought you lucky guys.
If anyone was to tell me that they only had a short period of time to see NZ, I would suggest the south island, as I feel its jaw dropping with mountain scenery, lakes, trout fishing, wild rivers, beautiful countryside, fiords (or sounds), little highway traffic (compared to the north island), lower population than the north island.
tropo is offline  
Feb 15th, 2008, 02:57 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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tropo, I can totally understand your perspective on New Zealand. Less is more. I don't remember much of the North Island of New Zealand, because our first trip those many years ago was much too fast.

But as for the South Island of New Zealand, jaw-dropping" in your words is a perfect description.

mrpink, enjoy exploring your many wonderful options. our second trip was in February 2007, and I notice you will also be traveling in February. February is a great month for New Zealand. The beginning of February is still the end of summer.

One way to save money on vacation is to reduce the cost of transportation. It costs more money to add more flights to your trip. Choose a couple of fantastic destinations, and use those as bases for your explorations.

if you want to see Mount Cook, there is a nice little mountain lodge that you should book ahead of time, before it books up. It is called the Aoraki Mt. Cook Alpine Lodge, and it is right in Mt. Cook Village. It is cheaper and more homey than the expensive Hermitage Hotel. That is all mentioned with web sites in my trip report for February 2007.

Te Anau is a great base for exploring many beautiful sites off Milford Rd, and for exploring Milford or Doubtful Sound. Campbell Autolodge in Te Anau has good prices, is a good base for Fiordland, and has self-serve laundry, plus views of the lake. I think Campbell Autolodge is still #1 of the Te Anau hotels on tripadvisor. There might be 2 with the same name. This is the one run by Barry Campbell.

We also stayed just outside of Queenstown in a nice small apartment called Villa del Lago. It was a 20-minute walk into Queenstown. We had laundry right in our apartment. It was cheaper than many of the hotels in Queenstown.

Have a wonderful trip!I have photos if you want to see them.
Melissa5 is offline  

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