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early planning for NZ South Island trip - please provide feedback

early planning for NZ South Island trip - please provide feedback

Mar 7th, 2019, 03:57 PM
  #81  
 
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"We're going to stick with our itinerary for this trip". It'll be great.
"..but have started a list for a future visit" No doubt!
Diamantina is offline  
Mar 7th, 2019, 07:00 PM
  #82  
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Thank you Diamantina. I really appreciate all the help you’ve given me. Now that my dates are set, I’m booking hotels and transportation, especially given that we’ll be traveling during peak time (last 2 weeks of December).
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Mar 8th, 2019, 12:47 AM
  #83  
 
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If you're looking for self catering accommodation in Aoraki Mt. Cook, Aoraki Court Motel tends to be a top choice. Rooms 21-26 have unobstructed views of the mountains.
Let me know if you need advice on where to stay in Dunedin.
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Mar 8th, 2019, 05:07 AM
  #84  
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Thanks again Diamantina. If you have suggestions for Dunedin, I'm interested. The ones I've noted so far are Distinction, The Brothers Boutique Hotel, Bluestone on George, and Hotel St. Clair.
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Mar 11th, 2019, 04:04 PM
  #85  
 
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The Distinction, The Brothers Boutique Hotel, and Bluestone on George are downtown. The downtown area will be far busier the suburb of St. Clair, with more traffic and noise. Most of the university students will be on break but on cruise ship days the downtown can get pretty crowded. If you think you'll want to spend most of your time seeing the attractions in downtown Dunedin, these are good choices, though I'd have some reservations about having to walk up the hill to Brothers Boutique Hotel. You can easily see some of Dunedin's downtown attractions in a day. From about 1860 to 1900, Dunedin was NZ's first great city.

The Distinction is in the converted former chief post office, which dates back to 1937.
Search the List | Chief Post Office | Heritage New Zealand
It's only been open for four years and the rooms look to be up-to-date and of a high standard. It's in a very urban setting, surrounded by other commercial buildings, on a quieter side street, parallel and sandwiched between two much busier streets. It's walking distance to the Railway Station, Toitu Settlers Museum, the Octagon and Public Art Gallery, First Church of Otago, Speight's Brewery (brewery tours), Ocho Chocolate Factory, restaurants and cafes, the renovated but small Warehouse Precinct, and many interesting murals.

The Brothers Boutique Hotel is uphill from Speight's Brewery and across from St. Joseph's Catholic Cathedral. The street it faces, Rattray St., would be busy during daylight hours and you might hear the cars accelerating to climb the steep hill. It's also walking distance to the Railway Station, Toitu Settlers Museum, the Octagon and Public Art Gallery, restaurants and cafes, and many interesting murals, but you'd have to contend with the steep walk on your return. Otherwise, the surroundings are pleasant.

By way of reference, the Octagon is at Dunedin's center. It's akin to a town square, only eight-sided and home to the Town Hall, I-Site tourism information office, Public Art Gallery, St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, many restaurants, and some shops. If you walk a few minutes down Lower Stuart Street, which branches off the Octagon, you'll be at the Railway Station and, next to it, Toitu Museum. Lower Stuart Street is lined with shops, restaurants and art galleries. The attractively situated First Church of Otago is right off Lower Stuart Street. George Street, Dunedin's busy main shopping street, also branches off from the Octagon.

While both The DIstinction and The Brothers are south of the Octagon, Bluestone on George is to its north. This end of George St. is a little busy, but not extremely so, and it's worth noting that the motel is back from the street, up a long driveway, so you probably wouldn't hear much traffic. It's near the University of Otago and the Otago Museum and not far from Dunedin Hospital, New World Supermarket and lots of other shops. It's walking distance to the Octagon, the Railway Station, Toitu Museum and Olveston House. One of the buses that stops along George St. will get you to the Botanic Garden in less than 5 minutes; it would probably take around 15 minutes to walk there. The area is partly residential. Based on photos I've seen, the motel's units look modern, comfortable, and of a high standard.

Hotel St. Clair is on the St. Clair beachfront, known as The Esplanade. St. Clair is a residential suburb of Dunedin, about a 10-minute drive from the Octagon, but the #8 bus that stops next to the hotel will take you from St. Clair to the Octagon in about 25 minutes (it used to take only 15 minutes but they recently changed the routing). If you stay on the bus a little longer, it'll take you Bluestone on George, within one block of the Otago Museum and University of Otago, and it also stops at the Botanic Garden and Baldwin Street. A taxi from Hotel St. Clair to the Octagon would probably cost around NZ$25.
Some of Hotel St. Clair's rooms have unobstructed ocean views.
On weekends, during the day, the Esplanade will be busy, but by early evening, there won't be many folks about. Not many folks about on weekdays, either, though you'll be here during school holidays so if the weather is especially fine, there might be lots of Kiwi families walking along the waterfront.
There was a restaurant on the ground floor, but it closed not long after the hotel changed hands a few years ago. However, other restaurants are just steps away (Spirit House, Esplanade, Salt and Starfish). There's also a cafe at the Saltwater Pool at the end of the Esplanade. A fish and chips takeway, a butcher, a and small but good Four Square Market are five minutes walk away.
If you're a swimmer, you'd enjoy the Saltwater Pool, which is heated to 28C (82F).
At high tide, waves pound against the seawall that separates The Esplanade from the ocean. At low tide, you can walk on the beach, which is two miles long. Sometimes endangered sea lions lounge on this beach. The beach is Dunedin's most accessible and popular with surfers, paddleboarders, kayakers, dog walkers, joggers, but rarely busy. There's also a short walking track, Second Beach, that starts above the Saltwater Pool. It's worth seeing the basalt columns at the end of this track. which are evidence of Dunedin's volcanic past.

If you enjoy looking at the ocean, walking on the beach and think you'd prefer to stay in a quieter, beachy suburb instead of the busier downtown area, this would be a better choice.

In my opinion Dunedin's main attraction is its rare wildlife and the best way to see it is on a tour. I recommend the Elm Wildlife Peninsula Encounters Tour. The Monarch Cruise, Royal Albatross Colony, Blue Penguins Pukekura, and Penguin Place (penguin rehab centre) are other wildlife operators worth visiting. Larnach Castle is also a top Otago Peninsula attraction. The Elm Tour will pick you up from your accommodation. Not sure about the other tour operators. If there are four of you, you might consider a personalized private tour with Mateo off untamedNZ. I've no personal experience with this company, but it gets positive reviews. You might be able to design a tour that would take you around the peninsula, but also to Orokonui Eccosanctuary and/or Tunnel Beach, both of which are not on the peninsula. Tunnel Beach is about a 10 minute drive from Hotel St. Clair, so you could probably catch a taxi or uber to it. This is steep but short walking track that would be beautiful on a clear, sunny day.

Last edited by Diamantina; Mar 11th, 2019 at 04:19 PM.
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Mar 12th, 2019, 03:09 AM
  #86  
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Thank you so much, Diamantina. I appreciate you taking the time to help make my choice easier with this added information. I plan on spending a full day in the city, one on the peninsula, and another half day for other things that may be of interest.
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Mar 12th, 2019, 03:20 PM
  #87  
 
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If you need more info about Dunedin, just ask. I currently live up the hill from Hotel St. Clair and regularly pass the other accommodations. I'd just add that because Hotel St. Clair is on the beachfront, you'll have more expansive views and feel less closed in by other buildings. There's other accommodation along the Esplanade, including the Hydro, Esplanade Motel and Apartments, and on the street behind the Esplanade, the Apartments at St. Clair.
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Mar 12th, 2019, 05:51 PM
  #88  
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Thanks again Diamantina. I will be sure to ask more questions as we get closer and think more about how we spend our time.
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Mar 18th, 2019, 09:24 PM
  #89  
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Diamantina, have you heard of the Chamberson Hotel? It is a smaller boutique hotel and seems to have some good character, although it is fairly new.
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Mar 19th, 2019, 01:10 AM
  #90  
 
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That's very interesting about the Chamberson Hotel, which I'd not heard about until now. This is a heritage building, that was previously "Conservation House", home to the Dunedin Dept. of Conservation, the Yellow Eyed Penguin Trust, and perhaps some other conservation groups. I'd been there a half dozen times or more for volunteer sessions.The conservation groups relocated to more modern and spacious offices a couple of years ago.

It's good to see that such a contemporary and stylish hotel has made great new use of this historic space. It is conveniently situated on Lower Stuart St., the shop- and restaurant-lined street that runs from the Octagon to the Railway Station. It's ideal for seeing central city attractions and for dining out. The traffic along the cross street, Cumberland St. (northbound SH1) might be an issue, more so on weekends, I would think, or on nights when there are concerts at the stadium (though this only happens about 10 times a year). According to above article, they installed double glazing so it might be fairly soundproof and I can see by the photos that some of the sleeping areas are behind partitions, so further shielded by potential street noise. But if noise is a concern, read through reviews carefully and ask for a room on the much quieter Stuart St. side of the building. I often stay in European city centers, sometimes above streets much busier than this one, and I'll just request a quiet room, which seems to work. The hotel is so new I see it only has 13 reviews on TA, 10 are "excellent" and three are "terrible", but in reading through these "terrible" reviews the complaints seem ridiculous. More reviews on Booking.com. And Hotels.com.

Also, if you'll be visiting in late December, most of the university will be on summer break and the city will be a lot quieter and calmer. You're not likely to be indoors during the day, as there are plenty of indoor and outdoor attractions in Dunedin. You'll be close to the new central bus hub, where you can catch the bus to St. Clair Beach or the Botanic Garden. Or just jump in a taxi or Uber. Otherwise, you can just walk everywhere. If you think you'd enjoy spending time in the museums and art galleries, exploring cities, sitting in cafes watching the world go by, then this would be a good spot.

Last edited by Diamantina; Mar 19th, 2019 at 02:04 AM.
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Mar 19th, 2019, 06:51 AM
  #91  
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Thanks for the thorough response, Diamantina. This is very helpful. We’ve lived in big cities all our lives (NYC, Chicago, DC) so we won’t be bothered by the noise.
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Mar 24th, 2019, 05:21 PM
  #92  
 
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Here's a recent article about the Chamberson Hotel:
https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/d...eritage-awards

On Saturday, I photographed Lower Suart St. (the quieter, less busy of the cross streets it's located on).

The red building is the Chamberson Hotel. The tall tower about a block away from it is the Dunedin Railway Station, home to the Taieri Gorge Railway and Saturday Morning Farmers Market. The other tower to its right is the Law Courts building. Toitu Settlers Museum (not shown) is a couple of minutes walk from the Railway Station. First Church of Otago (not shown) is to the right of Gallery de Novo (in the center of this photo). The Law Courts Hotel directly across from the Chamberson Hotel is is an Art Deco building. Toitu Settlers Museum comprises three different styles of architecture, including the Art Deco NZR Road Services Bus Station (the former Art Deco station waiting room and ticket windows are worth a look).
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Mar 25th, 2019, 10:00 AM
  #93  
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Thank you so much, Diamantina. I've successfully booked all of our accommodations for NZ, including the Chamberson, as well as the activities for the Te Anau portion of the trip given that it is taking place over the holidays. Cannot wait.
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Mar 25th, 2019, 04:54 PM
  #94  
 
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You're welcome. I hope you enjoy Dunedin city, the Elm Wildlife Peninsula Encounters tour, Tunnel Beach, the Chamberson Hotel, and that the sun will shine and clouds will part for your visit. Even though you won't be bothered too much by the noise, you might want to enquire about their rooms on the (Lower) Stuart Street side of the Chamberson, if possible. The other side, Cumberland St., serves as the northbound state highway. So not only cars, but buses, and large stock trucks, some full of sheep and cows use this road.

Have a wonderful time!
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Mar 25th, 2019, 06:19 PM
  #95  
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You’re the best Diamantina.
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Jul 2nd, 2019, 01:56 PM
  #96  
 
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tp -- hey, what's your final itin? I thought I was following along, but seemed to be uncertain.
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Jul 2nd, 2019, 02:15 PM
  #97  
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Hi Yestravel. Our final itinerary in NZ is as follows:

Flight from DC to Christchurch
Christchurch, 3 nights (Heritage Hotel)
Aoraki Mt. Cook, 2 nights (Hermitage)
Queenstown, 4 nights (St. Moritz)
Te Anau, 3 nights (Te Anau Lodge)
Dunedin, 3 nights (Chamberson)
Flight to Sydney
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Jul 2nd, 2019, 04:07 PM
  #98  
 
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thanks!
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