First time to New Zealand

Dec 14th, 2004, 10:30 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,793
I am glad you enjoyed your trip!
How was the weather at the glaciers, and did you go on the horse trek or winery trips? If so, do you recommend them and have details/contact information?

Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Dec 14th, 2004, 02:06 PM
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Eager2seeNZ - what do you mean by "expensive?" For what? Food, activities, car, gas, accommodations? Thanks.
Dec 14th, 2004, 11:18 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 824
We just returned from NZ also. Most of the time, the weather was cold and wet. Both on the North and South Island. We were expecting temperatures to be like late May or early June in California or Oregon but found that the weather was more like our own December.

We also found NZ to be expensive. The US dollar has taken a nose dive in the last year and is about 30% less in value. So, every thing is more expensive than the guide books state. Rental cars are much more expensive than in the US. Petrol is over 50% higher. Rooms that would cost $50 in the US are $100 NZ (or 70 US). Breakfasts are $10 to $15 NZ (or 7 to 11 US) even at diners. Plus the coffee is $3 NZ with no refills.

Dinners everwhere run about $25 to $28 whether its in a cafe or a fancy restaurant. (Of course, fast food or takeaways are cheaper). Wine and beer are also more expensive in NZ. Just an ordinary six pack of beer was $10 or $12 dollars NZ and we found many of the wines in the markets to be cheaper here in California than there. In restaurants, the wines are more than doubled in price but there are some BYOs that are good value. As far as spirits, are concerned, forget about it. The taxes must be outrageous.

For the frugal traveler, it's best to cook in the room. Most motels have kitchens and the supermarkets are fabulous with excellent produce, seafood, and meats. We often stayed at Holiday Parks where you could either rent a room with a kitchen or for a lot less use the communal kitchen facilities. Many people opted for campervans but this option did not seem that economical for us and with the bad weather, we were happy not to be crammed into a van every night.

The activities in NZ seemed very expensive whether it was bungy jumping, jetboating, caving, wildlife viewing, 4 wheeling, or just taking a gondola ride. It seems that the majority of tourists don't drive so the excursions are geared towards those on buses and are priced accordingly with transportation and (sometimes) meals included. At least the National Parks and most of the museums are free.

Another gripe is the 12.5 GST which is levied on everything and for which there is no refund like there is in Europe or Canada for foreign travelers. In three weeks, we spent hundreds of dollars in taxes and still had to pay a departure tax of $25 NZ each just to leave the country. We felt that that was the last insult.

Yes, New Zealand is an expensive country to visit.
Otis_B_Driftwood is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 06:16 AM
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Otis_B_Driftwood - Thanks for the information regarding expenses while in NZ. Admittedly for those who are watching their budget, these prices might be high and more then one expected. But guidebooks are outdated regarding the exchange rate before they are even published - by almost a year; certainly not to be used as a guide.

However, living in New York - to me none of the amounts youlisted appear to be unusual, in fact, many are less expensive then at home.

Breakfast at a local coffee shop can easily run US$10 or more (any many places for less), more for lunch, and a $25-$30 dinner isn't unusual. Though every New Yorker (or lthose iving in any major city) knows where to find good and inexpensive meals - think Chinese and other like establishments. Personally, I think McDs is expensive for what one gets - except for the pomme frittes - the best!

G.S.T. or VAT taxes are common in many countries around the world - most of which goes to pay for many of the services the local government provides automatically, unlike in the U.S., where we regularly wonder what our taxes are actually paying for.

When in France some years back, we paid over $3.50/gallon for gas, but we at least got excellent mileage in our "automatic" car, so it was well worth the extra cost.

And as far as departure taxes - again, not unusual in many countries, though nowadays this fee is usually included in your ticket price, rather then direct payment on departure - too many of these direct payments had a way or disappearing into someones pocket.

So, I guess it's all relative. But I do appreciate your response. Thanks.
Dec 15th, 2004, 05:06 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 824
Well Sandi, I guess your magazine for trip planning is Conde' Nast. Ours is Budget Travel.

They basically drive the same cars in New Zealand that we drive here in the US so I think our little Automatic gets the same mileage as theirs but at $2.00 per gallon currently vs. about 3.00 USD in NZ (higher on the South Island than the north and higher in the smaller towns than the cities). Actually, that's not a bad price considering the size of NZ and their distance from the oil fields.

If you like McDonald's fries, you will be happy in NZ. McDonalds are everywhere and fries are served in all the restaurants but are known as "chips". Personnaly, I think the MCDonalds fries were a lot better 20 years ago when they deep fried them in animal fat.

We did find NZ to be a little more expensive than we had planned but a lot of that has to do with the value of the dollar. We were spoiled on several trips a few years ago to Canada, Australia, and Spain when the dollar was stronger.

Also, we are spoiled by living in the US where there are many travel bargains. For instance, we spent less on a room at the Westin in Chicago last summer than on a second rate room in Wellington a couple of weeks ago. And, it's hard to beat the room rates at the motel chains across the US outside of places like New York and the SF Bay Area.

The restaurant prices in NZ are really not that bad and the quality is very consistent everywhere you go. Most dinners are around $18 or $20 US per person (without wine) and the quality of the seafood, lamb, venison, and beef are superb. Also, tipping is not the norm as it is here. In fact, there is no way to leave a tip on the credit card voucher. Some places have tip jars but even they were rare. New Zealand has a very high standard of living, so they must pay their wait staff better hourly wages than we do.

New Zealand is not a cheap place to visit but it's well worth visiting. If, however, you sign up for a different adventure every day, the trip could get very costly. Also, some of the higher end lodging is very, very expensive ($1k NZ per night and up).
Otis_B_Driftwood is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 07:23 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,523
Eager2see, thanks for posting. SOrry you had such bad weather. I'm going to NZ in Jan and I'm hoping for some really hot weather ( which will be a welcome change from the Canada cold).

we are planning on doing many of the same things you wrote about, and I was wondering if you had any words of wisdom. Is there any thing you wish you had done, or an area where you wish you'd had more time?
Any area where you spent too much time? Thanks for any tips.
kodi is offline  
Dec 15th, 2004, 09:35 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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I think we should have spent 2 days at Rotorua to see more of the geothermal wonders. However, we ended up spending one day only.

As a first time traveller, we should have planned for more time in South Island.

The Tranz Alpine is really good and now I think perhaps we should have planned some acitivity there.

The glacier walk was fun.

FYI - Franz Josef is a very small town - fuel/food expensive. Kids were very bored as weather played truant.

The drive from Franz Josef to Te Anau is long - we did the right thing to slot in some activities that day along the way and it helped to ease the strain.

However, if you r driving between Frankton and TeAnau after 6 pm then you may not easily find food/fuel along the way. In fact the fuel station could operate only with eftpos not CC's.

We did not do any winery tour - cost overrun. We did two horse treks - one at Chrishchurch - Waimak - picked it up from the yellow pages and the other at Te Anau - Westtrek - they are on the web. We enjoyed both of them.

Te Papa is really worth a visit. Milford Sound is goooooood but it was very windy when we went by the real journey. I think the small boat cruises[ cancelled if weather is bad] will be better as the larger ones are more for tour groups.

Of course my expectations were sky high - after reading about NZ but the reality did not meet them. Having said that, definitely NZ is worth multiple visits and I enjoyed every bit of the holiday.
Eager2seeNZ is offline  
Dec 16th, 2004, 06:32 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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EAger2, Thanks so much for the reply.
We have planned 2 days in the Rotorua area, so I'm pleased with your opinion.
Sounds like it will be a good idea to keep the gas tank filled at larger towns and to not let it get too low.
I'm not so sure we will ahve time for wineries either. Too many other things to do!! and to spend money on!!

I hope you get back to NZ some day.
kodi is offline  

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