Help planning May 2010 NZ Trip

Old Aug 11th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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Help planning May 2010 NZ Trip


My mother and I will be taking a trip to New Zealand in May 2010 (I'll turn 25 three days after she turns 50 that year!), and decided specifically on May 8-May 21. Well, to be more specific, we'll leave from LAX Saturday, May 8, which means we'll get to NZ the following Monday morning, and we'll leave on May 21st. If I counted correctly, it's 11 days.

We want to cover both the North and South Island, since this is likely the only time we'll be able to come to New Zealand. We're flying from LAX into Auckland. I'm trying to decide if we should immediately catch a plane down to Queenstown and then work our way back north, as we'll be flying out of Auckland as well. I know it'll be autumn while we're there, so we're hoping if we go South first, we'll catch the tail end of the summer weather enough that it won't be completely rainy or snowy or whatever and we can still get stuff done.

As for what stuff we're doing, we're still trying to figure that out. There's soooooo much to do, and we don't know where to begin! There are really five things on our must-do list:

1) Zorbing in Rotorua. We've been wanting to do this since we saw it on The Amazing Race (and yeah, there's a location in TN and a knock off version in PA, but it's just not the same as doing it in NZ, ya know?!)
2) Glow worm caves.
3) Maori traditional hangi
4) Wildlife cruise (hoping to see dolphins, maybe penguins?)
5) Stay at the Garden View B&B in Rolleston- it's owned by the parents of the host of The Amazing Race.

I'd like to go bungee jumping; I hope to get a tattoo wile I'm down there; I wouldn't mind checking out Hobbiton; I'd like my mom to see a glacier in real life.

Does anyone have any advice on where to start planning a trip like this? Would it be good to fly immediately from Auckland to Queenstown and then work our way back up? Should we rent a car and drive? Or would it be better to fly between places? Or will we need to do a combination- drive from Auckland to Rotorua, but then fly from Rotorua to Christchurch and from Christchurch to Queenstown? It seems like if we drive, we'll be spending a lot of our very short time in New Zealand in a car...

Any advice on anything would be greatly appreciated!!!
MalTru is offline  
Old Aug 11th, 2009, 08:26 AM
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A true Amazing Race fan...

The first 3 things on the list are all around Auckland- Rotorua. The second two things are near Christchurch.
What were you going to see in Queenstown?

I would fly between the two islands. Drive between cities on the same island.

Logically the best plan is to start furthest south, but there is no predicting NZ weather over an 11 day period. I would just pick whichever city gives you the best connecting flights.

Seeing the glaciers on the west coast will take a few days out of the schedule. It is faster to go down the east side of the Southern Alps, spend a night in Mt. Cook NP, see the Tasman Glacier (you can book a tour to do this, there are little float trips in the glacial terminal lake also). There is the expensive and often cancelled (but oh so worthwhile)Glacier Grand Circle tour by the Mt. Cook Ski Planes . I believe you can also find a glacier flight out of Queenstown.

I would consider doing a cruise out of Kaikoura, in addition to the sperm whales there are dolphins and a variety of seabirds including some albatross. Kaikoura is about 3 hours easy drive along the coast, north of Christchurch.

I would check the penguins website, I'm thinking May is about the worst month for pengie sightings. The only ones you might see in May are the little blues, the most famous viewing area isn't that far from Christchurch, in Oamaru (there may be others closer to Christchurch). I think I might drop this from the itinerary.

BTW Google maps now works for NZ. is another good on line mapping program
mlgb is offline  
Old Aug 11th, 2009, 05:10 PM
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Another option for penguin and dolphin viewing is Akaroa, which is 90 minutes from Christchurch (Banks Peninsula.) We once took a tour with the Pohatu Marine Reserve to view blue penguins, great tour, small groups and very personalized. Be prepared to tromp around in the bush for this one.

With your limited time you might consider flying to Queenstown and then driving back to Christchurch via the west coast (glaciers) or vice versa. This will save you a day of driving, you'd miss out on Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo, but since they're not on your wish list, it might be a good option for you.

Is your only interest in Queentown the bungy jumping (and maybe that tatoo)?
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Aug 11th, 2009, 05:57 PM
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Hi Mal!

This sounds like an awesome trip for you and your Mom! And I see you're big fans of my favorite show..the Amazing Race! I've been waiting years for someone to do the Zorb! We want a full report (or at least I do).

To maximize your time (and with 11 days you need to), as Melnq said, the best way is to fly between the islands. Once you're on the South Island, rent a car and drive.

Did you know that you can tandem bungey jump? I'm thinking the Ultimate Mother / Daughter Bonding experience!


Certified Kiwi Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Old Aug 11th, 2009, 07:04 PM
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You're trying to fit a lot in 11 days; as others have said, you'll definitely need to fly between islands.

If you click on my name, you'll find my trip report from April 2004. We spent 10 days on the North Island and had a wonderful time.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Old Aug 12th, 2009, 06:23 AM
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LOL Melodie- my mom has made it clear that bungee jumping is definitely a solo activity for me! Though, I've still got a while to change her mind

Thank you all SO MUCH for this advice!
MalTru is offline  
Old Aug 14th, 2009, 05:20 PM
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Hey, if Mom's up for the Zorb, she can do the bungy jump with her feet tied together (which they will be!). Seriously, you're talking about the equivalent of being in a washing machine pitched down a hill! What's a measley little step off a bridge in tandem compared to that?!

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