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Help with New Zealand in 4 days...we're not crazy, please read on!

Help with New Zealand in 4 days...we're not crazy, please read on!

Old Apr 6th, 2009, 09:19 AM
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Help with New Zealand in 4 days...we're not crazy, please read on!

Hi everyone,

My fiance and I have finally decided we are going to the Cook Islands (Aitutaki) for our honeymoon from October 25-November 1 2009!! We are looking into the airline tickets now, and discovered that almost all the return flights to the U.S. (LAX) are routed through Auckland, NZ. We think it is crazy to be stopping in New Zealand and not see it at all. The problem is, we really can't take more than a total of 2 weeks for our honeymoon--so we will only have 4 days (that excludes travel days) in New Zealand.

I know 4 days is not ideal. From reading other posts, it sounds like even 2 weeks for either the North or South Island isn't really enough. But we think it is a shame not to get a taste of NZ when we are going to be this close--and we hope we can go back on a future trip and explore more in depth. (If you think we are totally nuts, that would be helpful to know, too. I guess we could always just extend our Cook Island trip by 3 or 4 days.)

My question is two-fold:

-Should we do the North Island or South Island? We would be flying into Auckland, so the North Island makes more sense, but everyone seems to think the South Island is the most stunning, and I'm wondering if the SI might give us the most scenery and excitement for such a short trip. On the other hand, it involves another flight (albeit, a short one) from Auckland to Queensland or Christchurch. And it also sounds like some of the glaciers/mountains are somewhat of a drive from the main cities.

-With just 4 days, does anyone have a suggested itinerary (for either NI or SI) of a few nice things close together that we could do in a short space of time? We like mild hikes, stunning scenery, great food! We aren't into any extreme sports or strenuous hiking. Any tips for romantic, well-situated lodges or hotels would be appreciated, too!

As always, thanks so much everyone!!
kas238 is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2009, 01:56 PM
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Hi Guys - with only 4 days, you really want to get a quick snapshot of the country, and in My opinion you are not going to get it in Auckland.
My suggestion would be to get a quick connecting flight to a regional airport and rent a car for a few days, seeing as much as you can. One possibility is to fly to Masterton at the bottom of the North Island and expore the Wairarapa wine region, and coastal areas, and do a day trip to Wellington by train to see Te Papa.
alexbeijen is offline  
Old Apr 6th, 2009, 03:13 PM
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Hi kas238 -

As much as I love the SI, it just doesn't make sense for you. Suggest you spend your four days seeing as much of the NI as you can.
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 03:50 PM
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You may be "routed" through Auckland, NZ, but that doesn't mean that you can SEE anything of NZ, because it's only a STOPOVER as you continue back from the Cooks to the US.

There are direct flights from LAX to the Cooks; if you're seeing flights stopping in AKL, it's because you're looking at the less expensive flights (that no one wants because of the stopover) that aren't preferred to the direct flights; or the direct flights are sold out, and these are the leftovers.

Since this is your honeymoon, and you're not "just" looking for airfare, you'd be better off doing a package that includes both the airfare and a hotel. There are Cook Island Travel Agent Specialists, and you can just do a Google search to find one to help you pull your whole honeymoon together.

Hope this is helpful!

Certified Kiwi Specialist
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Old Apr 6th, 2009, 11:55 PM
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You do not need to travel the length and breadth of the country to get a taste of New Zealand.

It depends on how much travelling you want to do but I would suggest that you seriously consider staying in the Auckland region - note I say the Auckland Region as opposed to Auckland city. New Zealand as a destination is not somewhere where one comes for the cities and in the case of Auckland the best is certainly to be found in the surrounding area in particular the Waitakere Ranges, an area of exceptional natural beauty just under an hour from the city and airport
Here you will find stunning scenery, black sand beaches, regenerating forest, waterfalls, beautiful views and not too many people.

To the North West of the city is the Kumeu area, a largely rural area where you will find most of our local and very good vineyards – again within an hour of the city.

Further afield the Matakana area to the north east of Auckland is again another largely rural area with vineyards and some lovely beaches.


In the city itself:
The Explorer Bus is a good way to get an overview of the city:

Places of possible interest in the city include:

Viaduct Basin or Mission Bay for cafes and restaurants. The Viaduct Basin is more lively than Mission Bay and the Maritime Museum is located there. Mission Bay is more relaxing and has nice views across the harbour towards the volcanic (extinct) island of Rangitoto.

If you would like to experience Maori Culture then the Maori concert/cultural performance (4 performance each day in summer months) at the Auckland Museum is excellent. Have a look at:

Sky Tower - there is revolving restaurant at the top but you go there for the views rather than the food.

Shopping – small boutique type shops in Parnell or for larger shops and Malls just up the road in Newmarket, arguably Auckland’s best shopping area.

Just a 45 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland is Waiheke Island

The ferry ride is good way of seeing the harbour and you could pop over to Waiheke for lunch.

For an overview of Auckland have a look at:
kiwikeith is offline  
Old Apr 7th, 2009, 09:10 PM
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I'll share my experience briefly in the event it is helpful. I had a week in NZ including 2 days in a conference and also getting to the conference (which was in Napier, on Hawkes Bay in the North Island). I had flown from SFO.

Upon arriving in Auckland, I immediately flew to Queenstown on the South Island. I had several days there--doing the Routebourn Track, doing a day trip to Milford Sound, and the like. I went via airplane and used taxis.

I then flew to Christchurch for two full days, one overnight, to get a feel for the place. Took the little trolley car around town, attended services at the large church in a main square, had coffee, had a nice dinner, hung out.

Finally, flew to Napier (wonderful Art Deco architecture) for the conference, checking out a couple of wineries in Hawkes Bay and a nice meal or two, before final flight to Auckland and back to SFO. I flew Economy Plus on NZ airline, in the first row, tons of leg room and right next to business class.

So while it seemed to some ill advised to go all that way for a week in NZ, I thought it was a great trip! I hate to fly, but the little local flights in NZ were just fine--easy airports to deal with, little fuss. I saw relatively a lot of the country and had a great time. Saw lots of great scenery and got a bit of flavor of a city and a smaller region, and saw some incredible scenery. I'm glad I did it and I would go there in your shoes. I would probably head to SI via an immediate flight and explore there for the time you have. Whatever you decide, have a great trip!
annw is offline  
Old Apr 9th, 2009, 05:35 AM
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Thanks for all the responses so far!

Your advice is varied, so I am getting the sense that we could make either the North or South Island work.

kiwikeith, I appreciate all the great links, and annw, thanks so much for sharing your experience. It sounds like you had about the same amount of time we will have, and you made it work. At this point, we're just worried we're going to be tearing about and we don't want the trip to get so crazy to the point where we miss trains and planes and such...

If anyone has any other thoughts, we would love it--a few more opinions might help to tip the balance one way or the other!

Thanks again,
kas238 is offline  
Old Apr 26th, 2009, 12:35 AM
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kiwikeith has got it spot on. You just don't have enough time for the South island. If you make the most of the area around Auckland you'll get a bit of everything.
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Old Apr 27th, 2009, 01:14 PM
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Just got back from a 2-week trip - (one week NI, one week SI) & I would suggest just sticking to the NI for 4 days. No, you won't see it all, but I think it will be easier for you - trust me, the flight back to the US is not pleasant.. (& be prepared for some horrible jetlag) I would suggest renting a car & driving towards Rotorua, Taupo & on the way back to Auckland you can stop at Waitomo to go blackwater rafting and/or see the glow worms. You can do this in 4 days of waking up early. If you really want you could even try to do the Tongariro Crossing one day - but be prepared for it (& it's dependent on the weather). The Rotorua area is gorgeous - high rolling green hills. I would also suggest going to a hungi - a Maori concert & dinner - we loved the one at Mitai. On the other hand you can stay around Auckland or head North - I heard that area's very nice also.
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Old Apr 28th, 2009, 04:00 AM
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It's all good. I am from Australia and can pop over to NZ, and really it is all lovely. It is small and you can get around easily.

Don't go tearing about of course, but you will enjoy, and it is definately worth doing.

I will say my favourite is Queenstown and the South Island - really beautiful, and also very friendly.
lorikeet is offline  
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