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-   -   Help with planning a 10 day trip to NZ in February (https://www.fodors.com/community/australia-and-the-pacific/help-with-planning-a-10-day-trip-to-nz-in-february-1082816/)

RENEACHRISTINE Jan 3rd, 2016 05:38 PM

Help with planning a 10 day trip to NZ in February
 
In February, my boyfriend and I are flying into Auckland and departing from there 10 days later. We will have 10 days and 9 nights total. We plan on taking the ferry the SI where we will rent a vehicle and explore and experience as much of the SI as we can. We will be camping and staying at airbnb rentals.We are wondering if campgrounds will be full if we don't reserve ahead of time? Planning our itinerary is overwhelming with all there is to see! We will begin in the North Region and head our way south to Milford Sound and then to the Catlins Region. That is as far as we have gotten with our planning and is tentative based on further research and recommendations. Any suggestions/recommendations for travel routes and must see destinations within our time frame?
We are beyond excited for our adventure to begin!

tasmangirl Jan 3rd, 2016 09:25 PM

Feb 2016? That does not leave much time for planning and booking anything.
February is busy with 2 long weekends for all of NZ and Feb 8th is Chinese New Year when everything is incredibly booked out.
How will you get to the ferry? It is a 8 hour drive from Auckland and I would not recommend driving that distance if you have flown from the US and are not familiar with driving on the left. The bus is possible but will take 14-15 hours.
Fly straight to Queenstown from Auckland.
Day 1 - arrive in Auckland
Day 2- fly to Queenstown (1 hour flight)
Day 3- explore Queenstown
Day 4- Milford Sound day trip (14 hours in the bus)
Day 5- Wanaka or more time in Queenstown?
Day 6- Mt Cook
Day 7- Lake Tekapo
Day 8-explore Christchurch
Day 9-fly Christchurch to Auckland
Day 10-depart Auckland
The Catlins are out of the way for such a short time. Decide on some priorities and plan with those. Driving in NZ takes longer than you would think and spending all day in the car is not much fun.

Melnq8 Jan 4th, 2016 06:19 AM

You have indeed left things rather late for traveling at such a busy time.

I assume your flights are booked. Is the ferry booked? Is your car/camper booked?

If so, great, if not, I suggest you start with that and then work on the itinerary.

Both islands in 9 days is going to be a serious stretch, let alone driving from the far north of the SI to the far south.

I suggest you look at a map and work out the travel distances to each of these places. You will find you'll spend every waking moment in your vehicle.

tasmangirl has provided you a good itinerary, I suggest you take her advice.

deSchenke Jan 4th, 2016 07:47 AM

New Zealand is far larger than you realize!

Driving from Auckland to the Catlins, and back again in 10 days is only achievable by spending your entire day in the driver's seat. With arrival and departure set at Auckland, you can only hope to see North Island and have any reasonable time to explore.

If you get connecting flights in and out of Queenstown, you could do a loop of the lower South Island.

Day 1 - arrive in Auckland, connect to Queenstown
Day 2- explore
Day 3- drive to Te Anau (2nts)
Day 4- Milford Sound day trip, by bus or self-drive
Day 5- Drive to Curio Bay
Day 6- Day to explore Catlins, stay over Kaka Point
Day 7- Drive to Wanaka
Day 8- explore
Day 9- Drive to Queenstown, fly to Auckland
Day 10-depart Auckland

Accommodation and/or campervans may be scarce with such short notice.

Another possibility is to connect into Wellington, take the ferry, and make your way to Queenstown. Try not to plan any day's drive to be more than 3.5 hours (using googlemaps times). Google often underestimates. Plus with stops for food, fuel, photos and short walks, you could easily spend 8 hours doing that 3.5-hr drive!

ElendilPickle Jan 4th, 2016 01:46 PM

With such a short time, I would restrict yourself to one island. We did a 10-day trip in 2004 (trip report is here if you click my name) and spent all our time on the North Island - Auckland, Whakatane, Rotorua, Tongariro, Wellington, Whanganui, New Plymouth, Waitomo, and back to Auckland. As you can see, we moved around a lot, but it worked for us.

Since you want to spend most of the trip on the South Island, I'd fly to Queenstown right after you arrive in Auckland and fly back to Auckland from Christchurch.

Lee Ann


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