Help with Sydney and NZ in December

Old Sep 23rd, 2005, 12:44 AM
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Help with Sydney and NZ in December

Just got a special deal to Sydney and would like to take the chance of going to NZ (which we planned for years but never got a chance).

My husband and I will arrive in Sydney around noon on December 15. We could only get a connection to Christchurch at 6:25 pm on the same day, arriving in Christchurch at 11:25 pm.

We'll depart from Queenstown at 4:10 pm on December 24 to Sydney where we will spend 4 nights (including Christmas) and fly home.

We're thinking of the following itinerary in NZ:
Christchurch 2 nights
Transalpine train to Greymouth; pick up car
West Coast 2 nights
Te Anau 2 nights
Queenstown 3 nights

We would like to know:
1. Is our itinerary OK and reasonable? We don't want to be in a rush and we know we can never see enough. Any suggestions for changes?
2. How do we get to downtown in Christchurch at that time of the day? Is taxi available and is it expensive?
3. Where and when to buy transalpine train tickets?
4. Where should we spend the 2 nights on the West Coast? Glaciers?
5. Which car rental company do you suggest?
6. Any recommendation for accomodation in these towns? We want something convenient and small. Our budget will be around 250NZD per night.

Thanks in advance.

maxi is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2005, 05:24 AM
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Hi maxi,
We will be arriving in NZ about one week after you leave. Your itinerary is very similar to ours.

We have decided on the following accommodation:

Franz Josef Glacier: Punga Grove
http://www.pungagrove.co.nz/tariff.asp

Te Anau: Campbell Autolodge
http://www.cal.co.nz/

You may want to consider an overnight cruise on either Milford or Doubtful Sound
www.realjourneys.co.nz/Main/OvernightCruises/
www.realjourneys.co.nz/Main/Doubtfulovernight/


Queenstown: Browns Boutique Hotel
http://www.brownshotel.co.nz/

I hope that helps!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2005, 09:01 PM
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Tim and Liz,

Thanks for sharing your info and ideas. I will look at them carefully.

I keep on reading more and more posts and information about the South Island and realise that it's a long drive to Te Anau from the Glaciers. Should we make a stopover in Wanaka? But in that case, we have to take a day off Queenstown. Any advice?

The only thing we have now is the air-tickets. We have to confirm the trip to Sydney in one or two days and we already called to obtain the trip from Sydney to NZ with our miles.

Please advise. Thanks.
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Old Sep 24th, 2005, 06:14 AM
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Hi again maxi,
Could you rearrange your schedule so that you travel from the glaciers to Queenstown and then to Te Anau?
I know you depart from Queenstown, but it isn't until 4:10pm. You should have plenty of time to drive from Te Anau (and possibly from either of the overnight cruise places) to get to Queenstown in sufficient time for your flight. Just an idea.
Liz
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Old Sep 24th, 2005, 07:07 AM
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As to the Tranz Alpine train, go to

<b>http://www.tranzscenic.co.nz/services/alpine.aspx</b>

and buy a ticket as soon as you are reasonably sure of your dates. I suspect that the train will be crowded in Dec.

I agree with Tim and Liz that you should go from the West Coast to Queenstown, then to TA. Also, that you have plenty of time to go from TA to QT on Dec 24.

As to whether you should stay in Wanaka, I would say no, spend the time in QT. You could spend some time in Wanaka on the way from WC to QT, but we did not find much to do in Wanaka.

As to the WC, do you want to go walking on a glacier? Your thoughts....

What do you want to do in TA? How about an overnight on either Milford or Doubtful sounds, and 1 night in TA?

For NZ 250 you can have very good accommodations, especially if you check prices on sites such as

<b>http://www.hotelclub.net/</b>

or even emailing the hotels directly. You may get better prices than those listed on their websites.

You might get some pointers from my report at

<b>http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=3&amp;tid=34602230</b>
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Old Sep 24th, 2005, 04:00 PM
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Thanks for all your recommendations and suggestions.

Tim and Liz, as you may see in my other post, Browns Boutique is already fully booked. I also agree your suggestion of going to Queenstown first. That seems to be much more reasonable.

And Jed has pointed out something very important. We do not intend to do any hiking, not even on the glaciers. In that case, is it still worthwhile to go there? Perhaps a helicopter ride? Is it worth it? Or will we be better going somewhere else?

We have even considered going down from Christchurch, going to Dunedin, back to TA and finish in Queenstown. A completely different route. What are your thoughts?
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Old Sep 25th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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My thoughts:

If you don't want to hike, then consider spending 1 night on WC, either at FJ or Fox, just to see the WC. Then QT, then TA.

Whether a heliride is worth it depends on how much you want to see the glaciers.

Or, considering your latest itinerary, it is reasonable, going through Dunedin. But then you should really consider the Southern Scenic Route through the Catlins. Straight from DUD to TA is dullsville.

If you were going to make full use of the WC, then that would be my choice. Otherwise, it would be a hard decision between WC and Catlins.

Also, there is a difference of thoughts here as to whether the drive from CC to DUD is interesting or just long. Consider flying.
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Old Sep 25th, 2005, 09:04 AM
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A more scenic routing is to go from Christchurch via L. Tekapo and Omarama to Cromwell. From Cromwell you can go on to Queenstown.
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Old Sep 25th, 2005, 03:45 PM
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Thanks for your suggestions.

We sat down and discussed what we wanted to see together and decided that we would go though the west coast.

Now, we are pretty much sure that we will not hike. We're going to do a heliride.

In that case, is 1 night really enough?And where do you suggest us to stay? And if so, where can we spend the other night?
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Old Sep 25th, 2005, 04:10 PM
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Maxi -

Two nights in either Franz or Fox is a good idea - the weather on the West Coast is often iffy and helicopter flights are frequently cancelled. It took us four trips to the area before we had decent enough weather to actually take a helihike, so you'll increase your chances by staying two nights. Even if you don't plan to hike, there's alot to see in the area and you'll easily fill your time there.
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Old Sep 26th, 2005, 09:44 PM
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Hi, maxi,
Some thoughts for the West Coast....
- visit Lake Matheson for wonderful reflections, particularly early in the morning (so my husband tells me every time we drive past- we are going there early January 2006 so I can see for myself!), a guided trip from Whataroa to the Okarito Sanctuary - about 3 hours return; Punakaiki north of Greymouth for the Pancake Rocks; Shantytown for a glimpse of the past; Hokitika to buy some beautiful greenstone / jade. Hope that helps to fill in your days!
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Old Sep 29th, 2005, 01:16 AM
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Thanks for all your suggestions. We have considered them all and come up with this itinerary:

Arriving Christchurch at midnight - 2 nights
Take the TransAlpine train to Greymouth; pick up car; drive to Franz - 2 nights
Queenstown - 3 nights
Te Anau - 2 nights
Depart for Sydney

I will have to look at car rental and tours. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know.
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Old Sep 30th, 2005, 11:09 PM
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The heli ride over the glaciers is fantastic - the best I've ever done.

Second the suggestion of Lake Mathieson, too - also consider sunset!

The drive from the glaciers to Q'town is something else, too - difficult to keep the eyes on the road!
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Old Oct 1st, 2005, 02:06 AM
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Hi maxi,

We are also planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand in December. Can you share with me for how much you got your plane tkts and from where? I am searching for a good bargain too.

Thanks,
Vandy
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