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Hiking and biking in New Zealand but need some filler

Old Aug 10th, 2010, 06:19 PM
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Hiking and biking in New Zealand but need some filler

My husband and I are planning a 3-4 week trip to New Zealand in February or March of 2011. We are thinking that we will hike the Classic (Milford + Routeburn Tracks) as well as the Queen Charlotte Track. We are also planning to bike the Otago Rail Trail. With all of this activity, we will need some down time and more relaxing days in between. Any ideas?

We are planning on flying into Sydney for 4-5 days and then on to Auckland as it is free with Quantas. Are there things that we should not miss on the North Island or should we fly straight down to the South Island? We have seen volcanoes (Hawaii) and hot springs and geysers (Yellowstone Park) before.

What order would you do our 3 big activities - where should we fly in/out of? How should we travel between them - since we will not need a car while on each of these trips.
Are these 3 the best way to see the South Island or are there other Tracks or multi-day activities that we should consider?

Thanks.
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Old Aug 10th, 2010, 07:20 PM
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Hi BT_Traveler -

If you haven't already discovered the NZ DOC website, I suggest you take a look - it's an excellent resource for all the info you need on walking the tracks in NZ, including fees and booking, track conditions, accommodation options and transport services:

http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...s/great-walks/

If you're freedom walking, please keep in mind that you must book huts well in advance during the peak season (Oct-April) for the Milford and the Routeburn as capacity is limited.

For a few days of relaxation, you might consider spending a night or two at the Bay of Many Coves in the Marlborough Sounds - it's not directly on the Queen Charlotte Track though, so this might not work for you. It's accessible via water taxi.

Normally, I'd suggest going south first, to take advantage of the summer weather, but I'm not sure that it really makes a difference in Feb-March, perhaps a Kiwi could verify that.

With your walks in mind, I'd suggest flying into QT and out of Nelson or Christchurch. You might consider renting a car and spending several days working your way to Picton from QT via the West Coast (glaciers). You can pick up a car in QT and drop off in Picton, then take a water taxi to the start of the Queen Charlotte Track.

After your return to Picton, you can arrange bus transport to Nelson or Christchurch, take the Picton-Christchurch train, or pick up another rental car.
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 12:36 AM
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Mel has done a good job and covered just about everything.

The Thermal areas of NZ are great but I would think not a patch on Yellowstone (not having been there). The volcanoes are better in Hawaii.

I would stick with SI.

For a bit of a laugh there are some great mini golf courses.

There is a place out of QT where you can try Shooting or Archery -called "Have a shot". http://www.exploring.co.nz/have-a-shot.html
Possum Hunting is great as well. This was on the NI so I don't know if they have it in the SI. You go spotlighting for possums and shoot them as they are vermin.They teach you to shoot. My wife enjoyed the spotlighting aspect.

Christchurch is a lovely/pretty city. You can punt on the river. Or ride the Gondola up the mountain.

http://www.christchurchnz.com/what-to-see-and-do.aspx
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 09:36 AM
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There is more Maori culture on the North Island if you are interested in that.

For nature and scenery, a few days out along the coast west of Auckland, or to the Coromandel peninsula. On the west coast, the gannet colony at Muriwai & the black sand beaches. If you like mineral hot springs they are predominantly on the north island.

Coromandel has the Cathedral Cove, nice beaches around Kuaotunu, Driving Creek Railway.
http://www.black-jack.co.nz/Attractions

Since you'll be doing the Otago Rail Trail I might add Dunedin for downtime activities, and use the Taieri Gorge train and bus connections
http://www.taieri.co.nz/connections.htm

It's easy to find minivan shuttles between cities, Atomic shuttle is the big player on the SI
http://www.atomictravel.co.nz/

Also you might check into oneway relocation auto rental specials, I found some on avis.co.nz (but you won't see them this far ahead yet).

I was able to find some excellent airfare deals betweens pairs of cities where there is competition from Pacific Blue. I might look into booking these now, eg Auckland to Queenstown or Dunedin, perhaps Christchurch back to Auckland.
Check Pacific Blue and then Air New Zealand to see if they compete.
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 01:05 PM
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Thanks for the great advice.

I have a couple more questions...


We are retired and as such are totally flexible with our travel dates. We want to go when we have the best chance for good weather and stay as long as we need to incorporate our more strenuous activities - hiking and biking - along with some easier days of wine tasting, relaxing and easy going sight-seeing. We are not interested in bungy jumping, sky-diving, rafting - adventure type of activities.

We would like to visit Abel Tasman National Park and possibly include a day or two of hiking and or kayaking there. Do we need to walk the entire Queen Charlotte Track or would 2-3 days be enough?

We were thinking of doing the Taieri Gorge trip and then accessing the Otago Rail Bike Trail. Is it easy to arrange lodging, transport of luggage and find food along the trail ourselves or do we need to go with a tour group?

Finally, are we leaving anything crucial out or our itinerary?
We are flexible and can extend our trip if need be.

Thanks for the tips on airfare and car rentals. I will definitely look into it.
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 01:25 PM
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>>The Thermal areas of NZ are great but I would think not a patch on Yellowstone (not having been there).
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 04:42 PM
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Regarding the Queen Charlotte Track -

It's 71 km long and takes 3-5 days to walk the entire track. It's also open to mountain biking from March 1 - November 30.

The Abel Tasman Track is 54 km and also takes 3-5 days to walk.

The beauty about the QC and Abel Tasman tracks are that you don't have to walk the entire track, you can select a few sections and get to/from them via water taxi without backtracking. I've walked most of both tracks, but never in one go.

Instead of walking all of the most popular tracks during the busiest time of year, I'd suggest mixing it up a bit and walking some lesser known tracks as well.
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 04:57 PM
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If you are a hiker then you should consider the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park on the North Island. It is one of our top ten day hikes in the world. (And I'm disagree that the Volcanoes are "better in Hawaii". They are different types of volcanoes and both are worth a visit.)

On our last trip, we flew directly to Queenstown with one day to overcome jet lag and then did the Milford Track followed by the Routeburn Track. (This way, we didn't need to rent a car on the South Island.) We then flew to Auckland, rented a car for 5 days and did Tongariro Alpine Crossing, visited Rotorua and the Coromandel Penisula with short hikes. The highlights were the Milford Track and Tongariro Crossing. (A previous trip had been spent entirely on the South Island and we felt we owed a visit to the North Island which we are very glad we did.) The Tongariro Crossing is a long spectacular day hike and is much tougher than any given day on the Milford or Routeburn Track.
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Old Aug 11th, 2010, 05:21 PM
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I've seen Yellowstone on documentaries and most people only want to see this sort of thing once or twice.
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Old Aug 12th, 2010, 02:32 PM
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That's fine, but you haven't actually *been* there.

Lee Ann
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Old Aug 12th, 2010, 05:17 PM
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Hopefully your answer about the rail trail planning is here. I have only driven thru that area (3 times !) and think it is just spectacular.

http://www.otagorailtrail.co.nz/inde...ask=view&id=40

As far as winetasting there are a number of regions. On my most recent trip I flew Auckland to Wellington on a cheap air fare ticket and took the train/bus to Martinborough for wine tasting. Martinborough is dead flat and you can stumble (or walk) between wineries which helps with the pacing. They are a top producer of Pinot Noirs (Ata Rangi) as well as aromatics. I wound up at an inexpensive B&B run by a winemaker, Oak House. You get a spectacular breakfast, and a wine education too. They do have cats in the main part of the house.

http://www.burings.co.nz/

I also took the train to Paraparaumu Beach and spent an overnight at the lodge on Kapiti Island. I recommend both.

You could follow this up by taking the ferry crossing over from Wellington to the South Island.

http://www.fodors.com/community/aust...dge-photos.cfm
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Old Aug 13th, 2010, 04:32 PM
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Hi BT_Traveller...
You say you're retired, looking for good weather, would like to do some biking while in NZ and wine tasting, too. Throw in your plans to cycle the Otago Central Rail Trail and there's nothing else for it, you've got to give yourselves plenty of time to explore the S.I's Central Otago. This is a truly unique part of New Zealand with a near desert climate and four distinct seasons. You will find loads of information on the Tourism Central Otago website ... www.centralotagonz.com . Stretching 150km between Clyde and Middlemarch, the Otago Central Rail Trail is a wonderful way to enjoy the best of Central Otago, starting with visits to Pinot Noir vineyards in and around Clyde. The key to making the most of the Rail Trail is to take your time, limiting each day to around four hours on the bike saddle - otherwise you do risk considerable bottom discomfort. As you will see from visiting the Official Otago Central Rail Trail website ... www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz ... there is plenty to see and do. The Official Website, which is run by the Otago Central Rail Trail Trust, has information on everything to do with the trail and planning your experience -- accommodation, bike hire, tour operators, connections, getting your gear from one night's accommodation to the next(bike hire companies do this), etc. And yes, it is a must-do to include in your itinerary the Taieri Gorge Railway between Dunedin and the start/end of the trail at Middlemarch/Pukerangi... www.taieri.co.nz
I hope I have been of some help. Wishing you a great holiday when you come across to NZ next summer... Cheers RossL
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