home base

Oct 26th, 2004, 04:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 7
home base

Greetings all,
Male and female, in their 50s have 2 weeks in New Zealand in late January. We will be renting a car. We know we can't see it all so we want to concentrate our attention on 3 or 4 places to use as a "home base" and do day trips from those spots. To be honest I am overwhelmed at the options and need some direction. We expect to visit New Zealand again so we don't need to do it all the first time.
We prefer places that aren't too touristy (wrong time of year I know).
We are active but aren't jocks, enjoy art, wine, culture, nature, small towns. (Gee this is starting to sound like a personal ad)
So - if you were my husband and I where would you choose to stay? Some suggestions I have gotten so far are Auckland, Taupo, Nelson, Christchurch, and Wellington. Thanks for any suggestions for home bases, accomodations, or itinearies. Headinwest
headinwest is offline  
Oct 26th, 2004, 07:41 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 609
Hi there Headinwest

I note one of your bases is Christchurch. A nice city yes but not close to the main attractions of the South Island. You may want to consider substituting Queenstown or Wanaka for Christchurch.

Queenstown due to the fact that it is the centre of Tourism for the South Island. You are relatively close to the Sounds (Milford and Doubtful) though still a bit of a drive away. You are close to Wanaka, a pleasent town with less of the tourist hype of Queenstown. Queenstown itself is an attraction with the mountains, rivers and lake. Convenient for more sedate past times such as visiting vinyards as well. Central Otago has some great wines.

As you are not that keen on touristy places per say, you could just use Queenstown as a base. Or you could consider a non "tourist" town such as nearby Cromwell. On a nice lake, great countryside.

The only problem being of course that as soon as you head somewhere non touristy your choices for accomodation and eateries dry up. Given that there are not that many towns round there (Or for that matter for large stretches of the South Island) you may be a bit stuck for choice.

Hope this helps,

Kiwi_acct is offline  
Oct 27th, 2004, 01:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 7
Thanks Steve,
I think Queenstown sounds fabulous but I am worried about the length of time it takes to drive all the way down there. Isn't it about 13 hours from the ferry? Could you (and anyone else reading this) give me feedback on the following two schedule options?
North Island
Ist night Auckland
2nd, 3rd and 4th nights Taupo - day trips to Rotoura, Wairakei Thermal Valley, Tongariro National Park, others?
5th night Wellington
then ferry over to the south island
South Island
6th, 7th and 8th night Nelson - day trips to wine country, Marlborough Sounds, Golden Bay
9th and 10th night Mt. Cook area
then Arthur's pass to
11th, 12th, and 13th nights Christchurch - day tripa Tranzalpine Train trip?, Akaaroa, Hanmer Springs, Kaikoura, other?
North Island - same as above
South Island
Nelson days 5, 6 and 7
Greymouth area day 8
Queenstown area 9,10 and 11,
Dunedin area day 12 and
Christchurch day 13
headinwest is offline  
Oct 27th, 2004, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,474
Taupo would be a great base for exploring the central North Island. We didn't go to Wairakei, but we really enjoyed Waiotapu, which is between Rotorua and Taupo.

You haven't allowed yourself much time in Wellington; it's a lovely small city, and Te Papa Museum is definitely worth a visit.

I haven't been to the South Island, but the drive from Nelson to Queenstown would be beautiful.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Oct 27th, 2004, 04:19 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 424
hi, headinwest,
Taupo would be a good place to base yourself - Orakei Korako is a small but great thermal area not known by many people, especially NZers! Well worth a visit. It too is between Rotorua and Taupo, and takes about 2 hours.
Please spend more than one night here in Wellington - as Lee Ann says, it IS a lovely place with much to see, and some great restaurants and cafes.

Several thoughts come to mind reading your posting:
- what time are you planning to cross Cook Strait?
- are you flying out of Christchurch, and if so what time? this could have a bearing on your plans, too. And is this on Day 13 or 14?
- you have allowed one day for Dunedin. There is a lot to see in this area, more than you could see in a week let alone a day. And it takes several hours non-stop driving from Queenstown to Dunedin (5 hours approx), and from Dunedin to Christchurch (6 hours approx)
I would suggest leaving Dunedin this this time so you can do it justice next trip! It is a city worth spending time in. Perhaps go from Queenstown to
Christchurch on Day 12. Mind you, there is a lot to see around the Christchurch area too!
Looking at the two options:
#1 - substitute Queenstown for Mt Cook and add day 11. To drive from Queenstown to Christchurch is approx 7-8 hours. That gives you two days in Christchurch for some of the things you listed.
#2 - if you are having the 5th night in Wellington as per North Island option 1, you may need to look at your programme from there as you have written day 5 in Nelson. Greymouth is an interesting area, with the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki worth a look. The drive through from Nelson reveals a different style of countryside. The drive to Queenstown is awesome, even at that time of the year. Do stop on the Haast Bridge. This drive is approx 11-12 hours. Perhaps take Steve's advice and stay at Wanaka for a night, that would make the trip about 1 1/2 hours shorter.
I think I had better stop there - I feel as if I am rambling now! Have fun planning your tour. Don't forget to ask for more help - there are probably others out there who will have better ideas than mine.
dotty is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 09:23 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 7
Greetings All,
I found that we can fly out of Queenstown instead of Christchurch and have made changes in our schedule accordingly. Please advise!
North Island
Ist night Auckland
pick up rental car on day 2
2nd, 3rd and 4th nights Taupo - day trips to Rotoura, Wairakei Thermal Valley or Orakei Koraka Thrmal area, Tongariro National Park, others?
5th and 6th night Wellington - galleries, museums, waterfront, other?
then ferry over to the south island
South Island
7th, 8th and 9th night Nelson - day trips to wine country, galleries, Marlborough Sounds, Golden Bay, other?
10th and 11th night Christchurch - day trips Akaaroa, Hanmer Springs, Kaikoura, other?
12th night Franz Joseph glacier
13th, 14th, 15th night Queenstown Doubtful Sound overnight?, Fjordland, Te Anau, Wanaka, other?Drop off rental car on day 14.
Fly home!
Thanks for any advice on stuff to delete, include, possible accomodations etc.!
headinwest is offline  
Oct 28th, 2004, 01:22 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 424
The changes are great. Pleased to see you have two nights in Wellington! Have you worked out where you are going to stay?
A suggestion for Marlborough could be a day trip to Farewell Spit which you need to organise through a tour company from Collingwood. It would mean a very early start from Nelson but could be an interesting day.
Another thought is the Blowhole on Takaka Hill. I'm sure your accommodation place will have info on this as well as other places to visit.
dotty is offline  
Oct 30th, 2004, 10:50 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 30
Greetings Headinwest!
You will definitely want to return to NZ after 2 weeks there just to whet your appetite. My husband and I (a bit older than you) spent a month there in February 5 years ago and loved it. This February we're returning for 2 months, and we can hardly wait.
Your revised itinerary looks pretty good. Last trip we spent 3 nights on the Otago Penninsula by Dunedin, and even that wasn't enough time, so leave it until you return. I thought I'd pass on a few suggestions. On your way from Auckland route yourselves through Waitomo and go for a tour of the glow-worm caves. We actually went tubing through them, but you probably wouldn't have time if just passing through. While in Taupo, we went on a night cruise to Huka Falls on a boat called NZ's African Queen. It was a lot of fun! There's lots to do in Rotorua. If you are into fishing, there's good fishing in the area. My husband caught some nice fish going out with an outfit called Silver Hilton on Lake Rotoiti. We're looking forward to trekking the Tongariro Crossing this time, as it rained when we were in that area, and we had to move on. Definitely go to Te Papa in Wellington. And if you are into hiking at all, do some of the Coastal Trail at Abel Tasman National Park. The scenery is stunning. Punakaiki is worthwhile, and stop at jade shops in Hokitika, I think it was. We did a half day hike up the Franz Josef glacier and it was fun- not too strenuous. From Te Anau, we did a day tour of Milford Sound, something called a "Trips 'n' Tramps" tour, a small group thing which included a couple of small hikes on the way to Milford Sound, then a cruise. It was a nice day.
Incidently, NZ wines are great! Have fun!
dauber2 is offline  
Oct 30th, 2004, 11:43 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,092
Headinwest - After reading all the replies to your original message, I guess you must realise that 2 weeks in NZ is really not enough time for both islands. I am returning to NZ early next year, and will be visiting the south island for 18 days, and I feel that is too short. However, the 2 weeks that you have is probably all you can spare. NZ is a hard place to base yourself in various locations, as there are so many attractions far & wide.
I agree Queenstown is a good base, and if you don't want to "drive" to Milford Sound, then you can always fly into Milford, do the cruise & fly back. The scenery by using a plane is simply stunning. When your in Queenstown, try & do the Dart River Safari, starting from Glenorchy. Also between Invercargill and Dunedin, detour to take Catlin Forest Park & coastline, well worth for the birdlife.
Someone also mentioned Abel Tasman National Park - I agree well worth a visit. Also in the township of Picton, you can go on fishing trips or kayaking trips in the Sounds.
You sound like you want to get away from touristy towns, etc. have you given any thought to hiring a campervan (not to small though), and drive/stay at "scenic places", rather than a motel in town. Its a little bit more expensive than a car, but then when you take into consideration your motel/and hire car, its not that more expensive.
There are some great Motorcamps to stay in, when you have a campervan. However, this may not suit you, as it is a more slow paced holiday. Something to keep in mind on your next NZ holiday.
P.S. My first campervan holiday in NZ was for 6 weeks, and I still didn't see everything.
tropo is offline  
Nov 7th, 2004, 01:30 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 37
I live in christchurch and think you would LOVE it-especially with your interests-full of art galleries,close to wine growing areas, culture galore!
An hour to drive to Akaroa etc. etc.
If you would like to email me at
[email protected] I can help with accommodation suggestions.
I think maybe doing the South Island this visit and the North next time would be the easiest way.
Look forward to hearing from you.
amaryllis is offline  

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