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Is it easy to travel alone and tourless in NZ on the south island?

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Feb 9th, 2011, 06:37 AM
  #1
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Is it easy to travel alone and tourless in NZ on the south island?

I am a single woman, and will be travelling in NZ and Australia in April. I had some good feedback from others on the initerary. I plan to have 6-7 days in NZ, south island, then the rest of the time in Aus.

I wonder if its easy to travel around on ones own in NZ? I now distances are long. I wasnt too keen to hire a car (not much fun alone...) and I have investigated some packages run by NZ coaches with transport+hotels included but they arent cheap, eg 1500 NZ dollars for 3 nights/4 days or about 2000 for 8 days which is just transport and 3* hotels

I wanted to know - is it cheaper to try to do all this myself? I know there are trains and buses, but it would be a shame to end up either missing something, getting stressed about trying to get trains and buses, or else finding it all cost more doing it alone.
I also wondered if there are pleasant youth hostel-type accommodations in NZ (maybe with single rooms though rather than bunk beds)?
grateful for any advice or help! I am starting to think about ditching the whole idea of NZ and focussing on Aus.

For Aus, I am more relaxed as have travelled there before. I know hotels are expensive but I feel its all more travelled and less of a mystery to me!
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Feb 9th, 2011, 03:28 PM
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If you belong to the YHA (Youth Hostel Association) then you will find great places to stay in New Zealand. I believe you can get single rooms. I would google YHA in New Zealand and see what is available.
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Feb 9th, 2011, 07:42 PM
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Nelsonian will show you around I'm sure.

But yes, it is easy and safe. Hire a car by yourself but stay at places where people congregate eg YHA. You might pick up a another single traveller or someone in a group who is sick of the back seat.
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Feb 10th, 2011, 10:14 AM
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There are also the BBH website for privately owned hostels. (I definitely review their ratings as the quality varies, stick with the 80 percentile and better). You do not need to be a member of either YHA or BBH to use their hostel system. (Joining gets you a small discount and a phone card). There are also lots of friendly B&Bs although the price is rising on those,I use bnb.co.nz. B&Bs give you a chance to stay interact with the Kiwi (hopefully) hosts.
www.bbh.co.nz
www.bbh.co.nz
www.yha.co.nz (be sure to check Trip Advisor reviews on these, while all are safe some are so poorly constructed that the noise can be overbearing, Queenstown in particular).

For the south Island I think a car is advantageous. Although there is bus service on many routes it is only once or twice a day. But depending on your plans, for a short stay you may be able to do just fine without a car, or just rent one for a day or two. Eg, in a larger city such as Christchurch or Queenstown, almost all of the tour activities will pick you up for excursions (and there are also muni bus services and track transport around Queenstown). Between some city pairs there are good minibus shuttles..eg Chch to Akaroa, Chch to Kaikoura, coach tours to Milford. Atomic shuttle has lots of routes, check their schedule. You'll probably meet some independent travels on the shuttles as well as in the hostels.
www.atomictravel.co.nz
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Feb 12th, 2011, 09:40 AM
  #5
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Thanks for all your help! NZ is more expensive than I had imagined, but I think I may have an itinerary. what do you think?

day 1 - arrive in christchurch. stay at copthorne christchurch hotel - $150/night as will be jetlagged.

day 2 - take tranzalpine train to greymouth, then onward bus to franz glacier
(accommodation not organised yet...any suggestions? or will pick from mlgb's web linkes for homestays)

day 3 - queenstown - Novotel Hotel? make it a base for 3 days: milford sound boat tour, wanakaka, one day hike. $169/night OR backpackers lodge. Most places seem expensive in QT and it seems more commercialised, but the best base. Or is Te Anau better?

day 7 - coach back to christchurch via mount cooke. stay in city centre.

day 8 - fly out of Christchurch to Sydney OR
take train+ ferry to wellington to catch flight to Sydney.
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Feb 12th, 2011, 12:11 PM
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My favorite lodging in Chch is Windsor Hotel B&B.

www.windsorhotel.co.nz

It's a solidly constructed older building and I've not had a problem with noise. Note that there are shared restrooms but they are spotless and more than balanced by the other benefits of this location. I have stayed at that Copthorne, it is a typical corporate style hotel. You might see if you can get a better rate on wotif or by signing up for their email specials.

I have yet to find something I'm really happy with in Queenstown.
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Feb 12th, 2011, 01:41 PM
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I'm not sure I understand what you plan to do in Franz Josef. The mere driving time from Christchurch to Franz Josef via Greymouth is a minimum of 5.5 hours, so it will take even longer via train and bus adding in any connections/stops. That basically takes up most, if not all, of day 2 (since sunset will be around 5 - 5:30 pm in April).

Then it will take another half day at least to get from Franz Josef to Queenstown, so you won't have much time on Day 3 to do anything in Franz Josef (glacier hike, helihike, etc.) before you head out to Queenstown. (How do you plan to travel this segment?)

That leaves 2 days for Queenstown--just enough time for a day trip to Te Anau for a fiord cruise and any other day for something else.

I know you are trying to do this trip on a tight budget, but using public transportation will take up a lot of your time. You might want to consider dropping Franz Josef or flying to/from Queenstown or renting a car and driving yourself or...

I suggest you prioritize what you want to see and do and make some changes to your itinerary so that you make the most of your time and budget.
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Feb 12th, 2011, 02:22 PM
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I agree, if you do want to do the west coast I would rent a car for those days. And I'd consider dropping it in favor of a one-way flight. Sometimes you can get cheap domestic air fares check on the NZ version of Air New Zealand
http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/ under Smart Saver fares.
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Feb 12th, 2011, 05:46 PM
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You might want to take a look at Bella Vista Motel in QT - nice, clean basic motel with kitchen facilities, near the gondola, so very quiet, yet within easy walking distance of town.
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Feb 14th, 2011, 07:31 PM
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There's a Bella Vista Motel in Franz Josef too...good inexpensive option.
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Feb 15th, 2011, 01:07 PM
  #11
 
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Yes, it's easy. I roamed around NZ by myself -- with no car, only bus -- for 10 1/2 weeks in Dec 2006 - Feb. 2007. It was life-changing and it wouldn't have been so if I hadn't gone alone. I bought a bus pass and got the BBH book, and stayed only in hostels, and mostly in BBH ones.On the South Island I also used the shuttle buses. I had the backpack and everything, (well, the rolling backpack) including carrying my groceries in the green cloth bag. And I was 41 at the time.
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Feb 16th, 2011, 09:03 AM
  #12
 
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day 8 - fly out of Christchurch to Sydney OR
take train+ ferry to wellington to catch flight to Sydney.

Several years ago I flew between the two islands of NZ. One of the flight attendants told us, in no uncertain terms, that sometimes the sea between NI and SI is so rough that the ferries are cancelled. So that is a consideration. If you have a tight schedule, you can't take the chance you'll miss your plane to Sidney. She went on to say that the stretch of ocean between them is always choppy so unless one is a good sailor, there is a probability of getting seasick. With such a tight itinerary, it seems more time efficient not to mention comfortable to fly to Sidney from CHCH.
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Feb 16th, 2011, 12:12 PM
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bonbon5 makes an excellent point. I don't even know if there is enough time in one day to do the train/ferry and still catch a plane.
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Feb 23rd, 2011, 05:03 PM
  #14
 
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Traveling alone in NZ is not a problem. Info centers are everywhere (I-Site) Great source of information and they will book accomodations for you. If you are still going to Christchurch I agree with mlgb. The Windsor B&B is the best. They are great folks. Don will give you a free tour of Christchurch. ( I don't like the Copthorne either.) Get a car - they are cheap to rent and the freedom to go where you want when you want is well worth it. Try Jucy Rentals. My car cost about $12US per day. If you have the time drive down to the Otago Peninsula and the Catlins. It's beautiful, the road will be yours and you'll find penguins!!!
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Feb 23rd, 2011, 05:35 PM
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I do not know if Christchurch will be ready for tourists by April. I hope the Windsor is alright. Last September I believe they had some modest damage from their brick chimney but I think the building itself is good solid old wood construction.

But please don't cancel your trip, the rest of the country is unaffected and will appreciate your tourist dollars at this time.
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Feb 24th, 2011, 01:55 PM
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There is a notice on Windsor's website that the staff and guests were not injured, but they are closed and issuing refunds! How sad, I hope this is not the final chapter for them and that they will be back eventually.
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Feb 26th, 2011, 04:29 AM
  #17
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thanks to you all for this! Things I hadnt though of.
I had heard renting a car is best if one is pushed for time. I also see things hahve changed since the earthquake and as you say, mlgb, things may not be ready in April.I would like to still go and support the country though. Will see if I can get a flight to QT.
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