Itinerary for 2 weeks in NZ ?

Jan 31st, 2006, 08:08 AM
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Itinerary for 2 weeks in NZ ?

My husband and I will have 2 weeks in NZ beginning mid June. We love nature, hiking, canoeing etc. as well as exploring small towns. Any suggestions for "must see" destinations as well as best mode of transportation. He is a Geologist so land structures (volcanoes) would be cool too. Help---where to begin with so much to offer.
debbieo is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 10:32 AM
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Hi debbieo
first u should determine how many days you wish to tramp/trek/hike.
do u have only 14 nights ??

examples for Geology "musts":
MOERAKI Boulders - Septarian Concretions
around Rotorua - Waimangu Volcanic Valley is a must. consider the volcanoes of Tongariro NP; if no time to hike u can use the ski lift up (if no fog in the morning).
Punakaiki as well is some limestone formation ...

# IMO Catlins is a must !
# Kaikura - Whale/dolphin/albatross watch top site world class
# Otago Pen' - Albatross colony + Penguins
# Abel Tazman - kayaking, tramping
# i haven't been to doubtful Sound (only Milford Sound) but guess it is worth...

Towns: Dunedin, CHC, Wellington & the amazing collection of old architecture at OAMARU !!


aby is offline  
Jan 31st, 2006, 11:19 AM
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I'm a geologist too, who has done some field work, primarily on the N Island. With only two weeks, the best thing to do is rent a car or campervan in Auckland. Then decide if you also want to go to the S Island. If so, fly to Christchurch or Queenstown, rent another car, and drive around, before returning home. The problem is that parts of the S Island are going to be cold, rainy, and/or snowy. There are some great places to visit on the S Island but not at that time of year. I would suggest limiting your trip to the North Island, or perhaps just visiting the very north end of the South Island (you could take the ferry crossing) Some ideas:

Head to the Northland, visiting Whangerei Falls (good columnar basalt), the Waitangi Meeting House, and the Bay of Islands. The little towns of Paihia and Russell are wonderful, scenic, and historic. Take a boat tour out through the islands (we liked the old 'Cream Route' tour). On the way back, check out some of the spectacular giant Kauri trees.

In Auckland, take a ferry out to Rangitoto Island, an old volcano that sits in the harbor. It is a short hike to the top for unmatched views of Auckland and the surrounding area.

Go to the Waitomo karst region. You can take walking tours through flowstone-laden caves, but also consider some of the wilder adventures available. In particular, try 'blackwater rafting' in an innertube through underground rivers. There are also spelunking trips (we loved, "Honkin' Haggis Holes"), as well as abseiling (sort of rapelling) trips into deep sinkholes.

If you want to visit an active volcano, take a boat or helicopter to White Island, off the coast from Whakatane. The island is covered with sulfur crystals and the water-filled crater is a nasty cauldron of corrosive chemicals.

Of course, you will want to visit the geothermal regions of Taupo and Rotorua. The classic locale is Whakarewarewa geothermal area, in Rotorua. It is nice, but we liked some of the less-developed areas, such as Craters of the Moon, in the Wairekai geothermal field. You can also visit some geothermal power facilities, such as the McLachlan or Wairekai power stations. Also, check out the Volcano Activity Centre, in Taupo. Lastly, you can take some nice short hikes through the Orakei Kokako (Hidden Valley) geothermal area, which is much further off the beaten path. Another interesting spot would be the Buried Village, near Rotorua, which was buried in ash from an 1886 eruption of Mt. Tourer. A touristy but still fun thing to do is going to a Maori 'Hangi' feast near Rotorua, complete with demonstrations and dances.

The big volcanoes are just south of Taupo, but they are going to be snow-covered in June. If you ski, you might want to go up Whakapapa Skifield, on the flanks of recently-active Mt. Ruapehu. The best dayhike (IMO) in NZ is the Tongariro Crossing, but it is not going to be do-able in June.

For the S Island:

It may be a bit cool, but a hike and/or kayak trip along the beaches of Abel Tasman Park would be worthwhile. You can get a water taxi to take you out one way, then hike or paddle your way back.

The drive across the Southern Alps is quite scenic, but might be challenging at this time of year (depending on when the last snowfall occurred). Another alternative would be to take the TranzAlpine train from Greymouth to Christchurch.

Paparoa Natnl Park has the interesting Pancake Rocks, consisting of limestone beds eroded into strange shapes. At high tide, waves crash into caves, with the water erupting out of blowholes.

Take a guided hike up onto the surface of Fox or Franz Josef Glaciers. If you can afford it, also take a high-altitude heli-hike in the icefields that feed Fox and Franz Josef. At this time of year though, the weather may be too inclement to do either of these activities.

Fiordland has spectacular scenery, provided it stops raining long enough for you to see it. If the weather is good, a boat trip on Milford or Doubtful Sounds is a highlight.

Wanaka and Queenstown have lots of activities, such as rafting, jet boating, bungy-jumping, hiking, climbing, etc. Again, the weather in June is going to be iffy for some of these activities.

On the east coast, head out onto the Otago Peninsula to view rugged coastline, penguins, and albatrosses. Further north is Moeraki Beach, with its famous gigantic geodes (6 ft diameter!).

You can see sperm whales and dolphins on a boat trip off the coast of Kaikoura. I don't know if this would be a good time of year to do this or not.
ALF is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 04:08 AM
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What was the Blackwater rafting in an innertube like at Waitomo? I quite fancy having a go but am a little apprehensive about what's involved. I've had a look at this tour

but was just wondering how you climb down into the caves (do you have to be really athletic?). Also are the caves quite big - as I'm not a huge fan of potholing and I'm wondering whether I would feel claustrophobic. I would love to try these things but I'm a bit of a scaredy cat!!!
dmjapril is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 07:00 AM
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We went blackwater rafting in Ruakuri Cave, on the Black Labyrinth trip detailed on your Web link. We donned wetsuits, rubber boots, and helmets w/ headlamps, then grabbed inner tubes and hiked up a trail to an opening. There were no tight/small spots that would make one feel claustrophobic - the typical passages were 3-4 ft wide and 7-9 ft high. We eventually encountered the stream, then sat in our innertubes and floated along. There are no 'rapids', although we did have to negotiate about a 7-foot drop; you face backwards, then jump off, while holding your tube in place. The final part involved floating through a slow-moving stream with our lights out, viewing the glow worms scattered all across the close-by ceiling.

This was one of our highlights of our trip, and I would highly recommend it. You don't have to do any climbing or crawling through tiny passages; the only potentially scary part is that drop-off I mentioned. It took a few folks in our group some time to gather their courage to jump, but afterwards they agreed that it was no big deal. Walking up the path to the cave in the hot sun, in a wet suit, lugging an inner tube was not particularly fun, but the cave trip made it all worthwhile.
ALF is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 07:16 AM
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Thanks for that detailed response ALF!! I think that's a definite must for our trip (even with the 7ft jump - yikes!!!)
dmjapril is offline  
Feb 1st, 2006, 03:32 PM
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djmapril, we also did the Black Labyrinth tour - it was one of the highlights of our trip.

I'm not fond of heights, but I didn't have any trouble jumping off the side of the waterfall. Our guide said I could jump off backwards holding the tube across my rear end, or I could put the tube on and jump off facing forwards. I decided it was better not to see what I was doing and went backwards. It was a blast!

If you look at our trip pictures at , you'll see that you don't have to be in great shape to take this tour.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
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