Itinerary help!! Must see sights?

Old Oct 24th, 2007, 08:53 AM
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Itinerary help!! Must see sights?

My husband and I (both in early 30's, no kids) are in desperate need to get away and it seems that late Nov/early Dec seems to be the only time that will work. We are trying to scramble to plan a trip to NZ, and are hoping the fodorites can help! We will have approx 12 days (after accounting for travel time)
What are the must see sights?
What is the best place to fly into?
Should we stick to the south island in that ammount of time?
what is the best way to get from place to place/distances from each destination.
I know this is alot of questions, but I am really trying to make this work and plan in such a short ammount of time. I appreciate any help you can provide - thanks!!
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Old Oct 24th, 2007, 10:06 AM
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I would recommend one day in Auckland and then head down to the South Island. Queenstown is strongly recommended.
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Old Oct 24th, 2007, 11:39 AM
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What do you recommend for that one day in Auckland I get off ship at about 9am flight out is 7pm. Is there shuttle to airport which I understand is a ways out? any information appreciated thanks
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Old Oct 24th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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Hi ricster -

Strongly suggest you stick to one island, and yes, I'd recommend the South Island.

"Must see" sights for first time visitors to NZ usually include a drive (or train ride) over Arthur's Pass, a side trip to Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks) a drive down the West Coast to the glaciers, a few days in Queenstown and a visit to Milford Sound. And if time allows, a trip to Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo.

That's simplifying matters, but in all my years of posting on this board, those seem to be the areas most first time visitors want to fit into their itineraries.

You might consider something like this -

Arrive Christchurch

Take Tranzalpine train to Greymouth or drive yourself over Arthur's Pass, make side trip to Punakaiki, then travel down West Coast via Hokitika, Franz Josef and Fox Glacier

Drive from glaciers to Wanaka

Drive from Wanaka to Te Anau to access Milford Sound

Drive from Te Anau to Queenstown

Drive from Queenstown to Mt Cook/Lake Tekapo/CH

Alternative: Fly from Queentown back to Christchurch instead of making a circuit.

How much time you spend in each area will of course depend on your interests, but this route will give you a good taste of NZ.

Here's a distance calculator I use in planning our trips to NZ - I've found it to be pretty accurate, but it does NOT allow for extended stops along the way, so keep that in mind.
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Old Oct 25th, 2007, 07:17 AM
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thanks so much Melnq8! I am off to a great start in planning. I am sure I will be back posting with more specific questions.
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Old Oct 29th, 2007, 02:01 AM
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ricster, Melnq8 is an expert on New Zealand! She helped me plan our fantastic 25th anniversary trip to New Zealand, which was February 2007.

I agree you should do the south island, in particular the southern half of the south island. We flew into Dunedin, but I suggest you fly into Queenstown (through Auckland). There are many great day-trips from Queenstown.

Te Anau is a good base for exploring the wonderful sites on the Milford road, and also for doing the boat on the Milford Sound. Even if it's raining, go...the waterfalls are even better in the rain!

The west coast is beautiful and wild, especially the southern half of the west coast (south island).

You could even fly into and out of Queenstown if you wanted.

We had around 14 or 15 nights, and we flew into Dunedin and out of Queenstown.

Enjoy! Since you're in desperate need to get away, it sounds like you need some relaxation. Don't plan an itinerary that is too busy. There's enough to do all around Queenstown to spend several nights there. Don't plan to drive too far in one day, because there's a gorgeous view around every slow curve in the road and you won't get anywhere too fast.
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Old Oct 29th, 2007, 06:47 PM
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Hi ricster, melnq8 has given you a fabulous itinerary, with which I agree wholeheartedly. The south island is stunning & you can see a lot in 12 days. When in Queenstown do not miss driving to the little gold mining town of Arrowtown, & also take the drive out towards Glenorchy, which is Lord of the Rings country. Although popular with tourists, Queenstown & the surrounding area lives up to the advertising slogan "100% Pure NZ"! There are also some good wineries down that way now, such as Gibbston. The Earnslaw boat trip on the lake to the sheep station is worth it - you can either get off at the station or simply return, just taking the ride. Spend a bit of time in Christchurch if you can -go up the Summit Road to see the view of city on one side & turquoise harbours & bays on the other. Drive over the top to explore these bays, such as Corsair & Cass, or head over to Sumner, the suburb on the sea. About 80kms out of Christchurch is the old French settlement town of Akaroa, which is one of my favourite places in the world. It is quaint & peaceful, & affords beautiful views of the harbour. You can take a boat called the Canterbury Cat out on to the harbour, or drive further through town & over to the kaik & Maori meeting hall. In the city itself the Botanical Gardens are known as the best in the southern hemisphere. On the edge of these is the excellent museum, & opposite is the arts centre, where there is a Saturday morning market - always interesting. Nearby is also the new art gallery. Christchurch is a very 'English' city, with the river winding through it, & is known as the 'garden city'. Sitting beside the river along what is known sa 'the Strip' is always enoyable, watching the world go by as you enjoy a drink or a meal. As to the sounds, we did both Milford & Doubtful one December. Both are spectacular; the latter is wilder. If you are fortunate you should see dolphins, penguins & seals. The TranzAlpine train journey from Christchurch to Greymouth is wonderful.
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