Just returned from New Zealand itinerary

Apr 15th, 2004, 09:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 183
Just returned from New Zealand itinerary

I want to thank everyone on this board for your information which I followed for my trip. Here it is-everything is quoted in NZ dollars. Rotorura-blue and green pools(walked around Blue), Buried village-history is interesting, not much to see anymore. Visited Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve-geysers were errupting, great guided tour. Beautiful Government Gardens and museum. Don't forget St. Faith's Church (decorated in Maori style), Tamaki Brothers Hangi-we knew it was touristy but it was an excellent evening. Go to Sirocco restaurant-excellent (very reasonable). Taupo-Huka Falls-did a 2 hr. hike towards town, Craters of the Moon, and Aratiatia Rapids, flood times: 10; noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Terrific. Drove to Napier and stayed in Top Ten Holiday Park in their motel rooms, buy a discount card (67NZ). All motels are efficiencies, very nice. Took the Art Deco Tour at 2 p.m.-wonderful, great antique shop nearby. Restaurants: Cafe Turkish Delight (42NZ) and Thien Thai (35NZ). Visited Hastings for Art Deco and some nearby wineries. For lunch or dinner make a reservation at Mission Estate Winery, tourist bureau can help, heard it was excellent but couldn't get in. Wineries: Te Mata, Trinity Hill, Clearview Estate; Brookfields Vineyards. It takes about 5 hours from Napier to get to Wellington. Visit Te Papa Museum, walk along the water, Parliament Buildings and walk around the city to Botanical Gardens. Wellington's tourist bureau is difficult to find so get a map ahead of time. It's very easy to get around on foot and restaurants are Asian, although we had great fish and chips across from The Chancellor Hotel. Walk to Lambton Quay. The best supermarket is New World, great wine dept. We took the Lynx to Picton (Rotorura tourism got my ticket cheaply for 35NZ per person, better than the online site for the ferry. Our rental car was Apex and we had NO TROUBLE. Actually the car died in Wellington and we took a taxi to the ferry. When we got to the South Island Apex picked us up and gave us the money for the taxi and said they were sorry about the car. We arrived around 11 a.m. and drove to Blenheim to the wineries. Visited Cloudy Bay, Allan Scott (had lunch in their beautful setting) a bit expensive. Other wineries had restaurants but we were hungry. Then we drove to Moteuka,(we skipped Nelson although there are lots of pottery etc. places there). We used Kiwi Kayaks for our ABel Tasman experience for 75NZ pp and did sea kayaking and walking. We were the only ones kayaking and had our own personal guide. It was a wonderful day. They pick you up from your hotel. Restaurants: The Smokehouse in Mapua. In Moteuka there are 2-3 good restaurants on the Main St. We bought some unusual bowls from the woodturner when driving from Moteuka back towards Nelson (look for sign on left side of road). Drove south to Murchison and did the Swinging Bridge at Buller Gorge. Stopped for lunch at Westport (Curritinos Yellow House) on right side as you come into town. It's owned by a gal from New Jersey. Fill up your car with gas for the trip south. The drive to Punakaki was wonderful (check out times for high tide) we got there about half hour after high tide but were still able to see a lot. Then onto Greymouth. Toured the Monteith Brewing Co (tasted beers), Shades of Jade, Boulder Gallery. Not much else to do here but go out of the town to some smaller places. Hokitika is only 30 min. away. Very cute town with a nice clock in the middle of the street. More jade shops. I got tired of all the jade. We drove to Lake Mahinapua, road is not paved around lake, we saw water falls, and went to the gorge-what a beautiful place-don't miss it, just follow the signs. About 1 1/2 hr. aways is Franz Josef. I had booked a helihike, but the weather was bad. As a matter of fact they said it rains 200 days out of the year. So we did a walk (4 hr) and it started to rain, wear warm clothing. We stayed in the holiday park-small room but very cosy, Ate at Cheeky Kea Cafe, great internet next door. Went to the Glow worms down the street, I brought a small flashlight for this journey. You don't need to do a tour for this. When you drive thru the Haast Pass you can stop at waterfalls (Thunder Creek, Fantail). It was raining on this drive and we actually saw a lot of waterfalls from the road. Got to Lake Wanaka in time for lunch. Drive to Rippon Vineyards for a view and go visit the winery. It's spectacular. Went to Puzzle Word but was not excited about it. Didn't have time to hike the mountain across from it because of weather, but that sounded like a good idea. Then on to Queenstown, and stayed at Blue Peaks Lodge (100 NZ) ask for 2nd floor room away from street looking at the Remarkables (they have a laundromat) and you can walk to town. I really liked Queenstown even though it was touristy. We did the Earnslaw to Walter Peak Sheep Station and thoroughly enjoyed it, gardens were beautiful and they gave us tea and food (not sure exactly what it was but was good). Do the gondola and shotover jet. Lots of stores. Restaurants: Fishbone Bar &Grill (38NZ), The Cow Restaurant (originally a cow shed in Cow Lane). Great Pizza and atmosphere, get there early, very quaint (34NZ) and Vudu Cafe (39 NZ). Then drove past Te Anau and hiked. We brought our food with us and always had a drink in the car. In Te Anau we stayed at Explorer Lodge as recommended on this forum. Very nice (110NZ). Restaurants in town are expensive. We took the Doubtfull Sound trip and it was wonderful, I booked it ahead on the internet. Then it was 3 hrs. to Dunedin. The tourist office booked us the Albatross and Yellow Penguins tour. We saw baby Alabatross and were told the best time to see the mother is Jan and Feb. but seeing the yellow eyed penguins was such a highlight and we also saw fur seals. What a rarity. It was a cold day so dress warmly. The drive is about 3/4 hr. out of Dunedin. Visit the railway station for its architecture. The internet place is on George St. as well as motels and restaurants. Go the The Reef Seafood Restaurant on George St. We had great salmon and service was wonderful (50NZ). We went to Lanarch Castle (not a real castle like Europe) but still very nice and wonderful views and gardens. Then we drove to Omaru (a quaint town made of limestone), then onto to the Moeraki Boulders. Had we had enough time I would have gone to Cave to see cave paintings and then on to Lake Tekapo. We did go to Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula and did a walk above the village of 700 people. Wonderful little village. The best restaurant in town is C'est La Vie owned by chef from Cologne and wife . It was a quiet nite only 6 of us and the owner sat 2 guests from New Zealand at our table and we had a wonderful time. It's a tiny house seating at 6:30 and 8:30 with about 35 seats, just fabulous the menu is on a chalkboard outside. Visit the cheese shop and winery. The it was on to Christchurch. We were excited about a big city. Went to the Botanical Gardens and ARt Center across the street. Did a walking tour and visited the cathedral. Saturday there is a fare at the Art Center, wonderful. All the motels were 3-4 stars and I paid 100NZ and sometimes less especially the holiday park motels. Food was about the same price as here in the USA. We went to the grocery store for our breakfast, fruit etc. I always had wine in our room before dinner. Cappucino and lattes were delicious and very inexpensive. I was gone for 21 days and did everything I wanted to do. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer. I got my return flight from Christchurch to Auckland on Quantas New Zealand wouldn't let me book because of the my usa address. In Auckland I used the wotif.com website and The Rydges was a block from Sky Tower, The cRown Plaza was down the street. The waterfront was wonderful and we did a 2 hr. cruise for our last day, didn't have enough time to go to Wahike. Had dinner in Parnell district at a restaurant where flames were coming out (can't remember the name but you'll find it. Excellent food and very busy. Thanks again for everyone on this board for your advise. Alan
alana is offline  
Apr 15th, 2004, 10:42 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,483
Alana -

Sounds like you had a good time - thanks for sharing!
Melnq8 is online now  
Apr 16th, 2004, 06:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 180
What size car did you get from Apex and how much did it hold?

How much did you spend on gas? We are just doing the North Island for 8 nights

Driving over to Napier for a quick visit (hubby insists--guess he likes Art Deco)...Is there 1 particular winery you likes in the area better than others? We only have time for 1 on the way back towards Huka falls.

We stay in Rotorua for 3 nights (1 day we drive to White Island volcano tour)

Just didn't want to pack up and unpack again for just one night so we have an EARLY morning but oh well! I can sleep when I get home!

What type of food is Sirocco? Should we skip buried village???

What/Where is this flood times you talk about??


(we visit in August)

alise is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 08:52 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 183
I rented a budget car for 45NZ per day and got the CDW for 8NZ per day. At the Sirocco restaurant I had fish (18NZ) My husband had salad (13NZ) (1280 Ervera St.) it's not in the area of the other restaurants but on my list. The Aratiatia Rapids are 10minutes away from Taupo near Huka Falls, They open the dam and you watch the water come into a small gorge area, it's a really amazing and beautiful site to see, times 10, noon, 2 and maybe 4p.m.We drove to Hastings as it's also an art deco town and went to Te Mata estate winery (sauvignon blanc). You can also visit Mission or Brookfields winery near Napier. Try and get a reservation at Mission winery for lunch or dinner. Good luck. Alana
alana is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 07:29 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6
Hello Alana,

I wanted to ask you my husband and I are debating whether it would be better to go on a 7 day tour of the South Island or to rent a car for 7 days and drive around ourselves. He's more interested in the coastal areas and I'm more interested in the Mountain scenery. What would you recommend. We are from the states, but will be in Australia before this trip for about 5 weeks. It seems like you did a lot of the leg work with researching NZ beforehand. I'm a bit worried since we're leaving on 5/26 and have not done too much planning for our trip.
Your thoughts? Suggestions? Rec's?

Thank you!

slee is offline  
May 14th, 2004, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,483
Sue -

Alana seems to have left the building, so I'll respond to your question.

I'd recommend renting a car and seeing the South Island on your own. We've visited several times and we like the flexibility of having our own car. You don't need to plan all that much, just keep in mind that driving distances in NZ are farther than they appear on the map and because of the curvy roads, it may take longer to get from point A to point B than you might think. Also, driving on the left is a big issue for some, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be fine.

You might want to consider beginning in Christchurch and ending in Queenstown or Dunedin (or vice versa). You can fly in and out of any of these towns and avoid backtracking.

Have fun - NZ is a special place.
Melnq8 is online now  
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