Last minute New Zealnd opinions!

Jan 31st, 2011, 03:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 6
Last minute New Zealnd opinions!

After months of planning, I am now a mere 18 days away from 3 glorious weeks in New Zealand. We've got our itinerary pretty much set for the North Island, but our South Island plans remain somewhat flexible. We're big fans of outdoors, hiking, etc...and plan on doing things on the cheap, or free. If anyone could offer any thoughts or opinions, I would greatly appreciate any expertise!

2/20: arrive Auckland 3pm
2/21: Auckland
2/22: pick up car, Waitomo, Rotorua
2/23: Rotorua to Tongariro National Park (hit up Taupo sights on the way)
2/24: Tongariro
2/25: Tonagariro to Wellington
2/26: Wellington
2/27: AM Ferry to Picton - hit a couple wineries and overnight in Nelson? Or drive straight up to Golden Bay (Takaka)?
2/28: Abel Tasman Golden Bay
3/1: Takaka to Franz Josef (Punakaiki on the way, Hokitika? We understand this is a LONG drive)
3/2: Franz Josef Glacier
3/3: Franz Josef to Wanaka
3/4: Wanaka (Wanaka to Queenstown?)
3/5: Queenstown (drive to Milford Sound, weather dependent)
3/6: Queenstown (drive to Milford Sound, weather dependent)
3/7: Queenstown (drive to Milford Sound, weather dependent)
3/8: Queenstown to Lake Pukaki or Takapo
3/9: Lake Tekapo (Hooker Valley Track)
3/10: OPEN
3/11: Depart Christchurch (plane departs 10pm)

So we've got a lot of flexibility on the last week of our trip - mostly since we want to have good weather for Milford. I've thought about overnighting in Te Anau and cutting our drive time, but that all depends on the weather. If we get blessed with a lot of sun, we have some extra time. Any comments, criticisms? Are we missing anything? Staying too long anywhere (ha!), or is there a place we realllllyyyyy ought to consider spending more time in?

tinyalot is offline  
Jan 31st, 2011, 04:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,370
Hi tinyalot -

<2/27: AM Ferry to Picton - hit a couple wineries and overnight in Nelson? Or drive straight up to Golden Bay (Takaka)?>

If Takaka is your destination, I'd suggest going there, as you've only got one full day there as it is. If you spend the night in Nelson, the next day you've got a drive of 90 minutes just to get to Takaka, then it's another 28 km from Takaka to reach Totaranui, which is the start of the Abel Tasman track from the Golden Bay side. You can always visit a few wineries on the drive from Picton to Takaka. What are your plans for Takaka?

<3/1: Takaka to Franz Josef (Punakaiki on the way, Hokitika? We understand this is a LONG drive)>

Yep, it sure is...555 km, about 8 hours w/o stops.

I'd put that extra day in Wanaka or the Abel Tasman area.
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 1st, 2011, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,897
If you do an overnight in Hokitika check out the glow worm dell north of town.

"Free" in NZ is pretty much limited to visiting their park system and public botanic gardens, and some of the museums (TePapa and you're in Wellington!) Enjoy while you still can.
mlgb is offline  
Feb 12th, 2011, 06:21 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 138
If you plan to spend time in Milford Sound, I would recommend you stay overnight in Te Anau. The drive will be much shorter from there. You could go straight from Franz Josef to Queenstown to give you the extra day. We really loved the Te Anau area since it is so central to all the great Fiordlands tracks and sounds. I cannot say enough about the Blue Thistle cottages. Much nicer than we expected.
Bonn is offline  
Feb 12th, 2011, 06:38 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 1,518
It is a bit expensive but a helicopter trip to White Island off the North Island is NOT TO BE MISSED.

Wainmangu is a thermal valley and is absolutely brilliant. The track is pursposely designed to be windy so that you feel that you are the only ones there. NOT TO BE MISSED.
peterSale is offline  
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