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travellin Apr 8th, 2006 08:18 AM

Lots of Time in NZ
We (50ish!) are planning a two month trip to NZ next Feb/March (when does your school holiday end next Jan?) which will include the Cook Islands. Have read guide books and lots of posts about planning the trip but have been searching for a comprehensive list of 'must sees' and off the beaten path gems. Also some advice about splitting up our time between North and South Islands. We will probably stay in b&bs or rent baches. Looked at the campervan option but it seems expensive compared to a car and reasonable accomos. Would it be worth it for a week or more in Fiordland area to be able to stop in more inaccessible areas? Would also appreciate some suggestions for a longer stay (at least a week) in one area preferably beach. We are thinking that it would make more sense to do South Island first then North from a warm weather perspective, is this sensible or won't it matter too much? We like the outdoors not too interested in city life (& no bungy jumping!) so NZ should be perfect. Any suggestions much appreciated.

mlgb Apr 8th, 2006 01:33 PM

I would definitely take time in Fiordland and in Southland if you have it. Include one or more of the two-three day tramps (Milford or Routeburn, or Hump Ridge). The Hump is relatively new and run by a local oufit, not the DNC, and I think not as well known. You can take the option to have packs flown up, down, or both. ( I think there is also an option to have yourselves helicoptored up, but I did not find the walk that difficult, except for short stretches. Great views from the ridge of the Fiordland coast. The Waiau Hotel in Tuatapere is supposed to be famous for it's pub meals and is the local watering hole.

If I had that kind of time I would also go to Stewart/Ulva Island (bird watching heaven).

I like Invercargill (many will disagree) and would spend at least one night there, visit the great Southland museum and see Henry the 100 year plus tuatara, Dee Street has some great antique stores. Southland is my favorite part of NZ. Not many tourists and the locals are friendly.

vbca Apr 8th, 2006 10:23 PM

Congratulations on giving yourself time to ejoy our lovely country.

IMO the split between South & North should be 2:1 in favour of South Island. Of course I am a one eyed biased mainlander, and I also know you could spend a couple of months cruising around North Island, and not get bored, but for my money, South Island has the edge.

You ask about School holidays. THese take up the whole of January, however this is not the prime consideration. Very little of the congestion around NZ's holiday spots is caused by Kiwis on Vacation. Mostly is is overseas visitors such as yourselves who takeup most of the available accommodation.

January, February & March are the peak months for tourists visiting NZ, so you will be right in the thick of it. From the tone of your post, I imagine you would like to poke around the country, finding hidden gems, and generally doing your own thing, and avoiding the crowds. For this I realy think you would be better hiring a Motor Home. It will probably work out more expensive than hiring a car, and staying in Motels, but not by much, and you will have the freedom of stopping wherever you wish (within reason, not in the middle of our towns, thank you.)

If you decide to go the Car/Motel route, you will need to firm up your itenerary, and make the bookings ASAP. At the moment you will still have a good choice of accommodation, but by October/November it will all be taken, and you will be scrambling for the crumbs no one else wants.

THere are a multitude of posts regarding Motor Homes/Camper Vans, so I won't get involved in that. Maui and Britz are the biggies, but there are numerous others. For Motel accommodation, try, or Otherwise do a search in Google for the area you are interested in (Fiordland, Te Anau, Queenstown, Nelson, Rotorua, Bay of Islands, etc).

The diference in temperature North to South at this time of year is insignificant.

The previous post has covered the walking tracks around Fiordland very well. In this area there is not much between accessable and inaccessable. If you can't drive to it (Milford Sound/Doubtful Sound) you will have to walk, and this can range from a 30 minute amble, to a 2 week endurance test over high mountain passes and through dense rain forest, and everything in between.

I'm not sure if what you mean by a batch coincides with our interperatation of the word. Our "Batch" is a privaely owned dwelling, usually with fairly basic facilities, and often built by the owner. It will be at a place of interest to the owner, often by a lake, river, or by the sea. These are not usually rented out, and if they are, it will usualy be an informal arangement.

Another class of part time accommmodation is a "Holiday Home". This can be anything from a Batch, to a mansion with 10 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms (not mine) :) These are not built with the intention of renting them, but often they are available through real estate agents, especially in the Queenstown area. They are not likely to be cheap. Often the owners will refer to their Holiday Home as a Batch, but this is usually "tounge in cheek."

I guess the point I am trying to make, is that the only short term accommodation you are likely to find will be "commercial" properties, such as Hotels, Motels, & B&Bs which includes 'Home stays', a slightly upmarket form of B&B. which brings me back to my first observation, that for the type of "Free wheeling" holiday you seem to envisage, a Motor Home would be the best alternative..

Whatever you choose, I know it will be right for you. You are going to have a fabulous holiday in New Zealand.

poll162 Apr 10th, 2006 01:52 AM

We started off by having a few nights in a wonderful b&b in Ponsonby in Auckland getting over jet lag and actually got lots of advice from the hosts that we would not have been able to work out ourselves. There are lots of things to do in Auckland. We even went on a whale watching trip and saw three whales & lots of dolphins.

The walks were all booked up so we went on the walk out of Wanaka to the Rob Roy glacier. Amazing. Utterly beautiful.

Loved both island. They are very different . Just dont underestimate a rest when you arrive to get over the long trip.

fuzzylogic Apr 10th, 2006 04:02 AM

And do go to the "bottom" of the south island if you can - and on to Stewart Island. If you are a serious walker there are, I believe, some great tramps you can do there. I'm just a dabbler but loved having the shorter walks all to myself. And the peace there; and the knowledge that you are a long way from anywhere - but still that small War Memorial in Oban. A special place.

ElendilPickle2 Apr 12th, 2006 04:17 PM

Take a look at to see how we spent 10 days on the North Island in 2004.

You've gotten a variety of good suggestions on lodging; I'd also recommend taking a look at hostels. Many have double rooms with ensuite baths, and they are much less expensive than hotels or B & Bs. is a good place to start.

Lee Ann

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