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March 2015 – Adventure Trip Planning – 2 Weeks in NZ


Feb 4th, 2014, 11:03 AM
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March 2015 – Adventure Trip Planning – 2 Weeks in NZ

I’m starting some very advanced planning for a March 2015 trip, with a focus on scenery and adventure. After going through quite a few options, I have (I believe!) narrowed it down to two options: Chile/Argentina and New Zealand. This post is all about New Zealand as an option for a 2 week trip: I will also post a Chile/Argentina option in the South America forum.

My main focus is great scenery and adventure opportunities. I also do like great food & wine, affordable luxury hotels/inns, and wildlife viewing, but those are much lesser points of interest on this particular trip. In terms of adventure, I like that New Zealand offers such a wide array of soft and extreme adventure options. I’m most interested in surfing, day hikes, kayaking, biking, and the possibility of skydiving. I don’t want to rush too much, but do want to get to a few key locations.

New Zealand is absolutely the place I most want to go next. I’ve been interested in going since the first Lord of the Rings movie came out. My main points of concern are that even with two weeks, I don’t have enough time to properly explore, and I will likely be at the mercy of bus/internal flights since I’m a New Yorker who has not driven much and driving on the left seems a bit hairy for me.

Keeping those things in mind, I’ve crafted a rough itinerary for 13 nights in New Zealand, nearly all on the South Island (some time on NI for surfing, which I’m a novice and the surf schools sound more plentiful there, plus the water will be warmer in March). I don’t have firm dates at all, but looked at when planes depart/arrive to get an optimal schedule together:

MONDAY – land in Auckland 5:45 AM (departed NYC Saturday afternoon via SF/LAX), flight to Queenstown, afternoon/night Queenstown

TUESDAY – Queenstown / Arrowtown / Central Otago(?), night Queenstown

WEDNESDAY – Queenstown bus/car to Te Anu, night Te Anu

THURSDAY – Milford Sound kayak/cruise, night Te Anu

FRIDAY – Day hike (Milford? Kepler?), night Te Anu

SATURDAY – back to Queenstown, time in Glenorchy (?), night Queenstown

SUNDAY – Bus from Queenstown to Wanaka, night Wanaka

MONDAY – Bus from Wanaka to Fox / Franz Josef Glacier, night Glaciers

TUESDAY – Glacier exploration, skydive?, night Glaciers

(this part I am fairly ok with, but then not sure how to work the rest in where I’d like to surf. Also not sure if it makes the most sense to go to Auckland or Wellington as the base)

WEDNESDAY – Glaciers to Hokitika/Arthur’s Pass, night Hokitika/Arthur’s Pass

THURSDAY – Hokitika/Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch, fly Wellington / Auckland, night Wellington / Auckland

FRIDAY – If Wellington: city exploration/Martinborough/Kaitoke (?), If Auckland: Waiheke Island (?)

SATURDAY – if Wellington: surfing in Lyall Bay, if Auckland: surfing (wherever surf school goes), night Wellington / Auckland

SUNDAY – if Wellington: fly home (via Auckland and SF/LAX) if Auckland: day in city, fly home (via SF/LAX), land NYC 10:00 PM Sunday

How does this itinerary look for the things I’d like to do, as well as keeping the rushing around to a minimum and relying on public transportation as much as possible?

Also, if anyone has been to both New Zealand and Chile/Argentina and wants to weigh in on both experiences, I would very much appreciate it.

pamplemuss is offline  
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Feb 4th, 2014, 01:13 PM
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Since you're a Lord of the Rings fan, I'd pick Wellington in order to visit the Weta Cave and see places in the city where the movie was filmed.

Lee Ann
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Feb 4th, 2014, 02:09 PM
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Thanks Elendil (from one fan to another). Wellington itself sounds like a much more interesting city overall than Auckland, and the LOTR bonus is very compelling.
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Feb 4th, 2014, 04:38 PM
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As a surfer, you might want to head to Piha or Raglan on NZ's North Island. Piha is on the West Coast near Auckland, so probably easiest for you to get to by public transporation.

Dunedin is a popular surfing destination on the East Coast of the South Island. Most days, there are surfers in the waves of St. Clair Beach, on warm summer days and when the waves are good there are dozens of surfers out. http://www.dunedinnz.com/visit/see-a...-sport/surfing

The coast south of Dunedin, along the Catlins, is also popular with surfers. It's a beautiful area. It's ALL beautiful.

Lots of public transport from Queenstown, Wanaka, or Christchurch to Dunedin and it's cheap, using Naked Bus, Intercity, or Atomic Shuttles, Wanaka Connexions. Bottom Bus is pricier but does a handy circuit: http://travelheadfirst.com/local-legends/bottom-bus/

Can't help you with Chile, but I'd sure like to go there, mainly to see Torres del Paine/Patagonia, visit the wineries near Santiago, see the World Heritage city of Valparaiso, and go skygazing from the Atacama Desert. It's no doubt cheaper than New Zealand.
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Feb 5th, 2014, 03:42 PM
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As an adventurer, I was very impressed to see that there is a continuous bike trail from the top of the North Island to the very bottom of the South Island. We found NZ to be the most beautiful country we have ever visited. (I haven't been to Chile.)
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Feb 5th, 2014, 03:42 PM
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Haha, I meant YOU are the adventurer, not ME.
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Feb 6th, 2014, 02:33 PM
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On the north island, Bethell's Beach on the west coast is beautiful. Muriwai nearby has a gannet colony that is easy to visit. On the north end of the north island, there is a string of coves with beautiful beaches. On the Karikari Peninsula, Matai Bay is one of the most beautiful I've seen.
The trek over Tongariro Crossing is one that I hoped to do but it's weather dependent.

Treks on the south Island that I've enjoyed include the Hump Ridge, famous Milford Track, and parts of the Routeburn. Fun trek out to the Tasman Glacier inside Mt. Cook NP, plus views of the turquoise lakes Pukaki, Tekapo on the drive.

The easy trails long the ocean at the North End of the South Island (Abel Tasman) are also fun.

The must do attractions being Queenstown & Milford Sound (if you do the Milford Track you will end there with an overnight).

I do suggest renting a car for at least part of your trip.
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Feb 18th, 2014, 11:08 AM
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Thank you all for your suggestions and feedback! Mlgb, I do think that I'll need a car, probably for the Wanaka and onward portion. I better start practicing I suppose.

I'm rethinking my surfing plans at the moment: Abel Tasman sounds like a a fantastic area that I really shouldn't miss, and there is decent stand up paddling and kayaking to get my adventure side satisfied. So for those last few days, this is what I'm thinking at the moment. Let me know if this might make more sense!

WEDNESDAY – Glaciers to Punakaiki, night Punakaiki/Westport

THURSDAY – early drive Punakaiki/Westport to Nelson, Nelson to Marahau, night Marahau (this seems like a longer stretch, maybe 3 hours of driving without stops from Wesport to Nelson alone: is this doable?)

FRIDAY – Marahau and Abel Tasman, night Marahau

SATURDAY – Marahau and Abel Tasman, night Marahau

SUNDAY – back to Nelson, fly home (via Auckland and SF/LAX) land NYC 10:00 PM Sunday
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Feb 18th, 2014, 03:37 PM
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Punakaiki to Marahau is approximately 4.5 hours.

Westport to Marahau is approximately 3.75.

Quite doable.
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