My time in New Zealand

Mar 1st, 2005, 01:02 PM
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My time in New Zealand

I'm finally over my jet lag and ready and willing to answer any questions about my wonderful, fabulous trip to New Zealand. It really was a trip of a lifetime and I'd like to say a great big thank you to everyone on this board who helped with my planning.

the trip was perfect in every way, and I feel we really did make the most of our time.

Because there have been so many wonderful trip reports lately, especially Sharon's detailed report, I won't repeat all the same stuff.
Instead, I thought I'd report some misc stuff that I think might be helpful to some.

Devonport is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Auckland. I had forgotten the name of the small fish and chip place that Lee Ann had mentioned, and all of a sudden, there it was in front of me. Thanks Lee Ann, I agree, if you want a good inexpensive meal of fish and chips, go to The Cod Piece. My meal was less thatn $5.00.

If you are travelling on a budget, there are 2 things that are really good and really cheap. Fish and Chips and also Meat Pies. YOu can buy meat pies everywhere and they are delicious. They come in many different varieties and are less than $3.00. I loved them.
Ice cream.... definately, all that has been said is true. Mmmm,, Hokey Pokey is actually what we call sponge toffee. So the Cadbury Crunchie is hokey pokey. And the ice cream is full of chunks of sponge toffee.
The Tim TAms are also to die for. And do try a Tim TAm explosion... ask someone when you are there!!

If you are on a budget, the campgrounds rent little cabins that are quite reasonable. The Top Ten parks are good and we stayed in a great little cabin at Franz Josef Glacier with a great little kitchen.

This was my first experience with hostels and they were great. We always had a twin room rather than a dorm and all were good experiences. I preferred the smaller ones affiliated with BBH. They were all clean and had good bathroom and kitchen facilities. I wouldn't hesitate to stay in them again.

In Queenstown we stayed in a really nice apartment motel called Blue Peaks. It was a splurge for us and we had a one bedroom apartment. It was within walking distance to downtown and we loved it there.
Also in Queenstown we went out for a nice dinner at Beefeater Steakhouse on Shotover Street and loved it. I had lamb and it was delicious.

As I mentioned in another post, do thing about hiring DOtty's husband Ted for a tour of wellington.. We had a great time.

Also in Wellington, we found a great little waterfron cafe called The Chocolate Fish and loved it. We sat there for a couple of hours on our only rainy morning.
( we were very lucky and had beautiful sunshine every day for a month).

When in Dunedin, for a light breakfast, I recommend Croq-O-dile Espresso Cafe at the corner of Princes and Dowling street. The muffins were wonderful and so was the coffee. I loved it so much, I went back the next day. They also have a location at the Botanical GArdens.

I was very anxious to do my tour of the Otago Peninsula and to see the penguins and other wildlife. I went on Elm wildlife tours ( and can highly recommend them. I believe they do a more eco friendly tour that other tours. We went onto a very remote area ( private property ) and saw the yellow eyed penguins, sea liions and fur seals. It was a really great tour and we were gone for about 6 hours. It does require a fair level of fitness.

My overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound was outstanding. Everything was great. The food was delicious, better than I was expecting. In fact, I never gave any thought to the food, so it was an added bonus when I saw the great buffet.

If you are taking the ferry from the south Island, arrive in Picton a couple of housr early. We enjoyed the shopping there and enjoyed sitting by the lake....what a view!!

In Rotorua, we treated ourselves to one of the worlds top ten spas. It was a splurge, well worth it. Wow!!

North of Auckland, I loved Orewa, and would have stayed longer if I'd had time.
I carried on to Pahia and it was a beautiful spot. I was there 2 days and could have stayed longer. While there I stayed at Peppertree Lodge and it was great. IT's a hostel, but I had my own room with private ensuite. It's fairly new and very nice.

ANd a really big tip!!! Don't EVER, EVER let your gas tank get below half. YOu will go miles and miles before you see any sign of civilization and/or a gas station. We let it go once and were really worried. Especially on the south island.
It's really true too.... the distances are greater than you think and because of the curvy, twisting mountain roads, it really does take longer than you think to get to the next location. Don't push yourself. Slow down and enjoy.

Do make a stop at Arrowtown and also Wanaka if you have the time. Wanaka is a great town in a great location.

Thanks again to everyone. Our trip was great... I'd be happy to answer any questions.

kodi is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 01:47 PM
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Thanks for posting! I enjoy hearing the little details about food, snacks, etc. just as much as the hotel & tour reviews.

Here's some random questions...
What were the highlights for you?
Single favorite place?
Single favorite experience?
pb_and_j is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 02:54 PM
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Thanks so much for posting!
Could you give me an idea of how much to budget for food? We will be in the South Island for 18 days... Is US$100 per day doable for 2 people?
Sorry if this is a difficult question!
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 03:39 PM
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Thanks for posting Kodi. Glad to hear you had such a good time.
Melnq8 is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 04:00 PM
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Hi Kodi,

Welcome back! I'm looking forward to my trip in 2 weeks time.

Did you take the Southern Coast route and visited the Cathedral Caves as intended? Perhaps you can share with us your itinerary and which BBH hostels you stayed in? I've booked myself in BBH hostels too.
Chenoa is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 05:33 PM
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Oh Boy ,pb and J, difficult questions. It was all so beautiful.
Hmmm as for highlights, I'd have to say all down the west coast of the South Island and I also enjoyed the Otago Peninsula on the east coast, particularly because of the penguins and other wildlife. I loved seeing the penguins. The Queenstown area was stunning, but the town itself was too touristy. I'd prefer to stay in Wanaka.

On the north island, highlights were Rotorua and seeing the hot springs and bubbling mud.
I also really enjoyed Pahia up in the north in the Bay of Islands area.

As for the single favourite place.... oh, all of the above. but if I really had to pick.. probably the Queenstown / Te Anau area ( not in town) and Doubtful Sound.
As for the single favourite experience it would have to be the Doubtful Sound cruise. It was amazing and the scenery truly stunning. Very Beautiful. I wouldn't have missed that cruise.
Another experience I woulnd't have missed is the Elm wildlife tour in Otago Peninsula to see the penguins.

Tim and Liz, yes it's quite possible to eat for a $100 a day....assuming you aren't planning on 'fine dining' every night. You can pretty well figure on spending the same as you would at home.
We packed alot of our own lunches and cooked meals at the hostels. But as I mentioned, great meat pies and also fish and chips are a bargain for under $5.00. In Christchurch we went to an Asian food court which had all different Asian countries represented. I'm not a very adventurious eater, but ended up with Cambodian food and loved it...and it was a good price.
If you aren't careful, someplaces can be expensive. We stopped on in a little town on one of our long driving days and ordered a tea to take out. It cost $3.50. We couldn't believe it and joked the rest of the day that it must have been gourmet tea!
But you should be ok with that budget if you are a bit careful and pack some lunches. ( You might want to do that anyway, because a lot of areas are very remote) As as others have mentioned, places close early. Towns seems to roll up the sidewalks at 5 or so.

Chenoa, no we didn't do the Southern Coast for 2 reasons. First, we were told we didn't have the time to do it justice. It isn't a matter of driving the road, but that you must keep detouring off it to really see the sights. Second, I was getting exhausted driving. We ended up doing over 5000 km and I found the twisty turny mountain roads took a lot of concentration, so by that point in the trip, I was happy to not do it. We still had a lot of driving to do.

I'll give you our rough itinerary, and mention the hostels that I think are really worthwhile.
We arrived in Auckland, stayed at Bamber House ( great hostel) and headed south to Rotorua. There we stayed at Treks....a great fairly new hostel.
Then down to Wellington.
Here we stayed at a large YHA hostel and I have to say I liked the smaller BBH hostels better. But my friend liked the big YHA's better...more like college dorms .

Then we took the ferry to Picton, stayed the night..
and over to Westport, stayed the night. and on down the west coast.
We Stayed at a cabin at Franz Josef Glacier in a Top Ten Holiday Park.

In Wanaka we also stayed in a cabin.
Then on to Queenstown.
I cut over to Dunedin and stayed at Backpackers HOstel. A older place that used to be a hospital and so it had lots of character. It was within walking distance of downtown, but up a big hill. I got my exercise and worked off the Tim Tams.

Then I went back to Queenstown to pick up my firend who had done the Milford Sound trek.
We then headed up to Christchurch and that was the only time we had trouble finding a place. We ended up a the Y which really was ok.
Then up to Kaikoura and stayed at the Sunrise Lodge. It was laid back and very relaxing. It had a different feel to it and was a great place to catch our breath and hang our laundry outside.

Then back up to Picton and across on the ferry to Wellington and then on up to Auckland.

I went on to Bay Of Islands and stayed at Peppertree Lodge, probably my favourite hostel. then back down the west side to Auckland.
Any of the hostels I just mentioned are nice. If you need any more info on them, just ask me.
Have a great trip...and I hope you ahve the same great weather we had.
kodi is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 06:50 PM
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Whooo hooo, Kodi's back! I was just thinking about you the other day, wondering if you were back yet. I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip!

I'm glad you found the Cod Piece. It's a delicious, inexpensive lunch place. Dh had a hamburger there (complete with beetroot slice) that was really good.

Liz, $100 per day for food is very reasonable. I know we didn't ever spend that much. We usually bought breakfast stuff which we kept in the hotel mini-refrigerator; we also stayed in hostels three nights, so were able to cook breakfast there. Lunches were usually stuff like cheese, crackers, veggies, and fresh fruit. We did have fish and chips and things like that a few times. To keep dinner costs down, we often got takeaway food to eat in our hotel room, or we found a supermarket the nights we stayed in hostels. One hotel (the New President in Auckland) had a complete kitchen, which was really nice. We were tired and it was fun to do a little shopping and cook dinner instead of trying to figure out where to eat that night.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 01:15 AM
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Hi Kodi.

I agree that there's a lot of detours along the Southern Coast. I just hope we have good weather when we are there.

Of the hostels you mentioned, the only coincidence is Chalet Backpackers in Dunedin. BTW, do you find the cooking faciities in BBH hostels similar? Do they provide cooking oil and condiments like salt and pepper?

Do you have any comments on the following tours in Dunedin / Otago?
a) Cadbury Factory
b) Spreights Brewery
c) Larnarch Castle
d) Albatross Centre
Due to time contraint, I have to skip half of these....maybe you can help me with my decision.
Chenoa is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 07:12 AM
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We are doing the overnight Dunedin boat in 3 weeks. What can I look forward to (besides food and rain)?
Jed is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 01:48 PM
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>>BTW, do you find the cooking faciities in BBH hostels similar? Do they provide cooking oil and condiments like salt and pepper?<<

Yes, but that's about all most of them provide. We stayed at one outside Egmont National Park which had a nice herb garden for our use.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 02:05 PM
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Comments on the four tours in Dunedin: I guess my favorite was the brewery, because afterward they let us sample everything (this was a few years ago). I've never made the Cadbury tour as the hours were always too restrictive. You do know that it takes a while to get to Lanarch Castle and the Albatross Colony, they are outside of town on the Peninsula>? As for the Albatross Colony, I think I saw as much from the parking lot (because the birds were flying overhead) as from inside the observatory. If the winds are not within a limited range, the birds will not be flying. The castle was nice to stay in, but I would say it wasn't the most exciting tour.
mlgb is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 03:58 PM
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Chenoa, since I'm a chocolate lover, I went for the Cadbury tour and loved it. We got free samples too. I'm not a beer drinker, so can't comment on that tour.
I did the Albatross boat ride as an added option to my Elm Wildlife tour to see the penguins. They were awesome, but as mentioned, if the wind isn't just right for them, they aren't flying anyway. We were very lucky out on the boat...there were a few of them soaring and they were beautiful.
I didn't do the other tours. I chose to skip the castle, feeling that I'd seen a few castels in Scotland.

As for what's in the kitchens in the hostels, it really depends. YOu can't really count on anything being there except for soap to do the dishes. BUT, other travellers seem very willing to share that sort of thing, and many travellers leave things behind in the 'free food' shelf. But usually we would find salt and pepper.
But you could always buy a little camping set.

Lee Ann....HI! Yes the Cod Piece was great as was our whole trip!

Jed, I'm not at all familiar with an overnight boat tour out of Dunedin. I'd be very interested in knowing more about it. I've not heard anyone talking about it.

kodi is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2005, 06:05 PM
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kodi - I meant Doubtful.
Jed is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 12:17 AM
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Hi, Chenoa,
If it was me I would skip the Castle. I found it very run-down, and was very disappointed. Another much nicer place to visit is an old house called Olveston. This house too is a part of Dunedin's history, but in my opinion a far more interesting part.
Cadbury's factory tour is a definite must if you are evenjust a little chocaholic!!
Hope this helps.
dotty is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 03:45 AM
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Hey guys!
Thanks for your advise. Will make a trip to Cadbury. My hubby's def. a chocolate person more than a beer person. I don't belong to any of these categories.

Well....assuming a visit to Lanarch Castle, how much time would be appropriate to look-see-look-see? I've trying to fix in my itinerary since the Cadbury and Albatross tours need advance booking. Also I'm thinking of an early morning tramp to either:
a) Lovers Leap and The Chasm
b) Sandfly Bay
Which would you recommend?
Chenoa is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 06:34 AM
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Jed, if you are as lucky as I was, you won't have rain on your doubtful sound cruise.
Ok...what to expect.... If you leave from TeAnau, you'll have a 20 minute bus ride. Then you catch a ferry and are on it for 55 minutes travelling up Manapouri Lake. Take some food for this stretch if you are a nibbler. When you get off this ferry, be sure and have bug spary handy. This spot was the very worst for sandlflies. At this point you get on another bus. It goes through beautiful scenery ( as does the ferry boat you'd just come off) and it's gorgeous. The bus stops at a beautiful spot for pictures. Then , at last you reach the tour boat.
I was booked into a 4 bed bunk cabin, but was lucky enough to have it to myself. The boat was very nice.
Tea and coffee were immediately available and as the boat sailed away, the crew were introduced. Everyone was very friendly.
Muffins were served...then delicious soup and bread to tide us over til dinner.
The scenery was breathtaking. I spent most of the time out on the deck enjoying the view.
Dinner was so much more than I expected. I suppose I hadn't really thought about it, but they served a beautiful buffet....and then great desserts.
Also, everyone is given a chance to go out kyaking or going out in the tender boat for a little flora and fauna lesson.
We were very, very lucky and had perfect weather.
After dinner , they do a slide show, but on our trip there didn't ...the weather was too perfect to stay inside. Everyone was looking up at the stars.

Breakfast was buffet and great.
After breakfast, we had a whole pod of dolphins following our boat. Oh and the night before we saw many seals with their pups.
It was a truly wonderful experience. I think you'll enjoy it. The scenery is spectacular.

kodi is offline  
Mar 4th, 2005, 04:32 PM
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Hi Chenoa,

You asked which beach is worth a tramp to. I would recommend Sandfly Bay which, imho, is one of the best looking beaches in Otago. There are usually seals and sealions on the beach and quite often there are penguins too.

The sand dunes at the back of the beach are great to explore (and if you want to be a big kid you can slide down them).

It is not much of a walk from the carpark to the beach. You cross a farmer's fields and you are asked to be careful around their stock so that you don't spook them.

As far as Larnach castle is concerned an hour or two would be all you need. Someone earlier on recommended Olveston House. It certainly is good and for things to see it is probably the better bet.


I am glad you enjoyed your time here. I hope you make it back sometime.


Kiwi_acct is offline  
Mar 6th, 2005, 01:21 PM
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Kodi, I forgot to ask how your friend liked the Milford Track.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Mar 6th, 2005, 05:18 PM
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Thank you Steve. I'd love to come back.
I have such wonderful memories.

Lee Ann, my friend had a really great trek on the Milford Track. She loved it and did very well on it. But then, she's used to back country hiking trips.
She was extremely lucky and had beautiful weather for the whole 4 days. In fact, it was quite hot and she would start her daily trek about 7 am and finish for the day in the early afternoon.
It was all she dreamed of ....and more.
I hadn't realized it, but she had some suspension bridges to cross. Another good reason for me not going!
We crossed one on one of our shorter hikes and I was not happy on it! It was swinging way too much for me!
She said the scenery was spectacular and she was so glad she did the trek.
I saw the bus load arrive back at Queenstown and they all looked pretty tired to me.
We were extrememly lucky for the whole month. We had beautiful weather every day. Honestly, we were spoiled. Even when other parts of the country were having storms, the sun was following us.

Oh and my friend also did the day trek up Franz Josef Glacier and loved it. That was another time I was waiting for the bus for her and every one looked pretty tired. I only hiked to the toe of the glacier.

I miss the meat pies! oh and the Tim Tams. I sure wish I knew where I could get some.
kodi is offline  
Mar 6th, 2005, 07:41 PM
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>>I miss the meat pies! oh and the Tim Tams. I sure wish I knew where I could get some.<<

There are a couple of websites which sell Aussie products. A Google search should turn them up.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  

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