Napier, NZ in December: help with solo itinerary?

Old Aug 1st, 2006, 06:32 PM
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Napier, NZ in December: help with solo itinerary?

I'm going to an academic conference December 7-8, 2006. I'd like to take up to 10 days (incl. travel time if possible) and see as much as possible; I'm traveling on my own and can cover a lot of ground, see a lot of the area. It will be a while before I can get back there, and this is my first trip. I can likely get in a day or two early and see Napier/Hawkes Bay area. I won't be driving (I have a left-right dyslexia).

I'd like to see something of the South Island, including Christchurch and Milford or Doubtful Sound. I like to walk, though I'm not much of a hill-climber (I walk 4-6 miles daily); I like scenery, but I also enjoy city touring (cafes, etc.).The budget is flexible; I'm a quite fit woman in early 50s.

I'd appreciate any itinerary or other suggestions for the trip; I've browsed the threads, gotten the tourbooks, but am still trying to figure out the priorities. I've traveled a fair amount, including solo, and used to live in Hawaii, but I've not been to Oz/NZ.

Thanks for any suggestions!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 06:10 AM
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Hi,
Just to get the ball rolling, as there are so many permutations - and I'm not that well up on internal NZ flights.

If you can fly from Napier to Queenstown - then do that and visit Doubtful or Milford Sound. Then bus it to Christchurch (with a stop in Mt Cook or Tekapo to break the journey). Or bus it to Dunedin and check out the albatrosses/penguins, the great city museum, etc.

Fly from either CHC or Dunedin to Wellingon and spend a few days there.

Or bus it to Rotorua in the N Island and see the thermal landscape; fly to Queenstown - do the sounds; fly to Wellington. Or fly Queenstown to Christchurch, bus it via Kaikoura (overnight) and to Picton. Walk for a day on the Queen Charlotte track; take ferry from Picton to Wellington - and fly on.

NZ is a very easy country to travel in - and there is so much to see. I've done all my travelling there by bus or minibus shuttle - oh, and ferry. I wasn't that keen on Queenstown but the Sounds are great. You could also, of course, return to CHC from Queenstown via the the west coast and the glaciers, and the superb train departing Greymouth.

Only you can decide - and only you know whether paying for internal flights from top spot to top spot is preferable to choosing fewer destinations and doing it slowly and seeing the country on the way.

Best of luck.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 08:57 AM
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Many thanks, Fuzzy; I'll print out your post and review it side by side with a map and a schedule.

Would you recommend stopping for long in Christchurch (relative to other areas or cities)?
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Old Aug 2nd, 2006, 01:09 PM
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Another travel option would be to get from Napier to Wellington (bus?) and after a day (visit Te Papa) take the ferry over to the South Island, connecting with the train to Christchurch.

Christchurch is worth a day or two, for the Botanic Garden, Mona Vale, Canterbury Museum, Arts Center, and Cathedral Square. I like to be there on the weekend to take advantage of the market at the Arts Centre. I recommend Windsor Hotel as a great location and friendly place for single travelers.

You can get from Christchurch to Dunedin by a fast van shuttle. In the center of town behind the art museum is another friendly B*B, Hulmes Court. Dunedin is worthwhile for the wildlife (there is a tour company recommended by Fodorites). I assume the Taireiri Gorge train is still running, someone on Fodor posted about a one way trip with a pickup and deliver to Queenstown.
Queenstown is a good base for a few days, day trip to Milford Sound, Tss Earnslaw, Arrowtown by bus, winery tours to Gibbston Valley. Queenstown has an airport so you could either fly back to your departure city.

Ten days is really a short time and I would probably stick to one island.
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Old Aug 15th, 2006, 08:14 PM
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Thanks Migb -- working on the itinerary now.
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Old Aug 18th, 2006, 10:11 AM
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http://www.visit-dunedin.co.nz/taier...e_railway.html

Link for the train from Dunedin to Queenstown. My original spelling of "Taieri" is wrong.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2006, 04:50 PM
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Thanks again -- the website looks awesome!
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Old Dec 27th, 2006, 09:31 PM
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Had a good trip overall. Flew SFO to Aukland; Aukland to Christchurch, Christchurch to Queenstown on my first night/day. Three nights in Queenstown -- first full day there, did Routeburn track for one-day/eight-mile portion; had expected 4 miles and was recovering from fractured toes and out of shape so lost the skin off the backs of both heels on the hike!

Stayed at the Scenic Circle hotel, which was adequate for my needs. The next day coach and cruise tour of Milford Sound was perfect to avoid walking. Then flew to Christchurch for two nights; skipped the LOTR tour and rested up; took the tram and looked around Christchurch; stayed at the Crown Plaza which worked out great. Toured the Art Centre and the Museum--both well worth seeing. The tram allows on and off privileges for two days and hits a lot of highlights.

Then on to Napier, staying at Scenic Circle Te Pania hotel which was right on Hawkes Bay. Great self-guided walking tour of this Art Deco capital of the world, lots of cafes. Dinner at one winery and tasting at that one and one right next to it -- Mission Winery and Church Road (I think that was its name).

At the conference Alan Duff spoke; I gather he's quite a controversial figure in NZ. Unfortunately my paper was the last segment on the last day so it was hanging over my head the whole time; still, all in all, and feet aside, it was a good trip and I saw A LOT of the South Island and some of the North.

Thanks for the tips everyone!
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Old Dec 28th, 2006, 09:36 AM
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Thanks for reporting back. Shame about the heels!
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Old Dec 31st, 2006, 06:55 PM
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Thanks mijb; still well worth going, even hobbling for a few days!

I have a view of Lake Wakatipu on my desktop right now.
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