New NZ Trip Report

Reply

Mar 19th, 2018, 12:21 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
New NZ Trip Report

It seems that NnTexas is in NZ almost at the same time as we are! We arrived in Auckland on March 4th and have had some different experiences so I thought I would share. Also I want to thank everyone who helped us plan. We were supposed to fly with American, premium economy, but they cancelled our return flight so we booked a regular flight on Air Tahiti Nui because they gave us a free 3 night stay over on the return flight. Took the red eye out of Los Angeles and arrived around 1PM. We took the Sky Bus into town, quite convenient, $17 per person, and it dropped us off three blocks from our hotel. Staying at the Ramada on Federal St right down from Sky City and Tower. Walked to the grocery store, milk, cereal, OJ, bananas and chocolate! One thing that is nice is that all our hotels so far have had a mini kitchen, “ self catering” I believe is the term.

March 4th was the last night of the Lantern Festival for the Chinese New Year and the Domain was covered in lanterns, in the trees, standing up, it was magical. Lanterns and jet lag, what a pair. Stayed until around 9pm and took a bus to hotel. Bus is kind of expensive, $3.50 one way.

Day 2 - Up early and caught the Hop On Hop Off Bus. Started with the Red Loop. With a short time you see the highlights, stop when you want and they throw in a ferry ride to Devonport. Also did the Auckland Museum and Maori show. Both were great, took a break and took the Blue Loop which brings you back to the museum. The Red Loop is good, the Blue Line is less so. Dinner at the Federal Deli.

Day 3 - Went down to the wharf and walked along the Viaduct and Wynward. We saw some of the boats NnTexas saw. Got off the HOHO at Bastion Pt. Great views of Auckland from a different perspective. Back into town, picnic in Albert Park and visit to Auckland Art Gallery, convenient because they are right next to each other. One hour to relax at hotel,then on to Devonport for dinner. Shops were closed but it is still a wonderful strolling town. Dinner at Costelli’s From a recommendation from a woman we met on the ferry. Topped it off with some live music outside at the Viaduct attached to the Volvo boat race.

Day 4 - Waiheke Island. A must do if you go to Auckland IMO. Took the ferry. It’s $38 per person. I rented a car. A. I wanted to practice driving and B. You can see more of the Island. You can get a bus pass for $10, but the car deal was $99 with ferry, or about $60 for the car. It was worth it, we went to Rocky Bay, the small Museum, Onetangi Beach and up to some rocks called the Batter, all in one day and then back to Oneroa for dinner. Whew! I love this place.

Tomorrow on to the Coromandel
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 19th, 2018, 05:41 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,435
Along for the ride Tdiddy. Our trip is fast approaching.
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 19th, 2018, 11:41 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,127
Joining you too. Agree with you on Waiheke.
tripplanner001 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 20th, 2018, 01:09 AM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
Buckle up MeInc8 and TripPlanner, I’ve rented a car! We used Apex based on refs from this site.

Day 5 - Headed to the Coromandel. When we first started planning, I read in a book that people don’t visit the Coromandel, that sealed the deal, gotta go. Got the car, drove an hour to Thames, easy drive BTW and headed to the Karaki bird walk. Pulling into a parking space, I was too left, too fast and BAM, flat tire. I called the auto club, said I’ve had the car one hour, send me my trophy! A gentleman next to me in the parking lot got out his car and helped me change the tire and directed me to a tire shop. Such great people. We headed up SH25 to Waiomu Beach Cafe, it was on my list and well worth it. Tonight we stayed at the Rapaura Gardens in Tapu. You have to check this place out. About 60 acres of gardens and they have two units they rent out, so the place is yours in the evening. Sasha and his mother Sally run it.Huge cottage, with cereal, eggs, yogurt, juice’ left for breakfast. Wish we could have stayed two nights. So far the weather had been find, but it poured around 2AM. Next day it was nice.

Day 6 - Headed up the coast toward Coromandel Town. SH25 was damaged by a storm in Jan. So there is a lot of work on the road. Stopped for ice cream and walked around the town. Continued around the Peninsula to Whitianga. This is a cool little beach town. We stayed at Pipi Dunes B&B. Wayne and Lizette are super. After check in head to the Lost Spring Spa. The owner drilled down 600 ft., hit hot spring water and then built a pretty nice sculptured spa around an old school house.
6 pools varying degrees of temperatures. $40 for 1 and a half hours, but the lady at check in, gave us two hours. We felt it was worth it. Dinner at Squids by the marina. Had my first Coromandel mussels. Yummy. There is a bike rally going on, so the town was filled with Harley’s. Another great day in NZ.

Tomorrow we head to our Timeshare in Rotorua.
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 20th, 2018, 05:52 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,435
<<I read in a book that people don’t visit the Coromandel>>

Really? It's one of NZ's most popular holiday destinations. We visited on our first NZ trip back in the early 90's. It's in every NZ guide book I've ever read. Did you find it to be visitor-free?
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 20th, 2018, 11:35 AM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
Hey Mel. Yes it’s definitely on the map and tour books. It’s very popular with Kiwis but I think the implication was that it gets missed by US travelers, although you found it! It actually was pretty quiet when were driving around the Peninsula except for the 400 Harley’s. We drove stretches of SH25 with no one on our tail.
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 20th, 2018, 01:54 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,435
Huh. Probably those US travelers who hope to see Australia and NZ in one two week trip
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 21st, 2018, 11:48 AM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
I agree. Even a month is too little and that’s just for NZ!
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 21st, 2018, 12:15 PM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
Day 7- 11 Rotorua

7 - Before we left Whitianga, we took an Ocean Leopard tour. Great way to see the coast around Cathedral Cove and Shakespeare Cliff. Just before Tairua, there is a turn off for Sailor’s Grave Rd. At the end is Te Karo Bay beach. Well worth the stop. Staying at our timeshare in Rotorua, but it’s Northeast of the town, actually in Moorea.

Day 8 - Went to Wai -O-Tapu. Beautiful day. Rotorua is filled with geo thermal activity, but this is a great place for sinkholes, mud pots and colors I’ve never seen before. Well worth a stop. Got groceries in Rotorua and back home. Waiting for the cyclone that’s supposed to be coming through. It’s March 11th BTW.

Day 9 - No cyclone yet. Headed into town to get a good whiff off sulphur. Today we did Okere Falls, out by us, Blue and Green Lakes, beautiful and into town. Heads up, the Rotorua Museum is closed for an earthquake retro fit and will be closed for quite awhile. Started raining, so we decided to go to the Polynesian Spa. Have read this is touristy but it’s 8 Pools are very nice, sitting in the rain in a hot tub is very cool,didn’t feel touristy, but then about 5:30, 3 giant buses of Chinese tourists came in, with an influx of 100 people, I get the tourist part. Time to head out! Cyclone has hit in the form of wind and rain.

Day 10 - Still windy, no rain. Stopped at Wai-O-Tapu to see the geyser go off. Everyday at 10:15 and then Drove to Lake Taupo and Huka Falls. A must stop. Coolest thing of the day is going to the Thermal Spa Park, which is city park, where you walk down to a river and there are 2 natural hot springs. Check it out, it’s real chill, lot’s of back packers and travelers. We felt like hippies again.

Day 11 - Last day in Rotorua. Breakfast in town at Lime Caffeteria. Most if the day at Waikite Hot Springs. Google it, it’s out in the country and it’s run by the local town. Best way to end our trip to Rotorua.

Tomorrow on to Napier.
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Mar 25th, 2018, 01:36 PM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
Day12 - Napier - Took the same road as NnTexas, SH5 Pass through Taupo, you actually skirt the lake. The road is high plains for a while, obviously forest land that’s been cut down. I’m finding that almost all roads are two lanes, the sealed roads are in pretty good shape and there are very few people on the roads. One tip for future travelers, about halfway across the road, before it gets twisty, there is a turn off on the left, heading east toward Napier, that says scenic lookout. We neede to stop so we drove up the road to the lookout and there is a spectacular waterfall. Does anyone know the name? We met a couple from Masterson and they said they had been looking for this waterfall for a while.

After that we started the twisty road past Tarawera down to the coast. It got a little busy at this point. Lot of big trucks coming toward us. Finally pass Bay View, Westshore and into Napier. Napier was really busy and the downtown was bustling. We found out that the cruise ship was in town. I give Art Deco tours in Los Angeles so Napier was a must. Took a walking tour with the Art Deco Foundation which I would highly recommend.Stayed at the Napier Quest Apts. geared toward business travelers but great for us. Dinner was at the Westholme Quay, at theThirsty Whale Bar and Restaurant. Great seafood chowder and scallops. Only stayed one night in Napier, that was too short. The ocean is the bluest there.
On to Wellington
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 7th, 2018, 08:36 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
Day 13 - 14 Wellington - Hated to leave Napier after one day but what can you do! Sunny when we left Napier and through Hastings but started raining and rained all the way to Masterton. There is not a lot to see in IMO on SH2 on the way to Wellington, pretty straight road though. We stopped at Mt. Bruce Wildlife Area but they had lost their power to no Kiwi today.Going through the mountains after Featherston is kind of trip. Very curvy. Got into Wellington, staying at the Victoria Motor Court Lodge. Pretty non-descript but close to downtown and real close to Cuba St. Cuba street is close to the 60's. There was even Hare Krishna's on the street! We went for a Walk Wellington which started at the I-Site by the water. It was worth it, lasted about two hours.

2nd day we did the Kelburn Cable Car, cool and fun and then the big Te Papa museum. The museum is really nice, great Maori display. Only here for two days, so much more to do here. Wellington has a different vibe than Auckland, very artsy and young feeling. Tomorrow on to Nelson.
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 8th, 2018, 05:03 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,435
Ah yes, always so much to do, so little time...
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 9th, 2018, 07:10 AM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
I thought I did a fairly good job of travel days. 1 road travel day followed by 2 days in a place. Rotorua to Napier for instance, followed by 2 days in Wellington. No travel day longer than 5 hours, which we stretched into 5 or more with stops, but it was the smaller towns that I only scheduled one day, Napier, for instance that you could use one or two more days. Punakaki is a one dayer! You see the rocks, take a hike, Pancake Cafe and then hit the road. Have to go back! More Trip Report to follow.
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 9th, 2018, 08:28 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,121
Enjoying your report! I also enjoyed the Art Deco tour in Napier and being from Southern California the parallels with Santa Barbara were especially interesting.

NZ needs multiple trips (I think Melnq8 holds the record). But those extra long flights are hell, or I'd go back again.
mlgb is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 9th, 2018, 10:09 AM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
Our next trip is Vietnam. Have to do those long flights until my knees and hips give out. A couple of things about Wellington. IMO I would have spent more time in Wellington than Auckland. We stayed in Auckland and extra day or two because of scheduling conflicts and to get settled, next time I would move out of Auckland quicker.
We are back home now but I will continue with our 2nd two weeks. First a quick anecdote. In NZ a cooler is called a "chilly bin". We loved that term and kept saying it all day. When we were in Thames, we tried to buy a styrofoam cooler, you know the cheap ones, but all the Warehouse had was Igloo types. The lady at Warehouse said go over to the Pak-N-Save and talk to Doris in the seafood dept. and see if they have any containers that fish come in. We did and they gave us a styrofoam container about 8" high and 18" by 24", styrofoam, we rinsed it out and it became our Chilly Bin for the trip. We sadly had to leave it in our room in Queenstown, with a note saying Long Live Our Chilly Bin!
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 9th, 2018, 10:53 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,435
In Australia coolers are called "esky". Esky has become part of our vocabulary since we lived in Australia. As has brekky, sunnies, swimmers etc. We know what we're talking about even if others don't

<Punakaki is a one dayer!>

While I agree with you in theory, we once spent three nights there and found plenty to do - there are some wonderful tracks in the area for those of us who like longer treks. The average tourist hits the highlights and moves on. On our last visit there we stayed two nights, which gave us a full day to walk a portion of several long tracks, as well as do the usual Pancake Rocks and Truman Track walks. We managed to cram in quite a lot.

Funny you mention the styrofoam chilly bin - I just saw some in Walmart and thought about NZ as we're headed there in a few weeks and we've had trouble finding them there in the past. We too, have used the fish containers you refer to on past visits. I'll have to keep that in mind for this trip - better yet, maybe I'll pick up one of the collapsible ones to put in my suitcase.
Melnq8 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 11th, 2018, 04:06 PM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
We thought of taking a collapsible one but the only ones we have are for 6 packs. I agree you can spend more time in Punakaki, there is a cave and trek along the river. I was mentally in a tight spot. I had filled up with gas in Wellington before we crossed the Strait. Made drives to Abel Tasman, St. Anaud, Westport and Cape Foulwind and I hadn't checked my gas tank. We got about 10KMs out of Westport and we see a sign that says Next Gas - 90 KMs. We still had two lines on the gas level so we continued all the way to Punakaki and in my head I was freaking out that we were going to run out of gas. So I didn't want to explore around Punakaki. Long of the short, we made it to Greymouth and but in $95 of gas!
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 11th, 2018, 04:31 PM
  #18
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
Day 15 -16 - Wellington to Nelson. Took the Bluebridge ferry.There has been discussion of this on other posts but we used Apex car rental and kept the car and paid for the ferry crossing in the rental agreement. Did the 8AM trip. It was dark when we left our motel. The trip is great, 3 and 1/2 hours, sunny and pretty flat so that was good. I put on my big "MICHIGAN" hoody, go Blue, and stood up on the deck and took it all in. It was very exciting, I had my hood on over my headphones and was listening to Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd as we pulled into Charlotte Sound. It was pretty magical without actually being on anything magical! I could go on and on how beautiful the Sound is but I won't. Landed in Picton and took the Charlotte Sound Dr. I had been looking forward to this as I had read how great it was. Not for the driver! Yes, it's curvy but the foliage on the water side is so high you can't see much. The passenger might, so my advice is you are planning to take it, stop A LOT. It is great but add an extra hour to your trip and get outta the car. Especially stop at Momorangi Bay. Grab a sandwich or a coke and just sit down and look at the water! Went through Havelock and missed the Mussel Festival by a day, darn! Bought a couple of T-shirts. Funny thing about NZ, a coke can cost $4 but a T-shirt was $10. Made it into Nelson by around 2:00PM.
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 11th, 2018, 06:01 PM
  #19
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
Is anybody else having as much trouble as i am w/ this website! Whole paragraphs just disappear after i've typed it all in!
Frustrating
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Apr 12th, 2018, 08:46 AM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 136
Staying at Harbourside Lodge in Nelson. Very nice, right on the Marina, outside of town but not that far of a walk or drive. Had a great Thai dinner at Tong Tara on Hardy St. Good food, decent price. Walked around town and called it a day. Up since 6AM getting to the ferry and driving across the sound. We are finally on the South Island.

Day 16 - Today was Abel Tasman park. The most visited park in NZ or so I have read. There are so many ways to fully enjoy the park but we are not big trekkers so we did the Boat, Walk and Beach pickup route with Wilson's. There are a number of companies to use, we picked Wilson's because I liked their shirts! It takes about an hour to get to the boat launch. We had a car so that worked for us. We took the Tonga Quarry drop off, walk back to Medlands beach and pick up at Bark Bay. You can go further up if you want to hike more. We had about a two hour hike and it was a wonderful day. Not too many people on the trail, just right. Met people who had been hiking 3 days and some 3 hours. I can see how this is a great place to kayak, although we didn't but I bet that was fun. It was fun seeing the kayakers from the boat, they look like little slivers of color in the water!
Back into town by 7PM with stops in Moteuka and Mapua.
Tdiddy12 is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:36 AM.