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bemardus Dec 22nd, 2015 04:23 PM

New Zealand: 10 Days - 1 Fun Time
Hey all,

My sister and I are going to New Zealand in February and we’d love some help planning an itinerary. Tentatively we have 10 days to do both islands – ambitious, we know! We would love feedback: recommendations on where to go/see/eat, ideas on maximizing our trip and Kiwi tips and insider knowledge. I’ve outlined a tentative time table. We’re coming from LA flying into Auckland. Except for while in Auckland we’ll have use of a car so we are flexible with our itinerary and over nights.

DAY 1:TUE: AUCKLAND – Acclimate to time change, adjust to different seasons, acquaint ourselves w/Kiwi culture

Melnq8 Dec 22nd, 2015 10:30 PM

Ambitious is an understatement. I find only two weeks on one island challenging enough, let alone two islands in 10 days, even when flying.

Four days on the South Island is like eating potatoes without salt. Why bother?

Seriously though, if you only have four days for the SI, I strongly encourage you to fly into one place and stay there. Queenstown would make a good base, as you can do/see quite a lot from there w/o spending all your time driving.

Or scratch one island altogether.

You simply do not have enough time to see four cities/towns in four days and still drive between them all.

I assume Twizel because Mt Cook accommodation is fully booked?

deSchenke Dec 23rd, 2015 07:08 AM

Too much time in Auckland, too little time in Queenstown. You'd save some time by flying Rotorua to Christchurch.

Tekapo and Twizel? Maybe Mel has it right in that Mount Cook was fully booked.

longhorn55 Dec 23rd, 2015 08:32 AM

Based on my multiple trips to New Zealand, I definitely agree that you have too many days allotted for Auckland. The best of New Zealand is outside of the major cities, so with your limited time frame, I'd suggest leaving Auckland after Day 1.

As for the remainder of your trip, I'd either 1) go straight from Auckland on Day 2 to the South Island and spend the rest of your trip there or 2) spend Day 2 and Day 3 in Rotorua and fly from Auckland to the South Island on Day 4, spending 6 full days on the South Island.

bemardus Dec 23rd, 2015 09:29 AM

Thanks for the replies! In planning this itinerary I knew it was ambitious to do both islands in 10 days. I totally underestimated the grandeur of New Zealand. I wanted to do both islands to get a sense for New Zealand and to lay the groundwork for future trips. From Rotorua we come back to Auckland because that first day, our initial Auckland visit, is a wash. We’ll be too jet lagged to do anything. The South Island trip is entirely open; nothing booked yet but the flight into Christchurch. I thought to rent a car to try to maximize our South Island trip; no planning around flight times, no need to book beforehand, minimize group tours. Plus I’ve heard the Otago region is beautiful. I’d love to hear recommendations of your favorite South Island and North Island destinations. I’m thinking thermal spas in Rotorua, Waitomo Caves, Lord of the Rings tour, bungee jumping in Taupo, observatory tour in Lake Tekapo, Sky Walk in Auckland, Milford Cruise from Queenstown. Thanks again for all the suggestions. You guys are great!

deSchenke Dec 23rd, 2015 09:58 AM

>>>nothing booked yet but the flight into Christchurch<<<

Can you change it? The South Island is much larger than North Island and it's further to drive from place to place. Most would recommend allocating twice the time in South Island as the North Island. The area around Queenstown has much more to do than Christchurch and surrounding areas. Driving Christchurch to Queenstown will eat up 2 of your days - long driving days. That only leaves you 2 days for Queenstown, one of which would be on a 13-hour tour to Milford Sound.

The only thing on your wishlist that is in Auckland city is the Sky Walk. Why are you planning 3 days there?

tasmangirl Dec 23rd, 2015 03:37 PM

My 'insider knowledge' having lived in NZ most of my life - its a crazy rush.
All the above advice is good - either fly from Rotorua to Queenstown or direct from Auckland to Queenstown.
Do not drive here when jet lagged and please take on board New Zealand road rules. Driving here requires concentration and effort for a safe trip.

bemardus Dec 24th, 2015 10:41 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. I want to spend a day in Christchurch to support the reconstruction; to see its resilience and ingenuity. I heard it’s use of public space for art is creative and interesting and shopping has an emphasis on local retailers. I thought to do stop overs en route from Christchurch to Queenstown, hence Twizel and Lake Tekapo. I used websites like to draft a driving itinerary based on their travel times and highlighted towns. It seemed feasible and like a good way to explore multiple scenic areas. On the drive from Christchurch to Queenstown we’d mostly be hiking, stargazing and enjoying thermal pools – things that don’t require tours or fixed timetables. Not until we get to Queenstown will be doing activities that require scheduling. So should I just scrap the drive between Christchurch and fly into Queenstown directly? If I do, that’ll give us 3 ½ days in Queenstown before flying to Melbourne. Please advise. Thanks!

deSchenke Dec 24th, 2015 03:03 PM

My quibble is all the time in Auckland. You still haven't stated anything other than the Sky Walk to do there. Could you fly Auckland to Christchurch on the morning of Day 5 to allow yourself more time on South Island?

bemardus Dec 28th, 2015 12:51 PM

Hi all,

I changed our flight to Christchurch from Monday to Sunday. So I’ve shortened our stay in Auckland to have an extra day on the South Island. Plus our flight from Queenstown to Melbourne is late. We now essentially have 6 days on the South Island. We’ll spend just a day in Christchurch and the remainder in Queenstown. Any recommendations on what to do in Auckland? Or day trips from Queenstown? I’m considering renting a car for Queenstown. So we can either drive from Christchurch to Queenstown, making sightseeing stops along the way. Or rent a car while in Queenstown to visit the surrounding area. Thoughts?

Melnq8 Dec 28th, 2015 04:42 PM

<I totally underestimated the grandeur of New Zealand>

You've also totally underestimated the travel times involved, not to mention driving on the left (are you experienced?) in a country with countless narrow, winding roads with loads of one way bridges, etc...are you planning to drive from Christchurch or fly to QT? With so few days, I highly recommend you fly.

RE: Day trips from QT - Glenorchy, Arrowtown, Wanaka, Cromwell (Pinot Noir nirvana, but not terribly exciting otherwise), Te Anau and of course Milford which is the mother of all day trips - LONG, most of it spent in the car or on a bus. QT itself has plenty to offer, as do the surrounding areas.

You've got long days with plenty of daylight on your side (and I suspect youth), but please take care on the exhausting roads of NZ and don't put yourself or more importantly, others, at risk.

While I applaud you for your interest in supporting Christchurch(which is IMO much more interesting since the earthquakes) you'll not even have a full day there once you fly in from Auckland and get sorted. I suggest a Segway tour in Christchurch - an excellent way to see the city in a short time, and 1 Fun Time to boot.

annhig Dec 30th, 2015 09:02 AM

Mel - we had half a day in C/C and honestly found it long enough [and at least an hour was spent trying to find our flipping car!]

bemardus- do listen to Mel's wise advice about driving in NZ. We didn't and devised an itinerary that was far too ambitious - fortunately we realised our mistake early on and were able to change some accommodation bookings so as to reduce the driving.

Now you have an extra day on the SI, you could drive straight to QT from C/C, [a long day but you should be rested from the day before] the next day have day off driving exploring QT. Then do Milford or Doubtful sound [the former more exciting, the latter has less driving] then a last day in QT, and then fly out.

aprillilacs Dec 30th, 2015 03:52 PM

"Any recommendations on what to do in Auckland?"

In the three beautiful days we spent in Auckland in November we enjoyed wandering the downtown wharf section; taking the boat to Devonport for a beautiful walk to the beach and historic hill fort; and doing a day trip by ferry to Waiheke Island, where we explored by bus and had an excellent outdoor lunch at Stony Ridge winery. We stayed at a cute B&B/inn in Ponsonby and walked or took the bus everywhere. I was surprisingly impressed by Auckland and could have spent more time there.

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