New Zealand: 31 days , with 10 days in one place

Oct 10th, 2019, 06:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 92
New Zealand: 31 days , with 10 days in one place

My wife and I (67 and 66) are from Santa Cruz California and will be travelling to NZ for 31 days , arriving on Jan 23 2020 and departing on Feb 24. We have discovered in our travels recently that we like to find a place to hunker down for a period of time in a country, rather than being on the move the entire time.
We would like to spend about 10 days in one place in New Zealand at some point in our travels. We really haven't worked out much of an itinerary yet, so are pretty wide open.
We are looking for a place where we could get a feel for how New Zealanders go about their daily lives. And a place where we could rest, relax and enjoy a small piece of New Zealand. We are looking for a place where there are a variety of activities to do. We are very much into the outdoors, but also like art, music, theater and cultural experiences.
I'm wondering if folks on the Forum here have any suggestions.

Many thanks in advance for the help!

ksddfam is offline  
Oct 10th, 2019, 09:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,108
In the South Island, Christchurch. Or even smaller - Nelson.

You know that you now need visas for New Zealand?
margo_oz is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 03:52 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
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I think it would be helpful to first determine which places you definitely want to see while in New Zealand. Because it could take you quite a while to drive from place to place as the roads can be slow-going. You're also coming in high season, when there will be many more drivers on our roads.

On the South Island, there are hardly any stretches of multi-lane freeways; most roads are just two lanes, a lane for each direction of traffic. You'll come across one-lane bridges, windy roads, drive on high mountain passes. You could get stuck behind slow moving campervans or a couple of campervans. You'll probably want to take your time in each of your chosen destinations, staying a minimum of three nights, keeping in mind that some of your drives from one location to another can be long, such as the drive from Franz Josef to Wanaka, which is probably a drive you'll want to do. The drives in-between are destinations in and of themselves, so drives times become longer than planned as you stop for photos, or at attractions, or take walks along your route. So a drive that on Google or on AA Drive Distance Calculator says will be three hours could end up being 6 hours or more.

After you've determined your overall itinerary, you might come to the conclusion that 10 days in one place might not be practical because it would take too much time away from the rest of your driving trip around New Zealand.

If spending 10 days in one spot is more of a goal than seeing a variety of places on the North and South Islands, then I think Margo's suggestion of Nelson would be a good one. Unless by "a small piece of New Zealand", you mean a small town or village. Because Nelson is a small city (population about 67,500).

Is your idea to make day trips from this one place or will you mainly stay in this particular area? Nelson is close to Abel Tasman National Park. There are also many wineries near Nelson.

A portion of your trip might look like this (this includes 10 nights in Nelson and 3 to 4 nights in most of your other destinations):
Wellington 4 nights, take Interislander ferry to the South Island
Picton 3 nights
Nelson 10 nights
Punakaiki 1 night (to break up this long drive)
Franz Josef 2 nights
Wanaka 4 nights
Te Anau 3 nights
Queenstown 4 nights
Aoraki Mt. Cook 3 nights
Christchurch 3 nights
The above itinerary doesn't include any North Island highlights besides the capital city. Nor does it take in South Island destinations like the Catlins, Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula, Akaroa, Kaikoura, Arthur's Pass or Hanmer Springs (and maybe none of these places would interest you anyhow). Yet it still comes to 37 days.

Because you're coming in high season, daily lives will likely be a lot different than they would be in winter or spring. Places that are laid back and almost sleepy in early spring can be bustling in summer. A small town like Te Anau (population 2.140) will have more visitors, more traffic, more tour buses passing through..

New Zealand will be especially busy from January 24th through February 8th (from Chinese New Year's Eve through Chinese Lantern Festival). There is also a New Zealand public holiday on Thursday, February 6th, Waitangi Day.

Auckland and Wellington will offer you the most with respect to art, music, theater and cultural experiences. But these are the largest cities and it will be high season so accommodation costs will be on the high side (though the exchange rate is very much in your favor now). But you can probably find an affordable and nice AirBNB in one of the quieter, non touristy suburbs and go into the city for these cultural attractions.

Have you looked a touring map of New Zealand?

Last edited by Diamantina; Oct 11th, 2019 at 04:32 AM.
Diamantina is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 08:37 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 92
Thanks for the reply. My information is that I do not need a Visa, but need to get a NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority). It takes 5 mnutes to get.
ksddfam is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 08:43 AM
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Posts: 92
Lots of good info here for me to ponder. Thanks to you and margo for taking the time to help.
We are in the early planning stages and I will be working on this in the next week.
I know we are a bit late, but we just got back from a long trip to Greece and I had been busy planning that trip.
Part of the idea for the 10 day stay somewhere is just taking into account that this trip is coming only 3 months after our return and we don't want to on the move all the time.

Thanks again!
ksddfam is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 10:42 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,618
My wife and I tend to go on long trips and, like you, tend to try factor in some time in a single place. We have done 3 two month trips to New Zealand travelling around both islands in a Campervan. I have to say that New Zealand is one destination where staying in one place doesn’t seem to work that well and 10 days out of 30 is a huge chunk of your time that would result in you missing some spectacular sights.

That said, on those trips we have tended to rest up in a couple of places and use them as a base for see palces in close proximity. One that immediately springs to mind is Lake Taupo. A pleasant town right on the lake. Easy access to Tongariro, Rotorua, but mainly because we just love the laid back vibe of the town and the lakeside environment. On the South Island I would take a look at Queenstown. I don’t especially like the town itself, to touristy for my taste, but it does offer easy access to a huge number of places all around.

Kaikoura is also a place we have returned to time and again. Normally, we love large cities but IMHO that is not what NZ does best so I would avoid places like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Good luck with your planning. I have always found it a nightmare as there is just so much I really want to fit in.
crellston is offline  
Oct 14th, 2019, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,083
My husband and I are exactly the same ages as the two of you, and we were in New Zealand (first time if you don't county a quick stopover at Auckland airport the year before on the way to Australia) this past March. We toured the south island after spending several days in Auckland, and finished up with about 4 days in Wellington.

Our favorite place, where we wished we could have spent much more time, was Wellington. It is not the most gorgeous or scenic of New Zealand, like the south island, but we found there was so much more to see and do than any of the other towns and villages, as well as actually getting to meet and interact with locals.

You go to a place like Queenstown for the adventure . . . the bungie jumping, the water sports, the trail hiking, the gondola ride, the luge, the Fergburger . . . ! It is fun, packed to the gills with tourists and seasonal workers.

Christchurch is also beautiful with lovely museums, but really (to us) a place you can see the whole of in a few days.

My husband is an avid fan of cities and I'm more of a fan of smaller towns, but we both love the same things you do -- art, museums, theater, music. We also love cool scenes. We happened to be in Wellington for CubaDupa -- a weekend street festival -- and that may have colored our delight in this city . . . it was so much fun! Also, there was not the famous Wellington wind blowing, and we spent some seriously good time walking around the harbour and the beaches along Oriental Bay, taking the cable car and walking down through the botanical gardens, going to the Te Papa museum, and drinking in pubs. Although we were able to walk around the Beehive, we couldn't get in when we were there because of the memorial that was going on while we were there.

If we had more time, we would have gone daytripping to some of the wine regions or taken the ferry to Eastborne.
Surfergirl is offline  

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