New Zealand and Tahiti advice

Old Dec 7th, 2004, 05:35 AM
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OK, I have only been to the South Island, so I can only offer advice for that.
Fjiordland - we did the drive to Milford Sounds and the overnight Doubtful Sound Cruise, and all 4 of us agreed that the overnight cruise was one of the highlights of the trip. If you have the time, (and money, it's not cheap, but not unreasonable either), I would not miss this.
Glaciers- we spent two days there, and unfortunately were shut out on all the helihikes, but I think you would stand a much better chance in March of better weather (from what they told us). There are a wide range of walks in that area if that's your thing, but there is not a lot else there.
Abel Tasman - we did a full day kayak trip and LOVED it, and if I had the chance again, I would do an overnight trip in the park, either kayaking or tramping or a combo. But know that this area is quite a long way away from your other destinations, and with limited time, getting these may pose a problem.
Christchurch/Otago. If you have a couple days, I would spend at least one day on the Otago peninsula for the chance to see the Yellow Eyed Penguins, and maybe a chance to see the albatross. You should also be able to see some seals as well (though the best place to see them is in Kaikoura). We then spent a night in Oamaru for the chance to see the little blue penguins, and I have to say, this was one of our favorite parts of the trip. We also really loved swimming with the seals in Kaikoura, and I think that's really a once in a lifetime experience. Christchurch, IMO, is a city- it's a great place to fly in and out of, lots of opportunities to get those souveneirs, and some great restaurants, but there's not a lot to DO there. I would spend more time on either side of the city than I would in the city.
Hope that helps.
Kate
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 05:02 PM
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hwinokur,
LOL on the coke but I think you'll be safe with that order...or perhaps he might be in a tangent over French wine, one never knows but you can be assured its not only an interesting dining experience but one excellent meal.
Sofitel Tahiti sounds great. Ferry ride not that long about 30-45 minutes I can't remember exactly. If you want to fly there's short hops from the airport about 5 min flight. Sometimes easier.
Have a great trip!
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Old Dec 9th, 2004, 12:54 PM
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Hi all,
Based on all the helpful feedback and recommendations I've received here, I've made some revisions to our itinerary. It still involves quite a bit of driving and we may, reluctantly, have to do further trimming...

3/9-3/13 - Arrive in Queenstown around noon. 3 nights at Pencarrow Inn. 4th night either in hut on Routeburn Track (hike first leg of it) or overnight cruise on Milford Sound (if not overnight cruise than doing day cruise). Jet boating on Dart River - 1/2 day tour or full day with canoe ride?

3/13-3/15 - 4 hour drive to Dunedin. Stay 2 nights. See Otago Peninsula. Hotel recs?

3/15 - 7 hour drive up east coast. Stop off in Christchurch. Stay in Kaikora 1 night.

3/16-3/18 - 4 1/2 hour drive to Abel Tasman Park. Water taxi from Marahau to Awaroa Lodge for 2-3 nights stay. 1 day Sea Kayak/hiking tour.

3/18 - Stay 3rd night in Abel Tasman or Wellington. Take ferry from Picton to Wellington(heard it's a scenic ferry ride).

3/19 - Fly to Hamilton. 1 hour drive to Waitomo Caves. Stay 1 night.

3/20 - 3 hour drive to Auckland. Stay 1 night. Fly out 3/21 at 9pm.

Reading over what I just wrote made me realize we are probably a little nuts. We've considered flying from Dunedin to Nelson or Picton but haven't found any non-stop flights. If we stay in Dunedin are we missing much by skipping Christchurch? I've been told repeatedly that whale-watching at Kaikora is a must do, but since I've done whale-watching in Kauai and we don't have much time, I think we may need to skip that. While I'm attempting to cut away, my boyfriend is poring over guides and reporting back with more to add to our trip! At this rate, we may have to divide and conquer. Help please!
Heather



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Old Dec 10th, 2004, 05:30 AM
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Heather,
I so remember the agony of all the planning!!!
I think you just have to decide what's most important to you, plan that, and then fill in with as much as you can.
If the walking tracks are most important, make your plans for those.
I'll make a couple of other comments from your last post--
Kaikoura-- the weather was very windy and choppy when we were there (which I don't think is all that uncommon.) We had booked a seal swim in the morning, and an afternoon whale watch. The whale watch was cancelled, and we were a little bummed, but the seal swim was so fantastic, it made up for it completely. Talking to other people later, they say if you see a whale, it is fantastic, but it does only last a minute, and everyone on the boat runs to look at it, and you jostle for a view, and then it's gone. If you have done this before, I am not sure it is imperative. But I can say that we really loved the seal swim-- they are such inquisitive creatures, they come right to you, in fact, sometimes you think they might run into you!!!
Christchurch- I personally don't think you would be missing anything by skipping it.
We chose Wanaka over Queenstown (weren't into the extreme activities) so I can't answer that.
Dunedin - If you can get to the Otago peninsula by early afternoon, which we did, we had plenty of time to do the albatross center and the yellow eyed penguin reserve. We spent the night in Dunedin, and the next morning we did the Speights Brewery and Cadbury tours, and then drove to Oamaru (I think about an hour's drive), ate dinner, and saw the little blue penguins come in after dark-- and we really enjoyed that.

Hope that helps-- good luck!
Kate
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Old Dec 10th, 2004, 07:43 PM
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What ever you do, avoid the Sheraton hotel on Moorea. We just returned from the place and it was a living hell. The employees who have not left are on strike. The Sheraton hotel is not even telling the guest before they arrive and leaving them with no services including food. The ownership of the hotel has changed and they cut wages and benifits. If you check the other web travel sites you will see several of the same warnings. Food,Accomodations,service,water,
attitude all bad.
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Old Dec 10th, 2004, 08:15 PM
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hwinkur,
Hard to beleive but check that out fully before you go.
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Old Dec 11th, 2004, 05:43 PM
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Hi Heather,

On your itinerary: I'm a bit concerned about your 7 1/2 hr drive on 3/15. Yikes! That's ALOT of driving, AND, I suspect, as always happens it will be more time than you've alloted (potty stops; kodak moment stops, lunch, traffic, stuck behind a campervan, etc).

3/16 Staying at Awaroa -- I've just come back from NZ myself and stayed there. I was disappointed, in fact; I checked out a day earlier than planned. Part of this was because of weather; it was very cold and windy.

The first night there we were pretty tired and as we often like to do, were planning on having a "picnic" on our small deck. We'd brought wine, cheese, bread, salami, and of course TIM TAMS. They actually called us at 9:30P to inquire if we were having dinner that night as the restaurant was closing shortly.

Breakfast runs about $20; appetizers around $20, Mains from $30-$45 NZD, and the least expensive wine is $25. Internet is $2.00 for 15 min, and is dial up.

There are several walks you can take from the resort, but the signage is terrible and confusing.

Re: whale watching in Kaikoura - if you've done it in Kauai, then why bother in NZ? A whale is a whale. A far better choice would be actually swimming with wild dolphins, which you can do there.

Hope this is helpful....if you need further info on the lodge, you can contact me at [email protected].

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Kiwi Specialist
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