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New Zealand best time, active travel ideas, fishing, hiking, etc.

New Zealand best time, active travel ideas, fishing, hiking, etc.

Oct 22nd, 2011, 09:10 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 15
New Zealand best time, active travel ideas, fishing, hiking, etc.

My husband and I are planning a trip to New Zealand and would love some feedback on the best time to go and ideas on what to do (location and if a tour operator the name please):
1. Enjoy the ocean
2. Go fishing (ocean and fly fishing)
3. Hiking
4. Top adventures to do in N.Z.and top sites that are must see
5. Can we do N.Z. and Australia (reef, outback) in 3 weeks without having to travel every couple of days?

We've heard there is cave descending, great fishing, hiking, etc. Would love to hear your suggestions. How is March - is the water still warm enough or is there a better month to enjoy all the outdoor adventures. Thanks much for your help.
ez4ucolo is offline  
Nov 4th, 2011, 07:15 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 147
I think the reason why you haven't had any replies is because your question is far too wide ranging. Have you researched the internet yourself first and narrowed your choices, do that first then ask here for more specifics?
golfernz1 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2011, 06:07 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,480
If you have three weeks, I would concentrate on either New Zealand or Australia, but not try to fit in both.

What are your interests, besides fishing, hiking, and the ocean?

We spent 10 days on the North Island in April 2004 and barely scratched the surface there. You can read my trip report, if you like, by clicking my screen name and scrolling down to the report.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Nov 8th, 2011, 06:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,694
March is a good month for warm water, especially on the North Island.

www.newzealand.com for tourist info.
mlgb is offline  
Nov 11th, 2011, 07:14 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 2
Thanks all.

ElendiPickle, thanks for the referral to your trip report - very helpful to see the travel times and your description of the places you visited (I added/subtracted from my list).

Golfernz1 - I was trying to be open to any ideas and suggestions. A few years ago we were planning to go to S.Africa and a forum member suggested Zambia would be better and it was fantastic so I was trying not to limit ourselves based on our books and postings we've read.

Descending into the caves looks like a blast as well as black water rafting and seeing the glow worms. Crawling through caves on my belly sounds too creepy for me. Kayaking on calm water or visiting the Maori for the traditional dinner sounds like a must. Hot springs, seeing spectacular sights, or beautiful islands or warm relaxing beaches, dolphins/bird watching etc. we would like to do. We had fun last year in Namibia but it was way too much moving around so we would really like to spend 2 or 3 days in places and go from there instead of packing and transporting every day and spending more than 1/2 our time in transport. We're from Colorado so we have beautiful mountain peaks and plains here but if there are "must see" mountains we're open. If you know good fishing guides that are reasonably priced for trout fishing and for close off shore ocean fishing, please send recommendations. Would you recommend flying in/out of Aukland and Queenstown to cut down on back tracking? Someone else also recommended using inter-country flights but that also sounds like trips to airports and renting cars multiple times, your thoughts? Sorry so many questions (and this is after I've read up on NZ!
ez4ucolo1 is offline  
Nov 11th, 2011, 08:29 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,039
We've been to NZ three times and here are some suggestions based on our trips:

1. The scenery is so spectacular in NZ and the driving is easy, so I would fly into Auckland, drive around the North Island and then drop off the car at the ferry terminal in Wellington. Take the Interislander Ferry to Picton on the South Island where you can pick up another rental car for the South Island and then drive around until you depart out of Queenstown or Christchurch. I can't remember the name of the car rental company we used in NZ on the trip where we took the ferry, but it was easy to drop off and pick up new cars at the two ferry terminals.

2. On the North Island, we took a 2-hour horseback trek through the forests and around the Craters of the Moon near Taupo. I can't remember the name of the stables, but I am sure you will be successful finding something with a Google search.

3. We did an incredible "swimming with the dolphins" cruise out of Kaikoura on the South Island with a company called Dolphin Encounters. Note: You are not allowed to touch the dolphins, but they will generally swim quite close to you. http://www.dolphinencounter.co.nz/

4. Also in Kaikoura, we did a 3-day self-guided hike called the Kaikoura Coast Track. We stayed at two different farms on the route and it was nice to get to spend time with some locals. The scenery was great--mountains and beaches--and they take everything but your daypack between the stops, so that made the hiking easier. The hike is of moderate difficulty, but our kids (aged 12 and 9 at the time) managed fine. http://www.kaikouratrack.co.nz/

5. Another great hike on the South Island is the guided Hollyford Track from the mountains to the sea. We did the 3-day option and loved the scenery and the nice accommodations and good meals at the end of the day. We aren't much on guided tours, so sometimes we hiked ahead of the guide, which is OK. But the guides were good and the other people on the tour were interesting and friendly. I would also rate this hike as moderate and we did have to carry our packs on the first day, but even our kids (aged 11 and 14 on this trip) managed it. http://www.hollyfordtrack.com/

6. Finally, a spot for some beautiful scenery, good hiking and thermal pools is Hamner Springs. We enjoyed a couple of days here.
longhorn55 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2011, 10:10 PM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 2
Is there a place you would recommend for snorkeling, beautiful beach and a couple of days of rest and relaxation? We always seems to be on the move so we thought we would build in time for relaxing. If we go in March should we start on the South island and move north (uncertain whether the weather differs much - my books don't mention a difference). Also is there a fishing guide and location you would recommend? Thanks everyone for your help. We're definately going to try and work in a hike now (thanks to your recommendation longhorn55).
ez4ucolo1 is offline  
Dec 14th, 2011, 01:51 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 866

We flew into Auckland, then Auckland to Wellington, then Wellington to Christchurch, then Queenstown to home. I was also concerned that a lot of time would be taken up at the airport and returning/picking up rental cars, but it really didn't take that much time. The one issue with this is that it will really increase the cost of the rental car. The best deal that I could find was thru Apex and it cost $50 per day, and I think it would have cost $30 per day to have the same car for one chunk of time. But, an advantage to it was that we didn't have to have the car in places where we didn't need it, like Auckland, Wellington, and Queenstown.

If you plan on this being your only trip to NZ, I would take this option so you can see make the most of your time. However, in retrospect, knowing that we would be coming back again, I wish we had kept the car and concentrated on one island and saved the second island for another trip.


We left March 5th and returned March 30th. I swam in Abel Tasman and the Bay of Islands. The water was cooler than I would have preferred, but it was swim-able (I love swimming). I was also able to swim in Milford Sound and it was very cold but do-able, not sure you could say the same in the winter. We had fabulous weather, and the only time we had rain was maybe 2-3 out of the 25 days.


We spend 4 days in Motueka (near Abel Tasman) and loved it. Beautiful sandy beaches that make you want to linger all day. Also Bay of Islands is very good for nice beaches. I don't think there is much snorkeling in either place.


I would, especially if you're going to be including some warm weather spots earlier in your trip, like Abel Tasman and Bay of Islands.
britomart is offline  
Dec 18th, 2011, 05:05 PM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 210
I, my teen brothers, and my dad recently did a bit of a circuit in the North Island in honour of my 21st birthday ( in late November ) and these are some of the things we discovered...

We had two days in Rotorua and on day 1 we did ZORBING ( rolling down a hill inside a giant plastic ball ) which is certainly adventurous, but perhaps not for everyone...and we visited The Bath House, which is the museum of Rotorua, a beautiful building with some interesting exhibits ( if you go there you should definitely climb up to the rooftop lookout ).

Day two we spent the morning at Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, which is a very nicely situated geothermal park about half an hour south of Rotorua. They have a neat geyser there that erupts at 10:15am every day, and lots of stunning geothermal features including a beautiful orange coloured steaming lake, gorgeous water/mud cascades, and scenic native bush walks. To walk the entire park takes 1 and 1/2-2 hours and is well worth the time spent. In the afternoon we continued down towards Taupo and turned off to find Orakei Korako, the hidden valley. It does seem like the road is going nowhere for a while but once you get there, WOW! Set on the far bank of a beautiful river, the Orakei Korako geothermal park is breathtaking! You travel by a short boat ride to reach the valley and then you just follow the wooden planked walkway. It is beautifully refreshing and the best part is, it's very secluded and off the beaten path, so there weren't many people there at all, maybe ten-fifteen during the two hours that we were there vs. Wai-O-Tapu, which had crowds of tourists ( for good reason though ). The silica formations in the valley are truly stunning and you won't regret going there!

The next couple of days were just catching up with friends etc. But on day 5 ( we were in Hamilton by the end of day four ) we headed up to Matamata to tour the movie set "Hobbiton" from the Lord of the Rings films. If you are at all a fan ( of the books or movies ) this is seriously THE coolest place ever! I thought so anyway....( but then I am a fan, nerd, geek etc. about the movies, books, and everything after that ). In the late afternoon we headed north and ended up in Tauranga! Tauranga has some seriously beautiful beaches! The beautiful native Pohutakawa flowers were just starting to bloom on the waterfront and it was insanely gorgeous! Mount Manganui, Tauranga is the picture postcard beach of New Zealand! No jokes!

Day 6 we spent the morning visiting the Waitomo Caves. We had pre-booked tours for the Ruakuri cave and the Gloworm cave, though we ended up touring Ruakuri first due to GPS mix ups. I must say, the Ruakuri cave is excellent! Our guide was hilarious, the subterranean formations were stunning, and the glowworms in there were quite a treat! Best of all, the Ruakuri cave is wheelchair accessible, so it is pretty easy going. The tour was two hours long and worth every cent! Afterwards we joined the group waiting for the Glowworm cave and began our tour. The guide was less interesting than the Ruakuri guide and to be brutally honest, you don't really get to see much "cave", the best part of the tour is the boat ride through the Glowworm cavern at the end of it. Unfortunately, this only last 5-10 minutes and then the tour is over. The Glowworms are beautiful, don't get me wrong, but I felt that the Ruakuri cave was better all round. Better value for money, better things to see, better cave experience... So if you were only choosing one, I'd pick Ruakuri! The blackwater rafting looks amazing too, but sadly, we didn't have three hours after the caves, we had to be at the airport...

Hope you enjoy your trip! ( I live in the South Island btw ).
Irishwhistler90 is offline  

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