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New Zealand by train

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Jul 24th, 2012, 12:15 PM
  #1
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New Zealand by train

Planning a trip to New Zealand in Nov for 13 days not counting travel days. We were thinking of using the train system as a way to travel throughout the country, see lots of sights, and avoid all the driving. We are considering the 14 day pass that allows for travel on both islands (with the ferry in between of course) and ability to stop off and stay in the towns as we like. Does anyone have any thoughts on this and/or reviews? We are also traveling with a young child. We would probably plan on going North to South, then fly back to Auckland to fly home.
diego22 is offline  
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Jul 24th, 2012, 02:39 PM
  #2
 
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The train does not reach very many parts of New Zealand, but it works for a few segments. I am not sure if your pass will really be worthwhile vs buying an individual fare.

Keep an eye out for sales airfares that appear on http://grabaseat.co.nz/ (Air New Zealand discount airfares).

Also driving is not especially difficult outside of Auckland and may be the most cost effective way to see the countryside for a family of three.
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Jul 24th, 2012, 03:10 PM
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I don't think the train does justice to NZ. Many of the great places just don't have rail access.

If you don't want to drive - and driving is fairly easy, buses may give you better access.
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Jul 24th, 2012, 06:52 PM
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The train system in NZ is very limited. You'll not see much of the country via train.
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Jul 29th, 2012, 03:11 PM
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The train is often ignored, last time I looked it was a expensive way to travel. The train runs down the middle of the north island but does not stop anywhere overly interesting. I have not done that section but its suppose to be very scenic. You would miss out on the main North Island tourist traps such as Rotorua. But its a quick and relaxing way to "see" the north Island.

The train starts again in Picton > Blenheim > Kaikoura > Christchurch. I done that section a handful of times and its probably more scenic then driving but you get less chances to stop.

The last section is from Christhcurch over Arthur's Pass to the Westcoast, I think it ends in Greymouth.



Maybe:
Day 1: Auckland>Wellington (arrives 6:25pm)
Day 2: Wellington
Day 3: Ferry
Day 4: Picton/Blenheim (departs 1pm or 1:30pm from Blenheim)
Day 5: Kaikoura (Departs/arrive 3pm)
Day 6: Christchurch (arrives 6pm)
Day 7: Christchurch (Departs 8:15am) > Greymouth (arrives 12:45pm)


Six or Seven days traveling by train, then hire a car at Greymouth then drive south to see the Glaciers and across Haast pass for a few days in Central Otago before driving to your preferred airport (Queenstown, Dunedin or Christchurch) to fly back to Auckland.
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Aug 5th, 2012, 11:37 AM
  #6
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Thanks for the info. It does not seem like the train will work for at least the north island due to its scheduled. We are now deciding on flying to the south island and then driving around to see the sights. Our next dilemma is whether to drive around and then fly back to the north island, or to continue to drive north and take the ferry. The ferry is the same if not more expensive than the flight and longer at 3 hours. Is the ferry enjoyable (scenic?) and does it tend to take much longer with lines and delays?
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Aug 5th, 2012, 08:51 PM
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You only have 13 days so I would fly back to Auckland from the South Island.


Unless its rough the ferry is normally a bit quicker then schedule. You basically have to arrive a hour before the ferry leaves. The first half through the Marlborough Sounds is scenic, often see dolphins. Going across the strait itself is a bit boring.

Flying is almost cheaper and is much faster. Flying from Wellington into Nelson, Blenheim on discount fares normally costs around $89 and around $69 to fly into Christchurch. While the cheapest ferry option is around $55
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Aug 7th, 2012, 01:29 AM
  #8
 
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Unfortunately apart from a few scenic tourist lines in the South Island our train system is now somewhat pathetic. Air fares are inexpensive so check out Air New Zealand and Jetstar websites, they often have special deals. Also look at Naked Bus, this is a good way for you to get to more of the popular sights and is very inexpensive. Why not fly to Dunedin first, travel across to Queenstown and make your way north instead of vice versa. This way you may also get a free rental car for two days Queenstown to Christchurch, then Wellington to Auckland, have a look at the main rental car sites for any deals. The car companies like to have their cars taken north again as most people go north to south as Auckland is the main airport.
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Aug 7th, 2012, 07:36 AM
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Thanks for your help! We are going to drive down to Wellington then fly to Christchurch and explore the south island. I'm still undecided about Rotorua. We could fly rather than make a long drive in between Auckland and Wellington. Thinking about seeing the beaches in the cormmandel area then head to Wellington versus heading south along the North island to see caves and Rotorua. We have a two year old with us... worth seeing or tourist trap?
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Aug 7th, 2012, 07:37 AM
  #10
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Also Jetstar has great deals-thanks for the tip!
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Aug 7th, 2012, 02:53 PM
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IMO Rotorua is the highlight of any north island trip.

Cormmandel has its charms, but I do not consider it anything special. A great place for a domestic holiday.
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Aug 7th, 2012, 04:12 PM
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diego -

Have you ever been to Yellowstone? If so, Rotorura could well be disappointing.
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Aug 7th, 2012, 09:35 PM
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Rotorua is more then just the geothermal sites although they are the main attractions, it also has same of the best reenactments of historical Maori cultures. Plus the two wildlife parks gives good looks at same of our rarer species.
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Aug 8th, 2012, 12:22 AM
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I completely disagree with you Melnq8 because besides the thermal areas Rotorua has lots of other interests as well. The kiwis at Rainbow Springs plus all the other native birds and flora there, the buried village at Lake Tarawera, the working Maori arts and crafts centre at Whakarewarewa, easily possible to take an infant to as well. Or the Agrodome to see the sheep dogs in action, there's lots in Rotorua yes, it's a tourist spot but hardly a tourist trap.
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Aug 8th, 2012, 01:43 AM
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No worries golfernz1, all opinions welcome here. We didn't care for Rotorua, but many do.
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Aug 8th, 2012, 06:49 PM
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Thanks for all the opinions- they are so helpful! My concern was that the geothermal sights may be more of a hassle with a very active almost two year old. Then we saw a very expensive $65 dollar entry fee for the hobbitown attraction. So my concern was that all the wildlife parks and thermal spas may all be quite expensive and not too worthwhile with such a young child. Also, I am pregnant and cannot really be around the volcanic fumes in Tongariro. I remember those signs in Hawaii with warnings. So, we were thinking of beaching it instead. If these assumptions are not correct, I love to hear all the opinions out there! Also does Rotorua smell stinky in the hotels/loging area?
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Aug 9th, 2012, 01:07 AM
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It did when we were there. Can't remember exactly where we stayed though and it probably varies by location.
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Aug 10th, 2012, 03:32 AM
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Not like it used to as the sulphur smell is lessened with all the piping off that the Ministry of Works have done over the years. Best for you to completely miss out Rotorua.
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Aug 10th, 2012, 05:59 PM
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They are quite expensive, I think rainbow springs was around $30 for a 24hr pass. Did get discount vouchers from the hotel I stayed at which saved $5 from each attraction. Can not remember pricing for the other attractions but they are probably similar.

Unless you keep your child on a short leash, probably wise to stay away from the thermal parks due to the potential of falling into same of the pits.

A lot of people live and have babies in Rotoura, so I highly doubt the fumes are anything to be concerned about. But there are plenty of other attractions in the north island away from the fumes.
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Aug 11th, 2012, 12:56 AM
  #20
 
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If you purchase from the info centre in Rotorua which is easy to find you can get 2 for 1 deals, last time in Rotorua in March this year I got Paradise Valley Springs and Te Puia dinner and Maori concert as a deal. So worthwhile to call in there first.
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