New Zealand Itinerary assistance

Oct 15th, 2012, 10:01 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 2
New Zealand Itinerary assistance

Hi all.

I am planning for a three trip to New Zealand at the end of January. Hoping some of you out there can provide advice on my draft itinerary:

Auckland – 1 night
Coromandel - 2 nights
Rotorua – 2 nights (or 1 night and 1 night in Taupo)
Napier - 1 night
Martinborough - 1 night
Wellington – 1 night
Picton – 1 night (or Nelson?)
Punakaiki – 1 night
Fox or Franz Josef Glacier – 1 night (which one is better?)
Queenstown – 2 nights (visit Glenorchy)
Milford Sound - 2 nights
Te Anau – 2 nights
Dunedin – 1 night
Mount Cook - 2 nights
Christchurch – 1 nights

Also wondering about recommendations for car rentals.


speedieDee is offline  
Oct 16th, 2012, 11:07 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 438
Hi, Darren,
You have a lot of one-night stays. What are you planning to do in these places, because I don't think for the most part you are going to have much time to see anything other than the road. Distances in NZ can be deceptive and take longer than you think.
Perhaps if you let us know what you are interested in we could offer some more concrete suggestions.
Schools will be on holidays during January so in tourist places like Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford, Franz / Fox Glacier, and Mt Cook it might pay you to prebook your stays once you have your itinerary sussed.
dottyp is offline  
Oct 17th, 2012, 02:42 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 15
I think you're trying to cover way too much territory. The driving scenery in NZ is magnificent but driving is just about all you'll be doing on your itinerary. IMO you would be better off concentrating on one island or the other or flying from Wellington to Queenstown.
We've used lots of the cheap car rental places in NZ and we've never had a bad experience.
Anne_DeManser is offline  
Oct 17th, 2012, 07:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I agree with the previous comments. Any particular reason you're spending two nights at Milford? There's nothing there but a cafe, a motel and the boat terminal....and millions of sandflies. It's basically a launching point for the cruise boats and the ending point for those walking the Milford Track. The best of the area is between Te Anau and Milford, not in Milford itself. Lots of walking tracks, etc.

You could easily combine your nights in Te Anau and Milford and get more bang for your valuable time. Te Anau makes a good base from which to explore the entire area - it's about a two hour drive from Milford.

We like APEX for car rebtals.
Melnq8 is offline  
Oct 19th, 2012, 11:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 2
Thanks for all your suggestions.

My thoughts were that a 300km drive was a piece of cake, at least by Canadian standards. My longest drive I have noted is 329 km so thought that would not be more than 3 to 4 hours driving.

Our goal is to hit the high points in NZ such as the architecture in Napier, beaches in Coromandel, Maori haka dance in Rotorua, museum in Wellington, glaciers, walking tracks in Milford Sound, Mt Cook, etc.


speedieDee is offline  
Oct 20th, 2012, 09:11 PM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 12
Just want to point out that the roads in the South Island can be very windy and hilly and can take a lot out of you if you are the sole driver.
I agree that you might be better off concentrating on one island and see it pick would be the South Island.
Not sure that Rotarua warrants 2 night. If you are only interested in museum in Wellington, perhaps leave early in the morning from Martinborough, drive to Wellington, visit the museum during the day (4-5 hours), then catch the ferry over to the South Island in the evening, overnighting in Picton, hence saving yourself another night. Or alternatively, skip Martinborough, drive from Napier to Wellington and overnight there (we have done this drive comfortably before...the roads are easier on the North Island). Catch the ferry early in the morning and drive to Punakaiki. IMHO there is not much to see in Picton to warrant a stay, it's only a convenient place to overnight to if you are using the ferry.
The Coromandel is beautiful and it would be stunning in January
lilloulou_au is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2012, 02:26 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 15
300km is a piece of cake by Australian standards too, in fact in some places it's a Sunday drive but in NZ, especially in some parts of the South Island, 300 km is a day of driving. Try cutting out a night or two in Te Anau or Milford & give yourself the time to make some road side stops to go 'aahhhhh'.
I understand your desire to see as much as you can. I'm about to do the same sort of whistle stop tour of the US.
Anne_DeManser is offline  
Oct 22nd, 2012, 02:33 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,541
Franz Josef to Queenstown is 355 km and will take a good six hours, more with stops.

While 300 km may not be a long way in Canada or Australia, it's a long way in NZ. Roads are narrow and winding, usually one lane in each direction; there are many, many one way bridges and hairpin just won't be able to drive flat out at 100 km an hour. Your 3-4 hour drive days will take you considerably longer than you might expect. It's not uncommon to encounter sheep and cows on the roadways and landslips that potentally close roads for hours. If you get stuck behind a bus or campervan, or encounter a highway crew, it could take some time to clear.

Add to that the many reasons to stop en route, and you've bascially got yourself a driving holiday. You've left very little wiggle room for contingencies and even less time to explore the places you're driving TO.

If that's how you like to travel so be it, but do be aware that with your current itinerary, the bulk of your time will be spend on the road.
Melnq8 is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2012, 03:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,245
Speediedee, we spent two weeks in the South Island of NZ in Feb-early March of 2012. (Click on our name to see our T/R, Part 4.) We agree with the above posters about the length of time it takes to travel in NZ. Constant driving to destinations leaves little time for enjoyment of the beauty along the way. Wanaka is nice town for a stop between Franz Josef and Queenstown. Happy planning and have a wonderful trip! FYI, we received a lot of helpful tips from Melnq8.
tomarkot is offline  
Oct 24th, 2012, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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We just came back from a 30 day driving trip of both the north and south islands. Agree with the other posters, you are doing much too much "driving" and not enough "staying". Although many of the speed limits are set at 100 km/hr the reality is at best you'll only average about 70 km/hr since the roads are VERY HILLY AND TWISTY - and that doesn't include stops along the way for lunch or sightseeing 9and believe me, there's plenty to see and do along the way. Besides, the scenery is so fantastic you'll want to stop every so often to take in the view or snap a few photos. If we stopped for just 2 minutes every time we came upon a spectacular view we would still be on the North Island. Rework your itinerary to go shorter distances and/or spend at least two nights in each location.

Also agree that you only need one day in Milford Sound. In fact, if you are not into hiking consider extending your stay in Queenstown for an additional day and taking a combination flight-seeing/day cruise tour to Milford Sound. It's well worth the money, the views over the mountains are nothing short of phenomenal and the cruise is a good way to see the entire Sound. You'll still have plenty of opportunity to hike in Te anau around queens town and perhaps Glenorchy (less than 1 hour from Queenstown).

Enjoy your trip, NZ is amazing.
RoamsAround is offline  
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