New Zealand Itinerary Questions

Old Jun 15th, 2017, 06:53 AM
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New Zealand Itinerary Questions

My husband and I are in the early stages of planning a trip to New Zealand for the last two weeks of March of 2018. We plan to be there 14 days, excluding travel time. I have been looking at two suggested itineraries for this trip. We want to see both islands, but think we would spend most of our time in the South Island because we enjoy the outdoors and wilderness areas. First off, we will be flying in and out of Auckland.

Option one has us spending about six days on the North Island, concentrating on the Auckland, Taupo, Rotorua and Coromandel areas before flying down to the South Island for about eight days and traveling to the areas of Christchurch/Tekapo, Mount Cook National Park, Wanaka, Milford Sound, and Queenstown. From Queenstown, we would fly back to Auckland to return home.

Option two has us spending three days in the North Island. Over these three days, we would drive from Auckland down to Taupo and then Wellington. In Wellington, we would fly into Christchurch. For abut the next elevens days, we would go to Aoraki/Mt. Cook; Queenstown, Milford Sound through Fiordland; Wanaka, Fox Glacier, Hakitika, Arthur’s Pass, then back to Christchurch to catch a local flight back to Auckland.

My thought is that Option One is too ambitious, spending too much time on the North Island. On Option Two, is there any logical reason to return back to Christchurch? Would it be more reasonable to fly out of Queenstown to the North Island rather than driving all the way back up to Christchurch? My last question is how far in advance do we need to book our lodging for this trip in March 2018?
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 07:21 AM
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I don't like option two because driving from Auckland to Wellington in 3 days will mean most of your time will be in the car. Your first night should be in Auckland if you are flying from the US, to help adjust your body clock. You will be jet-lagged and tired and should not be driving the first day. So really you only have 2 days to get to Wellington and no time to see anything.

I would spend 3-4 days Auckland to Rotorua, your choice whether you drive down via Waitomo Caves or Rotorua. Then fly Rotorua to Christchurch and do a loop drive (as you have in option 2) from Christchurch.

The "logical" reason for doing a loop is so you can visit both Mt Cook and the West Coast glaciers. A one-way trip will mean you have to decide between the two.

I'd get your lodging booked 4-6 months out, just for peace of mind. It's shoulder season, you really shouldn't have too much issue. But if you wait too long, it's the holidays and you won't want to be bothered doing it, and then it will already be 2018 and you may not get lodging at small places like Mt Cook.
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 07:22 AM
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I wish this forum would allow us to edit our posts!

My second paragraph should read, "your choice whether you drive down via Waitomo Caves or Hobbiton."
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 08:05 AM
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Okay, thanks deSchenke. You brought up the one thing I failed to with Option two and that was to just spend a few days on the North Island before flying to Christchurch.
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Old Jun 15th, 2017, 11:55 AM
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I think they're both pretty ambitious. You're trying to cram a three week itinerary into 14 days.
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Old Jun 16th, 2017, 09:22 AM
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For sure, we will be tweaking this itinerary as it is early on. I know there is no way we can fully see this beautiful area in two weeks, but we would like to take in as much as possible without wearing ourselves out. Much like if people are visiting the U.S., so much to see, where to begin.
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