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New Zealand SI book ahead??

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Mar 19th, 2016, 09:00 AM
  #1
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Join Date: Mar 2016
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New Zealand SI book ahead??

Hello everyone,
We are planning 2 weeks in the South Island of New Zealand. Our travel dates are July 7 to 21. I discovered that these are the school holidays.

We will rent a car in Christchurch and return it to Queenstown. We are from tropical location, so the winter activities sound exciting to us. Some places we would like to visit are Queenstown, Wanaka, Dunedin, Otago, Omarama, Franz Josef and Fox Glacier and perhaps Greymouth.

We prefer not to, but should we book everything in advance? Are there certain areas that we can "wing it" on a place to stay? Thanks.
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Mar 19th, 2016, 05:02 PM
  #2
 
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You can wing most everything that time of year with the notable exception of Queenstown and Wanaka, as they're ski areas. Accommodation will be at a premium in these areas, especially if they've gotten a good amount of snow.

Might be a good idea to book in Christchurch too, just because they're still short on accommodation since the earthquakes, but not as essential as in the ski areas.

Other areas should be no problem even with school holidays.

Happy to help as other questions arise.
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Mar 20th, 2016, 12:35 AM
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Good advice from Melnq8.

Just curious, why Omarama and Greymouth? Is this because, respectively, they offer more affordable accommodation than Mt. Cook Village and Punakaiki?
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Mar 20th, 2016, 07:29 AM
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Thanks for your help. I rushed to post this as I just became responsible for planning this part of the trip. DH is nervous about the winter and snow part. Tried to read entire guide book in one afternoon.

Are snow chains good enough or should we rent a 4 wheel drive? I feel so silly asking things like this, but we are clueless at this point in planning. I have only seen real snow while travelling and someone else was driving.

I think I meant Oamaru instead of Omarama. Not going to Greymouth. Any suggestions are appreciated. I will look up Mt Cook village.
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Mar 20th, 2016, 02:10 PM
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Definitely rent snow chains - my theory is if you have them you won't need them and so far this practice has worked for us on our winter trips to the SI. They're available for about $25 from your rental car agency for the duration of your trip.

You are REQUIRED to carry snow chains in your vehicle on Milford Road from May-Sept. Make sure you know how to put them on before you leave the rental car agency.

If you plan to visit Milford and are worried about driving conditions, take the bus and leave the driving to the professionals.

I wouldn't fuss with a 4WD - NZ does get snow, but not like you see in other parts of the world, like say, Colorado Canada.

Much of NZ is at sea level - and while it can certainly snow at sea level (I've witnessed it myself in NZ) it's not all that common and it's seldom heavy.

Don't worry too much about the roads - generally speaking if the roads are bad enough to require chains, the road will be closed. Which means you need to be flexible.

Snow is more likely at high elevation (Arthur's Pass, Milford Road) than in the places you've mentioned.

Frosty roads can definitely be an issue - think black ice - its best not to begin your day's journey until around 10 am or so after the frost has melted from the road.

Where do you live? I'm guessing it's not Washington - not tropical!
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Mar 20th, 2016, 08:17 PM
  #6
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I didn't know what to call myself, but I'm from New Orleans! It was 85 degrees for Christmas.

I booked Queenstown. All good there. Looking at Christchurch now.

Another question. What about the mobile phone? The guide book says that an American phone will not work there. Why not? I have 2 unlocked phones from South America which worked in Europe, but they are old. They didn't work in Japan because of the more advanced network I was told. I can put my sim card in them or get a pay as you go sim. I don't trust anyone with the data, so our smartphones are left at home.
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Mar 21st, 2016, 06:12 AM
  #7
 
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When you said tropical, I was thinking more along the lines of Asia! You'll be fine.

Can't help with cell phones, never travel with one.

I'm sure someone in the know will pipe in though.
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Apr 2nd, 2016, 05:11 PM
  #8
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Any suggestion for car rental company?

I can't get a good comparison. For example one company has snow chains at $25 per rental and other company is $13 per day. Only 30 clicks to figure that out.
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Apr 2nd, 2016, 07:16 PM
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When we've needed to rent a car, we've always gone with APEX. Doesn't necessarily mean it's the best or cheapest, we've just tended to stick with the one we know.

Regarding the phone, you might bring one of your unlocked phones and then buying a SIM card for it when you get here. It's worth a try. There'll be a Vodaphone office in the airport. See:
http://www.dol.govt.nz/immigration/k...base/item/4024
http://www.vodafone.co.nz/travel-sim/
I use Spark. I think you can also buy their SIM cards through the Warehouse (a large Walmart-type store)
https://www.spark.co.nz/help/mobile-...ards.html.html

Are you planning on calling the U.S. while you're here? I suggest you use Skype. Your accommodation will probably have a landline for making local calls. If you need to book tours and such, the local I-Site Tourism offices can do this for you, and probably your accommodation, as well. Queenstown is full of tour offices, such as the Real Journeys office on Steamer Wharf. Map of downtown Q'town:
http://www.everythingqueenstown.com/...nstown_Map.pdf
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Apr 3rd, 2016, 07:37 AM
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We rent from APEX on every trip to NZ. Just be sure that they charge you in NZ dollars and not the currency of your home country (DCC).

I particularly like that they have the option of renting older cars, which means they've already been dinged up a bit, so there's no worry about adding a few more

We spend a lot of our time in NZ on unpaved roads, dodging fords and livestock etc. You may not choose to do that, but we certainly do.

Their older cars are very well maintained - never had a problem. In fact, I'd swear we've gotten the same car two or three times.

APEX charges $25 for snow chains for the duration of the rental. I'd avoid anyone who charges for them by the day. That's just greedy.

Below you'll find something I put together a few years back on renting cars in NZ. The $ amounts may have changed, do check.

Diamantina can probably advise of any of the following has changed recently:
______________________________
We rent from APEX when we visit NZ and have been very pleased with them.

We never buy insurance, as we're covered by our US Visa Platinum card, which covers even the excess (deductible) when we rent in NZ and Australia.

All rental cars in NZ come with basic CDW.

From the APEX website:

< All cars hired by Apex include Standard Insurance for no extra charge. Standard Insurance has an insurance excess (or deductible) of $1,500. This means that in the event that the rental vehicle is damaged, you are liable for the first $1500 of any damage, irregardless of whether you are 'at fault' or not.>

Buying additional CDW insurance just lowers your deductible, but in our case our Visa covers this, so we don't need it.

You're also covered for third person liability.

"In New Zealand, Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and theft protection are included in car rental rates. The CDW excess (deductible) is the responsibility of the renter, however some credit cards (such as my US issued Platinum Visa), will cover the excess.

Not all credit cards work this way. For instance, Mastercard requires that ALL insurance be waived for their coverage to apply, and you cannot waive the insurance already built into a NZ car rental, due to local laws.

Third party liability insurance is included in NZ car rentals too, up to the limit required by NZ law (I don't know the figure, but you can probably find out easily enough).

If involved in a car accident in NZ resulting in injury you and the other party will be treated just like a Kiwi in accordance with their ACC program where the NZ government will cover all medical costs (while in NZ) incurred due to the accident.

You cannot be sued.
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Jul 22nd, 2016, 11:57 AM
  #11
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Thanks for all of your advice. We returned yesterday. Exhausted, but a gorgeous adventure.

I can't say enough about Apex Car Rental. They give $2000 coverage included and our credit card covered the rest. Not picky about little dings on windshield, etc. Spent lots of time with us about the snow chains and I was thrilled we didn't need them. Only one time was necessary at Cardrona, but the shuttle was worth it to get up there.

My phone worked too and I got a passport plan with ATT for the GPS.
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Jul 22nd, 2016, 12:28 PM
  #12
 
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Yea! Now how about a detailed report of your trip?
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