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New Zealand Trip 13D/13N - Need help to finalize itinerary


Jul 28th, 2015, 11:16 AM
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New Zealand Trip 13D/13N - Need help to finalize itinerary

Hi friends. My wife and I are visiting New Zealand for 13 days in November 2015. We will be landing in Auckland on 15th Nov afternoon and leaving from Queenstown on 28th Nov afternoon. We have already booked the air tickets and now need to finalize the itinerary.

About us - We are a fit and healthy couple from India, aged 28 and 25. We are more interested in the natural beauty so would like to spend less time in cities and more in smaller towns surrounded by beautiful scenery. Not very interested in hardcore hiking/trekking but would like to do adventure sports and some mild trekking. Basically our idea of a perfect holiday is where we get ample time to sit and enjoy the places rather than just driving all around for most part of the day.

Self-drive - We understand that self-driving is the best way to explore New Zealand in all its glamour so we would like to hire a car for a majority of our trip. My wife does not drive so I will be the only driver though I can easily manage a few long drives during daytime, but would not like to drive for more than 4-5 hours at a stretch.

We are planning to spend lesser time in the NI (4-5 days) and more time in the SI (8-9 days). Basically, we would like to cover as much of the two islands as possible in this time frame but keeping in mind that it does not get too hectic – we are basically going there to relax

I have done some extensive research over last few days and come up with the following itinerary. Need your feedback on how this looks? Anything missed out by me or any major flaws in my timing assumptions?

15th Nov - Arrive in Auckland, general city sightseeing in the evening

16th Nov - Day trip to Bay of Islands (Dolphin sighting and hole in the rock cruise) by Intercity bus – Start early morning and back to Auckland by night

17th Nov - Local sightseeing in Auckland in the morning and then self-drive in car from Auckland to Rotorua, overnight in Rotorua

18th Nov - Full day excursion in Rotorua including thermal springs and other surrounding places, see some Maori cultural stuff at night, overnight in Rotorua

19th Nov - Start early from Rotorua, do the Matamata Hobbinton tour followed by a visit to Waitomo caves (can let go one of these two if time doesn't permit) and reach Auckland by night, return the car, overnight in Auckland

20th Nov - Early morning flight to Christchurch, city sightseeing for the day, overnight in Christchurch

21st Nov - Checkout in morning and proceed to Lake Tekapo via self-drive car, scenic flight over the Alps from Tekapo (including glacier landing), local sightseeing (Mt. John observatory etc.) and overnight stay in Tekapo

22nd Nov - Day trip to Aoraki / Mt. Cook for the Hooker Valley trek and Glacier Explorers boat tour to Tasman glacier, local sightseeing and overnight stay either in Aoraki or drive back to Tekapo for night stay

23rd Nov - Self-drive from Tekapo to Wanaka, local sightseeing in Wanaka (mainly want to go to the puzzling world), overnight either in Wanaka or drive to Queenstown in the evening and check-in hotel in Queenstown for night stay

24th Nov - Full day excursion to Arrowtown, Glenorchy and other areas surrounding Queenstown, return the car in the evening in Queenstown, overnight at Queenstown

25th Nov - Activities in Queenstown (Would like to do bungee, river rafting, gondola etc.)

26th Nov - Full day excursion to Milford Sound by Intercity tour, back to Queenstown at night

27th Nov - Activities in Queenstown, anything missed out on 25th, shopping etc.

28th Nov - Checkout and proceed to airport

One key thing is that this itinerary completely misses out on the West Coast glaciers but from what I understand the drive along the West Coast is very long and tiring (although the views are stunning), so would have to break it in parts and it will take a lot of time. Is it possible to tweak this itinerary so as to include them in some way or it would be ok to miss them considering that we are anyways not very keen on heavy trekking and would get a chance to see the glaciers from the other side (Tasman glacier, Hooker valley etc)?

I am sorry if the post got too long, I just wanted to include everything in my mind in detail so that you could provide me best guidance. We look forward to any comments/suggestions from the experts to improve our itinerary.
karanmehta is offline  
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Jul 28th, 2015, 11:53 AM
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I'll leave the NI to those who know it better, but a few comments regarding your SI plans:

I personally find it difficult to fit in a longish drive plus multiple activities in a single day. You, being much younger, may not have that issue, but I do recommend you book your planned activities in advance, so you don't lose any time upon arrival.

Nov 24 - Arrowtown and Glenorchy are in different directions. Glenorchy can easily fill a full day, particularly if you want to do any walking and/or take the Dart River Safari, which I highly recommend.

Nov 26 - do be aware this is about a 13 hour trip, most of it in the bus.

With so few days on the SI, I suggest you give the West Coast a miss for all the reasons you've already mentioned. It is quite possible to drive say from Wanaka to Haast and back as a day trip, but you'd want to make sure you had good weather before you did. This will give you a taste of the West Coast and you'll see some pretty spectacular lakes en route. The glaciers aren't that interesting from the ground anyway, they're best seen from up top.
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Jul 28th, 2015, 07:46 PM
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Thanks a lot for your advice.

I will book the planned activities right away to ensure availability in my preferred time slot.

On 24th, would it be possible to cover both Arrowtown and Glenorchy, if I come to Queenstown on 23rd night itself and start from there instead of starting from Wanaka on 24th morning? The reason is that I have heard a lot about both these places and would like to visit both, but also not give up a day in Queenstown for it.

Thanks for flagging off about the long trip on Nov 26. Milford Sound day trip, I am aware, is a long journey but the Intercity day tour option is turning out to be pretty convenient and economical. Also staying in Te Anau for a night would mean lesser time in Queenstown.

Would consider the option of driving from Wanaka to Haast to get a 'feel' of the West coast, but finding it a bit difficult to fit in this itinerary.
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Jul 29th, 2015, 07:42 AM
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Well, if you get an early start from Wanaka, you can see Arrowtown en route to QT, and then continue to QT and on to Glenorchy.

QT is about a 25 minute drive from Arrowtown and Glenorchy is about a 40 minute drive from QT on the other end.

Assuming you've no plans for long walks or in-depth exploration, you could well do both.

If you start from QT, you'd need to backtrack to Arrowtown (25 minutes) then drive back to and through QT to get to Glenorchy, so starting from Wanaka makes sense, it's just a bit more driving. I suggest you take the Crown Range Road via Cardrona from Wanaka, which will put you very close to Arrowtown.
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Jul 31st, 2015, 10:30 PM
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We (Husband/Wife/2 Yr old) have similar plans for a visit to NZ in 2016. Is the itinerary suitable for family with kids as well ?
vivekks is offline  
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Aug 1st, 2015, 06:28 AM
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vivekks -

This itinerary is pretty full on. It's suitable for a couple of energetic twenty-somethings, but as it involves almost daily driving, I'd think it'd be quite a challenge for a couple with a little one.

All of my comments relate to the South Island portion.
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Aug 2nd, 2015, 12:26 AM
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Thanks Melnq8 for all your suggestions. This helps a lot.

My south island itinerary is pretty much on track now, need some advice from the North Island experts on the earlier part. I have made some changes in the above itinerary as I felt that a long day trip to Bay of Island from Auckland may not be advisable immediately after reaching Auckland from an even longer journey from Mumbai.

So the North Island itinerary looks something like this now:

15th Nov - Arrive in Auckland, general city sightseeing in the evening.

16th Nov - Spend a few more hours in Auckland (probably a visit to the surrounding islands). Off to Rotorua by afternoon bus and reach there by late evening.

17th Nov - Full day excursion in Rotorua and surrounding areas. Experience different types of geothermal activities - Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, Waimangu Volcanic Valley etc. We are basically interested in witnessing the geothermal activities, not much interested in the Agrodome show or the Maori cultural shows.

18th Nov - Relax a bit in Rotorua - leisurely stroll in the Government gardens, soak in the hot mineral pools in Polynesian spa etc. Back to Auckland by the evening bus. Overnight in Auckland.

19th Nov - Day trip to Bay of Islands (Dolphin sighting and hole in the rock cruise) by Intercity bus – Start in the morning from Auckland and back to Auckland by night.

20th Nov - Morning flight to Christchurch.

One question, should we hire a car for one day on 17th in Rotorua? Would it be easier to cover all the nearby attractions with the car or the public transport in Rotorua would suffice?

I have still not finalized what all to cover on this day but from my initial research, Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland and Waimangu Volcanic Valley are looking interesting. Suggestions for other nearby places are welcome, which can be fit in one day either in a car or by public transport.
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Aug 2nd, 2015, 01:30 AM
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