New Zealand Trip in October, 2005

Sep 6th, 2005, 11:28 AM
  #1  
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New Zealand Trip in October, 2005

New Zealand Trip in October, 2005

My wife and I are going to New Zealand for three weeks as our one-year anniversary trip in October. We already have the tickets, but are working on the details of the trip. Below is what we have sketched out so far. We have included our expected driving times. Please let us know if we are missing anything that we must see/do (ie. Mt. Cook - is it worth it at the expense of something we listed below), if our drive times are wrong, etc.

================================================== ================

SOUTH ISLAND

Christchurch
1 night
Arrive into Christchurch. Stay the night.

(Drive from Christchurch to Kaikoura - approx. driving time of 2:15)

Kaikoura
2 nights
We plan to swim with the dolphins one day, and possibly go whale watching another. We also want some time to explore the town. Is this too much time for here, given our short trip?

(Drive from Kaikoura to Nelson - approx. driving time of 2:15)

Abel Tasman
2-3 nights
We are considering doing the Abel Tasman Track, or some portion of it. We know we want to kayak, at very least. We would probably rather do other tracks instead of the full Abel Tasman, but we are concerned about weather.

(Drive from Nelson to the Glaciers - approx. driving time of 6:30)

Glaciers
2-3 nights
We want to make sure we have enough time to explore both glaciers and hike around. We also want to take the helicopter to land on one of them. Is this enough (or too much) time?

(Drive from the Glaciers to Wanaka/Queenstown - approx. driving time of 3:45)

Wanaka/Queenstown
1 night
We have read mixed reviews of Queenstown, so we are leaning towards spending less time there so we can spend more time elsewhere. Is there anything in particular that we need to see there?

(Drive from Wanaka/Queenstown to Te Anau - approx. driving time of 3:30)

Te Anau
2-3 nights
We are considering doing the Glow-worm caves here because we are concerned that we won't have enough time in the North Island to go to Waitamo Caves. What else is there to do in Te Anau, aside from using it as a launching point for the Sounds? We intend to go to one of them... but which one? We will either kayak in one, or stay overnight on a boat. What is the recommendation? Finally, we are considering walking part or all of the Milford Track. Can we do a 1-2 day version of it? Again, this will be October, so we are concerned about weather.

(Drive from Te Anau to Dunedin - approx. driving time of 4:00)

Dunedin
1 night
In particular, we want to check out the penguins and the town.

(Drive from Dunedin back to Christchurch - approx. driving time of 5:00)

Christchurch
Oct. 18th - Drive back to Christchurch. Stay the night.

================================================== ================

NORTH ISLAND

Auckland
Fly into Aukland, but leave immediately. We will then immediately drive to Hot Water Beach (approx. driving time of 2:00) where we will soak in the tide. We then plan to drive to Rotorua (approx. driving time of 3:00) to stay the night.

Rotorua
2 nights
Explore the area for two days.
The last morning, we will wake up really early to do the Tongariro Crossing. What will that be like in mid-October? Will we be hiking in snow? Waitamo Caves is a possibility, depending on if we go to the caves in Te Anau. What is the recommendation?

Aukland
1 night
The last night and subsequent day, we will spend cruising around Auckland.
deedle is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 01:05 PM
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Can you fly from Dunedin to Auckland instead of driving 5 hours to Christchurch and then catching a flight?
We are flying from Dunedin... Air NZ flights only cost US$90 each.
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 01:17 PM
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Te Anau's main claim to fame is as the service centre for Fiordland National Park. Consequently most of the activities involve the park in some way.
Most people come here to see Milford and Doubtful Sounds, although the many fine walks which start from Te Anau are also an attraction.

Regards the Milford track. The options are either a one day guided walk, or the full 3-4 day walk. Try this site for the one day walk. milfordtourswalks.co.nz , Operated by Trips n' Tramps, it's a really great trip.
For the full track walk you have two options, Either the delux version with Milford Track Guided Walks (about $1600), or the "do it yourself' version where you carry your own pack, and don't get hot showers in the lodges, or your meals cooked for you. (about $600).
The Department of Conservation operate the el cheapo version. Not sure of the web sites, but a Google at Milford Track will probably find them.
There are also day walks from Te Anau such ar the Key Summit, and part of the Kepler Track. You can do these for free, and without a guide. Tramping in New Zealand is very safe. There are no nasties like bears, snakes, leaches etc. THe only danger is getting lost, and we have an extreemly efficient Search & Rescue organisation, which finds 90% of the lost tourists in a couple of days. THe other 10% usually stumble out after a week or so.

Happy hunting!!
vbca is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 02:30 PM
  #4  
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Thanks for the replies!

vbca,
Thanks for the tips. I would love to do one of the hikes, although we are not sure which one yet. What are your thoughts on the weather in mid-October? Will we be tramping around in the snow? And how would you compare the experience of the one-day hike to the full one?

Tim and Liz,
We thought about the flights, but it seems like that would only save us a couple of hours. At this point, we would rather get the extra views of the country. Of course, we may change our minds when we are there...

Thanks again!
-Daniel
deedle is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 07:18 AM
  #5  
Jed
 
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About kayaking, we did the Doubtful Sound overnight, which included about 1/2 hr kayaking.

We saw both caves, and our opinion is that it was good we did it.
Jed is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 08:04 AM
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Daniel,
From what I've read the drive from Dunedin to Christchurch is not known for great scenery. But the views of mountains from the plane can be amazing. If you do decide to fly, request a window seat on the west side of the plane (left if going Dunedin-Christchurch)

Also have you heard about the Dart River Jetboat Safari? It is in Glenorchy outside of Queenstown. The scenery is amazing. You should consider it for your day in Queenstown. Or you can do it the morning of the day you drive from Queenstown to Te Anau...that is what we decided to do.
http://www.dartriversafari.co.nz/
Tim_and_Liz is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 08:17 AM
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The coast road from Dunedin to Christchurch takes you past the the Mouraki Boulders, which are well worth a stop. If you have an extra day, you could head inland to Mt Cook, which is very impressive.
someotherguy is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 12:28 PM
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Weather in October should be starting to warm up, but as with anywhere in NZ, you can't rely on having good weather.
The Milford Track day walk is obviously not the same experience as the whole thing. It's advertised as a "Taste of the Milford Track", so it will whet your appetite for the real thing. You do exactly the same trip as the track walkers, but at Clinton Forks you have a break, and then return. On the plus side, you have your own guide who will tell you about the plants, history etc, which the track walkers don't have. It's a good alternative for those who don't have either the time, fittness, or money to do the whole track.
There will be no snow at the lower levels of any of our tracks. It is possible that there may be snow on the upper levels of some alpine tracks (3500 feet & above). On the controlled tracks (Milford, Kepler, Hump Ridge, Routeburn,) DOC will close the tracks if there is too much snow. On the Milford Track they will use helicopters to move the trampers over the alpine sections. (THis is a big business, and delays because of weather are avoided if at all possible.)
As one of the previous posts said, there are many goot walks at the head of Lkae Wakatipu (Dart & Rees rivers). If you are really into walking you could consider basing yourself at either Glenorchy or Te Anau, and doing a few day walks. These are often better value, and more enjoyable than the organised walks, where you are slightly more regimented.
Also good walks around Mt Cook. Actually there are good walks everywhere in NZ. You could do one every day for a year, and still not have done them all. From gentle walks of an hour or so, to week long expeditions over high alpine passes, the choice is yours.
Have a great holiday.
vbca is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 02:47 PM
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Be sure to check with the visitor's center at Tongariro National Park for the latest weather conditions before you decide to do the Crossing. We were going to do it in April 2004, but it was rainy and pretty cloudy on the route, so we ended up doing a shorter walk in the park instead.

We went black water rafting in Waitomo and had a blast! We took the Black Labyrinth tour, which combines a short hike into Ruakuri Cave with tubing and jumping off a waterfall.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 06:20 PM
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I'm impressed with all the planning.

We will be in NZ next month, too - and so far....zip!

Airfares in and out of Auckland, and then..............

Guess I should get my skates on, hmmmm???
margo_oz is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 06:46 PM
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Hi Margo

If you can handle the lack of planning, I would suggest you just turn up and follow your nose.

Scenery wise, unless you are stuck in South Auckland or somewhere equally dire, you will do OK for sights to be seen.

Have a couple of key destinations and then, as the saying goes, enjoy the journey to get there.

Accomodation should be no probs given the time of year. Just hop onto a computer as you move around (Internet cafes) and check out wotif.

Cheers

Steve
Kiwi_acct is offline  
Sep 9th, 2005, 07:05 PM
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hi, deedle
a well planned trip although I would question the need for 2-3 nights at the Glaciers. However, if you do take this time how about checking out Lake Matheson; a guided trip to the Okarito Lagoon, a bird sanctuary, and the only breeding ground of New Zealand's white heron, the kotuku; there are also boat trips around the West Coast. check out
www.whiteherontours.co.nz for some ideas. Try to visit Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks) north of Greymouth on the coast.
I too would recommend flying from Dunedin to Auckland. We occasionally fly between Wellington and Christchurch, and the mountain views for that little distance are just awesome.
dotty is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 03:22 AM
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All,
Thanks for the great insights! As expected, we are revising our plan...

I think, at this point, we are going to ditch Dunedin completely, and replace it with a drive through to Lake Tepako and Mt. Cook. We will also trim a day from Abel Tasman (making it 2 nights), and a night from Glaciers (making that 2 nights). I would consider only 1 night at the Glaciers, but we really want to do the heli-hike. Also, because we are going straight from Abel Tasman to the Glaciers, we figure that we won't be able to do anything the first day we are there.

While in Wanaka, we are thinking about adding the Rob Roy Glacier Track. Any thoughts on that?

We are planning to avoid the Milford Track in favor of kayaking there. Thanks for the advice vbca!

Finally, all of these plans are concepts for us. We have not actually booked any hotels, tracks, etc. We figure we will try to book some of them but also wanted to maintain some flexibility to accomodate our whims and the unpredictable weather. I hope we won't have any problems finding places to stay and getting on the excursions we want. We will be there the first three weeks in October. Will we be ok doing this?

One more tangential question: Any possibility of seeing the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) in NZ in October? If so, where should we expect to find them?

Thanks again for the help!
deedle is offline  
Sep 10th, 2005, 10:06 PM
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Steve
Thanks for your advice - that's certainly be my preference, and I've done it before (not always happily- but still my preference)

I neglected to mention I am travelling with possibly the world's most anal traveller - everything has to be cut and dried, months before.

Actually got down and sort of planned a bit of a route yesterday - and given him some accom places to check.
margo_oz is offline  
Sep 12th, 2005, 08:24 PM
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A couple of thoughts -

We loved Kaikoura! We swam with the dolphins (an amazing experience) and whale watched. Wow. We went on the whale watching trip on arrival (we drove up from Christchurch), and stayed the night at Fyffe Country Inn. In the morning we swam with the dolphins, then drove to Timara lodge, where we had an amazing meal (quite possibly one of the best days of my life). More on Timara below.

On your drive from Kaikoura to Abel Tasman, consider a stop in Marlborough with a splurge stay at Timara lodge. We spent a night there during our honeymoon a few years ago and couldn't have been treated nicer. The food was unbelievable and it was so very lovely. Ahhh... such a good memory.

Also, I would give yourself just enough time at the glaciers to see and do the glaciers and then move on. The glacier experience is amazing but I wouldn't spend three days. We did it with a single overnight but we were coming from Lake Moeraki.

As for Queenstown, we enjoyed the view from the top of the tram and one of the shotover boat trips (not the super fast crazy one but the Dart river one). It was late September and cold but great scenery and a fun experience.

Have a great trip.
POlson is offline  
Sep 13th, 2005, 06:02 PM
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Two great suggestions for places to stay.
Hot Water Beach B&B in the upstairs room which has a hot tub on the deck outside and the most gorgeous views right over the beach. Remember to take your bathers off before you go inside as they will be full of sand.

In Auckland at the Great Ponsonby B&B which has tons of parking and is in a really interesting district full of restaurants.
You can catch the link bus to the maritime museum, sky tower, harbour.
Stevan is offline  
Sep 19th, 2005, 08:55 AM
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Since no one replied to your Question on the Southern Lights... they were visible in Dunedin when I was there last year. Of course they were unexpected and on a cold wintry night and I was holed up in the B&B and missed them. I think Stewart Island is the most likely place to see them.
mlgb is offline  
Sep 19th, 2005, 12:57 PM
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Thanks all for your great suggestions! This really helped a lot in settling our itinerary. In general, we opted to ditch Hot Water Beach in exchange for Tongariro Crossing, ditch Dunedin in favor of driving through to Lake Tekapo and Mt. Cook, and take away a day or so from the driving so we can do Rob Roy Glacier.

Anyhow, thanks again! This has been very helpful!
deedle is offline  
Oct 28th, 2005, 09:56 PM
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Here are a few clarifications:
-Kaikoura is indeed a very small town - the only other things worth doing apart from a dolphinswim and whalewatch is visitng the seal colony and the maori leap cave - also eat at Sonic on the Rocks (near the tourist office) - fanatstic food !
- Fox is prettier than Franz Joseff - it alos gives you access to Lake Matheson and Gillespie Beach - do the half-day walk with Alpine Guides - truly amazing !
- Queenstown - there cannot be any "mixed" reviews on Queenstown -its breathtakingly beautiful and a useful base to explore the Dart River Valley and visit the Remarkables ski slopes
- Te Anau - is a pretty little town -not much to do though but worth at least an overnight stay. If you had to choose, you should do the Milford Sound
Dunedin - not much to check out in the town - but the penguin /albatross watching is wonderful - use backtonaturetours.com if possible
- Christchurch - Chc is a beautiful city and deserves a few days - you could also visit nearby Akaroa, a charming French settlement near the coast

I think the South Island is far more beautiful than the north- you could also add the abel tasman park/nelson and the southern scenic route. I hear Rotorua is very touristy and NZ regulars tell me the Bay of Islands and Taupo are actually the most beautiful but lesser mentioned parts.
ANUJ is offline  
Nov 21st, 2005, 05:47 PM
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and how did it go?
flygirl is offline  

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