New Zealand-Trip Report-30 Days North & South Island

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Jan 11th, 2016, 07:26 PM
  #1
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New Zealand-Trip Report-30 Days North & South Island

Trip Report - New Zealand October 15, 2015 to November 14, 2015. My husband and I are in our 60s from Northeast USA. We like road trips and exploring new towns each day with some down time too. We had reservations for the first 21 nights, then we made plans day by day at the end of the trip. I just outlined the trip to show the pace of our travels and listed some highlights.The Motels and B&Bs that we stayed in were clean and adequate. Some were nicer than others, but I would recommend all of them.

1 - Arrived Auckland - Budget Rental car - Cotswold Cottage in Thames
2 - Coromandel Peninsula, Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach - Breakers Motel in Whangamata
3&4 - Sport of Kings Motel in Rotorua - Luge at Skyline, Museum, City Park, Eat Street, Blue & Green Lakes, Buried Village (just ok) Waiotapu Thermals, Tamaki Maori Village
5 - Aratiatia Rapids, Huka Falls, Taupo - the Nautilus in Napier
6 - Greytown, Masterton, Paua World - the Claremont Studios in Martinborough
7&8 - Austinvilla B&B in Wellington - Drive around peninsula, Mt Victoria, Botanical Garden, Te Papa
9 - Ferry to Picton (Premium Lounge) Queen Charlotte Rd, Cullen View Point - The Sails in Nelson
10&11 - The Sails in Nelson - Saturday Market, Center of NZ, Mapua, Abel Tasman (Wilson's boat from Kaiteriteri to Anchorage, hike to Pitt Head)
12 - Buller Gorge Swing Bridge, Cape Foulwind - Buller Court on Palmerston in Westport
13 - Punkaiki Rocks - Scenicland Motel in Greymouth
14 - Arthur's Pass, Hokitika Gorge, Glow Worm Grotto - Annabelle Motel in Hokitika
15 - Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier - Sunset Motel in Fox Glacier
16 - Haast Pass - Wanaka View Motel in Wanaka
17, 18 &19 - Glebe Apartments in Queenstown - Cardrona, Skyline Star Gazing & Luge, Glenorchy, AJ Hacket Bridge Bungy, Chard Farm, Gibbston Valley Wine & Cheese, Shotover Jet Boat, Arrowtown, Coronet Peak
20, 21 &22 - Blue Thistle Cottages in Te Anau- Fiordland Movie, Southern Discoveries Nature Cruise in Milford Sound, Go Orange to Doubtful Sound
23 & 24 - Amross Motel in Dunedin - Olveston House, Otago Peninsula, Larnach Castle, Baldwin Street
25 - Moeraki Boulders, Blue Penguin Colony, - Highfield Mews in Oamaru
26 - Maori Rock Paintings, Elephant Boulders, Benmore Dam, Hike to Kea Point and Tasman Glacier View - Aoraki Court Motel in Mt Cook Village
27 - Mt John Univ. Observatory - Methven Resort in Methven
28 & 29 - stayed at Centre Point on Colombo in Christchurch - Cardboard Church, Container Mall, Akaroa, Lyttleton
30 - Drop off rental car - stay at Airport Gateway Motel (free shuttle)
31 - Fly home
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Jan 12th, 2016, 10:32 AM
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I hope there's more!
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Jan 12th, 2016, 12:26 PM
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What would you have changed? What exceeded your expectations? What didn't live up to them?
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Jan 31st, 2016, 04:48 AM
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brilliant. Just the itinerary we would have liked had we had 30 days to spend in NZ. Lucky you.
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Feb 1st, 2016, 07:28 AM
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If I was on a shorter trip I would cut out Napier, Martinborough, Dunedin and Methven and spend less time in Christchurch. Oamaru was a pleasant surprise and Mt Cook Village was definitely worth the drive. (I would recommend staying in the village if you can) I love the country and the people and wish it wasn't so far away, but that makes it even more special.
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Feb 1st, 2016, 03:07 PM
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ctusa - we did have less time, and would not bother with Napier again, but for the Gannets which were a real highlight of our trip.

I do agree about Oamaru - a real and largely undiscovered gem.
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Feb 2nd, 2016, 04:42 PM
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About Oamaru. Oamaru's never been more popular. It's long been on the tourist map for its lovingly maintained Victorian precinct, its Little Blue Penguin colony, its Bushy Beach Yellow Eyed Penguin hide, Steampunk HQ, and Riverstone Cafe. (My personal favorite Oamaru fixture is Whitestone Cheese.) Oamaru's annual Victorian Fete each November, when hundreds of people in Victorian costumes fill the Victorian precinct, is fun to watch.

The Alps2Ocean Cycle Trail is now attracting more accolades, international attention, and bringing even more visitors to the town and through the pretty and interesting Waitaki Valley, inland of Oamaru. The cycle trail starts at Whitehorse Campground in Mt. Cook/Aoraki, travels through Waitaki Valley, and ends at Oamaru harbour.

Moeraki, just south of Oamaru, is also attracting many more visitors. It's a bit overwhelming.

About the growth of Oamaru tourism:
http://www.odt.co.nz/regions/north-o...d-cool-waitaki
Downton Abbey celebrity enjoying Oamaru last week:
http://www.odt.co.nz/regions/north-o...harm-residents
Alps2Ocean cycle trail:
http://www.odt.co.nz/regions/north-o...section-opened
Penguins a major draw for the town, but concern for their safety:
http://www.odt.co.nz/regions/north-o...ins-popularity
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Feb 3rd, 2016, 03:06 AM
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About Oamaru. Oamaru's never been more popular.>>

that's good to hear, Diamantina. When we were there [Dec '13] whilst we weren't the only tourists around, they were hardly overwhelmed. We certainly weren't drawn there by the tourist info, rather by a paragraph in our guide book that mentioned the Victorian buildings and its proximity to Moeraki. I can see the problems for the penguins though - they don't seem to have a lot of sense, and they are extremely cute!
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Feb 10th, 2016, 07:22 PM
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Any problems driving on "the wrong side of the road?"
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Feb 11th, 2016, 06:53 AM
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bethe - it wasn't the wrong side of the road for us.

Actually I think that driving on the left is the least of your problems; it's the slow progress that you make on many of the roads that makes it so tiring. There are few dual carriageways outside major cities and with an overall top speed limit of 60 mph [not that it's possible or indeed safe to do any more than that most of the time] and much lower speed limits in towns and round road works [which are numerous] it's rarely possible to achieve more than 30 mph overall.

Then there are the places you'll want to stop along the way - for a walk, a snack or a drink - all this eats up the time.
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Feb 13th, 2016, 05:23 PM
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Do you have any suggestions on how to tour New Zealand (both islands) without a car?
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Feb 14th, 2016, 05:01 PM
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Bus? Tour?

Wouldn't be my choice, but it's certainly possible.

bethe - IMO the BEST way to see NZ is by car. Attractions are spread out and having a car gives you the utmost in flexibility.

I gather that you're uncomfortable driving on the left. I too, was worried when I moved to OZ and had to adjust, but believe me, you will get the hang of it in no time.

Know your limitations, don't rush, don't drive tired, don't drive distracted, study up on the road rules before you go and keep left. You'll find that the most difficult part of driving on the left is when you're the only one on the road, when there's no one in front of you to remind you to keep left. And the windshield wipers. They'll drive you batty until you adjust.

If it really freaks you out, look into public transport. It's out there, you just need to look into what is available and plan from there.
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Feb 15th, 2016, 02:08 AM
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bethe - being from the UK, we have to drive on the "wrong" side of the road every time we go to France or Italy or Spain, or even the US! But the car you will have will have the steering wheel on the RIGHT side [literally] which makes the transition much easier than you would think because you are in the correct driving position for driving on the left.

and the roads are quite empty outside the main towns and cities - very few traffic problems, and not much overtaking, so you just have to drive.
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Feb 15th, 2016, 08:14 AM
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I found that when the roads are "empty" it was much easier to make a mistake. When there are other cars around one can see where to drive.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 11:01 AM
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bethe- My husband did all the driving, but I was the helper. I navigated, reminded him to stay left and figured out which lane we should use in the roundabouts. We really had a lot of laughs, it was a team effort. We made sure to get a small car (Toyota Corolla hatchback) and every time we pulled out of a parking lot or made a turn I would say go left stay left or go right stay left. The roads are very good, but the narrowest ones were on the Caromandel and Otago Peninsulas. Just take your time and pull over to let faster cars pass.
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Feb 19th, 2016, 05:40 PM
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Thanks for the detailed information, ctusa! We are in the very early planning stages, so it will come in handy.

Do you have any tactics for finding the best rates for air from the US?
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Feb 29th, 2016, 05:43 AM
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We really love Qantas and wanted to go to Australia too, so we just booked thru them. We spent 3 nights in Sydney before NZ which added flight time and $100-200 to the price, but it was worth it. Sign up for Qantas and Air New Zealand email offers so you are notified of deals, but they usually quote from LAX and we're on the east coast. Qantas is starting non-stop LAX to Auckland, but I'm not sure when.
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