NZ 18 day Itinerary feedback please!

Old Sep 15th, 2011, 04:44 PM
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NZ 18 day Itinerary feedback please!

Ok, so I posted a question about an itinerary for just the North Island and got one response (thank you!). In the meantime we've expanded our trip to include the South Island as well. Please, please somebody, can you let me know what you think?

Feb. 18 Fly from SFO to Auckland
Feb. 20 Arrive 5am - 2 nights
Feb. 22 Pick up car and drive to Rotorua - 2 nights
Feb. 24 Taupo - 1 night
Feb. 25 Wellington - 2 nights
Feb. 27 Ferry and drive to Nelson - 2 nights
Feb. 29 Graymouth - 2 nights
Mar. 2 Fox or Franz Josef - 1 night (or 2?)
Mar. 3 Wanaka - 1 night (or 2?)
Mar. 5 Te Anau - 2 nights
Mar 7 Queenstown - 2 nights
Mar. 9 - Fly back to SFO

We know there are a couple of long driving days but are hoping to see as much as we can. Also, I want to limit the one-nighters.
We're not sure if it's better to be 2 nights at the glaciers or Wanaka and would appreciate feedback.
Also, I understand from my limited reading that Franz Josef is a more desireable area to stay than Fox; is this true?
And does it make a difference if we keep the car from the point we leave Auckland or should we drop it in Wellington and pick up another in Picton at the ferry terminal?
And I haven't begun to research hotels or B&B's so any advice there is appreciated as well. I have seen some places on trip reports but the more info the better...
Thank you!
reginaca is offline  
Old Sep 15th, 2011, 05:15 PM
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Hi reginaca -

Good on ya for limiting the one nighters, I dislike them myself. Two night stays give you one full day to explore the areas you're visiting, plus a bit of time on your day of arrival/departure on shorter drive days.

I see no problems with your itinerary - it's realistic and kudos to you for that!

Is there a reason you plan to spend two nights in Greymouth? I ask, because most first time visitors to the SI bypass Greymouth, and for a reason, there are better options. I spent three nights in Greymouth once and found plenty to do, but I'm a frequent visitor and one of those people who can entertain myself pretty much anywhere.

If you just want to break up the journey, I suggest you spend a few hours exploring Greymouth (there's a brewery there, some nice cafes, etc) and then forge on to Hokitika, (NZ's greenstone capital) for a night.

Yes, this means a one nighter, but I'm going to suggest you add that extra night to the glaciers or Wanaka, or both.

Fox and Franz are only 40 minutes apart, give or take. You can easily visit both from one base. They're both good options. Franz Josef is bigger and therefore has more services and accommodation. It's also closer to Okarito, if visiting the lagoon or a kiwi tour interests you. Franz is a bit more touristy, with more shops, some man made hot pools, a wildlife center, etc. Fox is closer to Lake Matheson and it's less busy, as everyone seems to think Franz is 'more desirable'. More tour groups go to Franz.

I've stayed in both and I've enjoyed both. In the slower months I'd personally choose Franz, in the busy months I'd probably go for Fox, but that's just me.

Regarding dropping off your car - it really depends on which company you rent from. Most car rental agencies require that you switch cars if you take the ferry. I think it costs more to take a car, but don't quote me on this. Some rental agencies (I think APEX is one) will include your ferry tickets if you rent cars with them for both islands. From what I understand, the switch is pretty easy and seamless.

I'd be happy to help with accommodation if you can provide some budget guidelines.
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Old Sep 15th, 2011, 07:57 PM
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Thanks so much for your quick response. After doing some more reading I agree that Hokitika is the place to stop instead of Greymouth. So 1 night there and 2 each at the glaciers and Wanaka. Thanks for the recommendation.

I've been doing research on the car rental and Apex is saying they'll pay for the car portion of the ferry so I guess there's no more dropping it on one island and picking it up on the other. I'll look into this further.

Regarding accommodations, we're hoping to spend less than $200 US a night ($150 or less would be even better) and B&B's are ok with us. Thanks for your help!
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Old Sep 15th, 2011, 11:45 PM
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US $200 is a pretty generous budget, so you can find some nice lodging. Here are a few places I've stayed and can recommend, all within your budget:

We really enjoyed Milcrest Estate B&B near Nelson. It's actually in Hope, about 15-20 minutes from Nelson city, on a vineyard.

Fox Glacier - Lake Matheson Motel (it's been several years since we stayed there though).

Franz Josef - I highly recommend Glen Fern Villas. We've also stayed at Punga Grove, and Bella Vista Motel (small rooms, but perfectly adequate). The Blue Ice makes good pizza.

We enjoyed the Alpine Lodge in Wanaka. We had the Cardrona Suite, and found it just a wee bit small, but they do have larger units. The Moorings generally gets good reviews if you'd rather be right in town - we've not stayed there but it looks nice.

Te Anau - The Croft B&B - wonderful place

Queenstown - In the past we've stayed at Villa de Lago. It's not right IN town, which means it's quiet! We've also stayed at Bella Vista Motel, which has a quiet location near the gondola and is within walking distance of town. Our biggest complaint with accommodation in QT is street noise. If you're a light sleeper, you'll want to choose wisely.

Arrowtown is a more sedate alternative to QT, but within easy reach of QT. We enjoyed our stays there at Orchard Cottage. It's in a quiet country location, but convenient to both Arrowtown and QT.

Can't help with the NI sorry, it's been too long since we were there.
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Old Sep 15th, 2011, 11:47 PM
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Forgot to mention, I've written detailed reviews on TA for most the places I mentioned - they're under the same screen name if you want to take a look.
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Old Sep 16th, 2011, 09:37 AM
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Thanks for all your help! I'm researching hotels in Auckland on TA and am not finding any that are highly recommended for less than $200... I'm hoping that the rates are lower elsewhere!
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Old Sep 16th, 2011, 04:26 PM
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I suspect 'hotels' do cost more. I suggest you look at motels, self-contained apartments, cottages, B&B, homestays, etc. There's a lot of interesting and unique accommodation in NZ, but hotels are just hotels.
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Old Sep 17th, 2011, 11:20 AM
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Ah, I was using "hotel" as a generic term. Yes, we are definitely looking into motels, apartments and B&B's too. Thanks!
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