NZ in 2 weeks, North or South Island or Both?

Mar 7th, 2005, 08:41 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2004
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NZ in 2 weeks, North or South Island or Both?

Hi there,

I'vre read a lot of responses about this topic, but looking for some feedback. We have 14 days in NZ next winter. I'd love to stay longer and see both North and South Zealand, but don't want to feel rushed. I'd rather spend more time on one island and hopefully come back some day.

We enjoy outdoors activities like hiking, kayaking, rafting, etc. It seems the South island is more suited towards these activites and should we just do a loop of the island with Queenstown as the base?

Would driving from Aukland to Queenstown in two weeks allow enough time to see things along the way, or is it a bit aggressive?
mattgopc is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 09:05 AM
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Other than Wellington and the Auckland airport, I have not seen the North Island. But I have been to the South Island on a couple of occassions, both times for a week. A week on the South Island isn't bad, but when you realize how incredibly beautiful it is and how much there is to see, you will wish you had more time.

So my advice would be to spend at least 10 days on the South Island, if not the whole trip there, especially if you do not want to feel rushed.
RalphR is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 09:18 AM
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We spent 10 days on the North Island last April, and we could easily have stayed longer. I would also pick one island and stay there for two weeks.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 12:59 PM
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I agree with Lee Ann you might be better off picking one Island and concentrating your time there. On a map it may look do-able, but NZ doesn't really have highways, it's more like one major roadway and it takes a while to get from point A to point B. Don't forgetthere are mountains, lakes, lotsa curbs and bends in the road, so nothing is really flat. I'm afraid it would be quite hectic for you to do both in 2 wks. The beauty of New Zealand is taking the time to explore it and not rush through it. I've only been to the South Island, and we spent 3 weeks traveling top to bottom. It's gorgeous. Enjoy your trip!
cebubelle is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 02:23 PM
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I agree with everyone. DOn't even think of trying to see both islands. WE had a month and did our best to see both and were really tired. Judging by your interests, I'd recommend the south island. IF you do land in Auckland, fly to the south island. Distances are a lot further than they look and because of the twisting, winding roads, it does take more time than expected to get from one place to another.
On the south island , the main road is only 2 lanes and goes down to one lane as it crosses bridges.
I'd concentrate on the west coast of the south island.
kodi is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 02:42 PM
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If you know you'll have the opportunity for a return visit, then concentrating on one of the islands first is ideal.

We, however, were doubtful that we would be able to return - so we squeezed in both the North and South islands in 2 weeks.

We knew that we would only be scratching the surface - but I'm glad we were able to at least see a little bit of each island.

The first week we spent a few nights each in Auckland, Waitomo and Rotorua. We flew from Rotorua to Christchurch and in the second week we stayed in Christchurch, Dunedin, Queenstown and Franz Josef.
chepar is online now  
Mar 7th, 2005, 06:21 PM
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Hi Matt,

It is possible to do both islands in two days and not feel rushed. Will you see everything? No, but that's the reason for narrowing down what you DO want to see. Now if your Wish List DOES include everything, well, then, you're obviously going to need more time!

If you know that you're going to return, then you could do one island, or the other alternative would be to concentrate on your interests and then plan accordingly; do both islands, but perhaps spending more time in the areas of interest to you. Then, when you return you have the option of adding new areas, going back to things you enjoyed or would like to explore a bit more in-depth.

Hope this is helpful.


Certified Kiwi Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 09:16 PM
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I am alitttle confused. Are you planning to visit NZ during their winter?
mjs is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 11:04 PM
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mjs has a good point. Is it the NZ winter or US winter you refer to. Because if you are in NZ during the winter your itinerary will want to change. I.e. can't do Milford sound in the winter due to avalanche risks. May want to factor in the ski areas in the South - Volcanic Plateau is gorgeous in winter but sometimes the road is closed which can add 5 hours to the drive time as you have to go through National Park. I'd skip Wellington in winter. etc.

But if it is summer....

As a rule I always say do the south island. Best holiday of my life including some of the overseas ones I've been on.
wilees is offline  
Mar 8th, 2005, 06:17 AM
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We are planning on going late Feb early March, so late summer early fall in NZ.

Thank you for all of your responses. So much to see, I wish I could see it all.

We are leaning toward spending the entire two weeks on the South Island. However, another option I'm toying with is Queenschurch, Milford South, up the West coast past Fox Glacier, and up to Wellington in about 9-10 days and then just 4 days making our way up to Rotorua. This seems doable, but may be rushed. Any thoughts?

mattgopc is offline  
Mar 8th, 2005, 06:19 AM
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Correction to my last reply, that is Queensland, not Queenschurch. Doh.
mattgopc is offline  
Mar 8th, 2005, 12:48 PM
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>>Correction to my last reply, that is Queensland, not Queenschurch. Doh.<<

Actually, it's Queenstown. Couldn't resist, sorry...

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Mar 8th, 2005, 02:03 PM
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Matt, I do like this idea. It's very doable without rushing like crazy and you will see some of the best scenery , in my opinion. I think sticking to the west coast and heading up northbound is a good idea. Fr0om Franz Josef Glascier, you could drive north to Westport ( a beautiful drive) and cut over through the Buller Gorge and on up to Picton for the ferry. WE really enjoyed this part of our trip and , yet, I don't see a lot written about it here. Maybe because most people cut over further south and on up to Chrischurch. But we really loved the area from Westport over to Blenheim and would go that way to Picton. We stopped for a hike at Nelson Lakes National Park and it was great.
If you go this route allow a day.

Heading to the north island to see Rotorua is good. It was one of the highlights for us.

Good luck in your planning. Where would you fly out of then?
kodi is offline  
Mar 8th, 2005, 07:55 PM
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We spent almost three weeks in NZ ten years ago, and it wasn't near enough time. I think you'd be happier spending the time in one or the other places. The south island is more interesting IMO, but stop at Rotorua on the North Island.
rapunzll is offline  

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