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NZ North Island, feb/mar, Need to book ahead?

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Dec 23rd, 2012, 02:55 PM
  #1
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NZ North Island, feb/mar, Need to book ahead?

I'm planning a trip to NZ, roughly 3 weeks in feb/march of 2013. It will be my second visit; the first one was in 2002. I have studied a number of guide books and lots of websites and narrowed the area down to the central part of the north island. Specifically I plan to "do" Mt Taranaki/Egmont Park, Whanganui, Tongariro, Te Urewera, Whirinaki, with a side trip to Lake Tarawera and then drive back to Auckland to take the flight back home. Even though this is only a small part of NZ, I found more things than I have time for.

Concerning accommodation I'm faced with a tricky problem: On one hand, I want to arrive knowing that have a place to stay and I don't need to spend time looking for accommodation in unfamiliar towns. On the other hand I would like to have the flexibility to stay a little longer in one place or cut my stay short in another one, which kind of contradicts the idea of booking ahead. And, of course, a one day change in one place means I'd have to change all the reservations further down the line.

In short, my question is, is it easy to find some decent place to stay without booking ahead. I understand that Feb/March is no longer the very peak of the summer season, but it can still be busy. The alternative would be that I book now to the best of my knowledge and then make an effort to stick to the arrangements.

Any advise, suggestions, personal experience, etc. would be welcome.
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Dec 23rd, 2012, 03:58 PM
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Although the kids will have gone back to school (school holidays end in late Jan, early Feb), it's still high summer season for international tourists.

Small towns and popular tourist destinations with limited accommodation could present problems, but I think there's a way to get around this.

One possible compromise is to do your accommodation research in advance, make a list of places you'd like to stay in each given area, book the first few days of your trip in advance and then make your remaining bookings from the road, perhaps just a day ahead of time.

Another option is to contact the visitor's centers in a given area to see how busy their particular areas are that time of year. They can help with accommodation too, so if you arrive in a given town w/o accommodation, I suggest you head to the nearest I Site for booking assistance.

We always book, but that's just our personal preference. We've been to NZ enough times that we have a very good idea of how long we want to spend in a given area.
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Dec 26th, 2012, 02:37 AM
  #3
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MeInq8,
Thanks for taking the time to respond.
Booking from the road seems like a good option. I believe that's what I did on my previous trip. Another option that I thought of in the meantime is to book only a couple of nights, even if the location looks like it needs more time, and then ask to extend my stay. That way I wouldn't be locked into a say 4-day stay if I find that there isn't really that much to do.

I guess it's all a question of finding the right balance between planning ahead and being flexible.
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Dec 26th, 2012, 03:34 PM
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It's also easy enough to pick up an AA Travel Guide at your arrival airport - they're free and usually displayed on a rack in airports, visitor's centers and sometimes car rental counters. All the accommodation listed has free call phone numbers, so easy enough to book from the road.

http://www.aatravel.co.nz/main/index.php
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