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NZ--should we fly back to Auckland from So Island or take the ferry?

NZ--should we fly back to Auckland from So Island or take the ferry?

Jun 13th, 2009, 05:39 PM
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NZ--should we fly back to Auckland from So Island or take the ferry?

Hello again all you Fodor helpers with my other threads---before I make a mistake I quickly need 1 more bit of advice. Although I'm happy with my Australia itinerary on my recent thread and not totally ready with my NZ itin yet, I realized that I can't purchase my Australia airfare (Virgin Blue) if I'm planning on adding 1 more flight from So Island to Auckland. Briefly we have 13 days to get back to Auckland from Christchurch. We will have already spent 3 days north of Auckland in the beginning of our trip. Without actually mapping out our route I'm considering:
Christchurch -1 ni, Kaikoura -1, Punakaiki-1, Glaciers-1(?),Wanaka-2, Te Anau-2, Queenstown-2. That's as far as I've gotten. Would like to end up in Rotorua 1 0r 2 days before going back to Auckland to fly home. Also maybe could skip 1 of the aforementioned stops and drive farther? Also not sure we want to spend more time @ glaciers.
Sorry to put the cart before the horse but maybe the answer is a simple yes to flying back to Rotorua? Thanks
lynniewinnie is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 07:46 PM
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It really depends on how much time you have - the ferry leaves the SI from Picton and arrives in Wellington, so this will add some time to your trip on both ends, plus the ferry crossing takes three hours.

You'll have to rearrange your trip somewhat if you want to add the ferry...
Melnq8 is online now  
Jun 13th, 2009, 07:48 PM
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Regarding the glaciers - if you want to take a helihike or guided glacier hike, you'd be best to stay two nights as the weather is often iffy and tours are frequently cancelled. If you just want to freedom walk and explore the area, one night might do it.
Melnq8 is online now  
Jun 13th, 2009, 09:44 PM
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I think that the basic itinerary looks pretty good, Lynnie. I agree with Mel that an extra day at the glaciers could be a good idea. You have put a lot of thought into your trip plans and it would be a pity if bad weather did disrupt the glacier viewing. The insurance of an extra day there would be worthwhile and you have enough time to do this.

So far as getting back from Queenstown to Christchurch is concerned, do you have a plan in mind for that? If you decide to come back up through the inland route through Pukaki and Tekapo, you could consider spending a night at Mt Cook and doing the Glacier Explorer trip on Tasman Lake. You wouldn't regret it.

It takes about four and a half hours to drive from CHCH to Picton, and that does not allow much time for rest stops or traffic delays -- say five to be on the safe side. Plus, you will need to be in Picton well before your sailing time on the ferry. Add the crossing time and you will have used most of a day. You will already have seen at least some of the Kaikoura Coast (not that it can't be seen and enjoyed more than once!) so, to make the best use of the time that you have available, I think that you would be better to fly out of CHCH to wherever you are heading in the North Island.
kiwi_rob is offline  
Jun 13th, 2009, 09:58 PM
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You've got a total of six nights in lower SI after glaciers Lynnie and so if wanting an extra day for Glaciers area you could shave a day from Wanaka/Queenstown and if wanting to leave that as an option I'd think in it not being high season you could leave a nights accommodation swinging and book as desired to suit what you end up doing.

Looks like you'd still have at least one more day up your sleeve to allow for two in Rotorua area and on to Auckland and I'd be inclined to spend that down south, say over to Dunedin or thereabouts and fly from there or Queenstown rather than the extra driving to make it up to Christchurch or Picton for the ferry.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 15th, 2009, 07:09 PM
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I worked on the rest of the itineray and although I keep checking on distances I may not be taking into consideration slow driving or other factors so please comment if I'm making a wrong choice or on whatever!:
Christchurch (or the town of Akaroa, instead, that someone suggested) 1 ni, Kaikoura 1 ni, Punakaiki 1 ni (or 2?), 1 glacier (which one)1 ni, Wanaka 1 ni, Te Anau or Milford Sound 2 ni (which place?), Queenstown 2 ni (or 1 and add the other ni to Punakaiki ?), somewhere in between Queenstown and Dunedin---Lake Tekapo? (1 ni) Then Dunedin 1 ni and on to Rotorua 2 ni. Is Dunedin worthwhile? (the penguin colony and albatross sound very cool)---I have seen a negative on it, also a negative on Mt Cook. If not Dunedin where to fly out of to get to Rotorua.
And as Bushranger suggested maybe not book all the accomodations---
One more question about NI---when we arrive in Auckland in beginning of our trip 2 places were recommended; #1 Bay of Islands, and #2 Waitakere Ranges area. Would it make sense and be doable to drive directly from the Auckland airport (we arrive early in morning---I know we'll be tired but oh well) to Bay of Islands 1 ni, Waitakere 1 ni, then Auckland 1 ni because our flight leaves very early the next morning for Melbourne.
Your thoughts, suggestions...thanks!
lynniewinnie is offline  
Jun 15th, 2009, 07:50 PM
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Regarding driving upon your arrival - Have you driven on the left before? Are you arriving during morning weekday traffic in Auckland?

If you're arriving on a long overnight flight and are unfamiliar with driving on the left I strongly recommend you not drive immediately, or at at the very least, strictly limit yourselves. Some car rental agencies will deliver cars to your hotel, or collect you and take you to the car when you're ready.
Melnq8 is online now  
Jun 15th, 2009, 08:34 PM
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Now about that itinerary - a few comments to help you with travel times/distances:

Akaroa is about a 90 minute drive from Christchurch and in the complete opposite direction of Kaikoura.

Akaroa to Kaikoura is 267 km, just under four hours

Kaikoura to Punakaiki is 382 km, about 5 and half hours

Punakaiki to Franz Josef is 221 km, just over three hours

(Franz Josef is the first glacier village you'll come to, Fox is another 40 minutes south. Franz Josef is a bit bigger, has more services, gets more of the tour bus traffic, but one isn't really better than the other)

Franz Josef to Wanaka is 287 km, about four hours WITHOUT stops (plenty of reason to stop along the way - gorgeous)

Wanaka to Te Anau is 277 km, just under four hours. Add another two hours if you plan to go all the way to Milford Sound.

Milford to Queenstown is 291 km, about four hours, Te Anau to Queenstown is about 2 hours

Queenstown to Dunedin is 283 km, just over four hours

When I look at this itinerary, all I see is driving and mostly one night stays. You've not left yourself much time to explore the areas you're driving to.

As far as where to spend your two nights, Te Anau or Milford, I'd suggest Te Anau, as there are more lodging options, restaurants, etc to choose from and there are some great hikes near Te Anau. You can easily drive to Milford, take a cruise, take a hike, stop at all the view points and return to Te Anau in a long day. Then you'd have some time the following day to explore Te Anau before driving to Queenstown.

Lake Tekapo isn't any where near Dunedin, you pass Lake Tekapo on the inland route from Wanaka/Queenstown to Christchurch.

So you have 11 nights right? I suggest you eliminate Dunedin, and fly back to Christchurch for your flight to the NI from Queenstown, or make a big loop from Christchurch.

What time do you arrive in Christchurch? How about something like this:

Arrive Christchurch, drive to Kaikoura (are you planning a whale watching trip for the following day?)- one night

Drive Kaikoura to Punakaiki - one night (unless you plan to do some hiking, in which case you might want two nights)

Drive Punakaiki to Franz Josef - I strongly suggest two nights here if you plan to take a helihike or do more than just walk to the terminal face of Franz

Drive Franz Josef to Wanaka - two nights - this will give you a full day to explore the area, perhaps take in a hike or two

Drive Wanaka to Te Anau - two nights, allowing one full day to explore Milford, one partial day to explore Te Anau and Lake Manapouri

Drive Te Anau to Queenstown - three nights, this gives you two full days to explore the area, including Glenorchy if that interests you. Or you could add a night somewhere above

Fly from Queenstown to Christchurch to fly out

That's 11 nights...

You'll see some of the highlights, yet not have to rush about too much.

Or make a loop and do something like this

Christchurch to Kaikoura - 1 night

Kaikoura to Punakaiki - 1 night

Punakaiki - Franz or Fox - two nights

Franz or Fox - Wanaka - two nights

Wanaka to Te Anau - 2 nights

Wanaka to Queenstown - 2-3 nights

Drive from Queenstown - Christchurch via Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo (you can do this in a long day if you get an early start) or you could stay over in Twizel or Mt Cook for one night, and cut back on Queenstown

Fly Christchurch - NI
Melnq8 is online now  
Jun 16th, 2009, 10:35 AM
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Given the time/distance/destination recommendations by Melnq8 and previous, and flight schedules/fares, take a look at this revised itin:
Christchurch 1 ni (our flight does not arrive until 3:15 pm), Kaikoura 1 ni, Punakaiki 2 ni, Fox Glacier 1 ni, Wanaka 2 ni, Queenstown 1, Te Anau 2 ni, Dunedin 1 ni----Dunedin appears much easier to get to from Te Anau (rather than CTCH from Queenstown), with less expensive flights to Rotorua.
One other thought---leave out Kaikoura and go directly to Punakaiki which gives 1 more day Queenstown or Fox.....
lynniewinnie is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 10:43 AM
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Need more comments about this; Still uncertain about arrival in Auckland (in beginning)and next 2 nights----Even though we will be tired from an overnight flight in, we still have to rent a car and drive somewhere (and learn how to drive on the left side!). I would rather bite the bullet and drive farther our arrival day (since we get in so early) if Bay of Islands is not to be missed. Maybe stay 2 nights and skip Waitakere area? Or take it easy and stay the 2 nights in Waitakere? Or
lynniewinnie is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 04:21 PM
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Think I mentioned Waiheke Island for you as a non drive initial option Lynnie and looking at locations south of Auckland to save having to drive through Auckland but if you have settled on B of I, instead of hiring/driving, what of a bus as there are great bus services up there, just over four hours for most including a short travel break and $53 ea way.
When you click on timetable, you'll see earliest departure is a tour trip in that it includes a lunch stop at Waitangi Treaty house, very close to Paihia and it takes about six hrs. in total.
Later departure at 8.30 with Northliner is just over four hours.

The airport bus that runs every 20 minutes or so takes about 30 minutes and drops you right at the intercity terminal at the sky tower so connection should not be a problem and then you can take in the trip sights without driver eyes wandering! or have a doze if it comes.

There's plenty of different tours/trips out of Pahia and you will not then have a car sitting about unused and it'll also save you from the possibility of the undesired that can happen with travellers parked cars in NZ, and particularly more in some areas [like where you're heading] break ins when left at walking tracks car-parks.

Two lots of people I've known who travelled to NZ both had that unfortunate experience and some car hirers offer vehicles with inside boot remote release either lockable or de-activated so as people can at least have a more secure boot, so if hiring ask about that and such a vehicle may then also have a window sticker advising would be thieves.

You'll find your whole stay in far north more relaxing, weather warmer and then a bus back to Auckland night before your departure you could book somewhere out near the airport, The Centra I think it is popular or if wanting some time in Auckland, take a bus back earlier or two days before and there's a Rainbow Hotel just around corner from the skytower which looks to be good value, initially established just a few years back for Japanese tourists I think, but it takes everybody.

When you get to Pahia, keep an eye out for one tour company that has a few different trips and they have a package for booking two, maybe "hole in rock/dolphins" and "Cape Reinga" at a discount - probably be a lot of discounting going on in October with general economic downturn.

If you're arriving early and have had a reasonable sleep on the plane you may feel not too bad for it'll just be afternoon/early evening back home and you'll start feeling really sleepy later [keep awake until late for a good sleep and recovery for next day]but if having had to have a long day flying from east for a connection at LA or wherever, it'll likely be worse for you.

Driving on the left will initially feel odd, quickly enough adjusted to but what is the great danger is the habit one has formed with turns right/left and whereas you'll be



Don't mean to scare you but HOPE Capitals help you keep it in mind.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 06:26 PM
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i wouldn't worry too much about the drive. the entry to the motorway is right at the airport and then it's just driving in your lane. you won't really notice any difference being on the 'wrong' side for the lengthy part of the drive.

also, with an overnight flight in, you should be well-rested upon arrival. if not, have a coffee in the airport to perk up.

kerikeri is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 06:34 PM
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Bushranger, the bus is a great idea and might be the solution. You did suggest in an earlier thread staying close to Auckland, but didn't specifically mention Waiheke Island. Is it just as good a choice as B of I? Would we rent a car and drive there?---apparently you ferry over? No one out there seems to be very excited about Waitakere area which is also fairly close to Auckland?
Also like to hear your comments (melanq8 as well again)) and anyone else about the SI itinerary.
lynniewinnie is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 08:55 PM
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Regarding that night in Kaikoura - are you going there specifically to take a whale watching cruise, or just passing through? This will affect whether or not you need to stay a night.
Melnq8 is online now  
Jun 16th, 2009, 08:57 PM
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And what do you plan to do in Fox? You have longish drive days on either side of your visit to Fox, so this will greatly limit what you can do there.
Melnq8 is online now  
Jun 16th, 2009, 09:03 PM
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It is, but why not just fly back from Queenstown and give yourself another day in Fox or Queenstown, instead of adding another long drive just to get to the airport? Have you priced flights from Queenstown?
Melnq8 is online now  
Jun 16th, 2009, 10:12 PM
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You're right Lynnie, didn't mention it specifically and B of Is it isn't and thinking of it as more somewhere to relax a couple of days after a long flight, obviously plenty of water about but a relatively large island with wineries, walk tracks and a good range of accommodation there but nowhere the waterside tourism development of B of I. - http://www.waiheke.co.nz/ and Fullers guides under What to do/tours will be useful for anywhere.

I'm not so familiar with the Waitakere area though may have driven that way if they are talking of NW of Auckland for there's an alternate route out of Auckland called the NW motorway, SH 16 I think and it takes you out through some lovely farming country, down to a town called Helensville before skirting Kaipara Harbour, about the largest harbour waterway on west coast and road then climbs up through some undulating country, there being a pull off for some expansive views - kind of lands end type of stuff and very windy when its blowing and bugger all traffic makes it a reasonable drive to join up with SH1 at Wellsford.

The main SH1 through fringe of Auckland CBD takes you across a huge bridge over main Auckland Harbour waterway on east coast and then kind of inland a bit through suburbia and a bit of rural land before the motorway ends and you head into Orewa, nice enough northside beach town and start following your nose through all the country villages and larger towns, Whangerei being the largest or regional city, capital of the north you could say.

I wouldn't say though that getting out of Auckland is a complete toddle as kerikeri suggests for the main exit from the airport does join a motorway but then you have to leave that one to drive along what is a marked main thoroughfare to join up with SH1 just near the CBD and then like any strange city and on ramps and off ramps coming up at machine gun rate it seems, and with peak hour traffic, all can be a bit testing to the unfamiliar, not quite an Indi Speedway but you might know what I mean.

The buses are good quality touring style buses and so a comfortable trip, great way to see the scenery and not an overly long trip which is what can make bus trips less than enjoyable.

As to what you do in the south, contrary to how Mel is thinking, if you have an extra day or two and go Wanaka - Queenstown - TeAnau, you'll not find it so much further a drive down to southeast coast, heading for Invergargill and follow the coast around through the Caitlins Coastal Forests area, supposed to be something and with the airport for Dunedin being well to south of the city [Dunedin a bit of an older architectural gloomy looking kind of place in my book, though only saw it when it was wet and dark one night], if with time to kill you might even want to plan on a day trip across to New Zealands forgotton Island - Stewart, fly one way, back with ferry and its allegedly the real home of the Kiwi bird.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 16th, 2009, 10:25 PM
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And the http://www.rainbowhotel.co.nz/ for you and
Centra - http://mymail.ezemsgs.com/em/message...d=52063&u=5349 , strange web site title that one! but it brings up Centra.
Bushranger is offline  
Jun 17th, 2009, 05:26 PM
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I would catch the ferry across the Cook Strait - it can be incredibly beautiful.
If you get to Twizel you MUST go to shawtys for a coffee. Or dinner the food is amaaazing.

I'd spend more time in Wanaka - ssoooooo beautiful


Berris_Patterson is offline  
Jun 19th, 2009, 08:33 AM
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Thanks thanks thanks as always to all of you for great suggestions and now I have an itinerary I'm sure I'll be happy with. One last question---are there any discount car rental sites or companies that you know of? Should I make the arrangements now on line or wait?
I may start another thread as I start to book accomodations, although I have the books for NZ and Australia so might be fine on my own.
lynniewinnie is offline  

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