NZ side-trip (tack on to work trip) options

Old Jul 12th, 2023, 08:44 PM
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NZ side-trip (tack on to work trip) options

I'm interested in getting some realistic ideas of a few side-trips and/or long weekend trips I could tack on to a work trip to Hamilton New Zealand. This will be in November. I'm a museum professional, so I'm interested in Te Papa in Wellington. What's the best way to get to Wellington from Hamilton (and vice-versa)? I'm interested in beautiful scenery, low-intensity hiking and walking, and cultural activities. What else should I be considering? I am just starting to learn about New Zealand, so I am open to all suggestions.

I'm also considering looking closely at my flights and if they come in or out of Sydney (or any other hub), possibly making a long weekend trip out of that layover. Since I'll already be on that side of the world, why not try to add on a few more adventures?
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Old Jul 13th, 2023, 02:06 AM
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Sorry I can't help with your NZ question but wonder where you are coming from? If you are from North America, it would make no sense to go to NZ via Australia. You should be able to get flights directly to NZ. If you are flying on to Sydney then hopefully you will have more than just a weekend. For beautiful scenery and a good walk, check out the coastal walks in Sydney
https://sydneyuncovered.com/coastal-walks-sydney/

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Old Jul 13th, 2023, 04:44 AM
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How long will you be In NZ? How many weekends are you trying to fill?

I'm not very familiar with the North Island, nor am I a fan, but if you think you can make it to the South Island, I can help there...however, it's not really a long weekend kind of place, unless your weekend is 4-5 days
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Old Jul 13th, 2023, 12:43 PM
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Hi KayF and Melnq8 I would be flying from Salt Lake City, Utah. The first and cheapest flight options I found from Salt Lake have a layover in Sydney, so that's why my interest was piqued. It's likely my first destination will be Wellington, then move on to Hamilton. I'm interested to see where I can go afterwards. The south island would be a great option. I could maybe extend the trip 4 days but probably not much longer than that. I wouldn't be trying to cover the whole island--just get a taste for a few days. I'm a little leery of driving in NZ since I have never driven on the other side of the car, other side of the road situation. Am I overthinking that?
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Old Jul 13th, 2023, 01:41 PM
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It can take time to adjust to driving on the left, but if I can do it anyone can

While based in Wellington, you might consider taking the ferry to Picton on the South Island - it takes about 3.5 hours - from there you can see a bit of Marlborough, home to the Marlborough Sounds and some pretty fabulous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

https://www.newzealand.com/us/picton/
https://www.newzealand.com/us/marlborough-sounds/

You might want to take a day hike on the Queen Charlotte Track (you can take a boat to certain spots along the track and be picked up at a different spot, then return to Picton)

https://www.qctrack.co.nz/

Take a boat cruise into the Marlborough Sounds:

https://www.newzealand.com/int/boat-...orough-sounds/

Visit a few wineries:

https://www.newzealand.com/int/featu...n-marlborough/

Or bike part of the NZ wine trail:

https://www.newzealand.com/int/featu...ail-itinerary/

Drive Queen Charlotte Drive between Picton and Havelock (home to NZ's famous green lipped mussels) :

https://www.newzealand.com/us/featur...arlotte-drive/





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Old Jul 13th, 2023, 01:45 PM
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A quick search shows me that from Hamilton you can fly to Christchurch, Nelson, Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill.

In other words, the sky's the limit. Loads to do from each of those locations (less so for Invercargill). You can easily fill your days at any of these spots.

Happy to make suggestions if any of these areas speaks to you.
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Old Jul 13th, 2023, 03:04 PM
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And I'd be very happy to help with a few suggestions for Sydney if you can add a couple of days for Australia. You'll need a Visa for both countries.
Here's the link for Australia - you will need to do it on the App.VISA FINDER: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visa...sa/visa-finder
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Old Jul 13th, 2023, 05:46 PM
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NZ is not well-served by trains, but there is a train that runs from Auckland to Hamilton, then from Hamilton to Wellington. I've not taken it, but a train enthusiast friend of mine found it to be a scenic journey. This is what train travel expert, "Man in Seat 61", has to say about it:
https://www.seat61.com/auckland-to-w...n-by-train.htm
I would assume the prices might have risen, so do check.

The Intercity bus also travels these routes.

If you are interested in seeing Maori art and artifacts (known here as taonga, or cultural treasures), and have time to spare, try to see The Auckland War Memorial Museum, which has an outstanding collection of Maori taonga and Oceanic art on display. If you are a museum professional, don't forget to ask about free reciprocal entry. Most NZ museums offer free admission, but the adult admission for international visitors to the Auckland Museum is NZ$28. The museum also offers daily Maori cultural perfomances. It's located in the beautiful Domain, a large reserve.

If you are interested in visual art, Auckland also has a fine arts museum, Auckland Art Gallery, which features New Zealand artists from the colonial era to the present day, as well a modest collection of international works. It's downtown.

Sydney also releatively recently expanded its Art Gallery of New South Wales. Its setting could not be more appealing to the international visitor, as it is super-close to the gorgeous Royal Botanic Garden and only a short walk to the Opera House. I'm been keen to get over there to see it.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-...m-opera-house/
https://news.artnet.com/art-world/ar...-wales-2221653

4 days in not much for the South Island, but I have done a day trip by ferry to Marlborough and back and enjoyed it. We rented a car once we got to Picton to visit the wineries. November can be very windy in Wellington, so the ferry trip across Cook Strait could be pretty turbulent. I wouldn't count on enjoying this sailing.

Last edited by Diamantina; Jul 13th, 2023 at 05:53 PM.
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Old Jul 13th, 2023, 10:38 PM
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A couple of thoughts if you are driving in NZ or Australia. When you first collect the hire car, drive somewhere easy for at least five or ten minutes before you head out on to the road. Somewhere like a big empty car park if possible. Just to get a feel for the gears, brakes etc. The other thing is if there are other vehicles on the road, you tend to naturally follow them. The danger is when you pull out on to an empty road. Your instinct is to pull on to the side you are used to. Just be careful and aware.
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Old Aug 29th, 2023, 12:20 AM
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Thank you to all who gave suggestions! My itinerary is shaping up for November. And I've decided on an excursion to the South Island! More on that below.

The North Island business trip is planned for me, so I have to go with the flow on that. But, the upside is, as I've mentioned, I'm a museum professional so I will be touring several museums on the NI and that's fun for me. I'm going to practice driving as well and hope to get comfortable enough to not cause a scene!

Overall work-trip itinerary is as follows:
Day 00-0 Fly into Auckland from Western USA, connecting flight to Wellington (lose a day due to the International Date Line).
Day 1-2 Wellington (museum visits)
Day 3-8 Hamilton with day trips to Auckland (museum visit) and Raglan for nature
Day 9-10 Auckland (museum visits)

At the end of our NI tour, I'm going on a brief excursion to the South Island.
Day 10 fly to Queenstown. I'm considering booking a few nights at the Holiday Inn Express. It's nothing special, but the location is central to what else I have planned. Plus I need to keep this part of the trip economical (still prioritizing my safety and moderate comfort). Any other suggestions?
Day 11 walk to the RealNZ Visitor Centre to board the TSS Earnslaw for the 3.5 hour cruise on Lake Whakatipu and lunch at Walter Peak Farm, which also includes a sheep and dog demonstration.
Day 12-13 Milford Sound overnight cruise with coach transportation from Queenstown. Pricey experience, but looks stunning and like a once in a lifetime experience. And something I feel comfortable doing as a solo traveler. I'm excited for the views and wildlife viewing on the water and hopefully some kayaking.
Late on Day 13 or early on Day 14 fly back to Auckland
Day 14 leave in the afternoon for US.
How much time should I give myself between the domestic flight into Auckland and the international flight home? They are ticketed separately.
Any other suggestions on this brief South Island part of my trip? I still have some flexibility.
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Old Aug 29th, 2023, 02:53 AM
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Originally Posted by magsrose
Thank you to all who gave suggestions! My itinerary is shaping up for November. And I've decided on an excursion to the South Island! More on that below.

The North Island business trip is planned for me, so I have to go with the flow on that. But, the upside is, as I've mentioned, I'm a museum professional so I will be touring several museums on the NI and that's fun for me. I'm going to practice driving as well and hope to get comfortable enough to not cause a scene!

Overall work-trip itinerary is as follows:
Day 00-0 Fly into Auckland from Western USA, connecting flight to Wellington (lose a day due to the International Date Line).
Day 1-2 Wellington (museum visits)
Day 3-8 Hamilton with day trips to Auckland (museum visit) and Raglan for nature
Day 9-10 Auckland (museum visits)

At the end of our NI tour, I'm going on a brief excursion to the South Island.
Day 10 fly to Queenstown. I'm considering booking a few nights at the Holiday Inn Express. It's nothing special, but the location is central to what else I have planned. Plus I need to keep this part of the trip economical (still prioritizing my safety and moderate comfort). Any other suggestions?
Day 11 walk to the RealNZ Visitor Centre to board the TSS Earnslaw for the 3.5 hour cruise on Lake Whakatipu and lunch at Walter Peak Farm, which also includes a sheep and dog demonstration.
Day 12-13 Milford Sound overnight cruise with coach transportation from Queenstown. Pricey experience, but looks stunning and like a once in a lifetime experience. And something I feel comfortable doing as a solo traveler. I'm excited for the views and wildlife viewing on the water and hopefully some kayaking.
Late on Day 13 or early on Day 14 fly back to Auckland
Day 14 leave in the afternoon for US.
How much time should I give myself between the domestic flight into Auckland and the international flight home? They are ticketed separately.
Any other suggestions on this brief South Island part of my trip? I still have some flexibility.
Your trip looks busy, yet doable, interesting and very enjoyable.

You mentioned "our tour of the North Island". But you also said you will be practicing your driving, so will you be driving yourself from Wellington to Auckland? If so, you might want to watch this video from the NZ Transport Agency (that is, if you've not done so already).
https://www.nzta.govt.nz/safety/visiting-new-zealand/

You won't have a lot of free time in Queenstown, so I'd stick to activities right in town. On your first day in Queenstown, walk around the Botanic Garden--it's lovely. If the weather is fine and clear, take the Gondola for that view from the top.

What are the international check-in times for the airline you'll be flying on from Auckland to the US? If your domestic flight from Queenstown to Auckland is on Air New Zealand, look at this information page. Once you get to Auckland, you'll have to pick up your luggage (if you have checked luggage), then take the free bus or walk (follow the green line) to the international terminal, which takes about 10 minutes. Give yourself plenty of time to go through security and time for shopping in duty-free (if you'll need some last-minute gifts). Chances are that you will be fine flying up to Auckland early on Day 14.

I live in Dunedin on the South Island. Many years ago, my husband and had booked a flight to Auckland on Air New Zealand, where we'd have ample time to check in for our flight to Noumea on Aircalin. Well, we never made it because flights in and out of Dunedin were cancelled or postponed due to fog; we had to cancel our entire trip. Now, if I'm flying on Air New Zealand domestically to Auckland to catch an international flight on a different airline, I always spend the night before that international flight at a hotel or motel near the Auckland Airport. Because there is always a chance of delays and cancellations on the domestic Air New Zealand flight (strong winds, mechanical problems, fog, etc.)

Sounds like you've done your research, but as a reminder: please bring clothing for all kinds of weather, wind, rain, sunshine and warmth (luckily, it's not likely to snow in November).


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Old Aug 29th, 2023, 01:45 PM
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Diamantina Thank you for your advice. To answer some of your questions, my colleagues and I (three of us total) will fly from Wellington to Hamilton and then have a car for the rest of the trip. I want to help with the driving, and it will be a good opportunity for me to gain some experience driving "the other way." Thanks for the website. I hadn't seen that yet.

The botanical garden and gondola in Queenstown are right up my alley. I hadn't heard about that, but I'd like to add them to my itinerary if I have time. And yeah I should probably find a good, hooded raincoat for this trip. And I plan to bring layers and sturdy weather-proof shoes.

I was going back and forth about returning to Auckland the night before or the morning of my international flight. But now I feel better about booking the flight the night before and staying near the airport in Auckland. My flight back to the US leaves at 3:50pm. I think it's better to have some wiggle room there.
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 01:57 AM
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You're welcome. I think you'll rest easier if you don't have to worry about missing your international flight.

Now I get why you are practicing driving! This is probably obvious, but when driving into Auckland from Hamilton, avoid peak times 6.30 a.m - 8.30 a.m.traveling into the city, and 4.30 p.m. - 5.30 p.m.out of the city. Auckland can have terrible traffic.

If the weather is pleasant, you can easily spend a hour or more at the Queenstown Botanic Garden and on its lakeside walking trail. Your visit to the Gondola shouldn't take that long, though you'll want to spend a bit of time at the top taking photos.

It sounds like you'll be spending nearly all your time in Wellington in museums, but if the weather is fine and if you have time for some other sightseeing, Wellington also has a highly scenic Botanic Garden. The Wellington Cable Car will take you from downtown to the summit in 5 minutes, and then you can just walk a few minutes to the top of the Botanic Garden. If you walk down through the garden you'll eventually find yourself back in the city center. As you mentioned wildlife watching, you might enjoy a visit to Zealandia, a predator-free ecosanctuary that's home to some of NZ's rarest bird species (and tuatara). Zealandia operates a free shuttle that leaves from the top of the Cable Car and from the Wellington I-Site Tourist Information office, which is only a couple of blocks from Te Papa Museum. In November, the days are long, with sunset at around 8 p.m.

I've heard Hamilton has the most impressive public botanic garden in NZ.

My husband and I have done the Milford Sound overnight trip twice. You definitely will see wildlife! NZ fur seals, seabirds, probably bottlenose dolphins, and possibly Fiordland crested penguins. On our first trip, it was rainy..(Milford Sound is the wettest inhabited place in NZ., which makes for spectacular waterfalls!) On our second trip, it was gloriously sunny. We enjoyed both trips. It's wonderful, so serene and quiet. If you are lucky enough to be there when the skies are clear, go up to the top deck to look at the stars.
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 11:59 AM
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Hamilton is an odd choice. Is it required as part of the work trip?
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Old Aug 30th, 2023, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by mlgb
Hamilton is an odd choice. Is it required as part of the work trip?
Yes, indeed, it is the main purpose of our work trip. We work with a team there. From the US, I meet with them (online) every Wednesday night (my time), Thursday morning (their time), so this will be an opportunity to be in person and work together, do some trainings etc.
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Old Oct 20th, 2023, 03:12 PM
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Can anyone recommend a hotel at/near the Auckland International Airport? At the end of my trip to the South Island, I'll be returning to Auckland airport 10:15pm on November 14th and have my return international flight at 3:50pm on November 15th. I want to spend those last hours sleeping and preparing for the return flight. Looking for something walkable or a free shuttle within 20 minutes from the terminals. Budget isn't so much a concern as convenience and decent comfort for this last night of the trip. I've found plenty of options online, but I'd prefer to book based on the recommendations shared here.
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Old Oct 21st, 2023, 08:24 AM
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Novotel - you can walk from the hotel to the airport via a walkway. It's a very nice hotel; I've stayed there a few times.

https://all.accor.com/hotel/7485/ind...ce=google+Maps

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Old Oct 21st, 2023, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8
Novotel - you can walk from the hotel to the airport via a walkway. It's a very nice hotel; I've stayed there a few times.

https://all.accor.com/hotel/7485/ind...ce=google+Maps

Sounds good. That's what I was thinking, but wanted to see if others agreed.
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Old Oct 28th, 2023, 08:37 PM
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Many of you have been great in helping me plan my New Zealand trip. I'm 72 hours out, and hit an awful snag today. My wallet got stolen. My driver's license, credit cards, debit cards, and corporate p-card are all gone. This is a business trip, so I was needing to use the p-card for most of my purchases. I froze all of my personal cards before they could use them (they tried). But they really charged up a number on my p-card.

On the positive side, my passport and international driver's license are safe. I already got issued new credit cards and debit cards--some I can already use virtually through my phone. I'm having the banks send my physical cards to my office in New Zealand and hoping they arrive during the week I'm working there. It feels like a gamble. I have an appointment to replace my driver's license on Monday morning. Fly out on Tuesday afternoon. Going to one bank's physical branch on Monday to see if they can issue me temporary physical cards.

I've read that New Zealand is fairly cashless. Is that accurate? The hotels I booked are going to want to see the physical cards I book them on. This is the one I'm not sure what to do about. I can contact them and tell them what's going on. Any other suggestions?
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Old Oct 29th, 2023, 06:05 AM
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I'm so sorry to hear this magsrose, not what one ever needs, let alone before a big trip.

I'm always asked if I want to keep a hotel stay on the same card I booked or use another, so I suspect this bit won't be an issue.

FWIW - we've never gotten an international drivers license for NZ - not needed - all it does is translate to the destination's language, which in this case is the same as your issuing country.

The times I've had to replace a credit card, it took ages to get it, so I'm skeptical you'll receive yours in time in NZ - I'd request they send it overnight or the fastest way possible, if you haven't already.
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