Our First Trip to New Zealand

Dec 9th, 2014, 08:56 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
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Jetstar flies between Auckland and Christchurch and Queenstown I think. They are the budget part of Qantas, an Australian airline. Fares are normally cheaper than Air NZ, although on these routes they may be very similar. In that case go with Air NZ.
nelsonian is offline  
Dec 15th, 2014, 01:21 PM
  #22  
 
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I would recommend going onto the NZ version of ANZ website, www.airnewzealand.co.nz

You can get excellent fares booked well in advance (especially if you are flexible with the exact date).

I personally prefer to fly into Queenstown since there are plenty of excursions that can be done without renting a car (which can be quite expensive).

You may want to look at flying in to one city and out of the other, also.

Car rentals are not necessarily more expensive booked one way.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 03:52 PM
  #23  
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Our flights are booked, now for rental cars.
We will rent a car and spend 5 days on the NI, then fly from Auckland to Christchurch, rent a car there for 14 days finish out at Queenstown, drop off car there and fly back to Auckland and then head back to the US.
We are looking at some of the companies that rent gently used cars.
Has anyone out there had any experience with either Apex, NZ Rent A Car, Economy Car Rentals, Jucy or Rental Cars NZ? Or any other recommendations?
Thanks in Advance
Steve
MinnesotaSteve is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 06:48 PM
  #24  
 
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I always liked Apex.

I also found that Avis was competitive, either try their NZ website or look for discount codes with Costco, Autoclub, your airlines, etc.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 06:49 PM
  #25  
 
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BTW if you have a Visa Signature card, your insurance may be covered if you use that card and decline any supplements. Check with Visa Benefits.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 16th, 2014, 08:39 PM
  #26  
 
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We've used APEX on our last 6-7 visits and have booked with them again for our visit in February - never had a problem with them and I very much appreciate that they rent both newer and older cars - renting an older car save one a lot of $$$ and they've already gotten their bumps and bruises, so less attention is paid if you add a scratch or of a kea decides to lunch on the rubber around the windscreen.
Melnq8 is online now  
Dec 18th, 2014, 02:55 PM
  #27  
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All

Did you rent a new or used car from APEX?
MinnesotaSteve is offline  
Dec 18th, 2014, 04:13 PM
  #28  
 
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Used. At the time I'm not even sure they offered new!
mlgb is offline  
Dec 18th, 2014, 08:52 PM
  #29  
 
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We rented older cars too - they have several categories, listed by year range - we always go for the 2006-2012 age range.
Melnq8 is online now  
Dec 19th, 2014, 08:18 AM
  #30  
 
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I had a problem with Apex staff at the depot at Auckland airport [or rather not at Auckland airport as the depot is quite a long way away]. Be aware that they do not give out maps [apparently because they want you to rent their GPS] and that they will not under any circumstances give you a glass of water or allow you to use the toilet.

I was not impressed with their attitude as you can tell. We ended up stopping at a petrol station along the road and buying some water and a very good road atlas, [published by Pathfinder] which had a most useful section where it tells you how long it takes to drive from one place to another. We used that lots.

they bus you to the depot, so I would strongly suggest using the loo and buying some water at the airport before you leave; also, taking a map/ road atlas with you.
annhig is offline  
Dec 19th, 2014, 09:56 AM
  #31  
 
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I suggest stopping at the Auckland airport iSite to pick up copies of whatever they have. They used to carry the AA guides and there should be an assortment of regional guides.

Better yet download directions out of the airport and onto the freeway to paper, a phone or tablet before you leave. Sometimes I find that wises.co.nz is more useful than the others. Outside of Auckland you probably won't get very lost.

I believe you can still get reciprocal membership at the NZ AA club if you have a US membership. In the old days they gave out fabulously detailed maps for free. Now they give out simplified ones. Glad I saved the old ones.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 19th, 2014, 11:32 AM
  #32  
 
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all good ideas, mlgb. We took too much for granted having had very good service from the car hire co we used in OZ.

Fortunately we weren't heading north to Auckland, but south, and there's really only one road you can take. stupidly, we'd assumed that they would at least give out a rudimentary map, which was all we needed to get us to the Coromandel peninsular, as we'd thought that we'd be able to pick one up at our leisure. We had guide book with a map of sorts in the back so we resorted to that.

we found the road atlas very useful for telling us about all the sights that we could see en route, and for helping us navigate big cities like Wellington and Christchurch.
annhig is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2014, 01:44 AM
  #33  
 
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We've used NZ Rent a Car many times. very economical and very friendly service out of Christchurch.
Kwaussie is offline  
Jan 4th, 2015, 04:21 PM
  #34  
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Thanks for all of your advice.
We arrive in Auckland at 0600 on March 2. Will rent a car and tour the NI till the 7th and then fly from Auckland to Chch. We will rent a car there and travel counterclockwise around the SI. We will finish in Queenstown to be with our son for the final 4 days and use it as our base to visit Milford Sound, Mt Cook and other places in that area. We spend multiple days in Queenstown and Nelson. We tried to never make any killer days of driving.
If anyone can share some good places to stay, see and eat in the towns we plan to overnight in, would be greatly appreciated.
Here is our tentative itinerary. Let me know what you think...

Mar 2/15 Arrive Auckland 5:55 AM RON (Remain Over Night)
Mar 3 Waitomo (Waitomo Caves) RON
Mar 4 Taupo (Haku Falls)/Rotorua RON
Mar 5 Tauranga (Wineries) RON
Mar 6 Coromandel Town RON
Mar 7 Leave Auckland 12:20 PM & fly to Christchurch

Mar 7/15 Arrive Christchurch 1:30 PM Drive to Kaikoura (seafood, dolphins, whales) RON
Mar 8-10 Nelson RON (Abel Tasmun, Golden Bay, Marlborough Sound, Wineries)
Mar 11-Greymouth/Punakaiki RON
Mar 12-Franz Joseph/Fox Glacier RON
Mar 13-Queenstown RON
Mar 14-Invercargill/Dunedin RON
Mar 15-19-Queenstown (Te Anau, Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound glow worm caves, etc.)
Mar 20- Depart Queenstown (fly) to Auckland and then fly from Auckland back home.
MinnesotaSteve is offline  
Jan 5th, 2015, 02:05 AM
  #35  
 
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well, Steve, if nothing else your itinerary demonstrates to me just how difficult it is to plan a trip in NZ - do you realise that you are giving yourselves 6 one night stands in a row? And on most of those days you have about 3 hours' driving? so you are giving yourselves no more than ½ a day in each place to find your accommodation, book in, settle in, sight-see, eat....that would be too much for me.

When you get to the SI, again you only have ½ a day to do the activities you have earmarked for Kaikoura, then you have about 4 hours driving to Nelson, where you will have at best 2 ½ days, but intend to use part of that time going back to Picton to see the M'borough Sounds. Then on 11/3 you'll be spending the morning driving to the glaciers, leaving little time to see them, and leaving again in the morning ,which will have to be an easy start as it's a good 6+ hours' drive to QT. etc. etc.

In fact we started off with an itinerary which was not dissimilar, but we very quickly realised that it was going to kill us to do it, and changed our plans, using the free cancellation option on our accommodation that we'd book through booking.com. Honestly, do more than 2 one-night stands in a row and you'll want to cut your throats!

please think again!
annhig is offline  
Jan 5th, 2015, 06:22 AM
  #36  
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Where are a good place to stay in the Marlborough Sounds and Abel Tasman areas?
MinnesotaSteve is offline  
Jan 5th, 2015, 08:22 AM
  #37  
 
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Mel will be able to help with this better than I; I can only say that we stayed in Nelson at the Sails Motel - it was slightly out of the centre [but walkable in 5-10 mins], very comfortable, and they were very helpful - although our ferry was delayed by several hours which meant that we had a late arrival in Nelson, he stayed up to let us in and make sure that we were ok, even talking us in when we couldn't find our way in the dark!. They also have excellent laundry facilities which is very useful on a long trip.

But I am sure that there are many other equally good places to stay in the same area.
annhig is offline  
Jan 5th, 2015, 05:26 PM
  #38  
 
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I know I sound like a broken record when I tell people to slow down and take a breath, but once again I find myself typing the same thing - too much in too few days - you're underestimating the time/energy needed to get from place to place, you'll be seeing NZ from the inside of your car, blah, blah, blah, you've heard it before.

I personally find two nights in a given area completely too much of a rush, so it stands to reason that I avoid one night stays like the plague - they're absolutely exhausting and leave virtually no time to visit the place one has spent half a day driving to. I realize we all have different traveling styles, but having been to the NZ some dozen times, this is not an itinerary I'd attempt for myself, let alone suggest to a first timer.

Having said that, some accommodation suggestions based on personal experience:

I would not stay in Nelson - I'd stay closer to Abel Tasman - such as Ruby Bay, Mapua, Upper Moutere, Motueka, Kaiteriteri, or right at the doorstep of Abel Tasman in Marahau. These locations are ideal for exploring Abel Tasman and will give you reasonable access to Nelson (as in 40-60 minutes drive), but won't help you much with the Marlborough Sounds, for which you'd do best to stay in/around Picton or somewhere IN the sounds. I've stayed in most of these areas and can give specific recommendations once you've narrowed down in which town/village you want to stay. If you plan to stay IN Nelson, I can't help, haven't stayed there for ages, as I don't find it the best base for exploring the Abel Tasman area.

Greymouth or Punakaiki - which do you plan to overnight in?

Franz or Fox? Which do you plan to overnight in?
Melnq8 is online now  
Jan 5th, 2015, 06:55 PM
  #39  
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Mel and all-
Thanks for the input. This is the kind that I am looking for. It is very well taken.
I have to learn to think like a NZ'er. Here in the states (due to it's size) our itinerary would seem very reasonable, if not somewhat on the conservative side. We tried to keep every day's drive short (thus all the "one nighters". Would it make more sense to drive a little further every day, which would enable us to have more multiple night stays? Unfortunately both my wife and I work, so 3 weeks is about all the time we can get away at one time. We hadn't planned to go here until we retired, but want to see our son while he is living in NZ. We are really excited to see your country and want to make the most out of our limited time (w/o killing ourselves).
With that said, we are looking at Picton and Kaiteriteri.
From what I have read, FJ has receded so much that there is not much to see of the glacier, so we are leaning towards Fox (unless you advise us otherwise) and Punakaiki seems much preferable to Greymouth.
Our son has 4 days off at the end of our trip. Our hope is to semi-base out of QT for the final 5 and see Mt Cook and other attractions. We also plan to stay in Te Anau area to see Milford, possibly Invercargill and Dunedin also (that is pushing it I know).
I now realize we are trying to pack "10 pounds of poop in a 5 pound bag", but these are the cards we gotta play with and will have to do the best we can. Again, thanks for any input. It is all good.
MS
MinnesotaSteve is offline  
Jan 5th, 2015, 10:06 PM
  #40  
 
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Steve -

As a former time-poor Yank, I feel your pain.

Because visiting your son is your focus, why not concentrate your SI time on the area he is in (south of the SI) and leave the rest for another visit? I highly recommend you not try to fit in the north and south of the SI, PLUS the NI into such a short visit.

The glaciers have indeed receded and may not have the WOW factor one might expect, but considering the very long drive days on either side of your glacier visit, only one night there will give you very little time to see either. There are some lovely walks in the area, and where else in the world does an alpine glacier meet the rainforest?

Franz and Fox (the actual glaciers) are incredibly similar - both can be visited (and walked up to) in one full day (which means two nights). I've done this many times myself. You can also fit in the walk around Lake Matheson on the same day, but remember that you are at the mercy of the weather gods anytime you visit NZ.

Franz is a larger village than Fox, more options for accommodation and food - Franz is closer to Okarito which is a perk for some, Fox is closer to Lake Matheson, which is a perk for others, otherwise, not a huge difference between the two.

If the glaciers don't appeal, why go there at all? Why not fly directly to QT or drive from CHC to QT via Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo? This will save you loads of time.

As for Punakaiki being preferable to Greymouth - well, Greymouth is a town, Punakaiki is a tiny village with very limited services (no gas, no groceries, only one or two places to eat, etc). Greymouth gets a bad rap, but if you're looking for choices, you'll have more in Greymouth - the Monteith's Brewery tour, better accommodation options, for instance. You can easily detour to Punakaiki, see the rocks, then spend the night in Greymouth if you plan well. But for only one night, I'd choose base on logistics, drive times, etc.

Mt Cook as a daytrip is too much from QT IMO, but I understand that your son probably wants to see it, so I get this.

Invercargill? Really? It's a flat, boring industrial town with very little on offer for visitors. Not worth the time on such a short trip, trust me on this.

Te Anau makes a perfect base for exploring Milford - you've got that bit right - I suggest a minimum of two nights there, which will give you one full day, and you'll need every minute of it.
Melnq8 is online now  

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