questions, suggestions for nz itinerary...

Feb 6th, 2010, 12:34 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 14
questions, suggestions for nz itinerary...

hello! hello!
i will be going to new zealand in march for 10 days and will be travelling on my own. i dont drive (which is a shame) but i still want to see as much as the country as i can by bus, plane and train. also, i am not very interested in urban nz but more inclined to get out of the cities and immerse myself in natural places which seem to abound in nz. my itinerary so far:

mar 11, thurs: arrive auckland, 5 pm in the evening from sydney
mar 12, fri: bus trip to rotorua, via waitomo. stay in rotorua
mar 13, sat: stay in rotorua
mar 14: rotorua to christchurch
(what is the best way to do this journey? should i go back to auckland and fly to christchurch or should i fly directly to cchurch from rotorua - i believe they have an airport there)
mar 15: christchurch to kaikoura by train in the morning; dolphin swim
mar 16: morning in kaikoura for whale watch (should i do both dolphin swim and wlahe watch or is this an overkill?) leave for queenstown
mar 17 - mar 21: queenstown/fiordland national park
mar 22: flight back to auckland from queenstown in the morning to catch flight back home at 3.40 pm.

pls let me know if u have suggestions for me for this trip...bus tour company names would also be welcome. most of the trips i have seen so far are either too long or to expensive so any suggestions on tour operators operating shorter tours would be very helpful.

also, do u all have suggestiosn for places to stay? since i dont have a car, most of the places would probably have to be close to the centre of town so that i can walk there and back, for example in rotorua and kaikoura.
thanks in advance!
inkypot is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,551
Yes fly, from Rotorua to the South Island, rather than return to Auckland. Doing that will burn up most of the day. Try Air New Zealand's Grab a Seat website for cheap last minute airfares, you may get lucky. There are flights Rotorua-Christchurch.


On the South Island, there is a pretty extensive network of minivan shuttles.

There is also a track shuttle around Queenstown, and many of the tourist activities such as Skippers Canyon or Dart River will pick you up from your hotel. (Just bring lots of money).

I wish I could say I've found a good place to stay in Queenstown, but I haven't. Either too expensive for one person, too noisy (the hostels) or too far out of town. However at least there is now bus service around Queentown (and even to the airport, cheaper than Supershuttle).
Connect a Bus

In Christchurch, I always try to stay at Windsor B&B, because they have free internet, huge breakfast, great location, quiet rooms (although no private baths or inroom TV), and they are so nice and helpful. Plus you'll almost always see some scientific expeditions passing thru to and from Antartica, which is kind of fun.
mlgb is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,712
Check the buses and shuttles instead of tours.
Atomic as listed above are older buses that get you from here to there--no commentary, photostops or tea breaks, just restroom and meal stops.
Intercity/Newman tend to be newer buses, but same idea.
I have not used Southern Link.
The higher prices are for the Great Sights and other tours with guides, commentary, tours, etc. that you can arrange on your own to save $.
The backpacker buses are also an alternative, but some/all of them are space available, so you might not get to travel when you want, so that doesn't work on a tight schedule.
Atomic, Intercity/Newman both are online and run specials + advance purchase discounts.

I haven't stayed there, but the Novotel and Ibis were right on the lake in central Rotorua, close enough to the i-Site, museum, restaurants, and main bus stops. There is even a city bus from the airport to the center of town and supershuttle for shared service.

In Christchurch, I'd suggest something close to Cathedral Square. You can take the airport bus to several stops near the area--check online for the map once you have your hotel and ask the driver to drop you at the closest. I stayed at the Copthorne Central because of a $99 online special, but there are lots to chose from in various price ranges. You can then arrange free pickup, I think, for the train--the station is in another part of town. There are also buses headed that way (companies listed above) that leave from Cathedral Square and they are probably cheaper. I haven't been to Kaikoura, opting for Akaora instead, and dolphin cruise, not swim. I've gone whale watching in Alaska and Bay of Fundy, so I chose other activities.
Kay2 is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 01:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,551
I don't especially like the atmosphere around Cathedral Square in Christchurch, which is mostly full of tatty souvenir shops. I prefer the locations closer to the Botanic Gardens, Art Museum, Art Centre, etc. rather than Cathedral Square. However if you do want your own bathroom, the Copthorne Central isn't a bad choice if you can get a discounted rate. I stayed at several Copthornes during my recent visit to NZ. Just be aware, they really rip you off on internet charges, and are a bit corporate in feel for a leisure traveler. But other than that they were fine and a good value if you can get a room on one of their sales (their own website has them all listed) and don't mind paying extra for everything!
mlgb is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 01:38 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,469
When we researched swimming with dolphins in 2004, most of what I read suggested doing this in the morning when the water is calmer. I still made really good friends with the red bucket in our little boat, but you may have better luck than I.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Feb 6th, 2010, 04:20 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,901
You might want to check out the Bella Vista motel chain - they have clean, inexpensive and well equipped lodging all over NZ. The one in Queenstown is away from the noise and hustle and bustle, but within walking distance to town - it's located near the gondola.

Like mlgb, we've had trouble finding a place we like IN Queenstown (our complaint is street noise), but the Bella Vista worked out really well for us.
Melnq8 is online now  
Feb 6th, 2010, 05:03 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,552
In Rotorua be sure you take tours to one or more of the volcanic parks (Waimangu is the only one I visited--and it was fantastic). Also enjoyed a hangi. The city itself is not exciting. I recommend it only as a base from which to tour. I stayed at the Sudima and it was fine--well located and inexpensive. I don't think where you stay in Rotorua will matter much because the tour companies will pick up for all the hotels.
Songdoc is offline  
Feb 7th, 2010, 07:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 14
thanks to you all...these are extrememly useful suggestions......take care...inky
inkypot is offline  

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