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Three-Week NZ Itinerary

Old Apr 9th, 2009, 12:26 PM
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Three-Week NZ Itinerary

Hi all, I'm just starting to plan an itinerary for a 3 week trip to NZ in October. I'd love to hear any input, comments, suggestions from those of you who have already been there.

Day 1 - Arrive Auckland - Spend the day recovering from jet lag; light sightseeing. Maybe not pick up a car til the next day, or is this being too cautious? We drove in Scotland/Ireland with no problem.
Days 2, 3, 4 - Head to Northland/Bay of Islands. Any suggestions on best locations to stay & see the most without too much road time?
Day 5 - Drive to Rotorua; local sights; Maori cutural center & dinner?
Day 6 - Turangi for a day of sightseeing, fishing.
Day 7 - Drive through Napier, wine country. Stay in Wellington.
Days 8, 9, 10 - Take ferry to Picton. Stay near there for a few days of exploring. Abel Tasman NP for kaying & hiking day trip.
Days 11, 12 - Travel through Christchurch - 2 nights at Arthur's Pass NP (or one night enroute, if too long a day)
Days 13,14 - Lake Tekapo - visit Mt. Cook NP
Day 15 - Drive to Te Anau - visit caves.
Day 16 - overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound
Day 17 - Drive to Milford Sound. Stay at Milford Lodge one night
Day 18 - overnight cruise on Milford Sound
Day 19 - Head back to Queenstown; Sightsee & relax before trip out.
Day 20 - Fly to Auckland & return to US

Thanks for any ideas! Natalie
NatalieM is offline  
Old Apr 11th, 2009, 10:49 AM
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Hi Natalie,

Your North Island itinerary sounds good; I would leave a little more time for Wellington, though. If you take an afternoon ferry to the South Island, you could visit Te Papa and see a bit of the city.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Old Apr 12th, 2009, 02:19 AM
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I'm not sure your North island itinerary sounds that good.
Day 5 - drive from Northland to Rotorua is going to be quite long, 5 hours plus.
Day 6 - when you drive from Rotorua you should stopn in Taupo on lake Taupo which is on route. I would skip Turangi as there is not much there and drive straight from Taupo to Napier.
If you insist on visiting Turangi then you'll have to skip Napier unless you want to drive for ever.
Day 7 - drive from napier to Welington - solid 4 hour plus drive
deli1000 is offline  
Old Apr 13th, 2009, 09:56 AM
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I agree with deli you might want to rethink some to the travel days, check the Autoclub's website for travel times.

I liked the Mountain House cottages in Arthur's Pass (info on the YHA website
mlgb is offline  
Old Apr 13th, 2009, 01:37 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions...I know it's difficult to take anything off the list, but might it be worth considering skipping Arthur's Pass to free up a bit more time at Mt. Cook or Queenstown area? Also, mlgb, any other thoughts on the South Is. plan we're thinking of?
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Old Apr 13th, 2009, 06:47 PM
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If you aren't going to the west coast glaciers, maybe don't go to Arthur's Pass. Instead see Christchurch for a day (weekends are best since there is the craft market at the Art Centre) and go to Akaroa, or head on down to Tekapo/Mt. Cook early. Go via the inland route Methven etc.

Day 15 I would travel Mt. Cook go to Queenstown, overnight and you will get an idea if it's your kind of place (nice view of the Remarkables but it's a little too overdeveloped for my taste compared to elsewhere in NZ).

That is a LOT of time at both Doubtful and Milford Sounds, you couldn't get me to spend that much time with the sandflies.

Day 16 Milford Sound, return to Te Anau
Day 17 Doubtful Sound overnight
Day 18 return to Queenstown, do some activities such as jetboat, Arrowtown, or Glenorchy
Day 19 return to Auckland (I never leave that for the same day as departure)

From Qtown I might go to Milford Sound and end up in Te Anau for the night, The next night can be your Doubtful Sound overnight. The third night back to Queenstown.
mlgb is offline  
Old Apr 14th, 2009, 01:32 AM
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Just curious, mlgb, are the sandflies there all year round? We are planning on going next April and were thinking of spending a similar amount of time around the Te Anau area.

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Old Apr 14th, 2009, 01:01 PM
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I have not been in winter, but the sandflies were there the other 3 seasons. Really anywhere on the west coast, near water. I have a bad allergic reaction to the bites. Wear your DEET and bring some antihistamine tabs just in case. I was passing out the Benadryl on my Humpridge Track hike like it was candy. I found that the local pharmacists recommend Zyrtec for bug bites. I also needed a strong cortisone type cream (prescription that I already had) and it still took 2-3 weeks for them to subside. So since I have been to NZ a few times now, including hiking the Milford Track, I now stick to east of the Southern Alps.
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Old Apr 14th, 2009, 03:58 PM
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Thanks mlgb, you sound like you really suffered. I guess if we have shoes, socks, long pants and plenty of DEET we may be right. I really don't want to get put off by the little buggers as there seems plenty to see on the Westcoast.
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Old Apr 14th, 2009, 07:59 PM
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Sandflies on the Coast year-round? You betcha!
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 01:10 AM
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Are they really that bad? Our tentative itinerary for the Westcoast section is 2 nights at Punakaiki, 2 nights Franz Joseph, 2 Queenstown, 3 Te Anau, the Doubtful Sound overnighter then off to the Catlins. Am I going to live to regret this? So does everyone just put up with them or stay in the region for as less time as possible. C'mon guys you have me worried now.

Apologies to NatalieM for hijacking her thread too.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 01:13 PM
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Any insect equipped with the gear for biting loves me. They come from miles around just to have a go. In recognition of their efforts, I react with wonderful coloured swelling around the bite area that itches like blazes. As a result, I am conscious of the impact that these blighters can have on one's enjoyment of the moment.

Have no fear. Often they are a problem in the mornings and evenings only, with the middle of the day being relatively pest-free. Insect repellant works wonders on uncovered skin when they are about. Just come prepared and put it on as soon as the winged ones make their presence known. Be aware that they will be there, but I would certainly not consider changing any plans just because of the sandflies.

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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 04:29 PM
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OK, we will not be deterred but will arm ourselves with insect repellent, tea tree oil and maybe take some itchy cream in the first aid bag just in case.

We were bitten badly by sandflies in Sarawak some years ago so hence our hesitation.

Thanks all for your advice.
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Old Apr 15th, 2009, 05:59 PM
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So, in conclusion, if we feel able to deal with the sandflies, does anybody agree that I've scheduled too much time in Doubtful &/or Milford Sound?
NatalieM is offline  
Old Apr 15th, 2009, 08:02 PM
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Sorry, Natalie. I did mean to make a few comments on your itinerary, but got sidetracked by the sandflies.

Picton to Arthurs Pass is a fairly long drive, and you would not have much time for stops along the way.

As you may have picked up from other threads, I am a strong advocate for fitting in a trip down the West Coast if at all possible, but I realise that you may not be able to do this if you are intent on visiting Mt Cook. While I think that the Southern Lakes are attractive, if I had to do a trade-off between a visit to Mt Cook and a visit to the Franz Josef or Fox Glaciers, the latter would win every time.

If you are not wedded to the Arthurs Pass idea, you may like to consider:

Day 8 - Wellington to Picton by afternoon Ferry (if you want to spend a few hours in Wellington) and then drive over to the Motueka area for two or three nights. This would base you much closer to Abel Tasman NP for the activities that you want to pursue there.

Day 11 (or whenever) - Drive down through the Buller Gorge to Punakaiki. Stay there one night.

Day 12 - Punakaiki to Franz Josef or Fox Glacier

Day 13 - Glaciers to Wanaka. If you stay in Wanaka for two nights, you could do a day trip to Mt Cook if that is on your "must see" list.

Day 14 (or 15) 0nwards - Do your Doubtful/Milford Sound bits. I think that you have one day too many down there.

This would mean that you would miss seeing the Kaikoura Coast, which would be a pity but may be unavoidable.

If you are happy to play around with your proposed itinerary, there may be some other options that can be floated for your consideration.

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Old Apr 16th, 2009, 10:45 AM
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Thanks much...I'm too busy thinking about sandflies to concentrate on my itinerary, but may think of something later!

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Old Apr 23rd, 2009, 02:48 AM
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Hi Natalie

Some comments on the North Island part of your itinerary.
Firstly if you are arriving after a long flight definitely spend one night in Auckland. I would actually suggest that you consider spending a couple of nights in the Auckland area where there is a lot to see and do. There is some beautiful scenery within an hour of the city and airport.
With regard to your trip north I suggest that you go up the west side of the island to the Hokianga. Auckland to the Hokianga is a good day's drive and a reasonably early start would be the way to go.
You can go either on SH 1 from the city or SH 16 from out west up through Helensville and join SH1 at Wellsford. Aim for Dargaville and on the way the Kauri Museum at Matakohe is well worth a visit.
This is a fascinating place to visit and will give you an excellent insight into the early days. If you time it right you will get there around lunchtime - they have a small cafe.
From Matakohe go through Dargaville and up to the Waipoua Forest and short stop to take a look a the large kauri tree - Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest)
From there on up to the Hokianga Harbour – a beautiful area where you should be able to find accommodation overlooking the water
Overnight Opononi or Omapere in the Hokianga,

From the Hokianga it is about an hour to an hour and a half drive across to the Bay of Islands.

From Northland to Rotorua is doable but really it is too far to go in one day. You may wish to consider stopping around Matakana or Puhoi just north of Auckland which would leave a much shorter drive to Rotorua.

You may wish to consider staying at Taupo rather than Rotorua. Taupo and the surrounding area is just superb – great views over the lake towards the Tongariro National Park, good places to eat and stay and lots to do and see:
Aratiatia Rapids – release daily 10.00am - 10.30am, 12 noon - 12.30pm, 2.00pm - 2.30pm,
Huka Falls
Walk along the Waikato – take a dip in the hot pools on the way
Craters of the Moon Thermal Area – nice walk
Prawn Park – located on the banks of the Waikato River – well worth a stop for lunch.

Turangi to Wellington via Napier is also a long drive. I would suggest that you spend a whole day in Wellington - the National Museum (Te Papa) is well worth a visit and you may also wish to consider taking a ride on the cable car.

Hope this helps

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Old Apr 24th, 2009, 04:36 AM
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Hey, i agree with Keith the best way to do Northland is drive up the west coast to Hokianga, you could stay in Opononi or soemwhere around there. From there it isn't far to the Bay of Islands, Rawene is quite nice to visit on the way and then Paihia is a nice play to stay, from there you should catch the ferry to Russel that would probably only take a few hours to see everything, Pompallier house etc. It wouldnt be worth goign any further north than that in the amount of time you have. For night 4 i would consider staying anywhere from about Warkworth area south. Maybe even spendign the night in Auckland would be good.
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