Towns to use as a base in New Zealand

Jan 21st, 2016, 10:45 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,853
Towns to use as a base in New Zealand

My husband and I are thinking of a trip to New Zealand end of this year, early next year.

We might start with a 10 day Nat Geo trip beginning in Auckland and ending in Queenstown.

It is possible that my sister-in-law would join us after the Nat Geo trip was finished, and the 3 of us would rent a car and work our way back to Auckland over a period of 2 weeks. None of us have ever been to New Zealand. We love nature, great scenic drives, history, walks & easy hikes. Not interested in swimming, snorkeling, bungee jumping etc.

We love staying in rentals for 3-4 days and using them as a base to explore areas.

Can you throw out some ideas on towns I should start considering that would work to explore areas of interest?
wrenwood is offline  
Jan 21st, 2016, 01:09 PM
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Hi wrenwood -

When it comes to NZ, you're spoiled for choice.

Not knowing what your Nat Geo trip entails, this might be repetitive, but for a two week one-way tour of the South Island, I'd suggest something like this:

Queenstown and environs makes a great base from which to explore it, Milford Sound, Glenorchy, and Arrowtown

After spending several days in/around QT, I'd suggest driving to Wanaka for a few days and then working your way up the West Coast via Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. From the glaciers you can either cross over Arthur's Pass to Christchurch and then work you way up the coast towards Kaikoura/Picton/Nelson (from which you can fly back to Auckland I believe - not sure about flight availability from Nelson, but it's the biggest city of those listed) or take the ferry from Picton over to Wellington on the NI and fly back to Auckland from there. Or take a slower pace, and fly back to Auckland from Christchurch.

Or, instead of crossing Arthur's Pass over to Christchurch, you could continue working your way up the West Coast towards Punakaiki and Murchinson, then work your way to the Motueka/Nelson area from there. Up this way you have Abel Tasman Nat'l Park and some pretty spectacular coastal scenery.

Or, you could drive from Wanaka via the inland route and visit Mt Cook, before returning to Christchurch.

There are so many options...

NZ is difficult to see from a base city approach, as the sights are so spread out across the country - driving is inevitable.

Having said that, I find the QT area makes a great base from which to explore the vicinity (QT can be quite busy in the season, I personally prefer the outskirts or Arrowtown, but depends on your interests). Motueka/Kaiteriteri/Nelson makes a great base from which to explore the Abel Tasman region. Wanaka makes a great base from which to explore Mt Aspiring National Park. Christchurch is a good city base for museums and access to the Waipara wine region and the French settlement of Akaroa.

I commend you for planning 3-4 nights in each place - you will be glad you did.

Happy to help with accommodation rentals as you narrow your itinerary.
Melnq8 is online now  
Jan 21st, 2016, 02:04 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Christchurch, Wanaka and Queenstown were exactly the same places I was going to recommend.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2016, 02:38 PM
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Plenty of flights to Auckland from Nelson. Can fly Air NZ or Jetstar.
nelsonian is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2016, 04:47 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2006
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Awesome, thanks, I needed somewhere to begin!

Melnq8, I have read several of your trip reports, they have been very helpful

It is possible we won't take the Nat Geo trip, but do all on our own for 3 weeks (not including travel days) In that case we would start at Auckland and do a little on the NI, then drive to the SI.

Flying from Nelson to Auckland looks like it would save us a minimum of 13 hours of driving. And I guess if we zig zag back and forth across the SI we could fly back to Auckland from Queenstown.

Regarding rentals and accommodations I like to be able to look outside and KNOW I am not in Virginia. Views are really important to me. We don't need a hot tub, although an outside area is nice. Even though there would only be 3 of us, I am known to book something larger if it has views and is an exceptional location.

I wouldn't mind a stay or two on a sheep farm, or at some type of mountain lodge (not super luxury, not backpacker type)

We loved the Agriturisimos in Italy, although all were more wine/olive oil villa types, not animal farm types. We would like to visit some vineyards if we can combine with great scenery and a great lunch (Banfi and Volpaia were our favorites in Italy)

Maybe if the power goes out this weekend from the big storm my husband and I can talk more about Nat Geo or on our own
wrenwood is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2016, 11:47 AM
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 631
Auckland does have some delights to offer although most people seem to rush off from the airport without giving Auckland a second chance. I like a good view as well as there is nothing like waking up and looking out of the window and saying to yourself wow!
Waiheke Island might suit you - there are lots of holiday houses there and some will have stunning views. Check out Delamore Lodge for an example of Waiheke scenery. Some of the wineries there will have the views you are after. We love a restaurant called 'The Shed' at Te Motu vineyard.
A Viaduct hotel would provide harbour views and while in Auckland you could explore the West Coast beaches. The drive down to Piha has a great view.
Matakana/Omaha is also a lovely area about 1 hour north of Auckland. Great restaurants and wineries there as well not to mention Omaha Beach.
The Coromandel Peninsula is very scenic as well. Rotorua is a good place for a few days exploring the thermal areas and Taupo is nice. There is lakefront accommodation in both for those views.
tasmangirl is offline  

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