Trip Report - 8 Days In NZ

Oct 6th, 2004, 12:51 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5
Trip Report - 8 Days In NZ

I found this forum to be extemely valuable in planning a recent trip to New Zealand and wanted to share our experience in hopes that it may assist others.

Some perspectives on whom you are dealing with here: Husband/wife late 30s/early 40s. Frugal travelers -- OK we're cheap -- but enjoy the diversity the world offers. Not a lot of vacation time available but we try to make the most of it. We wanted to see and do as much as we could in the 8 days that we had in NZ. As you will see below we covered a lot of ground in a short period of time, but it was a spectacular trip even though it may seem like we were contestants in the Amazing Race. So buckle your seat belts and hold on to the hand rails until this post comes to a complete stop.

Day 1. Arrived in Auckland at 7:30 a.m. after the 12 hour flight from LA. I like the timing of the flight as it helps beat the jet lag. While our fellow passengers were going through customs we elected to take advantage of the showers (a bargain at $5)in the airport in case we were unable to check into our hotel. We were downtown and on the streets by 10:00 a.m. Did the Explorer Bus tour and enjoyed sites along the way, including the Auckland Museum where we saw a great Maori show, the Anglican Church, Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. Stayed at the Best Western-New Presidet. Pretty standard accomodations, but a great location a block from the Sky Tower.

Day 2: The day was spent at Victoria Park Market, America's Cup Village, window shopping in downtown, and an afternoon ferry ride to Devonport where we took the 10 minute walk up Mt.Victoria for a spectacular view of Auckland and the harbor.

Day 3: With the sun shining brightly before our midday departing flight, we quickly retraced many of our steps to retake photos with a beautiful sky as our backdrop of Auckland sites. Enjoyed the trip to the top of the Sky Tower for even more incredible views and photos. Departed from Auckland via AirNZ on what would be the most beautiful plane ride we have ever been on. Unbelievable views of the Southern Alps and the landing in Queenstown was incredible. Whether you arrive by car or by plane there is only one way to get to Queenstown and that is by going through a mountain pass. It was an amazing ride through the mountains and into the valley. With some trepidation, I picked up a rental car and immediately started chanting "Stay Left" but with that focus and gentle reminders from my wife, I picked up the opposite lane driving pretty easily. We checked into the Heritage Queenstown, a very nice hotel with an outstanding view of Lake Wakatipu and the mountains. We drove the lenghth of the lake down to Devorchy not believing our good fortune of being in a place so incredibly beautiful. Also spent some time exploring Arrowtown that evening.

Day 4: We arose early and out by 6:00 a.m. for the trip to Milford Sound. If driving, I recommend an early start to avoid the tour buses (we had the road all to ourselves). The Milford Sound cruise was one of many highlights of our trip. Because it had rained the night before, scores of waterfalls during our cruise in addition to the overwhelming beautfy of the sound. It was well worth the 4 hour drive ...heck the "drive" is worth the "drive". We explored Te Anau on the return trip.

Day 5: By this time we had already shot about 150 pictures, but some of our best shots were to come. We spent the day in and around Queenstown. Great photo opportunties at the Kawarau Suspension Bridge, the original site of bungy jumping, and in and around Kelvin Heights (across the lake from Queenstown). We took the obligatory gondola ride up to Bob's Peak and the view of Queenstown, the lake, and the Remarkables was just magnificent. We could have spent the entire day there. Also we did the luge ride a couple of times on top. Of note, you do not have to do the luge ride to be able to ride the skylift to where the luge begins. We rode the skylift several times again just to enjoy the view and brisk mountain air. The rest of the day was spent soaking up the atmosphere in Queenstown.

Day 6: The trip from Queenstown up the West Coast was another highlight. The drive is not as long and laborious as I had been hearing. With an early start,we were able to make it from Queenstown to Fox Glacier in 6 hours (and that's with a number of photo-op stops for waterfalls and mountain vistas). We took some quick hikes to see Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier as well as Lake Matheson. Then we made our way to Greymouth where we arrived by sundown. We stayed at the Hotel Ashley in Greymouth, another nice property.

Day 7: Despite a driving rain, we drove to see the Pancake Rocks, about 30 minutes north of Greymouth. It is a must see. In the afternoon, we boarded the Tranz Alpine for a beautiful journey through the Southern Alps. The Tranz Alpine has an outdoor viewing car that is great for shooting photos. On arrival into Christchurch we checked into the Millenium Hotel in Cathedral Square with a great view of the square and city.

Day 8: Spent the day sightseeing in Christchurch (Arts Centre, the Cathedral, etc) in addition to last minute shopping for souvenirs.

Day 9: Can't really count this day because we had to leave NZ. But we did so with a smile on our face and an 8 days of memories that will last a lifetime.

Although this trip was nonstop, it was probably our favorite vacation of all time. We also realized that New Zealand can accomodate any budget. As mentioned earlier, we travel on a "Red Roof Inn" budget, but because of the off-season rates and favorable currency exchange all of our hotel stays were in the $70US to $95US range per night for very nice hotels.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, what made this trip most special for us was the wonderful people of New Zealand. The Kiwis are very genuine in the love of their country and it shows in their congeniality. I think Kiwis sets the world standard in living life to the fullest and sharing it with others. I learned a tremendous amount from them in our 8 day visit.
TN_Traveler is offline  
Oct 6th, 2004, 02:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 14,987
Enjoyed your report - thanks for sharing.

Sounds like you had a great time and packed in alot.
Melnq8 is offline  
Oct 6th, 2004, 03:05 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,474
It sounds like you had a wonderful time. Thanks for posting your report!

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Oct 8th, 2004, 05:42 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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It sounds like you had a wonderful time, even at breakneck speed! Hmm,, that's the way I travel too. I want to pack in as much as possible. Especially if I'm going that far.
IF you had to do oever again, your couple of days in Auckland, would you do anything different? or do you think you covered all the main things? I'll be there 2 dasy on my own before my friend arrives, and want to look around, but also don't want to have too hectic a day. My flight arrives late at night , and after 4 planes, I'll be very tired , to say the least. Did you enjoy the explorer tour, and how long was it?
We will have more time on the south island, and so won't be too rushed there.
It sounds like you really made good use of your time in the Milford Sound and Queenstown areas. Any advice? or anything you wish you had time for that you missed?
kodi is offline  
Oct 10th, 2004, 10:20 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 5
Since Auckland's major sights are in a fairly limited area, you should have no problem covering the immediate area in two days. The Explorer Bus is not a tour per se but it makes stops at a number of Auckland attractions. You hop on/off at your leisure. Good way to see the city (with some narration) and also hit the high points.
Regarding Queenstown, if you really like your Milford Sound trip you may want to consider doing Doubtful Sound as well. We enjoyed the beauty of Milford Sound so much that if we would have had more days, I'm sure we would have gone to Doubtful Sound as well. Also, if you have a car I would definitely recommend the drive to Glenorchy (I masterfully butchered the spelling of that town in my previous post...sorry). The drive takes you down to the other end of the lake from Queenstown. And whether you are in to bungy jumping or not (I'm not), it is a treat to go out to the Kawarau River to see this take place. There are a couple of wineries nearby as well.
Have a great trip!
TN_Traveler is offline  
Oct 11th, 2004, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,523
Thanks TN. Driving down the other side of the lake sounds like a great idea. I'm not into Bungee jumping either (Yikes!!), but would love to go to Kawarau River.
The whole area sounds wonderful....and we can't wait!
kodi is offline  

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