Trip to New Zealand

Old Jan 4th, 2011, 12:05 PM
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Trip to New Zealand

The itinerary I have come up with is as follows:
Day 1: arrival in Auckland after long flight from States. Spend day in Auckland
2: Fly to Christchurch at noon and pick up rental car
3: Tour Christchurch
4: Take Trans Alpine train and back
5: Drive to Timaru after visiting Akaroa
6: Drive to my Cook village for the night
7ack to the coast and Oamaru for night
9: Dunedin
10: Invercargill for the night after visiting the south coast
11: Te Anau
12: Te Anau ( Milford Sound cruise)
13: Te Anau ( Doubtful Sound cruise)
14: Queenstown
15: Queenstown
16: Wanaka or Haast
17: Franz Josef
18: Franz Joseph
19; Fox Glacier
20: Westport
21: Nelson
22: Able Tasman National PArk
23: Blenheim
24: Wellington
25: wellington
26: Wellington
27: Lake Taupo area
28: Rotura area
29: Auckland for the night as we fly to Sydney early the next day.

We wanted to visit more of the north island but cannot seem to decide what to elininate.Any help would be much appreciated.
rasybanks is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2011, 04:09 PM
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Not an expert here and working on the same thing myself but here are a few things to consider.

Did you build in that you take 2 days of travel to get here?

Why not just continue to Christchurch the first day? You will be jet lagged and really not worth doing anything there -- if you continue to Christchurch I think you make better use of the time. Then day 2 you can tour Christchurch.

I am not looking to do any touring in Christchurch but it is a relatively small city so perhaps you could wait to get the car until you finish the Trans Alpine -- you may be paying for a couple of days you don't need.

Actually it seems to me that you are weaving back and forth -- why not just take the Trans Alpine one way to Greymouth and get your car there? I am not sure if there is a reason to go to Westport or that you felt you needed someplace to spend the night but if you did not have a purpose other than the stop then I would get the car in Greymouth and go to the glaciers then Wanaka, Queenstown, Te Anau -- you might be able to get here early enough from Queenstown to cut one night here and use it somewhere else. then Invercargill and Dunedin. You can do Oamaru Tinaru Akaroa on your way back to Christchurch. From Christchurch you can go up to Able Tasman
and Nelson. Not sure why you are spending so much time in Wellington -- If you want to do more of the North island you could fly Nelson Rotorua and stay there for 2 nights which would allow a day trip to Lake Taupo without packing and moving. Then you could consider the north of Auckland islands.

So it could look like this:
Day 1 go all the way to Christchurch
Day 2 Christchurch
Day 3 Trans Alpine to Greymouth.
Day 4 Franz Joseph
Day 5 Franz Joseph
Day 6 Fox Glacier
Day 7 Wanaka or Haast
Day 8 Queenstown
Day 9 Queenstown
Day 10 Te Anau
Day 11 Te Anau -- maybe cut one night here for the north island
Day 12 Invercargill
Day 13 Dunedin
Day 14 Dunedin
Day 15 Oamary and Temaru
Day 16 Cook Village
Day 17 Blenheim
Day 18 Able Tasman
Day 19 Able Tasman
Day 20 Nelson
Day 21 and 22 -- Wellington if you want Then fly to Rotorua
Day 23 and 24 and 25 Rotorua with a day trip to Lake Taupo
Day 26 Glow Worm Caves if you want or the islands north of Auckland or Coremandel Forest etc -- you would have a few days to lay with.

You appear to have a lot of time for this trip -- lucky you!
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Old Jan 4th, 2011, 05:52 PM
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Hi rasybanks -

Your itinerary doesn't make sense to me - you're zig zagging back and forth. I get the impression you're trying to fit in the entire SI, but you've not given much thought to what you want to do in each place. For example Timaru...the east coast of the SI isn't very's busy with traffic and a bit industrial and we personally go out of our way to avoid this route, so I'm curious, why Timaru?

I too suggest you fly directly from Auckland to Christchurch. It makes more sense to keep going, then perhaps add that day at the end of your itinerary if you really want to see Auckland.

I've taken the TranzAlpine to Greymouth and return, and I don't recommend it. It makes for a long day and one way is plenty as you're traveling along the same track.

Suggest you take the train to Greymouth and collect your rental car then head down the West Coast. OR just pick up your rental car and make the drive yourself, the drive is prettier than the train ride IMO. You can also do this in reverse.

Akaroa is a full day, 90 minutes there and back plus time to see the place. There are some alternate scenic routes to/from Akaroa which take more time, but are worth the effort. Suggest you do this as a day trip from Christchurch or spend the night, but don't add the drive to Timaru (or wherever) on the same day.

Twenty-six days sounds like a alot, but you'll still want to utlitize those days to your best advantage, by avoiding zig-zags and backtracking. NZ looks small on a map, but it takes time to get from Point A to Point B. Roads are narrow and winding, etc.

I suggest you you narrow your wish list a bit, choosing what you most want to see and do and then spending some quality time in these areas, giving yourself time to actually see the places you've chosen.

I assume you're taking the ferry from Picton to Wellingoton, hence the need to end your SI trip up north?
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2011, 08:41 AM
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Hi Melnq8and mpkp
Thanks for the info but where are we zig zagging except for the train? We are considering one way and picking up the car in Greymout but I really want to see the Pancake Rocks. Am looking for ways to cut down the # of days on SI so as to see more on NI. Any help is appreciated. What does IMO refer to.
We also need to spend the day in Auckland as I have already booked the flights for the next day after arrival and cannot make changes.We thought we would need the break from flying 13 hours and that is after 6 hours from east coast of Canada.
Thanks for the ideas and any more are appreciated as we are getting close to our departure time. The reason for 3 nights at e Anau is we both want Milford and Doubtful sound cruise. HAve eliminated 1 night in Wellington
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 12:09 PM
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Hi, rasybanks,
IMO = in my opinion.
When are you coming?
I'm not quite sure why 2 nights at Franz Joseph and 1 at
Fox - what are you planning to do there? I think I must have missed an earlier post.
I too recommend picking up a car in Greymouth after the TranzAlpine trip, drive to Punakaiki - intriguing place. It is a trip of about 90 minutes. From there you could either stay at Westport (there is a seal colony and an interesting walk at Cape Foulwind, plus a very nice cafe) or return to Greymouth for the night, or drive straight to Franz Joseph which is about 4 hours driving time from Westport. The latter may give you a chance to drop a day there to add to the NI.
I would also be inclined to drop the night at Oamaru / Timaru and drive straight to Mt Cook Village - driving time of approx 5 hours. By all means drive up the through these towns if you want but there is not a lot to see. Cutting inland would be more interesting, although probably a little longer. Check out this website for help

I would suggest the Bay of Islands north of Auckland as worth at least an overnight visit
Have you made plans for what to do in Wellington? (My town) Without bias I would suggest you do not ignore Wellington - it is a lovely city.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 04:13 PM
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<where are we zig zagging except for the train>

Perhaps inefficient would have been a better word choice.

These are my concerns - Timaru? Westport? Wanaka is a heck of a lot more interesting than Haast, but you'll probably want more than one night there so you can see the place, Mt Cook to Omarau, spending nights in Franz and Fox (they're only about 30 minutes apart), you'll go through Fox as you continue south anyway. FYI - there are closer places to stay to Abel Tasman than Nelson if the park is your main focus.

As dotty mentioned Pancake Rocks are easily combined with the train trip, as they're about 40 minutes north of Greymouth. Just continue driving south after seeing them. I'm not sure why you're continuing on to Westport if Punakaiki is your main focus - Westport is a dull little town IMO (In My Opinion) with not much on offer for tourists other than what dotty has pointed out. It's an additional 45 minutes north of Punakaiki.

A possible route to consider which incorporates most of what you want to see:

Christchurch-Greymouth via train, collect rental car, drive to Punakaiki and return, continue drive south to Franz Josef.

Franz Josef to QT (long drive) via Fox Glacier

QT to Te Anau

Te Anau to Invercargill

Invercargill to Dunedin via the Catlins if you have time

Dunedin to Wanaka

Wanaka to Mt Cook

Mt Cook to Akaroa (via Geraldine and a backroad I'll share if you're interested - this will keep you away from the dull drive along the east coast)

Akaroa to Blenheim via Kaikoura

Blenheim to Abel Tasman (or Nelson)

Abel Tasman to Picton to board ferry to Wellington

This includes everything on your list except for Westport, which is easily added if needed. I assume Timaru and Oamaru were just there for convenience. I've steered you away from the east coast (south of Christchurch), you'll just have to trust me when I say the drive along the east coast isn't a particulary pretty one.

Here's a drive distance calcalutor which will show you the drive times/distances:
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2011, 07:30 PM
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Once again thank you for your input. My husband and I spent the greater part of this afternoon redoing our calender and I guess we will relook again in the morning.
One of the sites I want to see on the East coast would be the Moretaki Boulders. HAve also seen some pictures of Oamaru and it looks interesting.But would it not be backtracking to go to Wanaka after Dunedin as we would be passing there on the way to QT? Also I am interested in the back road to Mt cook? Akaroa. the only reason I was aiming for Westport was that we were driving up the coast and needed to get to Nelson.
Any more suggestions are greatly appreciated.
on another note I have just finished your travel guide to Tasmania. We will have 8 days and I have looked at following a lot of your suggestions. We will not head east instead of north west and may by pass Strahan.That is for another time.
Thanks again and more suggestions are needed.
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Old Jan 6th, 2011, 09:59 PM
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<would it not be backtracking to go to Wanaka after Dunedin as we would be passing there on the way to QT?>

You'll arrive in QT via SH 6 from the West Coast. You can go to Wanaka via SH 8 to SH 8A, then a very small section from Luggage to Wanaka will be the same. Or, you can go to QT via SH 8, pick up SH 6 at Cromwell (this part will be the same) then cross over to Wanaka via the Crown Ridge Road near Arrowtown.

<Also I am interested in the back road to Mt cook?>

There's only one way to get into Mt Cook. I assume you mean the back road from Mt Cook to Akaroa that I referenced above.

Leave Mt Cook via 80 (only way), pick up 8 to Lake Tekapo & Fairlie, then take 79 to Geraldine, then take the Scenic Route 72 north. You'll pass Mt. Somers, Mt. Hutt and Rakaia Gorge. You can then cross over to Christchurch at several points and continue on to Akaroa. You'll want a good map.

Moeraki Boulders is interesting, but not worth planning your trip around IMO. Oamaru is known for its old buildings, the blue penguin colony and a cheese shop. If the penguins are of interest, you'll need to be there at dusk, which probably means an overnight stay, and keep in mind the number of penguins will depend on their breeding season.

I feel like I'm confusing you and I don't mean to. It's your trip and you know what you want to see, I'm just making suggestions based on my own personal experience from my many visits to the SI.

We try to stick to a three night rule, no less than three nights in a given location. This allows two full days to explore an area. There are exceptions of course, such as being in transit, or just staying somewhere to break up a long drive, but I generally feel rushed if I stay less than two nights in a given spot. I count 8 one nights stays on your original itinerary - this leaves you virtually no time to see the places you're visiting. Just something to think about.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2011, 11:29 PM
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I think I might not do extensive touring of the north island with your itinerary. Perhaps you could ferry to Wellington and then just fly north to Auckland a day before your departure.

You can see glow worms in Hokitika if you over night there instead of Greymouth. There is a glow worm dell just north of town. There are also glow worms around Te Anau, I believe.

The boulders in Oamaru are okay, and the town is okay, but do check the penguin situation. Oamaru is a one night town for sure. If you are going to Dunedin it certainly is one way to get there.

If you are doing a grand tour loop as you are there are places where one night makes sense, ie Hokitika (or Greymouth, Oamaru, Invercargil. I do agree to just drive from Christchurch through Arthurs Pass. You'll be able to stop along the way at will, ie Porters Pass/Cave Stream/Flock Hill. The Dobson Nature Trail in Arthur's Pass is a nice one if you're there when the alpine flowers are blooming.
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