Any New Zealand tips?

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Raybo
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Any New Zealand tips?

Post by Raybo » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:12 am

My wife and I are going to NZ for a month on election day (may stay there depending on the result :D ). We have friends there and our itinerary is a bit influenced by where they live (one in Taupo on the North Island, one in Nelson, on the South Island), but we have lots of free time to take in things.

Questions:

Has anyone rented a car on the South Island? Is so, where and did you have any problems? Did you buy rental car insurance ($10/day)?

Did anyone take a multi-day "tramp"? If so, where and was it easy to do without bringing any specialized gear with you (sleeping bag, backpack, etc.)?

Any hotels recommended in Auckland?

Any other recommendations?
No matter how long the hill, if you keep pedaling you'll eventually get up to the top.

rotorhead
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by rotorhead » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:46 am

I was last there ten years ago. It's a beautiful country, great food (especially if you like lamb); and wonderful, well mannered people. Christchurch and Queenstown, both on the South Island, are my two favorite cities. Nelson is a very pretty little town. Park Royal Hotel in Christchurch was really nice when I stayed there. The best rack of lamb I've ever had was in their hotel dining room - I've been trying to duplicate the recipe ever since, but can't quite capture the garlic/mustard flavor. It was delicious!

Auckland is fine; but in reality, it's just another big city. Christchurch took a pretty bad hit from the earthquake couple of years ago; but I'm sure it's still well worth seeing. Queenstown is in a lovely setting; lots of outdoor activities there if you wish. That area reminds me a lot of Norway. Just google it for info.

A note of caution - when I was there a local joke was that the most dangerous thing about driving in New Zealand was American drivers in rented cars coming round the bend and winding up heading into oncoming traffic. They drive on the "wrong" side down there!

I think I could happily live there; although their taxes are pretty steep. My wife thinks it's a boring place though after a few days; so guess that's out of the question :wink: .

You'll love it I'm sure.

Gustie13
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by Gustie13 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:22 pm

Rotorhead,
Since you've been to both what are your thoughts on Norway vs New Zealand? The two are at the top of my To Visit list!

stan1
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by stan1 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:33 pm

If you are the adventurous sort -- consider renting a small motor home for your drive around the South Island. Lots of info via google.

If you enjoy art-deco architecture then Napier on the North Island is a must.

Lots of "extreme sports" opportunities - cave tubing, jet boats, bungee jumping, etc. if you are into that, also.

Random Poster
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by Random Poster » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:41 pm

Raybo wrote:Questions:

Has anyone rented a car on the South Island? Is so, where and did you have any problems? Did you buy rental car insurance ($10/day)?

Did anyone take a multi-day "tramp"? If so, where and was it easy to do without bringing any specialized gear with you (sleeping bag, backpack, etc.)?

Any hotels recommended in Auckland?

Any other recommendations?
Haven't been to NZ in almost 10 years, but when I was there for about 6 weeks:

1) I rented a car on both the North and South Island (turned in car at the car ferry on one island; picked up another one at the car ferry on the other island). Had no problems with the car (getting used to driving on the other side of the road was another issue), but I did have a flat tire on some gravel road somewhere on the west coast of the South Island. I did buy the rental car insurance. As I recall, the car insurance offered through the credit card didn't include NZ rentals. Without a car, truly getting around and seeing NZ could be difficult. Make sure that you understand NZ's rules of the roads and don't speed.

2) If you do one of the great walks, you typically don't need a lot of gear, but any overnight trek that isn't done through an outfitter or guide would likely require you to bring your own sleeping bag. Many of the more popular hikes (particularly in the Picton area) allow for daily pick-up and drop-off of your stuff through various companies, so you can just hike with your day pack and your luggage is waiting for you at your overnight destination. NZ is obviously a huge tourist draw, although I think that there is a bit of a dichotomy between the backpackers (who would likely have a sleeping bag with them anyway) and the more upscale tourist (who is likely in country for a month or so at the most), and the level of services that are offered to both.

3) The Hilton seems to be popular. NZ is a great hostel country through.

4) After a while, I got seriously bored with NZ. Yes, it is a pretty country. Yes, the people are nice. Yes, the beaches are pleasant (but cold!). But, honestly, it all runs together after a few weeks. The first few days you are there you will likely think that everything is beautiful and worth a photo stop. By day 30, you probably won't be bothered to stop and get out your camera. It doesn't offer the diversity that Australia does, and NZ almost looks the same as parts of British Columbia (or California).

Also, don't kick sand on the sea lions in an attempt to get a better picture (the animals are surprisingly agile and fast), and don't believe that you have to take a high priced penguin tour in Oamaru (you can pretty much see the animals on your own--the visitor info center hands out free maps of the colonies).

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Lon
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by Lon » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:02 pm

With one month you will have time to see both the North & South Island. My wife is currently in Mapua (near Nelson) for another month where we have a home. You should have no problem with car rental and I would take the insurance as Kiwi drivers seem to all have a Death Wish (seriously). There are many B & B's and I would suggest them over a hotel. They are inexpensive and with the favorable current exchange rate even more so. There are many ATM machines where you can access your U.S. account to obtain cash

Smaug
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by Smaug » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:05 pm

I have spent a great deal of time in the South Island of NZ and go there about every 2yrs to visit family.

If you are visiting for a month, I would recommend a rental car with insurance. Prior to the earthquake, I would fly into Christchurch and pick one up either from the airport, or have the rental company collect me and drive me to their location. If you are from the States, please become familiar with the road rules in NZ....especially everything assocated with the right-of-way at intersections. There have been a number of fatalities recently with Americian tourists turning into the oncoming lanes.

As far as hikes, there are many. Around the central Otago area (Queenstown, Wanaka, Arrowtown). My favorite is the Routeburn track. This is 3 days and you stay at the dorm stye forresty huts. The hike starts just outside of Queenstown and finishes by TeAnau. Everyday is a different stunning landscape.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_R ... sland.html

An off the beaten path secret is Stewart Island. It is the little island of the bottom of the country. You would drive to Bluff, park your car in the long term parking and take the ferry (high speed cat). The ferry ride is about 90 minutes if I recall. You can stay at the South Seas Hotel. There are plenty of single day and multi-day treks. This place is untouched and overflowing with natural beauty.
http://www.stewart-island.co.nz/

The Catlins area just south of Dunedin is beautiful and a great place for a day trip. Empty beaches, waterfalls, sea life, even a blow-hole you can walk to in a farmer field.
Nelson, Marlbrough at the top of the Sth Island is a great place for wine tasting.

One concern is that November is not the best time weatherwise. I normally go in March for the late summer. November can still be a bit rainy.

I find NZ to be a lot more expensive then the states for eating / drinking. Beer is outragously priced, even in the supermarkets.

Please let me know if you want more info.

CarlZ993
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by CarlZ993 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:30 pm

I was there last year for 6 weeks. Landed in Christchurch in Feb and spent a few days there. Left Christchurch a few days before the earthquake. Lucky there. There were people killed all around where we stayed and visited.

We rented a Honda Odyssey van and shared it w/ another couple. Didn't get the extra insurance. We returned in in Auckland where we flew out. It was a little unnerving to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road at first. I kept chanting to myself, "I'm in the middle" as I drove (driver seat is toward the middle of the road). Lots of one-lane bridges in NZ. Took me a while to learn what the yield sign meant. Until I did, I always yielded to on-coming traffic.

With the exception of Christchurch, we stayed in hostels or camped throughout NZ. We usually rented rooms for four. Bring earplugs. Not a lot of sound insulation.

We did four Great Walks (the best of their 'tramps' as they're called) in NZ: three on the S. Island (Kempler, Routeburn, and Abel Tasman) and one on the N. Island (Tangariro). With the exception of Abel Tasman, we stayed in shelters on all the tramps. We had all our gear but I'm sure you could easily rent a sleeping bag and back. Most of the time, all you needed was a pack, cook pot, your sleeping bag, extra clothes, rain gear (GOOD RAIN GEAR), and deet (GOOD BUG JUICE). You could probably get by on packing a frameless pack in your stuff and put everything in that. I'd be leery about purchasing gear there. It's really expensive there. Tangariro Crossing is a long day hike that you could do. You see 90% of the best stuff in one day. Get the Lonely Planet guide: Tramping in NZ.

PM me if you want some more specifics. Have fun.
Carl Z

rotorhead
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by rotorhead » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:35 pm

Raybo, those are good tips on NZ from Random Poster and Lon.

I have fond memories of both Norway and NZ. Norwegian experience was mostly in Stavanger, on the Southwest coast - same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska. Lovely city, with lousy weather most of the time; wind and rain more so than snow. Few days of the summer were really beautiful, if you can catch them. The scenery is stunning. Spending time there imbued me with a much enhanced appreciation of the Vikings - those were some tough dudes! Bring lots of $$$ though! A pint of beer at the pub costs about $8 - $10 these days. The people are very friendly, and most of them speak English pretty well. Getting around is easy.

You won't be disappointed with either country.

RootyToot
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by RootyToot » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:42 pm

My husband and I took a driving tour of both islands in the early 90s. We did not encounter any problems at all. No "tramping", we stayed in B & Bs. It is a beautiful country.

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rgb73
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by rgb73 » Wed Sep 26, 2012 5:24 pm

Hi,

I'm an NZ citizen and currently living here, but have lived overseas for a while. I'll only comment on the tramping bit, as I've done a few, two of which are quite famous - the Tongariro crossing and the Routeburn track.
Both are spectacular and well worth doing. You will need some specialized gear, including a sleeping bag and food/eating equipment for however many nights. Most tramps have a system of "huts", which provide rudimentary sleeping and cooking/water/cleaning facilities - these are run by the dept of conservation, www.doc.govt.nz - you can make a booking on their website. You will need to do this as availability is limited and can fill up fast.

Thus the only gear you should need would be sleeping bags/wet weather gear and food - The doc website will give a good description of each tramp and the facilities at the huts. You will need a reasonable amount of fitness as most tramps are over rugged terrain, however the paths are usually well laid out and not treacherous.

One of the things I find irritating about the tramps is most are not circuitous, i.e., they start/finish in different places, and thus you need to organise pick ups at the finish. You can usually organise this when you are in the town of departure, just ask at your place of accommodation. The routeburn track required a 3 hour bus journey to get us back to where we started from :-(

The most famous tramp is Milford sound, which I haven't done. It is very beautiful but of course everyone wants to do it, including scenic flights etc, which can detract a little.

As a kiwi I hope you decide to take the plunge and do one - enjoy!

RobertAlanK
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by RobertAlanK » Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:00 pm

I spent a couple of weeks in New Zealand in 1993 and it was a very memorable trip. I hope to go back with my wife and daughter.

I spent virtually the entire time on the South Island. My most memorable experience was swimming with dusky dolphins in the ocean off Kaikoura, north of Christchurch. Now, I thought I was in Heaven when I found myself as one of the few men on a boat with a group of young women vacationing from Sweden and Norway. But when I got into the water with those dolphins I had one of the most powerful feelings of my life - a complete sense of connection, playfulness and joy. I highly recommend it.

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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by LazyNihilist » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:19 pm

Try to visit Milford Sound, it has beautiful fjords.
Lots of very beautiful places. If you are into adventure sports, Queenstown is the place. And Wanaka near Queenstown has a nice puzzle world http://www.puzzlingworld.co.nz/.
Be careful driving as people drive on the left side (wrong side) of the road. Make sure you know the give way rules. http://www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/around-nz/visitors.html
If you are taking any electronic devices make sure you have a adapter plug.

And if you decide fly from NZ to Australia, you will be increasing the IQ of both countries. http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/kiwis-overseas/4 :D
The only problem is Entropy, leading to the eventual heat death of the universe. [Seen on /.]

kayo
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by kayo » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:53 pm

Raybo wrote: Any hotels recommended in Auckland?

Any other recommendations?
Haven't been there lately, but there are a few things that worked out on previous trips that I would try again.

1) The are tourism/hotel kiosks in every airport and most fairly big towns. I showed up at the Auckland airport one time (and the Christchurch airport on a different visit), went to the kiosk, and asked for help. They had tons of suggestions, high-end, low-end, whatever, and a variety of specials that were being flown by hotels of all sizes. This worked so amazingly well that I would go directly to one of these places as soon as I arrived in the next town I wanted to stay in.

2) I rented a Subaru (soo-BAR-ooo) from a local operator at the Auckland airport when I showed up. Their rates were about half that advertised online by the big international operators. Borrowed a car from a friend another time.

3) By USA standards, it's an easy day of driving (about eight hours) from Auckland to Wellington. Speed limits on the open road are 100 kph. No need to hurry when you are on vacation.

4) Taking the ferry from Wellinton to Picton is a piece of cake, but you probably wouldn't bother paying to take a rental car on the ferry.

Have fun!

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craigr
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by craigr » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:22 pm

I was just there in May (second time), I can take a stab at some of this:
Raybo wrote:Has anyone rented a car on the South Island? Is so, where and did you have any problems? Did you buy rental car insurance ($10/day)?
No problems with renting a car. You will be on the wrong side of the road as others pointed out. It is easy to get into old habits and drive on the incorrect side of the road. Be especially careful and mindful when you drive.

However with that said, NZ "highways" are two lane roads (one lane for each direction), so traffic in the off season will be less (You'll be there in their Spring and the lambs are out and very cute).

I never used the insurance, but check with your insurance company to see what they cover. This will depend on a lot of things.

Good news though is if you injure someone they can't sue you in NZ. There is a national no-fault insurance that takes care of it. That may be what the $10 is being paid for in which case you may want to take them up on it.
Did anyone take a multi-day "tramp"? If so, where and was it easy to do without bringing any specialized gear with you (sleeping bag, backpack, etc.)?
Yes. I hiked Milford, Routeburn, Kepler and Rakiura Tracks.

Milford is very busy. You better get a reservation now if you are even thinking of doing it. It may already be too late.

Kepler is a less busy (but still somewhat busy) loop that leaves Te Anau for 3-4 days. It is a nice easy hike. Worst day is the first with about 2,000 ft. of climbing on smooth switch backs. The rest of the track is smooth with only minor climbing.

Routeburn was, IMO, the prettiest. Can be done in one day if you are adventure racing, but 2-3 days is normal. This track is more alpine oriented and the track will be tougher than the other two. But still a pretty easy hike if you take your time.

All of the tracks above you should try to book ahead of time. You will not need a tent as you'll use the huts. If the huts are in season there will be gas for you to use to cook your food. If they are out of season you need your own stove. You will need a sleeping bag, food, rain gear, insulation, good footwear and incidentals like first aid kit, toiletries, etc. if you use the huts. If you are very refined (and well-heeled), consider a guided Milford hike where they carry your gear for you between huts via helicopter and cook you fine cuisine in your own private accommodations each night.

Up north of the South Island (Nelson Area) you have the Abel Tasman and Queen Charlotte Tracks. I have not done them, but they are also easy multi day tracks. Queen Charlotte in particular you can stay at lodges along the way and even have a boat take your gear between hops if you want. You may want to look into that if you don't have all the gear.

I have Milford, Kepler and the first part of Routeburn tracks posted on my YouTube Channel. You can see the gear I bring:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL ... ature=plcp

You don't need a lot, but you need to be prepared for potential alpine weather all year round on the three great walks listed above. The Abel Tasman and Queen Charlotte will likely not need as much gear, but good wet weather clothing is always advised along with reliable insulation layers.

The Rakiura Track is on Stewart Island and would involve the drive south and ferry over to the island. The small loop is three days and can be wet/muddy but the weather is generally warm. If you are hard core you can do the 10 day loop which is apparently filled with beautiful lagoons, but trail conditions are primitive in places with mud up to your thighs and is not for novice hikers.
Any hotels recommended in Auckland?
I stayed at the Sky City Casino because they had cheap rates and the rooms were decent. I don't gamble, but it was downtown and convenient to most of the things in Auckland you'd want to walk to.
Any other recommendations?
Yes. If you go to Te Anau be sure to stop at Miles Better Pies. They were the best meat pies I had in all of NZ and Australia and that's saying something.

Christchurch is fine to fly into and rental cars are plentiful. However they were hit with a major earthquake in the recent past and the main downtown section is all red zone and you cannot go into it. The buildings are being torn down, etc. Still a pretty area all around the region though. You can swing down to Oamaru to see little blue penguins and even Hoiho Yellow Eyed penguins further south before Dunedin. Also lots of sea lions, seals, etc.

If you go to Stewart Island they have a nearby predator free bird sanctuary island you can visit via water taxi. You are more likely to see some of the rarer birds. Even Stewart island is crawling with Kiwis and you can do night tours to see them if you want to see one in the wild.

Central South Island is home of Queenstown with plenty to do in terms of adventure sports, etc. You can try a jet boat tour or simply take a bus tour into the Milford sound with a small cruise for a more laid back day.

You can then swing further north-central and visit Mt. Cook national park which is spectacular. You can hike a glacier or take a boat tour to the Tasman glacier field as well. Then there is Franz Josef glacier near Greymouth which also has day hikes, etc.

I know less about the Nelson area as I've not spent time up there, but the area is supposed to be quite nice with the beaches and walks.

North Island I have traveled less. Mainly up the to far north tip where you can do sand dune surfing and enjoy the excellent beaches. Further south are volcanic regions which I have not visited but looked great.

Honestly, it's hard to go wrong with anywhere in NZ. It's easy to get around and the people are very friendly. You will enjoy the trip.
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TraderX
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by TraderX » Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:00 am

Hi I'm a New Zealander, I hope you have a great time in our country!

Everything is easy but you may find it expensive with the USD being so low and NZD strong currently. I'd definately recommend renting a car.

I can recommend http://www.jucy.co.nz/

Some highlights you should try to expereience. (In no particular order)

Tongariro National park (spectacular volcanic landscape)
Waiheke Island (easy to access from Auckland, Beaches and wineries)
The Coromandel (classic NZ beaches)
Climb Mt Taranaki (tough one day up a Mt Fuji-like volcano)
Martinborough vineyards (Vynfields on a sunny day is rather nice)
Wellington (Cafe culture, Arts, Wild natural beauty, rent a bike and go round the coast. Visit matterhorn bar, Lido cafe for coffee, Logan Brown or Pravda for dining.) Go to a show or gig. There is great cheap asian food everywhere as well.
Abel Tasman National park (Kayak to empty golden beaches)
Franz Josef - Easily climb on glaciers
Mt Cook National Park - just go walking in the mountains and then come back for a big dinner at the hermitage in front of the fire
Routeburn - people say the best tramp (apart from Milford)
Queenstown - Wine and mountains and lakes
Kaikoura for whales and dolphin swimming

Ah it's all actually good! Just avoid the obvious tourist traps, try to talk to locals and get their recommndations. Have a fire on a beach and cook some fish and sausages on the fire with some good friends and some new zealand wine and all will be well with the world.

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Raybo
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by Raybo » Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:50 am

I want to thank everyone for their suggestions and ideas. We certainly have several of them in mind.

I know this is a longshot , but I am a vegetarian and wonder if anyone can tell me if I'll be able to find suitable food to eat at restaurants or should I plan on making my own food?
No matter how long the hill, if you keep pedaling you'll eventually get up to the top.

Random Poster
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by Random Poster » Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:16 am

Raybo wrote:I know this is a longshot , but I am a vegetarian and wonder if anyone can tell me if I'll be able to find suitable food to eat at restaurants or should I plan on making my own food?
[sarcasm] I think that it is a requirement that every meal served at a New Zealand restaurant contain at least one lamb-related item. Can you survive on cheese? [/sarcasm].

Honestly, I'm sure that you will be fine, unless you have some very specific and nuanced definition of vegetarianism. There are plenty of restaurant options in the bigger cities.

2retire
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by 2retire » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:47 pm

It has been about 15 years since I visited New Zealand. We did the hostel and tramping (hiking) thing. I don't recommend people go there for less than five weeks. We went for three weeks and I felt rushed. We did the north and south islands.

If you like sporty adventurous type things, Queenstown is great. There are many different kinds of adrenaline raising things to do in that town. It is home of the world's first commercial bungee jumping site (Kawarau River Bridge). I can't remember what they call it there, but I can recommend this thing we did where you put on a wet suit, grab a boogie board, and swim down class 2 to 3 rapids. I found the shot-over jets boats to not be worth the money. I wish I had done the para-gliding from the top of the mountain that overlooks the town.

It is also a great town to start many of your tramps on. You can start the Routeburn Track (highly recommended) from there. You can get a bus to take you to the trial-head, pick you up three days later at the end of the trail, take you right to Milford Sound, and return you to Queenstown. I also recommend the Sound, but i if I were to do it again, I'd try to stay there a day or two and rent a kayak rather then go on one of the tourist boats (or in addition too). As someone else stated, you need good rain gear to go on hikes like the Rouetburn (and probably the Milford Track).

The south island's west coast can be really dreary; it rains a lot there. However, that is where some of the good glaciers are. I believe we did Fox glacier instead of the Franz-Josef. The glacier terminates on land so you can walk right up to its edge (not recommended though). It is pretty impressive to stand at the bottom and see it towering over you. If you don't want to do a formal glacier walk and are afraid of going on the glacier yourself (you should be), you can hike the sides of the glacier instead.

I really enjoyed the scenic train ride from Greymouth (west side south island) to Christchurch (east side south island). Gave us time to decompress and relax for a bit. Christchurch was my favorite big city in New Zealand. It reminded me of the cities in Europe. We didn't do a lot there but eat, drink, sleep, and recuperate. The public garden was nice.

We also went to Kaikoura. The only reason to go there at the time was to whale watch and swim with the dolphins and seals. I HIGHLY recommend the swim with dolphins. It had a profound impact on both of us. This isn't any ole American style swimming with dolphins, no, here you swim with truly wild dolphins in the open ocean. It can be hit or miss as to how many you'll encounter and how long they'll decide to stick around but it is truly amazing when a wild animal chooses to engage and play with you. Be warned though, my vegetarian friend (who ate fish at the time) gave up eating fish after that experience.

We didn't spend much time in Nelson, but it is supposed to be one of the sunniest places in New Zealand. It is a good starting point for the Abel-Tasman Track, an easy level tramp of rolling hills, forest and beach walks. Although the Abel-Tasman is considered one of the Great Walks in NZ, it didn't do that much for me. The best part for me was camping on the secluded beaches and pulling fresh muscles from the ocean for dinner.

We had planned to hike Tongariro (another of the Great Walks), but it was still early in the season, it was planning to snow, and we didn't bring very good cold weather gear so we decided to skip it. Instead, we hung out at the base of the volcano in National Park (that is a town name). We ended up going ATV'ing; it was a blast. The purveyor had a large course set up out in the woods You could pick your own level of challenge. Tongariro recently erupted and destroyed some of the tramping huts on the mountain. I'm not sure how much of the track will be open by the time you are ready to go.

The one place I haven't seen anyone here mention is Waitomo. There is really only one reason to go here and that is for caving/spelunking (and to see glow worms). I did two caving trips, Haggas Honking Holes and the Lost World. Haggas was okay as far as guided caving trips go, but the The Lost World was phenomenal. It starts with a 300ft rappel into air and most days you can't see where you are going. There is a long and short version of the Lost World. I recommend the long version; expensive, but worth it.

As far as Rotorua is concerned, if you've been to a geo-thermal area before you can probably skip this town. One reason to go though would be (I believe) they had some kind of Maori heritage park where you could learn about their way of life.

We also enjoyed the area north of Auckland. I want to say it was called something like the 1,000 islands region. It would be great for someone that likes kayaking. When a scheduled trip got cancelled, a local heard about it and ended taking a bunch of us trampers on his sailboat for the day instead. We cruised the islands, did some wake boarding, and had lunch. Like many other people have said the people of New Zealand are very friendly.

As far as being a vegetarian is concerned, my friend didn't really have a problem. But then again, he is happy eating grilled cheese and french fries most of the time. If you still eat fish, you can get fish and chips pretty much anyplace down there.

tj
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by tj » Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:06 pm

I am actually leaving next week to go on a Contiki from Auckland to Queenstown.

There seems to be a lot of nights in Queenstown - hope I don't run out of things to do there.

I can't wait. It looks like the weather isn't as warm as I thought it would be, oh well.

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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by Pacific » Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:05 pm

1. Highly recommend Queenstown and surrounding area.

2. Be careful driving the roundabouts.

3. Be careful crossing the street and looking the wrong way.

4. Rent an automatic transmission unless you are left-handed and can easily shift with the wrong hand.

5. I can't tell you how many times I tried to turn on my turn signal and turned on the wipers instead!

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LazyNihilist
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by LazyNihilist » Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:52 pm

I lived in NZ for 5 years. Reading all the posts makes me nostalgic and want to go back. :|
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kakapo
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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by kakapo » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:13 am

recommendations depend, of course, on your interests, and you've already gotten a lot of info from real kiwis. for what it's worth, here are some thoughts in no particular order from a trip my wife and i took in 2008 (~2.5 weeks all spent south of Christchurch). i also took a trip covering some of north and south island in '02.

1) we rented a car (Europcar, I think), didn't get the insurance but did get a chip in the windshield, which we then had to pay for. even though the repair cost was less than the insurance would have been and our credit-card-based insurance covered it completely once we got back, i'm not sure going w/o was the best idea since it did add worry to a vacation, which kind of defeats the purpose...

2) a few places we really enjoyed staying (not verified these still exist in 2012):
Mountain House in Arthur's Pass (probably just because it was 1st night and setting is spectacular)
Shining Star in Hokitika
Bushy Point Fernbirds in Invercargill (if you're into birds)
Larnach Castle, Dunedin! (we stayed in the stables)
Stonebridge B&B, Geraldine (near Timaru)

3) we weren't as impressed w/ Stewart Island as we thought we'd be, though Ulva Island was nice. If you're into wildlife, though, probably the most accessible place to see some of the rare birds is TiriTiri Matangi (?sp) which is a ferry ride from Auckland. You can pre-arrange for an overnight stay and see kiwi birds in the "wild" instead of the terrible kiwi houses.

4) we had very good food in many different places, but i can't remember specific names unless i dig up my old travel log & notes.

5) we did the Routeburn track which was very nice. the whole tramping system is amazing - choose w/ tent or w/o depending on relative value of privacy and ease of walking. we had a blast doing the Cedar Flat Track (near Hokitika, I think), but that was mainly because we took the flood route with not quite enough time left in the day which added that little extra exhiliration in getting to the hut. (we also saw a family of blue ducks (whio)!)

i can try to dig out other details if you're interested, but i figured i'd post this now.

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Re: Any New Zealand tips?

Post by LazyNihilist » Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:12 pm

The above poster reminds me of the bird. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakapo.
Not sure if visitors are allowed to see them though. Only 126 left. :(
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