New Zealand - Bucket list trip

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Exit105
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New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Exit105 » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:40 pm

My wife and I (age 62) are in the early stage of planning a trip to New Zealand (Feb 2019). Looking at a 16 day cruise departing Sydney Aus. ending in Auckland NZ with half a dozen NZ stops along the way. I'd like to spend 2-3 weeks after the cruise getting a more detailed look at the country, seeing the scenery and meeting the locals. Ideally I'd like to spend 3-4 nights in each location before moving to the next destination. Looking for any input and recommendations on must see spots and accommodations. Budget, approx $200 per night for lodging. Thanks in advance.

JBTX
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by JBTX » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:05 pm

Exit105 wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:40 pm
My wife and I (age 62) are in the early stage of planning a trip to New Zealand (Feb 2019). Looking at a 16 day cruise departing Sydney Aus. ending in Auckland NZ with half a dozen NZ stops along the way. I'd like to spend 2-3 weeks after the cruise getting a more detailed look at the country, seeing the scenery and meeting the locals. Ideally I'd like to spend 3-4 nights in each location before moving to the next destination. Looking for any input and recommendations on must see spots and accommodations. Budget, approx $200 per night for lodging. Thanks in advance.
I went around 1998 for 2-3 week trip. Flew into Christ church and went on one of these buses full of young people. Obviously a lot younger then. Mixed reviews on the bus.

Christ church for a day or two then spent much of the time on South Island. Down toward southwestern western part of south islands you can do some boat rides throughout the fiords ? Bunji jumped off a bridge. Went on two day hike. Lots of places for hiking. Went with a guide. Could have easily done it myself. Rode in a single engine plane up into the mountains. Runway was also a pasture with sheep on it. White water rafters on the rangitata tata? (Fun but a bit overrated)

On top of north island went on catamaran day outing. Didn’t spend a lot of time in aukland. Flying from South Island to north island is pretty cheap and easy as I recall.

NZ has amazing natural beauty and lots of opportunities for day hikes, or longer.

One things that struck me is we in US we are so safety conscious. There they are live and let live (or not). Buses occasionally topple off sides of mountains. In two weeks came upon the scene of three accidents. Kids hitchhike everywhere. I needed transportation from the place where I ended a hike to the fiords, sonthey arranges for me to ride in a van that also coupled as a school bus.

There’s one place you can take a helicopter up to a glacier and walk around. Somewhere on South Island That was cool. Also remember at night I could see more stars than I had ever seen before. I think there was no moon out and it was so dark you could hardly see in front of you but stars were everywhere. And of course the sky looks different given you are on other side of the world.

I’d love to go back and just hang there for a few months. Very laid back. In some ways it was like being in the US 20 years earlier. Homes were nice but much more modest.

I stayed in some hostels, which I probably wouldn’t do again, but if you want to save money vs hotels see if you can find people renting out rooms in their house, kind of like a B&b but more basic. Perhaps see what Airbnb has.
Last edited by JBTX on Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

02nz
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by 02nz » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:10 pm

NZ is amazing, you’ll love it. Absolutely don’t miss Milford Sound or one of the other fjords; the drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound (via Te Anau, where you’ll probably overnight) is stunning, too. Queenstown makes an excellent base, you can easily spend 5-6 nights there exploring the surroundings.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by ENT Doc » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:28 pm

I went there and Australia in 2005. Sydney is great. I would not advocate for a cruise, especially if you're going to go back and do 2-3 weeks on your own time. You'll spend far too much time on the ship and get whiffs of places that you may or may not want to drive back to yet presumably would be pre-booked for the post-cruise. My advice is to fly from Sydney to Auckland. Spend 2-3 weeks (I'd do 3-4 if I did it again) with a rental car and travel south exploring, taking the ferry from the N to S island. I would also spend more time in the South Island. 2 great countries. Enjoy!

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by bob60014 » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:48 pm

Unless the cruise is something really special, I would skip it and take one another time, and concentrate on the many, many land activities in Oz and NZ!

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by ecotone » Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:08 pm

My wife and I just got home from 2 weeks in New Zealand. A couple of thoughts:

1. Flying domestically within New Zealand is wonderful. We hopped around the island via Air New Zealand and am so happy we did. Airfares are reasonable, and the airports are very easy to navigate. Plus, on most domestic flights airport security is VERY light. At a couple airports (Nelson & Rotorua) there aren't any security lines for any passengers. It made seeing the islands very easy.

2. Milford Sound (as mentioned above) is wonderful. We stayed in Queenstown and took an Air Milford flight to the air strip at the fjord. It's a lot more expensive than driving yourself or taking a coach, but it's amazing. Plus, if you take an early flight, you beat all the bus tourists from Queenstown and get to have the entire place to yourself. After landing we were on a 400 person cruise and there were only 100 people on the boat. The flights are beautiful, too. The pilots are very good about telling you about the countryside they're flying over.

3. Queenstown is VERY touristy, and expensive. Plan accordingly.

4. The Tasman coastline around Nelson shouldn't be overlooked. It's an area that doesn't capture all the headlines, but it's gorgeous, inexpensive, the sunniest part of New Zealand and features a highly underrated wine and beer region (if you're into that). We spent 4 days based in Nelson and explore Abel Tasman National Park, did a couple days of wine tasting and hit the beach, too.

5. Bring rain gear. It's a very wet country and you'll encounter plenty of rainy days while you're there.

6. We rented a car wherever we went and it worked out well. There's a ton to see outside of the towns and having a car feels to me like a necessity. You'll get over any fear of driving on the left side pretty quickly.

7. The food was pretty good. If you're into having good meals, I would seek out some of the better places. Prices are generally reasonable and their lamb and wine are pretty great.

8. If you plan to visit Hobbiton (where scenes from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmed) make reservations.

If you have any specific questions about cities/logistics, don't hesitate to reach out. My wife and I did VERY little planning for our trip. We regretted not planning more, but had a great time even with some plans falling through and a relatively loose schedule.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by nanook » Sun Mar 04, 2018 7:58 pm

We visited NZ about 10 years or so ago and will return. Beautiful country & very nice people. We flew in from Australia, but live in the northern US. We found the N island of NZ to be similar to WA state in some ways but more quaint and in some ways preferable to the US. The S Island reminded us of SW Alaska in the summer including large mountains, but with fields in the valleys like WA State mixed in. Christchurch has a beautiful botanical garden the we much enjoyed, and the old churches in Christchurch were brick architectural works of art, walked around town to enjoy a couple of times. Hopefully they were rebuilt after the destructive earthquake several years ago. We found the museum in Christchurch very interesting, including many historical exhibits, and surprisingly, an Antarctic exploration part of the museum (since many expeditions in the past left from the South island of NZ). The Antarctic artifacts included a very early snow mobile and snow cat and Earnest Shackleton's goggles from his expediton. We also very much enjoyed the Queenstown area (very beautiful surroundings...it is named after the Queen for a reason). The high mountains nearby were where the Lord of the Rings was filmed. There are tours of the site, available to arrange in Queenstown. The small mountain above Queenstown has a lift to get a better view, a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, or adventure sports. One morning we walked up the back service road for exercise and rode the lift down! Also highly recommend the Milford Sound (fiord) tour. We went from Queenstown by bus then over a lake or two then by another bus, to the head of the fiord, the on a large very comfortable jet catamaran tour boat out the fiord to near it's entrance to the open ocean. Very beautiful, similar to SE Alaska fiords in the Alaska summer, nice in NZ in January. A guide stated that a classic but sad auto wreck, that happens more frequently than they would like in NZ is an American renting a car, on vacation, and daydreaming for a split second when pulling out onto a rural highway with no traffic, and then head-on colliding on a corner due to FAILING to drive on the Left (what they call the "correct") side of the road. He said that many of these collisions are fatal... An interesting thing, seen in fields along the rural roads of the South Island, are herds of hundreds of what they call "deer", which to an American, obviously are elk. After checking on the history of this, they are not indigenous to NZ, and are domesticated to raise for meat for the international meat market, and the ground antlers are sold in Asia for aphrodisiacs. Thus, virtually all the bull elk that we saw had their antlers sawn off for the market. The elk there, from what I can understand, are a cross between European red deer (hence "deer") and North American Rocky Mountain elk. Eventually I found a small book on the history of the industry, and it was very interesting. The Kiwis that developed the NZ "deer" farming industry were very industrious, innovating, and risk taking people. Filet mignon of the "deer" is excellent, & very mild tasting with no game taste at all, sometimes sold in NZ as "tenderloin of cervina" on nicer restaurant menus. Mine, found in Christchurch, was wrapped in bacon. For the backpacker type, multiday hikes are available with "huts" that can be rented along the way, hostel/European style. A friend in excellent physical condition did this in his early 70s with his wife and had a good time, he said all they had to carry was a small day pack. Also, if you are from the northern hemisphere and have not looked up in the southern sky, then maybe on a starry night away from the city, take a look at the southern constellations, especially the "Southern Cross". I found it to be not as impressive as the North Star and Big Dipper that we are accustomed to seeing, but first saw it on the outskirts of a small town on the South Island. It would be fun to listen to the CSN song "Southern Cross" while doing so. Have a good trip.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by radiowave » Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:22 pm

Te Anau on the south island is a jumping off point for the bus to Milford Sound, but it it's own right is a nice place to hang out, shop, and if you are at all interested in hiking, take the Kepler Track (hiking trail) to Lake Manapauri. It's pretty flat, spectacular moss covered forest, and ends into a beautiful sandy beach surrounded by glacier carved mountains. One of our best trips was to NZ, we started in Auckland (I had a conference there) and there is plenty to do in the north island, even Auckland is worth a few days. Easy flight to Christ Church and you can pick up a rental car there. I wished we would have stayed a little bit in Wellington. Agree that the Tasman sea beaches are some of the best in the world. We stayed at Lake Moeraki Lodge https://www.wildernesslodge.co.nz/new-z ... ss-lodge/ for a few days, wonderful place, some of the best blueberry pancakes I've ever had (and I'm pretty picky) and short walk to a deserted beach littered with driftwood.

enjoy our trip!
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by straws46 » Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:32 pm

Went last year and it was a great trip. The cruises spend too many days at sea for us and don't always get to see the great fiords if the weather doesn't cooperate. We went from Auckland to Wellington by train to see the countryside. Loved Wellington, worth a couple of days. Flew to Christchurch which is a long way from recovering from the earthquakes. Rented a car and drove to Twizel, then to Queenstown, then on to Te Anau which we used to visit Doubtful Sound by plane and Milford Sound by car. The drive is incredibly beautiful but dangerous if you aren't careful and slow down. Many one lane bridges and big busses and foreign tourist renting cars. Not a great combination. Definitely take a boat trip on Milford Sound. Back by way of Fox Glacier and Arthur pass. It was a great trip. We also flew from Christchurch to Hobart and spent a week or so in Tasmania. Not quite as breathtaking, but awesome and the roads were better.

Have a great trip and report back on your favorite things. Safe travels.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Raybo » Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:34 pm

We did a bus excursion from Te Anau to Milford Sound that included a couple hours kayaking in Milford Sound (in the rain). This is worth doing. It isn’t such a long day from Te Anau. From Queensland, it is a very long day. I’d recommend staying in Te Anau. We couchsurfed there for free, but there also are a few hotels there. I’d book well in advance.

While Milford Sound is fabulous, the far more impressive experience was an overnight cruise in Doubtful Sound. Standing on the deck of the ship at night and early the next morning are wonderful life memories. I’d suggest doing both. But, if you can only do one, do the Doubtful Sound overnight.

If you like to hike and can handle up to 10 miles a day, there are some fabulous long distance walks that you can take. We did the Queen Charlotte track out of Picton (north part of South Island) that was very enjoyable (also in some rain).

Auckland is a busy, big city with an island dotted Harbor. We took a ferry to one and walked around it.

Lake Taupo (north island) was a nice, relaxing place to take in water sports. For a long, hard but very satisfying day do the Tongariro Crossing. Walk over an active volcano. One of a kind experience. Strenuous.

We took the boat from the North to the South Island from Wellington. Wellington is worth a day or two of time. Be sure to visit the main museum there and walk around.

It is hard to go wrong when visiting New Zealand. What a special place. While I have no desire to spend 10 days on cruise (4 hours by air), I think it would be a good way to see much of the country, which you could then visit more closely afterwards.

But, don’t short yourself on time. It is a place that rewards slow traveling.
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by mageedge » Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:38 pm

Excellent bucket list destinations - the 2 islands are very different experiences - both good!
Here's a couple of ideas -
On South island you might want to check out the train from Christchurch to Greymouth ("Transalpine") - one of the great train journeys. We did that and rented a car to meander back to Christchurch around the north coast. Following that we rented a small camper van to head down to Queenstown and Milford Sound - a popular and terrific way to see the country. Small van is all you need the camp sites are excellently equipped with kitchens and lounges. Some memorable Lord of the Rings locations if you like that.
N. Island - in addition to Hobbiton the area around Rotorua - hot springs, bubbling mud holes and great mountains is worth the trip.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Peculiar_Investor » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:39 pm

We've also done a two and a half week expedition to New Zealand. I concur on most of the recommendations above.

We spent four days on the North Island, 2 nights in Auckland and two nights in the Bay of Islands. Both recommended.

We spent a week in Queenstown with a large group of Canadians. Highlights include the Shotover Jet ride, a number of winery tours, golfing and watching others bungee jump at the original site. We did Milford Sound via helicopter from Queenstown, is wasn't cheap, but it was priceless. Our chopper pilot retrieved lobster pots using a grappling hook for a wonderful lunch.
Exit105 wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:40 pm
Ideally I'd like to spend 3-4 nights in each location before moving to the next destination.
That might be a bit of a challenge depending on how much of the country you want to see. Although it doesn't seem very large, the terrain (mountain ranges) make it challenging to drive the islands. For example, from Queenstown, we rented a car and drove around the South Island. Although the scenery is beautiful, the driving distances make for very long days. Our route included Franz Josef (1 night), Punakaiki (1 night), Kaikoura (2 nights), Christchurch (1 night), Dunedin (2 nights) and Te Anau (1 night). Kaikoura and Te Anau were fabulous, although Kaikoura has since been significantly impacted by the last earthquake. We didn't expect downtown Christchurch to still be as impacted by the previous earthquakes. The Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch is stunning and a must see.
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Watty » Sun Mar 04, 2018 11:49 pm

Seeing the glowworms is worthwhile. There are several caves where you can see them. I forget the name of the most well known one but it is apparently very busy and they may rush you through.

We went to the Foot Whistle cave and had a small group and we were very happy with it and did not feel rushed at at all.

http://www.caveworld.co.nz/footwhistleglowwormcave

We did not take it but apparently on the last tour of the day it may be dark enough to see the glowworms outside the entrance of the cave so you may want to taking that tour. We just did the walking tour and not the inner tube tour.

Outside Queenstown there is a bungee jumping bridge that is worth going out to see if you have the time.

One tip on driving is to be sure to get gas well before you need it since gas stations are not as common as in the US. We were getting low on gas and were planning on getting it at the next small town only to find that it did not have a gas station. We ended up going through three towns before we found a gas station! In reality we were not all that close to running out of gas but we were starting to worry.

New Zealand and Australia are often on the lists of excluded countries for credit card car rental coverage so be sure to check to see if your credit card will cover you there.
Last edited by Watty on Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by radiowave » Sun Mar 04, 2018 11:58 pm

and if you are adventurous, on the south island, try a glider flight out of Omarama https://www.glideomarama.com/ .
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by mountaingoatcos » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:22 am

I just came back from New Zealand in January, I was there for 6 weeks with wife and 3 year old son. Wonderful trip overall! I would recommend camping or renting a campervan as it will really change what you see, you will meet so many different people from all over the world. New Zealand has really nice campsites with kitchens and refrigerators that I have not seen anywhere else.

I would recommend Lake Tekapo, Mt. Cook Park, Wanaka, The glaciers, drive Hast pass, drive Aurthurs Pass, Queenstown, Glenorchy, Lake Benmore,...there are so many wonderful placed there. I loved the trip, and would love to go back as soon as I can. I would not try to see too much if you have a short trip, as you will spend too much time just traveling. I think you need 3-6 months to explore fully if you are focused on nature. We didn't spend too much money there, there are so many hikes to do and we would hike 3-10 miles a day. I only stayed in a hotel 2 nights, and it was expensive a sucky, the tent was actually better. We brought our luxury sleeping pads, which was really nice and a pretty easy to set up tent. However, we also brought way too much stuff, next time I would bring less than half of what I brought.

Cheaper car rentals: rental car village (we paid 30 a day)
campsites are 20-50 new zealand dollars a night.
Food is expensive. We cooked mostly, would go to Pak n save, countdown mostly. New world was more expensive.
Gas is really expensive, like 4 times the cost as the USA
The Warehouse is a great place to buy disposable stuff you may need that you didn't bring such as plates, a cooler, tent, stove, etc. IT is like walmart. It is much cheaper than the competition.

Regarding car rental coverage, some cards do cover it. We used the american advantange citi card for coverage.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by limine » Mon Mar 05, 2018 2:00 am

I spent a few weeks in NZ in 2014. Great trip--I can't recommend Rotorua enough, and Lake Taupo is beautiful.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Cruise » Mon Mar 05, 2018 4:22 am

+1000 re overnight on Dougtful Sound. Expensive but do it!

Hard to give you good advice as you have not shared your interests. Wine? Museums?

I’ve been there three times, and fly back this week on an 11-day trip. Each trip has been special. You can’t go wrong.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Exterous » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:54 am

We made the trip in January so I'll throw in my $0.02 which matches some of the other recommendations.
-If you can, do Doubtful Sound. The weather is very unpredictable in this area and rain can move in and out quickly. Doing the longer Doubtful Sound cruise will increase your chances of good weather. Not that bad weather isn't also beautiful but low cloud cover can make seeing the mountains difficult. Milford Sound is a great option if you don't quite have the time for Doubtful
-Take a credit card or debit card that does Chip and Pin. NZ has some small fully automated gas stations with ATM like kiosks that only take Chip&Pin. Not NZ cash, not Chip and Signature, not Android or Apple pay. Some of the areas in NZ are quite remote and this might be your only viable gas option
- Cell reception was surprisingly good. We only lost cell reception a couple of times but had full LTE in areas we expected nothing at all (Like Mt Cook village)
-Speaking of, the Mt Cook village area and hikes were, perhaps, my favorite area in NZ although lots of places are contenders for that spot. Lake Pukaki is beautiful and the Hooker valley and Tasman glacier hikes are awesome
-Everything in NZ is both uphill and downhill. And a 30 min hike with "Some steeps" to a Kiwi was "30 minutes of climbing up stairs" to us from flat Michigan
-Hiking trails were well maintained with good facilities (bathrooms, maps, benches etc)
-The Glow worm caves were amazing. Waitomo has the most traffic for them but you can find them elsewhere. I'd lean towards a small, private tour group. There are some big caves where they cycle thousands of people through a day and that didn't sound like fun to me. We did a small private tour of a cave where they only move ~200 people through a day.
-If you have Hilton status none of their HIltons have Lounges but I cleared suite upgrades at 3 of my 4 stays as a Diamond despite going during peak busy season so my guess is there isn't a lot of competition for those
-Lots of great motel options with a kitchenette for cooking. 4 square and Pak 'n Save will be your major grocery options although size and selection varies substantially by area
-Orakei Korako was our favorite thermal park. Best colors and level of geothermal activity. Waimangu Valley was second but we also got there early and basically had the place to ourselves
-Which brings me to another point - consider getting to places early. Places we mostly had to ourselves first thing in the morning had completely over flowing parking lots by late morning.
-If you go to Kaikoura and depending on tide levels, consider walking all the way out towards the very end of Point Kean. It looks like the tide determines how far out you can go but we were able to go all the way to the end and get some amazing pictures of seals.

Its a beautiful area with great people. You'll have a blast no matter what you do

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Exit105
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Exit105 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 3:14 pm

So grateful to all of you for taking the time to provide such extensive, insightful and detailed recommendations for our New Zealand trip planning.

I was originally thinking a cruise from Sydney to Auckland would serve as a "NZ Primer" and help with setting our body clocks ahead, but am now considering using those cruise days (16 of them) to simply see more of the country.

Again, thank you, and I suspect I may have more inquiries as the planning develops.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by sil2017 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:59 pm

Several years ago , I had a 14 day cruise from
Sydney to Auckland. Never saw much of New Zealand as there was not enough time at the ports for the far away sights .
In the last week of October , we will be doing a self drive on the South Island.
Lots of great suggestions as to main sights and itinerary on this thread. You may also want to check out the NZ forum at TripAdvisor.

Best to rent a car and go your own pace .

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Scott S » Tue Mar 06, 2018 11:52 pm

I've only been to the north island, back in 2010. Wonderful place, really friendly and nice people, lots of varied terrain.

I'd move there in a heartbeat. :beer
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by TBillT » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:52 am

We actually lived there 5 months, but it was so long ago now.
We lived with Mount Taranaki behind our home which is photogenic volcano like Mt Fuji, but probably off the tourist path.
North Island you have the Rotorua/Lake Taupo areas and the volcanos. Besides thermal areas, I am thinking Rotorua had some good Maori activities. Lake Taupo took a trout fishing guide boat, got some big trout and cooked them up in the local restaurant. Mount Ruapehu there. Glow worm grotto we did as we lived there, but could be a little out of the way.

South Island went to see the Milford sound, Remarkables and the mountains with glaciers (wonder if the glaciers are still there?).
When we were there the lakes like Taupo and Lake Wakatipu were so beautiful but also nobody was on the lakes (not much boat traffic), today maybe more commercial? Milford Track is a big famous hike like 5-days we always thought we might go back to do that, but we have not made it back.
Last edited by TBillT on Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by msk » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:58 am

Rented a 4-sleeper camper van for myself (I was a bit over age 50) and DW. Nice and roomy camper van. Drove all the way down the SE coast of the South Island. Fantastic scenery everywhere. Did the tourist stuff; Shotover Jet, Milford Sound, Helicopter up to a glacier on Mount Cook, Queenstown, etc. Daily cost over a couple of weeks, if I recall correctly, was equivalent to renting a car+3 star hotel, but far more convenient. Excellent camp sites. Only camping trip we ever did in our lives. Afraid that campsites in other countries will be a disappointment, perhaps unjustified? Recently advised by a cruise-keen couple not to do a cruise in the South Pacific because the sea can get very stormy (of course depends on pure luck) but for anyone with wobbly sea legs the cruise will then be a huge distress.

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Exit105
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Exit105 » Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:58 pm

Bucket List Trip Update -
We've decided to skip the cruise and fly from Sydney to NZ, thinking maybe Christchurch for starters. Planning 21-24 days in NZ. Days 7-11 are booked in Te Anau, to include overnight on Doubtful Sound. Remainder of those days will be Milford Sound, hiking, golf, stargazing and relaxation.

Remainder of our early Feb/2019 is still in planning stage. 2 nights in Christchurch, train over the pass to Hokitika. Liked the suggestion of renting a car there for drive. Will visit Mt Cook as well as Queenstown before heading to Te Anau.

NewZealandWalkingTours.com offers a 6 day hike on the North Island. Seemed somewhat leisurely and appropriate for our age and fitness level. Has anyone had any experience with this company? Chateau Tongariro Hotel was a stopping point for High Tea on this walk.

I'm looking for a blend of independent travel/hiking, combined with small group touring for certain areas. The camper rental makes me a bit nervous as we've never done this before. Thoughts? One last request, we are flying into Sydney from the US. Can stay in Australia for maybe 7 days and still accomplish what we want in NZ. Should I focus just on Sydney and day trips out of there? Is 7 days too long for just Sydney? We could shorten it to 5-6 and head to Christchurch sooner.

Thanks again to everyone who has contributed. Very excited for this adventure.

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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by peterinjapan » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:03 pm

Best of luck on your trip! I lived there as a boy at age 6, so I can't give you specific advice other than to tell you it's a wonderful country. Make sure you try the hot springs. If I were going I'd do the Milford Trek, something I want to do someday.

msk
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by msk » Tue Sep 25, 2018 12:07 am

Exit105 wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:58 pm
The camper rental makes me a bit nervous as we've never done this before. Thoughts?
As long as one of you is comfortable with driving, you'll be fine. It was our very first camping trip (of any kind) but NZ is so organised for campervans that it was a shoo-in. Make sure you include the full insurance option. I had never driven a large van before, so I managed to clip a traffic sign with the top corner of the campervan. DW tried driving it for an hour or so, but after that she declined. She felt like she was driving a house. The campervans are well equipped and you can sleep anywhere you park, but it's best that you use the usual camp grounds with power outlets. DW refused to use camp ground toilets (only the one in the van). And then she refused to empty the toilet waste cassettes, so that was my one unpleasant chore each day. Dump the waste into the designated drain. Basically I would highly recommend a NZ campervan experience as a trip of a lifetime, but if you are over 70 then just stay in hotels... Sometimes we have to admit missing stuff on our youth bucket lists. I doubt very much that I will ever visit Antarctica. I did do the Canadian High Arctic in my 20s so that'll have to be sufficient. Left things too late :shock:

orlandoman
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by orlandoman » Tue Sep 25, 2018 7:38 am

Wife & I are going to Australia & NZ in November. This is a self-planned fly & drive vacation. 4 days in Sydney, then flying to Queenstown, driving Queenstown to Christchurch, flying Christchurch to Wellington then driving Wellington to Auckland to fly back. 4 nights in Sydney and 15 nights in NZ. Have pre-booked cars, hotels and attractions.

The 19 hotel nights average $170 night U.S., moderate rooms, paid a little more for a few nights for different ‘lake’ view rooms, could be done for less. Sydney nights were highest.

I want to make you aware of something unique to NZ car rentals:
- all the major car rental companies, Budget, Hertz, Avis, Thrifty all say in their T & C's say that if you get a traffic ticket and are charged with any traffic offense and any damage is caused, all cover (insurance) is voided & you are 100% responsible for damage to your rental car & any property damage to others. Never heard anything like this, wrote Budget & they confirmed, see below.

- - -
22.h) This means, if you had an accident/damage caused by traffic offence ( e.g. you drive through in red traffic light and got accident . You got damage/accident due to speeding. You had an accident/damage due to parked on the not allowing parking area/time etc... ; you had damage/accident to our vehicle due to breaching any traffic offence ), even though your rate has included basic motor vehicle insurance/ coverage/additional coverage., All insurance would be voided and the person will be full responsible for the damage of the vehicle. Hope this makes sense.
Kind Regards,

Annie/ Email Reservations Agent
Budget Rent-a-Car Ltd - New Zealand
- - -

- found two large, local, 2nd tier companies (EZI & GO), that don't have this wording, they only exclude 'willful & reckless' driving, they confirmed that just getting a ticket does not void cover (insurance)
- also, in the T & C's in all car rental companies the renter is responsible for the battery, all fluid levels & tire pressure

If you are thinking that that you may be covered by using your credit card, you will notice that your credit card provides no coverage if you violate the terms of your rental agreement … do your own due diligence.
"Don't Believe Everything You Think"

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Exit105
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Exit105 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:36 am

Thank you all - Good advice.

adamthesmythe
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:45 am

Exit105 wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:58 pm
Bucket List Trip Update -
We've decided to skip the cruise and fly from Sydney to NZ, thinking maybe Christchurch for starters. Planning 21-24 days in NZ. Days 7-11 are booked in Te Anau, to include overnight on Doubtful Sound. Remainder of those days will be Milford Sound, hiking, golf, stargazing and relaxation.

Remainder of our early Feb/2019 is still in planning stage. 2 nights in Christchurch, train over the pass to Hokitika. Liked the suggestion of renting a car there for drive. Will visit Mt Cook as well as Queenstown before heading to Te Anau.

NewZealandWalkingTours.com offers a 6 day hike on the North Island. Seemed somewhat leisurely and appropriate for our age and fitness level. Has anyone had any experience with this company? Chateau Tongariro Hotel was a stopping point for High Tea on this walk.

I'm looking for a blend of independent travel/hiking, combined with small group touring for certain areas. The camper rental makes me a bit nervous as we've never done this before. Thoughts? One last request, we are flying into Sydney from the US. Can stay in Australia for maybe 7 days and still accomplish what we want in NZ. Should I focus just on Sydney and day trips out of there? Is 7 days too long for just Sydney? We could shorten it to 5-6 and head to Christchurch sooner.

Thanks again to everyone who has contributed. Very excited for this adventure.
Jucy is a big rental company in NZ. Don't rent a CAR from them unless you like driving junkers. I don't know the condition of their campers, but I would investigate carefully.

Many of the roads along the coast of the south island are narrow, slow, and with many curves and hills. I saw many campervans but I would expect driving them to be slow and tricky. On the bright side there seemed to be many places to stop.

Expect to be in a culinary desert once outside the cities.

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Watty
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Watty » Tue Sep 25, 2018 12:31 pm

Exit105 wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:58 pm
Thoughts? One last request, we are flying into Sydney from the US. Can stay in Australia for maybe 7 days and still accomplish what we want in NZ. Should I focus just on Sydney and day trips out of there? Is 7 days too long for just Sydney? We could shorten it to 5-6 and head to Christchurch sooner.
Depending one when you arrive you will likely be pretty jet-lagged the first day or two. I would suggest not driving on the left in Sydney the first day or two when you will likely be jet-lagged.

I have not been to Sydney but in a lot of ways many big cities are pretty much alike. Consider what you really want to see is Sydney, there are likely a lot more interesting attractions outside of Sydney. Instead of doing day trips from Sydney I would look for someplace outside Sydney that you could spend a night or two at.

Driving on the left is MUCH harder in urban areas. In New Zealand we picked up our car on the way out of Auckland so we had almost no urban driving in New Zealand so it was not all that bad. I did make a point of having zero alcohol and avoided driving at night as much as possible. I found that parking lots were the hardest place to drive on the left so be especially careful in in parking lots. You will want a GPS but the car rental places typically charge a lot for them. You can get a used GPS with New Zealand maps either new or some place like ebay. I am not sure how well a cell phone GPS would work since in many areas you will not have a cell phone signal.

oxothuk
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by oxothuk » Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:10 pm

Watty wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 12:31 pm
I am not sure how well a cell phone GPS would work since in many areas you will not have a cell phone signal.
Offline Google Maps solve that problem. The only thing you don’t get with offline maps is real time traffic info (and there’s no traffic in NZ anyway)

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fortfun
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by fortfun » Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:11 pm

Exit105 wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:40 pm
My wife and I (age 62) are in the early stage of planning a trip to New Zealand (Feb 2019). Looking at a 16 day cruise departing Sydney Aus. ending in Auckland NZ with half a dozen NZ stops along the way. I'd like to spend 2-3 weeks after the cruise getting a more detailed look at the country, seeing the scenery and meeting the locals. Ideally I'd like to spend 3-4 nights in each location before moving to the next destination. Looking for any input and recommendations on must see spots and accommodations. Budget, approx $200 per night for lodging. Thanks in advance.
Christ Church
Queens Town
Milford Sound
Kakora (sp?) -whale watching
Wellington
Napier (art deco town)
Coramandel/Mt. Monganui (sp)
Whitianga (sp?) Hotwater Beach
Aukland
Paihia

Charon
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Charon » Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:58 pm

Exit105 wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 7:58 pm
The camper rental makes me a bit nervous as we've never done this before.
Join the club! I have my camper rental reserved for the end of this year, and we'll see how it is driving a 7m vehicle on the left side of the road. (At least it's not a huge RV like what I mostly see here in the US...) We went with Wilderness Camper vans for our reservation. They seem to be about the most expensive out there, but really nice vehicles. If you go this route, make sure you get something self contained. Lots of camper vans don't have a toilet or shower, and I don't see the advantage over just tent camping at that point...

We're camper vaning it for half the trip, and doing B&B's for the rest. Nice B&B's + car rental is actually a little cheaper per night than the camper we rented... but we're making this our splurge trip for the year. Well, decade, maybe.

Keith43
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Keith43 » Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:15 pm

Kiwi based in Auckland here.

The common consensus is spend 1/3rd of your time in the North Island, 2/3rds on your time in the South Island.

Get out of Auckland as quickly as possible - it will be just be a smaller version of cities you are used to in the US.

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Exit105
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Re: New Zealand - Bucket list trip

Post by Exit105 » Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:27 pm

Great comments. Thank you all

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