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Old Jan 17, 12, 1:15 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Question itinerary help for an all-too-short trip to New Zealand

Hello,

I'm going to be landing at AKL on March 1, and flying back out on March 8. That gives me 6 full days to travel around and see as much as I can of New Zealand. Since it's not a lot of time, I was wondering if you all could help me figure out the must-see spots to hit. I'm mostly interested in hiking, scenery, and hitting some local pubs and restaurants.

From what I've read online, it sounds like there is more to see in terms of scenery in South Island than in North Island. It also seems like Abel Tasman Park is a must-see based on recommendations from several different websites. Would it be better to rent a car and drive down to the South (and maybe stop by Tongariro along the way)? Or would it be better to just book a flight to the South to minimize travel time, and just spend as much time as possible down there? OR should I focus more on the North Island?

Any recommendations would be great! Thanks!
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Old Jan 17, 12, 2:04 pm   #2
 
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Originally Posted by jar982 View Post
Hello,

I'm going to be landing at AKL on March 1, and flying back out on March 8. That gives me 6 full days to travel around and see as much as I can of New Zealand. Since it's not a lot of time, I was wondering if you all could help me figure out the must-see spots to hit. I'm mostly interested in hiking, scenery, and hitting some local pubs and restaurants.

From what I've read online, it sounds like there is more to see in terms of scenery in South Island than in North Island. It also seems like Abel Tasman Park is a must-see based on recommendations from several different websites. Would it be better to rent a car and drive down to the South (and maybe stop by Tongariro along the way)? Or would it be better to just book a flight to the South to minimize travel time, and just spend as much time as possible down there? OR should I focus more on the North Island?

Any recommendations would be great! Thanks!
Having been to both parts of the country, and based on what you said you were looking for, I would highly recommend the South Island. You will want to fly versus drive though with your short amount of time. Flying will save yourself about 20 hours of travel time depending on where you go on the South Island. I would recommend Queenstown as a base on the south island to do exploring from. Easy flight from Auckland with tons of hiking in the area. Milford Sound can be reached in about 4 hours of driving or on a tour bus from Queenstown; worth going there and spending the night at Milford Sound lodge if you can. Milford Sound is spectacular, especially after the tour buses leave. Enjoy your trip; the scenery on the South Island is truly jaw dropping amazing.

Last edited by res1968; Jan 17, 12 at 2:10 pm.
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Old Jan 17, 12, 4:30 pm   #3
 
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I would strongly advise driving North to South, you would need around 2weeks to be able to get the full benefit of this. Allot of the state highways are very basic & tend to be single laned & windy.
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Old Jan 17, 12, 9:30 pm   #4
 
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I would strongly advise driving North to South, you would need around 2weeks to be able to get the full benefit of this. Allot of the state highways are very basic & tend to be single laned & windy.
cavemanzk, since I only have 6 days, would you advise against driving? I was originally thinking that seeing the views on the drive down could count as part of the sightseeing, but would my time be better spent actually in the South like res suggested?

Thanks for the recommendations!
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Old Jan 18, 12, 5:21 am   #5
 
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Originally Posted by jar982 View Post
Hello,

I'm going to be landing at AKL on March 1, and flying back out on March 8. That gives me 6 full days to travel around and see as much as I can of New Zealand. Since it's not a lot of time, I was wondering if you all could help me figure out the must-see spots to hit. I'm mostly interested in hiking, scenery, and hitting some local pubs and restaurants.

From what I've read online, it sounds like there is more to see in terms of scenery in South Island than in North Island. It also seems like Abel Tasman Park is a must-see based on recommendations from several different websites. Would it be better to rent a car and drive down to the South (and maybe stop by Tongariro along the way)? Or would it be better to just book a flight to the South to minimize travel time, and just spend as much time as possible down there? OR should I focus more on the North Island?

Any recommendations would be great! Thanks!
I am flying into AKL for exactly the same length of time in mid February. I initially booked the flights a few months ago when they were extremely cheap, without doing too much research on which was the best place to fly to (as you've probably guessed, I haven't been to NZ before). After I'd booked the flights and started researching, I realised I should have booked the flights to the south island rather than AKL, which initially disappointed me. I looked at flying to the south island and also driving - decided driving probably wasn't worth, but could fly.

After doing some more research, I discovered I'd like to see/do more on the north island than I would have time for, so I decided to stay on the north island this time and visit the south island another time. I have the luxury of living quite close, which you may not have!

My interests for N.Z. are similar to yours: walking (probably won't do a great deal), beaches, restaurants/eating/pubs, wine, scenery, driving.

What I'm planning on doing for my week on the North Island (order not finalised):

- Waitomo - black water rafting
- Rotorua - maori cultural show, hot springs, etc
- Drive the Forgotten World Highway
- Spend a day or two visiting wineries in the Hawkes bay area (will probably spend an afternoon or day cycling to wineries), whilst staying in Napier (an art deco town)
- Lake Taupo - possibly bungy jump
- Drive the coast road from Auckland to the Coromandels
- Visit Bay of Islands
- visit relatives at Palmerston North (If I make it that far south)

I will be hiring a car for the whole time and don't plan on spending any time in AKL itself - too many other things to see/do! As it is, I probably won't get to do everything on my list. If I do make it back to Auckland with some spare time, I will look at a bridge climb (not sure on the details at this stage) and/or heading to Waiheke island.
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Old Jan 19, 12, 10:45 am   #6
 
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Originally Posted by jar982 View Post
cavemanzk, since I only have 6 days, would you advise against driving? I was originally thinking that seeing the views on the drive down could count as part of the sightseeing, but would my time be better spent actually in the South like res suggested?

Thanks for the recommendations!
Sorry I meant to say wouldn't advise that you drove
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Old Jan 20, 12, 12:15 pm   #7
 
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Originally Posted by jar982 View Post
Hello,

I'm going to be landing at AKL on March 1, and flying back out on March 8. That gives me 6 full days to travel around and see as much as I can of New Zealand. Since it's not a lot of time, I was wondering if you all could help me figure out the must-see spots to hit. I'm mostly interested in hiking, scenery, and hitting some local pubs and restaurants.

From what I've read online, it sounds like there is more to see in terms of scenery in South Island than in North Island. It also seems like Abel Tasman Park is a must-see based on recommendations from several different websites. Would it be better to rent a car and drive down to the South (and maybe stop by Tongariro along the way)? Or would it be better to just book a flight to the South to minimize travel time, and just spend as much time as possible down there? OR should I focus more on the North Island?

Any recommendations would be great! Thanks!
I think NZ is bigger than you think.

For 6 days I would pick out a certain part of NZ and concentrate on that. And I think if you are flying into AKL then the North Island should be it. The North Island IMHO is great, the South Island better, but 6 days is simply not enough time to do justice to both.

You could consider: Bay of Islands up north, a very pretty part of the world. The Coromandel Peninsula East of AKL, quite rugged in parts, and definitely worth a visit. Rotorua a few hours south of AKL, hot (and stinky ) mudpools.

TBH, that would use up your 6 days easily.

But if you wish to 'do' the South instead then fly to Queenstown, and check things out around there. Wanaka, Arrowtown, Milford Sound (can fly if budget allows, saves heaps of time), Doubtful Sound, perhaps even Mt Cook, are all options around there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AdMEL View Post
I am flying into AKL for exactly the same length of time in mid February. I initially booked the flights a few months ago when they were extremely cheap, without doing too much research on which was the best place to fly to (as you've probably guessed, I haven't been to NZ before). After I'd booked the flights and started researching, I realised I should have booked the flights to the south island rather than AKL, which initially disappointed me. I looked at flying to the south island and also driving - decided driving probably wasn't worth, but could fly.

After doing some more research, I discovered I'd like to see/do more on the north island than I would have time for, so I decided to stay on the north island this time and visit the south island another time. I have the luxury of living quite close, which you may not have!

My interests for N.Z. are similar to yours: walking (probably won't do a great deal), beaches, restaurants/eating/pubs, wine, scenery, driving.

What I'm planning on doing for my week on the North Island (order not finalised):

- Waitomo - black water rafting
- Rotorua - maori cultural show, hot springs, etc
- Drive the Forgotten World Highway
- Spend a day or two visiting wineries in the Hawkes bay area (will probably spend an afternoon or day cycling to wineries), whilst staying in Napier (an art deco town)
- Lake Taupo - possibly bungy jump
- Drive the coast road from Auckland to the Coromandels
- Visit Bay of Islands
- visit relatives at Palmerston North (If I make it that far south)

I will be hiring a car for the whole time and don't plan on spending any time in AKL itself - too many other things to see/do! As it is, I probably won't get to do everything on my list. If I do make it back to Auckland with some spare time, I will look at a bridge climb (not sure on the details at this stage) and/or heading to Waiheke island.
An ambitious (but nice ) schedule, and I agree you wont be able fit it it all in.

As per my previous comments. Coromandel is nice (I have stayed at Whitianga a couple of times, but the Driving Creek Railway near Coromandel town is interesting), as is Bay of Islands, and you could see both in 6 days, but not too much else - maybe Rotorua as well - (unless you're happy to be driving the entire time )
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Old Aug 12, 12, 8:45 pm   #8
 
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Originally Posted by jar982 View Post
Hello,

I'm going to be landing at AKL on March 1, and flying back out on March 8. That gives me 6 full days to travel around and see as much as I can of New Zealand Or would it be better to just book a flight to the South to minimize travel time, and just spend as much time as possible down there? OR should I focus more on the North Island?

Any recommendations would be great! Thanks!
Hey JAR - Funnily enough, those are the exact dates that I am heading to AKL for an International Conference in Mental Health - from Toronto via YVR so won't get to see much those days but am planning to fly to SI for ~$59 NZ using "grab-a-seat", then do a rental car from Queensland or Christchurch ($79) Might be an option for a quick flip if you wished to head South. Thanks to all for some great tips on things to do on NI as well.
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Old Aug 14, 12, 9:40 am   #9
 
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March is a beautiful time of year in NZ! With 6 days I agree with others that trying to fit the South Island in is a bit ambitious, in your shoes I'd consider:

* a 1-day wine tour on Waiheke Island or to Matakana in North Auckland
* Driving to Rotorua (about 3 hours from Auckland) to see the mud pools and geothermal activity, then carrying on to Taupo (about an hour away)
* If you are physically fit and the park is open again doing the Tongariro Crossing (transfers available ex-Taupo or ex-Turangi)
* Maybe a day in Taupo to check out the cafe/design scene, do a bungy jump, visit some goethermal pools.
* Heading over to Waitomo to go black-water rafting and see the glow-worm caves.
* Going to the coromandel--there are some great walks over there too (for example the Pinnacles) and excellent beaches.
* You could consider doing a one-way car hire to Hawkes Bay (wine Regions), Taranaki (great surfing and standalone volcanic cone, good cafe scene)or somewhere up north (say Whangarei--you could go as far as Russel and then turn around and head back for great beaches, wine, NZ history).

Basically to get to (say) Abel Tasman (which IS stunning) will take you nearly a day, by the time you fly to Nelson and then drive over the hill to Takaka and the park. Having said that, you could also spend 6 very nice days in the Marlborough region, hiking, rock, climbing, seeing the beaches and tasting some nice wines....just depends on what you're into.

I agree with the poster above who suggests picking a smallish bit and sticking to it, though--NZ is a lot bigger than people think, and driving times are a lot further because the roads are often windy and narrow.
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