14 Day NZ Itinerary - Suggestions and Advice Requested!

Old Dec 18, 15, 5:08 am
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14 Day NZ Itinerary - Suggestions and Advice Requested!

Hi all, NZ has been on my bucket list for years and I'm finally getting the chance to go this Feb/Mar! Could not be more excited. I think I'd like to campervan it...I realize this will probably be more expensive than rental car & hotel, but I'd really like to stay at some DOC campsites (as I hear they're gorgeous) and have the flexibility and convenience to change plans on the fly.

I also came up with a non campervan itinerary where I fly from AKL to ZQN halfway through. That said, I don't really like it...it doesn't really save much. Still, I included it for completeness.

Both feel a bit rushed, but there are things I really don't want to miss on both islands (Rotorura, Milford Sound, Tongariro I think will be the highlights of my trip), so I think I'd be disappointed if I only saw one island.

My two primary goals for this trip are to see the stunning NZ landscape (I'm from Colorado originally, and I love hiking in the mountains), and experience a bit of Maori culture.

Sorry for the odd formatting, it's a copy/paste from Evernote and it won't play nice with the forum.

AKL --> ZQN via Campervan

* Fri, Feb 26: Arrive AKL around 1200
* Explore Auckland, check into hotel (1N), pick up rental car

* Sat, Feb 27: Auckland to Waitomo to Rotorura (2h + 2h)
* Pick up car, drive to Waitomo Caves (2h)
* Waitomo Gloworm cave tour (~2h)
* Drive to Hobbiton Movie set (1h), set tour in afternoon
* Drive to Rotorura (1h), check into hotel (2N)

* Mon, Feb 29: Rotorura
* Maori culture museum
* Mitai hangi dinner

* Tues, Mar 1: Rotorura to Tongariro National Park (2h)
* More Rotorura as desired
* Drive to Tongariro, short walk if time available
* Hotel? (2N)

* Wed, Mar 2: Tongariro
* Hiking/Mountain Biking

* Thurs, Mar 3: Drive to Wellington (4h), evening ferry to Picton (4h)
* Weta workshop tour in Wellington (45 min, NZ$25)
* Ferries: 2:45-5:55pm or 5:00pm-8:30pm, ~NZ$275/2 people
* Note: sunset is 8:00-8:30pm - late ferry would be nice sunset cruise!
* Hotel in Nelson? (2N)

* Fri, Mar 4: Picton/Nelson
* Walking (kayaking?) in Marlborough Sounds

* Sat, Mar 5: Nelson to Westport (3.5h)
* Short walk in Tauranga Bay
* Hotel in Westport (1N)

* Sun, Mar 6: Westport to Fox Glacier (4h)
* Short hike in Fox Glacier
* Hotel? (2N)

* Mon, Mar 7: Fox Glacier/Westland Tai Poutini National Park
* Hiking

* Tues, Mar 8: Fox Glacier to Queenstown (4h)
* More Queenstown in the afternoon
* Hotel (1N)

* Wed, Mar 9: Queenstown to Te Anu and Milford Sound (4h)
* Stop and check out Te Anu and Mirror Lakes along the way
* Hotel? Cruise boat? (2N)

* Thurs, Mar 10: Milford Sound
* Morning cruise, afternoon walk along first stretch of Milford Track
* Stay in Te Anau or Manapouri

* Fri, Mar 11: Milford Sound to Queenstown (4 h)
* Doubtful Sound Cruise from Te Anau or Manapouri
* Hotel (1N)

* Sat, Mar 12: Fly out of ZQN


AKL --> Fly --> ZQN

* Fri, Feb 26: Arrive AKL around 1200
* Explore Auckland, check into hotel (1N), pick up rental car (7 days)

* Sat, Feb 27: More Auckland, maybe day trip out of the city?
* Mon, Feb 29: Auckland to Waitomo to Rotorura (2h + 2h)
* Pick up car, drive to Waitomo Caves (2h)
* Waitomo Gloworm cave tour (~2h)
* Drive to Hobbiton Movie set (1h), set tour in afternoon
* Drive to Rotorura (1h), check into hotel

* Tues, Mar 1: Rotorura
* Maori culture museum
* Mitai hangi dinner

* Wed, Mar 2: Rotorura to Tongariro National Park (2h)
* More Rotorura as desired
* Drive to Tongariro, short walk if time available

* Thurs, Mar 3: Tongariro
* Hiking/Mountain Biking

* Fri, Mar 4: Fly to ZQN
* Drive to AKL (4h), return rental car, afternoon flight to ZQN (2h), pick up campervan (8 days)?

* Sat, Mar 5: Explore Queenstown
* Bungie Jumping?

* Sun, Mar 6: Queenstown to Fox Glacier via Crown Range Rd(4h)
* Explore Fox Glacier in afternoon

* Mon, Mar 7: Fox Glacier/Westland Tai Poutini National Park
* Hiking

* Tues, Mar 8: Fox Glacier to Queenstown
* More Queenstown in the afternoon

* Wed, Mar 9: Queenstown to Te Anu and Milford Sound (4h)
* Stop and check out Te Anu and Mirror Lakes along the way

* Thurs, Mar 10: Milford Sound
* Morning cruise, afternoon walk along first stretch of Milford Track

* Fri, Mar 11: Milford Sound to Queenstown (4 h)
* Queenstown in afternoon

* Sat, Mar 12: Fly out of ZQN
ravisurdhar is offline  
Old Dec 18, 15, 12:56 pm
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Have you looked the numerous other NZ Itinerary threads.
Most (all?) have too many activities/places in too short a time
Where do the driving times come from? A lot of roads are slow: it takes more time than you think. More so if you stop along the way.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 1:04 pm
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Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
Have you looked the numerous other NZ Itinerary threads.
Most (all?) have too many activities/places in too short a time
Where do the driving times come from? A lot of roads are slow: it takes more time than you think. More so if you stop along the way.
I agree with this statement. It is important to note with driving in Feb/March you are still very much in peak season meaning the driving will be even slower. The driving is more technical than you think - there was a lodge outside of Wellington we stayed at that was about 30 miles away, yet took seriously 1.5 hours to drive to it.

I know NZ is a big deal (trust me, I am obsessed with it and have two trips planned in 2016 myself) but slower is better to really appreciate it and all of its glory, even if it means cutting some destinations out. I think some of the time you think for places is not enough, such as 1 hour at Hobbiton or 2 hours at Waitomo caves. Even if you have tickets it advance and are not waiting in line, you will be rushed with that amount of time scheduled.
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Old Dec 19, 15, 5:28 am
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Originally Posted by Travel K View Post
I agree with this statement. It is important to note with driving in Feb/March you are still very much in peak season meaning the driving will be even slower. The driving is more technical than you think - there was a lodge outside of Wellington we stayed at that was about 30 miles away, yet took seriously 1.5 hours to drive to it.

I know NZ is a big deal (trust me, I am obsessed with it and have two trips planned in 2016 myself) but slower is better to really appreciate it and all of its glory, even if it means cutting some destinations out. I think some of the time you think for places is not enough, such as 1 hour at Hobbiton or 2 hours at Waitomo caves. Even if you have tickets it advance and are not waiting in line, you will be rushed with that amount of time scheduled.
What would you cut out then? The places that sound the most interesting to me are Rotorura, Tongariro, and Milford Sound. Can/should the glow worm caves, fox glacier, and the whole west coast of the south island be skipped?
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Old Dec 19, 15, 8:10 pm
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I just think you will exhaust yourself with some of your days and might not be able to get it all done. The drive from AKL-Waitomo is closer to 3 hours and the drive from Waitomo to Matamata is at least 1.5 hrs....ZQN to Milford is at least 4.5 hours.....pretty much add 20% to any drive time you see on google maps. The day from AKL-ROT is possible in theory, but you will be rushed and it is very long. I would take out the glow worms as it is a really long way to go to see one thing. Just go straight to Matamata, then to Rotorua.

For option 1, it looks like you plan on taking a rental car on the ferry, right? You need to check to see what the fee for that will be, it is my understanding the rental car companies will charge you heavily for that. I always have clients drop the car in WLG then pick a new one up on the other side.
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Old Dec 21, 15, 3:06 am
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Originally Posted by Travel K View Post
I just think you will exhaust yourself with some of your days and might not be able to get it all done. The drive from AKL-Waitomo is closer to 3 hours and the drive from Waitomo to Matamata is at least 1.5 hrs....ZQN to Milford is at least 4.5 hours.....pretty much add 20% to any drive time you see on google maps. The day from AKL-ROT is possible in theory, but you will be rushed and it is very long. I would take out the glow worms as it is a really long way to go to see one thing. Just go straight to Matamata, then to Rotorua.

For option 1, it looks like you plan on taking a rental car on the ferry, right? You need to check to see what the fee for that will be, it is my understanding the rental car companies will charge you heavily for that. I always have clients drop the car in WLG then pick a new one up on the other side.
I honestly do not understand this 'add 20% to Google Maps' notion I read on FT. I did Christchurch to Franz Josef today in the exact stated time it calculated, with only ~15 minutes added on for unplanned stops (we did ~3 hours of hiking in Arthur's Pass in the middle - also much faster than NZ trail signs suggested).

IMO, if you have a plan and you execute it, you will end up A-OK on time. Driving at the speed limit was zero issue at all for me, and this was my first full day here after spending 24 hours in metal tubes getting here.
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Old Dec 21, 15, 5:56 am
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I also found google maps to be very accurate for planning, but only when I looked at the routes at approximately the same local time as I'd be driving them. We did a ton of driving on our last trip and had no problems. but I agree with the other posters that you're trying to cram a lot in. I'd cut out the drive from Rotorura south and maybe just fly into Queenstown. Or into Christchurch and drive from there - we had a beautiful drive through Arthur's Pass and down the West coast. Not sure how that would work with your camper van idea though.
There's some good discussion of a couple of routes for the Christchurch to Queenstown drive in this thread I started a couple of years ago.
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Old Dec 21, 15, 6:19 am
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Thanks for all the input. I think the campervan is going to be out...the whole idea with the campervan was to modify the itinerary as we go and not be fixed to a schedule, but I think in order to see everything we want to see, we're going to have to stick to the itinerary. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but if we already know exactly where we're going to be each night, might as well ditch the campervan and just get a rental car and make hotel reservations in advance.

I didn't realize the rental car fee for the ferry...I figured that would be rolled into the one-way surcharge?

I think we'll skip the glowworms in Waitomo since we'll see them in Milford if we overnight in Te Anu. I imagine those wouldn't be any less spectacular than the ones at Waitomo, right?
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Old Dec 21, 15, 2:08 pm
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As a kiwi, I'd recommend culling Waitomo and the West Coast. Tekapo/Mount Cook Village area is far superior in my opinion, and the weather is usually a lot better too.
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Old Dec 21, 15, 3:53 pm
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@ravisurdhar Double check with the ferry and rental cars....the suppliers I work with always have my clients drop the car...I have a vague memory of a conversation why and the answer being an extra fee. Just make sure you are aware.

As far as drive times, I stand by my statement. With it being a high tourist season, the traffic will be slower. Additionally, the OP's estimates of drive times were low to begin with. Every client I have ever sent all said the same thing, the drives were longer than planned for. I found that to be the case when I was there as well.
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Old Dec 21, 15, 6:29 pm
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Originally Posted by ravisurdhar View Post
....
I didn't realize the rental car fee for the ferry...I figured that would be rolled into the one-way surcharge?

....
I didn't realize this restriction either. For folks reading this in the future, here's a link to Hertz's website discussing it, which states:


YOUR OPTIONS
A. Donít bring your vehicle on the ferry.
It may be cheaper and itís easy. Just drop off your vehicle before your ferry crossing and pick up a new one on the other side. We can assist with this if we are given specific date/times, at least 5 days before your ferry crossing. Call 0800 501 301.

B. Bring your vehicle on the ferry and bring it back to the same Island.
Ferry companies will charge you to bring a vehicle across Cook Strait. Also note a $1,000 +GST Hertz fee applies if you do not return your vehicle to the same island you picked it up from.
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Old Dec 21, 15, 7:08 pm
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Originally Posted by Travel K View Post
As far as drive times, I stand by my statement. With it being a high tourist season, the traffic will be slower. Additionally, the OP's estimates of drive times were low to begin with. Every client I have ever sent all said the same thing, the drives were longer than planned for. I found that to be the case when I was there as well.
Google Maps has been eerily accurate in its drive time for me. Even driving through remote parts of Kazakhstan and Mongolia it was correct on long 12+ hour drives to within 30 minutes.
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