Comments/suggestions on my NZ itinerary for September please!

Reply

Old May 27, 19, 12:52 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: MSY
Programs: BA GfL
Posts: 5,301
Comments/suggestions on my NZ itinerary for September please!

Iíve looked through some threads here on trip planning and would love to get some comments on my upcoming trip to NZ. My Australian friend and I will be flying from MEL to New Zealand on Sept. 11 and then I leave out of AKL on Sept. 28. Iím thinking to hit South Island first and wind up in AKL, but thus far Iíve only gotten as far as a rough itinerary for South Island (with input from my Aussie friend):

9/11 Fly into Queenstown (ANZ 864 09:10-14:25), drive to Te Anau, overnight Te Anau
9/12 Milford Sound, overnight Te Anau
9/13 Drive Southern Scenic Route to Invercargill (or just beyond), overnight there
9/14 Drive Catlins Coast toward Nugget Point and on to Dunedin, overnight Dunedin
9/15 Otago Peninsula, overnight Dunedin
9/16 Fly (1 hour) or drive (5.5 hours) from Dunedin to Christchurch, overnight Christchurch
9/17 Christchurch, overnight Christchurch
9/18 Train to Greymouth, pick up rental car and drive north to Pancake Rocks etc. Overnight Westport or nearby
9/19 Drive to Nelson, overnight Nelson
9/20 Abel Tasman NP or Marlborough Sounds Maritime Park, overnight Nelson
9/21 Fly Nelson-Whangarai (3 hrs), drive to Paihia, overnight Paihia
9/22-23 Bay of Islands
9/24-25 ??
9/26-27 Auckland
9/28 Fly out of Auckland 1:30 PM

Question 1: Are there any major flaws with this plan (like, should we overnight in Queenstown the day we arrive vs. heading straight for Te Anau, are the drive times going to be outrageous, does September weather mean any of these destinations will be a washout, etc.)?

Question 2: What to do on North Island? My friend wants to go to Bay of Islands and has been to NZ before, so I assume she wonít want to do places like Rotorua again (which is fine with me). I am thinking maybe to go across to Hokianga Harbor in between Bay of Islands and Auckland, but maybe there is something else more compelling? It doesnít seem like there will be time to do much else.

Thanks in advance for your help!
travelmad478 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 19, 2:56 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 57
You are spending a lot of time in the car with that itinerary. Driving in NZ is more tiring than in the states since there are very few two lane highways. September I think that you will be required to have chains in your vehicle to drive to Milford Sound. Ice and slick roads tend to be a bigger issue than snow. You also are excluding the entire Wanaka/Queenstown/Fox/Fritz glacier area. I would add time to places you will already be instead of adding new places.

If you return turn your car to Dunedin you have less rental choices, but Jucy is there. Hitch has a 25% coupon and is cheap.
weibelt is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 19, 4:06 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: SFO, OAK, SJC
Posts: 206
That is way too much driving; you're on the road nearly every day.

For two weeks, and if you must go to the North Island for the Bay of Islands, I would do something like 10-11 days in the south and 3-4 days in the north. In the south, pick 3 areas and explorer around those; the closer the better. I don't have much to say about the north as I only visited Auckland, though do the Coast-to-Coast Walk; you get to see a bit of the city that way and it's only 10 miles one way.
calbear2005 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 19, 6:19 pm
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: MSY
Programs: BA GfL
Posts: 5,301
Thanks for that. I have not heard about the chains on tires thing for Milford Sound, but if need be we can do a tour from Te Anau. A friend in NZ who also saw this itinerary did not mention anything about that.

Re: driving a lot, we have two nights in Te Anau, two nights in Dunedin, two nights in Christchurch, and two nights in Nelson (one night each in Invercargill and Westport). It is a fair amount of driving, but we do break it up with an internal flight and a train ride. I’m pretty used to road trips and small roads (have done plenty of this in Scotland, for example). Plus, the drives themselves and the scenery alongside are part of the appeal for me. I might consider doing the Te Anau-Dunedin segment in three days vs. two, since the Catlins Coast has a lot of sights to see and that’s a long, slow drive. Westport to Nelson is listed on Google Maps as just over 3 hours, which is entirely manageable (even 5 hours would be manageable).

weibelt, thanks for the car rental suggestions! And yes, this misses out on the glaciers but since my friend and I have already been to both Antarctica and the Arctic, we don’t really feel the need to see more glaciers. The train ride from Christchurch to Greymouth sounds a lot more interesting.
travelmad478 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 19, 10:03 pm
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: MEL CHC
Posts: 13,739
As above and for many people going to NZ trying to visit to many places and drive too much.
Average road speed will be low. No multi lane divided super highways in South Island. But google maps is generally OK for times.
Too many days with over 4 hrs of driving: don't do that. Slow down.
On days with a lot of driving far better to get on the road at say 7:30 and not 9:30.

Driving after the 3:00hr flight is a tad optimistic. It will get dark. Especially right hand drive if not used to that.
In Fiordland - Te Anua - West Coast it will rain some time. That is why it is green & lush. So some days you may not be able to see what you want. But their is the next day.
Would not expect you drive on snow (Sept to late for that)

Not a lot of scenic places at Invercargill - Bluff area. Unless you really like dairy cows and industrial irrigation systems.
Catlins area sounds better (but have never been)

Fly from Dunedin/south and stay 1 night in Chch. A lot of the city is still a construction zone after the large 2011 earthquake. Half the drive Dunedin to Chc would be a 2 lane road, with trucks, on the flat Canterbury plains. But you would see more cows and irrigation on land that 25 years ago was marginal with a few sheep if you are keen.

From the west coast to Nelson area turn left after the bridge at the pub and take the road to Tapawera and on to Motueka. Some interesting places their. Takaka - Collingwood. Will be family owned motels. Would waste half a day going to Nelson and then back to AB National Park area over the hill. Do not rush it. Nelson airport is between Nelson & Richmond (Stoke area)
https://goo.gl/maps/p1M5bnm3vkV977Dn7

You are driving south to north, which is good. Many drive north to south, so a surplus of (cheap) rental cars at southern depots
Link--> https://www.transfercar.co.nz/

Main airlines in NZ are Air NZ & Jetstar JQ. And a few minor regional airlines. Sometimes JQ can have on time performance problems later in the day.

Don't rush it or keep driving to meet an unrealistic schedule. Slow down

Last edited by Mwenenzi; May 28, 19 at 8:15 pm Reason: added quake link
Mwenenzi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 28, 19, 10:00 pm
  #6  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Programs: Frontier 50K elite, EY silver, DL estranged 1MMer, Spirit VIP, AA/UA (and CO,NW) once gold now dirt.
Posts: 26,028
Originally Posted by Mwenenzi View Post
As above and for many people going to NZ trying to visit to many places and drive too much.
Average road speed will be low. No multi lane divided super highways in South Island. But google maps is generally OK for times.
Too many days with over 4 hrs of driving: don't do that. Slow down.
On days with a lot of driving far better to get on the road at say 7:30 and not 9:30.
Yeah, I did a circle-island over 7 days for the south island (minus Queenstown) and it was a bit hectic. Also did it with no pre-arranged bookings during the high season...reminded me a lot of Alaska in, say, June. The evening hours in particular could be delightful for exploration (nice light for pictures, all the old folks and tour groups had called it a day). But the "price" was sometimes sleeping in the car. I could be at or near the point of not being able to do that kind of trip anymore.
RustyC is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 28, 19, 11:08 pm
  #7  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: MEL CHC
Posts: 13,739
Originally Posted by RustyC View Post
Yeah, I did a circle-island over 7 days for the south island (minus Queenstown) and it was a bit hectic. Also did it with no pre-arranged bookings during the high season...reminded me a lot of Alaska in, say, June. The evening hours in particular could be delightful for exploration (nice light for pictures, all the old folks and tour groups had called it a day). But the "price" was sometimes sleeping in the car. I could be at or near the point of not being able to do that kind of trip anymore.
High season would make that kind of trip hard. September will be OK.
But now with internet not that hard to get accommodation the day before/morning instead of hunting for accommodation at ~4:00pm late afternoon. But still people get caught out in the glaciers to Haast Pass area.

Last edited by Mwenenzi; May 28, 19 at 11:21 pm
Mwenenzi is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 28, 19, 11:42 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: MSY
Programs: BA GfL
Posts: 5,301
Thanks Mwenenzi, I am taking your comments on board, and thanks for the suggestion for Takaka vs. Nelson. I will look to spend a night in Queenstown at the beginning and add one night to the drive between Invercargill and Dunedin (I hear good things about the scenery, but from the map it is clear that this will be slow going). I am well aware that we will get rained on in September and that's OK. As for booking accommodations, I'm not keen on doing this on the fly so I will definitely do that in advance. Given the time frame, I don't expect to have problems with that.
travelmad478 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 29, 19, 10:48 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: SFO, OAK, SJC
Posts: 206
Originally Posted by RustyC View Post
Yeah, I did a circle-island over 7 days for the south island (minus Queenstown) and it was a bit hectic. Also did it with no pre-arranged bookings during the high season...reminded me a lot of Alaska in, say, June. The evening hours in particular could be delightful for exploration (nice light for pictures, all the old folks and tour groups had called it a day). But the "price" was sometimes sleeping in the car. I could be at or near the point of not being able to do that kind of trip anymore.
Around the whole of South Island in a week? How much were you driving each day? I did Te Anau to Christchurch up the west coast and through Arthur's Pass in 2 weeks and felt rushed.
calbear2005 is offline  
Reply With Quote

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread