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  • FIRST POST
    • familyguy321
    • By familyguy321 5th Feb 18, 11:12 PM
    • 53Posts
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    familyguy321
    0 WOW
    North and South Island in 2 weeks - help required
    • #1
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:12 PM
    0 WOW
    North and South Island in 2 weeks - help required 5th Feb 18 at 11:12 PM
    Hi All,

    My wife and I will be visiting NZ for 2 weeks in April and completely lost on how to best structure our time to see as much as possible on both Islands. We've put together an initial itinerary below and any advice would be much appreciated:

    Day 1 (Sunday): Flight lands in Auckland early afternoon. Plan is to check into hotel and then go out for boat cruise along the Harbour followed by dinner at the Sky Tower.

    Day 2 (Monday): Day trip to Hobbit movie set and Glow worm caves (can this be done in a day?)

    Day 3 (Tuesday): Day trip to Bay of Islands

    Day 4 (Wednesday): Hire campervan and leave Auckland in the morning. Aim to arrive in Rotorua by the afternoon to check out Maori village. Overnight stay in Rotorua.

    Day 5 (Thursday): Drive south towards Wellington. (any suggestions on route?)

    Day 6 (Friday): Arrive in Wellington and check into hotel. Drop off campervan. Free day to check out Wellington.

    Day 7 (Saturday): Early morning flight from Wellington to Queenstown. (Flight not booked as yet but this is the cheapest day by some margin). Free afternoon to explore Queenstown.

    Day 8 (Sunday): Nevis swing

    Day 9 (Monday): Milford Sound Cruise & Kayak

    Day 10 (Tuesday): Morning in Queenstown. Leave in afternoon with campervan and drive North. (Where is the best place to stop in the evening for stargazing?)

    Day 11 (Wednesday): Continue driving towards Christchurch

    Day 12 (Thursday): Arrive in Christchurch and explore.

    Day 13 (Friday): Morning flight out.

    Thanks in advance!

    FG
Page 1
    • dawyldthing
    • By dawyldthing 5th Feb 18, 11:17 PM
    • 2,808 Posts
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    dawyldthing
    • #2
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:17 PM
    • #2
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:17 PM
    You'll be forever on the go. I did north and south in a month and I felt like I'd been on the go all the while. It's huge and you travel loads. I'd stick to south if you want my honest opinion and go to kiakora to swim with the dolphins when heading north if you decide to.

    Don't cram too much in or it won't be a relaxing holiday
    My targets to end 2018:
    1) To get down to 11 stone then treat to a safari. At start 17 stone 7 lbs *60lbs lost* *31lbs to go*
    Started SW16st13lbs tues11/7/17 - 32 weeks in -52lbs
    -> target 11 st 13lbs by mid June -> 15 weeks & 18lbs to go
    2) to find new challenges
    • Marmaduke123
    • By Marmaduke123 5th Feb 18, 11:32 PM
    • 408 Posts
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    Marmaduke123
    • #3
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:32 PM
    • #3
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:32 PM
    I agree. You could just about do either the North or South island in 2 weeks, but not both. A lot of the roads in New Zealand aren't wonderful, so it will take you much longer to get to places than it would here. Think narrow, one way bridges!

    New Zealand is a wonderful country with lots to see. Decide on your priorities and plan accordingly.
    • dawyldthing
    • By dawyldthing 5th Feb 18, 11:46 PM
    • 2,808 Posts
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    dawyldthing
    • #4
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:46 PM
    • #4
    • 5th Feb 18, 11:46 PM
    Day 1 (Sunday): Flight lands in Auckland early afternoon. Plan is to check into hotel and then go out for boat cruise along the Harbour followed by dinner at the Sky Tower.

    Day 2 (Monday): Day trip to Hobbit movie set and Glow worm caves (can this be done in a day?)

    Day 3 (Tuesday): Day trip to Bay of Islands

    Day 4 (Wednesday): Hire campervan and leave Auckland in the morning. Aim to arrive in Rotorua by the afternoon to check out Maori village. Overnight stay in Rotorua.

    Day 5 (Thursday): Drive south towards Wellington. (any suggestions on route?)



    Your other problem is you're going north to bay of islands which is a long way, (3 hours or more each way) I wouldn't have said a day trip, hobbiton is over 2 hours each way (didn't do it but was on kiwi ex so had to go back for the folk that did) and glow caves in a day would be a push. Drive to Wellington will be a few hours. You'll literally be sitting in traffic. Rotoura to Wellington 5 and a half hours. I mean we did it gradually but sat on the bus at least 4 hours each day, sometimes a heck of a lot more. By the time you get to places you'll just want to sleep. Unless you did a few days in Auckland - day trips/ overnight trip to bay of island, hobbiton another day trip, Maori village might be another somewhere as there were a lot of buses to there. Then fly from Auckland to queenstown spend a few days there then use public transport to Christchurch and explore before flying back which might be more doable but you'll be forever travelling if you don't have a base.
    Last edited by dawyldthing; 05-02-2018 at 11:56 PM.
    My targets to end 2018:
    1) To get down to 11 stone then treat to a safari. At start 17 stone 7 lbs *60lbs lost* *31lbs to go*
    Started SW16st13lbs tues11/7/17 - 32 weeks in -52lbs
    -> target 11 st 13lbs by mid June -> 15 weeks & 18lbs to go
    2) to find new challenges
    • Robin9
    • By Robin9 6th Feb 18, 5:13 AM
    • 2,239 Posts
    • 1,436 Thanks
    Robin9
    • #5
    • 6th Feb 18, 5:13 AM
    • #5
    • 6th Feb 18, 5:13 AM
    Rethink Day 1. You will be so jetlagged you will fall asleep in your soup.

    I did much of your trip over 3 weeks by coach and that was nonstop.
    Never pay on an estimated bill
    • knightstyle
    • By knightstyle 6th Feb 18, 8:36 AM
    • 4,591 Posts
    • 1,697 Thanks
    knightstyle
    • #6
    • 6th Feb 18, 8:36 AM
    • #6
    • 6th Feb 18, 8:36 AM
    As this is MSE have a look at doing the trip in reverse, that is what we did a few years ago.
    The camper was then on a relocation deal, 11 dollars a day including insurance and the company paid the ferry cost.
    This is because almost everyone does what you propose.
    Agree with others allow a few days to relax by the beach etc.
    By the way campsites are great with communal kitchens, fridges etc.
    • agrinnall
    • By agrinnall 6th Feb 18, 10:10 AM
    • 19,419 Posts
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    agrinnall
    • #7
    • 6th Feb 18, 10:10 AM
    • #7
    • 6th Feb 18, 10:10 AM
    Too much in too little time, I was there for almost 5 years and barely touched the South Island (mind you, I was working and they were - maybe still are - very stingy with holidays).
    • elaineb64
    • By elaineb64 6th Feb 18, 11:03 AM
    • 7 Posts
    • 6 Thanks
    elaineb64
    • #8
    • 6th Feb 18, 11:03 AM
    • #8
    • 6th Feb 18, 11:03 AM
    There's an awful lot of content there for two weeks.
    We were there for three weeks last year and only managed to visit North Island (we were staying in Brown's Bay with friends who live there).
    We landed mid afternoon but by 8pm I was like a zombie!
    We hired a car for two of the three weeks. Did the Hobbiton tour but added on an overnight in Tauranga and overnight in Rotorua but was still shattered when we got back. Roads are not that great - especially the drive to Matamata for Hobbiton - lots of narrow winding roads and it's in the middle of nowhere.
    We also went to the Bay of Islands, based in Paihia. Visited Waitangi Treaty Grounds and did an island boat trip and ferry to Russell Island.
    The rest of the time we did day trips from Brown's Bay. Caught the ferry from Auckland and went over to Waiheke Island (beautiful!), visited Auckland Centennial Park, Hunua Falls and Coromandel.
    We really wanted to see south Island but it would have meant we had less time with our friends (we hadn't seen them for 3 years), so we're going back in November (again based in Brown's Bay) but this time we're planning to fly down for 10 days and hire a camper van then fly back to Auckland so we have a week with them before we come home.
    New Zealand is a stunning country - have a great time!
    • WorriedFriend2017
    • By WorriedFriend2017 6th Feb 18, 11:17 AM
    • 34 Posts
    • 12 Thanks
    WorriedFriend2017
    • #9
    • 6th Feb 18, 11:17 AM
    • #9
    • 6th Feb 18, 11:17 AM
    I'll ignore some of the above, I've just been to NZ for 6 days and did much of the North island. Managed to avoid jet lag by getting some sleep on the (long) plane journey and then programming myself to NZ time on my way there. I arrived in the evening so went for dinner and then to bed. Got up around 7-8am then straight out for some sun and breakfast which helps with re-timing everything. I believe its more a mental thing, if you think you'll be jet lagged then you will likely feel it.

    What we did was Hobbiton on the way back from Rotorua, as its around 2 hours from Auckland. However you could do it on the way down instead. If you did this as a day trip from Auckland then you'd need 4 hours+ for travel there and back. The visit itself is a guided tour so you're probably there less than 2 hours in total.

    We had a night in Auckland, then headed down to Rotorua for the next night.

    What I didn't think about was the sulphur smell in Rotorua! You get used to it though. We visited Kerosene Creek which has a natural river heated by some of the sulphur thermal springs so it was nice and warm. There's no extortionate entry fees like some of the other commercial locations.

    If you want to do Bay of Islands then I'd probably do that first before heading south.

    The roads in the North are good though and its never that busy, so we had no trouble getting around.

    I found most prices quite expensive, but then you probably know that already.

    Good luck and enjoy it!
    • DUKE
    • By DUKE 6th Feb 18, 12:15 PM
    • 7,010 Posts
    • 296,299 Thanks
    DUKE
    We did just 12 nights in November, & went from Heathrow-Bangkok-Auckland, no jet lag at all for us on the way there. I found Waiheke Island to be worth a visit, & just a short ferry ride from Auckland. I booked the train (Northern Explorer) from Auckland to Welly, a bit expensive but a nice & non tiring journey spent eating, drinking, & watching the world go by. We went from Welly to Picton on the ferry, another worth while trip. Then flew back to Auckland for our trip home. I did just go to visit family though, so although we appeared to have covered a fair bit of land, we didn't do what most people would, & it was relaxing. Jet lag got us on the return journey, big time. I had the time of my life, hope you do too!!!
    Last edited by DUKE; 06-02-2018 at 12:19 PM.
    Thanks everyone!
    • zagfles
    • By zagfles 6th Feb 18, 12:58 PM
    • 12,726 Posts
    • 10,781 Thanks
    zagfles
    As above, you're trying to see far too much in 2 weeks that you risk seeing mostly road and not much else! We were there for 3 weeks and stuck to the top half of the North island (mind you it was mid-winter!).

    BOI is stunning but wasted if you try to see it in a day trip from Auckland - that's at least 6 hours on the road. BTW there's a glow-worm cave just south of Paihia at Kawakawa if you're headed up that way - far less commercialised and flashy than Waitamo.

    Don't miss the themal pools and geothermal parks, these are on a par with Iceland.

    Also try to be flexible - we didn't book anything in advance, well no more that a day or two anyway, so we could decide what to do based on weather, how we're feeling etc. Though we did go August which is off-peak, not sure about April but don't tink it's peak season (check the school holidays).

    As always the tripadvisor forums are the best place for destination specific advice.
    • frankie
    • By frankie 6th Feb 18, 2:11 PM
    • 648 Posts
    • 263 Thanks
    frankie
    You will miss so much trying to cover all that is on offer with just 2 weeks. I would concentrate on one island only, even then you'll just scratch the surface of this astounding country.


    Ist trip we did was 2 weeks north, 2weeks south. Realised we had missed out on seeing so much. 2nd trip 3 weeks north, 3 weeks south.


    Still didn't cover all that we wanted as we side-tracked, re-routed, extended, explored etc.


    Did both our trips in camper van and used the campsites which were a great laugh.


    We still want to go back for more, and so will you!!
    • fizzytbomb
    • By fizzytbomb 6th Feb 18, 4:55 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    fizzytbomb
    When driving North to Christchurch, I would stop in Tekapo. Lovely lake and very dark skies, perfect for stargazing. And they have the Tekapo pools!

    Just be warned, Milford Sound is a good 3 hours (at least) from Queenstown so factor that in on your day trip - you will have to leave early if you want to kayak (or fly - it really is the best way to see it!). Its a long day by road.

    I lived in Queenstown for many years as a hotel concierge, its an amazing place! Let me know if you need any recommendations.
    • richardw
    • By richardw 6th Feb 18, 6:13 PM
    • 18,455 Posts
    • 7,639 Thanks
    richardw
    Consider spending a little longer in Queenstown.
    Consider flying ZQN-CHC.
    Kaikoura is great for whale watching, consider hiring a car and driving from Christchurch.
    Posts are not advice and must not be relied upon.
    • mgdavid
    • By mgdavid 6th Feb 18, 6:53 PM
    • 5,375 Posts
    • 4,631 Thanks
    mgdavid
    looking at the OP the problem seems to be you don't have 2 weeks, you have 11 1/2 days! We did a self-drive tour by car about 15 years ago, for 2 1/2 weeks and even then didn't go further north than Whangarei.
    From Queenstown you could do Mount Cook, either Fox or Franz Josef glacier then up the coast road to Greymouth, turn right and take highway 7 back to Christchurch.
    Is Hobbiton a 'must' for you? Personally I wouldn't go near it, I find the natural world so much more rewarding!
    A salary slave no more.....
    • isplumm
    • By isplumm 6th Feb 18, 10:17 PM
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    isplumm
    Hi,

    Not sure I would bother with a camper van ... my suggestion is to drive to Rotorua & visit the glow worm caves on the way - then stay in Rotorua 1 or 2 nights for the mud / blowholes, then fly from Rotorua to Wellington, then boat across to Picton, train down to Christchurch, maybe stop on way for whale watching.

    For me the South Island has far more to offer then the North, so if you only have 2 weeks, spend a few days in the North, then head South.

    Mark
    We’ve had to remove your signature. Please check the Forum Rules if you’re unsure why it’s been removed and, if still unsure, email forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • isplumm
    • By isplumm 6th Feb 18, 10:22 PM
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    isplumm
    Consider spending a little longer in Queenstown.
    Consider flying ZQN-CHC.
    Kaikoura is great for whale watching, consider hiring a car and driving from Christchurch.
    Originally posted by richardw
    Not sure if OP has time, but could catch the train down from Picton (?) to Kaikoura (do the whale watching), then catch train to Christchurch, then over to Greymouth, pick car up & drive down to Franz Joseph Glacier, then Queenstown, Christchurch, the fly back to Auckland & home? A lot of driving in a short time.

    Or spend a little time in Christchurch after getting off train & fly from Queenstown to Auckland & home? Just be aware that Queenstown can be windy, so flights can be cancelled!

    Mark
    We’ve had to remove your signature. Please check the Forum Rules if you’re unsure why it’s been removed and, if still unsure, email forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • familyguy321
    • By familyguy321 6th Feb 18, 10:29 PM
    • 53 Posts
    • 13 Thanks
    familyguy321
    Thank you so much to all of you for taking the time to respond and for the helpful tips.

    On reflection, it is probably too much to do in the time and so we will need to decide on priorities as suggested above. We will definitely review all comments and respond to individuals where further detail is required.

    Thanks again!

    FG
    • PoorCharleyBear
    • By PoorCharleyBear 7th Feb 18, 4:13 AM
    • 423 Posts
    • 736 Thanks
    PoorCharleyBear
    we live in Aus and flew to NZ for 10 days - so no jet lag to contend with, and in 10 days we just did the top half of the North Island, down as far as Rotorua.

    So much to see and roads are usually pretty bendy and not dualled, so little opportunity for overtaking. Stuck behind a tractor? Tough.
    The journey of 200 kms should take 2.5hrs on good roads, takes 4 in NZ.

    Just visit one island- two will leave you dissatisfied.
    • familyguy321
    • By familyguy321 7th Feb 18, 10:45 PM
    • 53 Posts
    • 13 Thanks
    familyguy321
    Hi everyone,

    Thanks to the excellent feedback and suggestions, we have amended the itinerary to focus on priorities and to allow some time to relax! The biggest change has been choosing to fly from Auckland to Queenstown, instead of from Wellington, which gives us more days in South Island. This means we have a base, Auckland / Queenstown when in the North / South islands respectively. However, it also means we don't get to experience the Aukland - Wellington Northern Explorer train.

    Please review the itinerary below and feel free to offer suggestions or answers to our questions.

    Day 1 (Sunday): Flight lands in Auckland early afternoon. Check into hotel and then go out for Auckland Harbour Boat cruise and, if not too tired, followed by dinner at the Sky Tower.

    Day 2 (Monday): Day trip to Waiheke Island via Ferry (will self-explore instead of using a tour company). Free evening back in Auckland to relax and get early sleep.

    Day 3 (Tuesday): Check out of hotel and leave early morning for Hobbiton [2.5hrs]. Afternoon movie set tour [4hrs] and then drive to Rotorua [1hr] for overnight stay in Maori village.

    Questions:
    Is 4hrs enough at Hobbiton?
    Is Rotorua the best place to get the proper Maori experience?

    Day 4 (Wednesday): Leave morning for Orakei Korako Geothermal Park [1hr] or Lake Taupo [1.5hrs]. Return to Auckland by evening [3hrs]

    Question: Which is better to visit; Orakei Korako or Lake Taupo?

    Day 5 (Thursday): Afternoon flight from Auckland to Queenstown. Check into hotel. Explore in the evening.

    Day 6 (Friday): Nevis swing. Relaxing evening.

    Day 7 (Saturday): Free day in Queenstown

    Question: Is there something we could do on this day?

    Day 8 (Sunday): Full day tour - Milford Sound Cruise & Kayak

    Question: Should we stay near Milford Sound overnight instead of returning to QT?

    Day 9 (Monday): Free day in Queenstown

    Day 10 (Tuesday): Leave Queenstown in the morning, drive to Mt Cook through Lindis Pass [5hrs]. Evening stargazing tour.

    Question: Is it better to go via Wanaka-Haast Pass-West Coast (glaciers)-Arthurs Pass route?

    Day 11 (Wednesday): Drive to Christchurch via Lake Tekapo. Overnight in CC.

    Day 12 (Thursday): Day trip to Akaroa/explore Christchurch.

    Day 13 (Friday): Morning flight out.
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