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First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

Calgary, Canada
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First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

Hi

My husband and I are on a world trip, never been to New Zealand, will be coming here after spending 30 days in Australia and 2 weeks in Fiji.

We arrive Feb 23 and leave March 15. I'm finding some good prices for inter New Zealand flights and wanted to know if the following itinerary sounds good. We are vegan and enjoy nature and want to see the beautiful side of New Zealand, not shopping or restaurants or vineyards etc.

Auckland 4 days

Bay of Islands 3 days

Rotura 3 days

Christchurch 5 days

Queenstown 5 days

Auckland 1 day

These are the cities we can fly into and then do activities or sight seeing from there. Can anyone tell me if they would spend more or less time in these areas and if they are good choices for a first time to New Zealand? I know 3 weeks isn't a lot but we won't be coming back for a long time.

Thank you!

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
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1. Re: First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

While in Auckland, take the passenger ferry from downtown city to visit Waiheke Island for a day-trip. Fullers ferry offers a ferry and island tour; plus there are many private island tours avaiilable.

Flying from Auckland to Kerikeri (BOI) takes approx 35 minutes. Be sure to do a coach- tour to Cape Reinga! Hiring a car from Keri airport would allow you to see the sights beyond the Bay itself - Waipoua Forest and Hokianga harbour is a Must Do! Have a soak in the natural tthermal pools at Ngawha Springs on the return journey.

Newmarket, Canada
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2. Re: First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

You mentioned you selected your destinations because you can fly into them. Does this mean you don't plan to have a car? Spending 5 days in Christchurch will not give you much nature. If you really want to see a lot of the nature and beauty of New Zealand, a lot of that comes from the beautiful drives around the country.

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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3. Re: First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

Agree with DCH - most people come to NZ for the mountains & coastal scenery - not the cities. Even as a Chch local I'd have to say 5 days in Chch in a 3 week trip is too much. Why don't you rent a car or take a bus from Chch to Mt Cook - stay there 2 nights and do some gentle hiking, then continue on to Queenstown; From Chch you can also take a day trip or overnight to Akaroa to swim with the dolphins or just take a harbour cruise to see the world's smallest dolphins. Even 5 days in Queenstown would bore me - I'd want to get out into Fiordland National Park, perhaps hiking or an overnight cruise on one of the sounds.

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

Well we're doing a trip around the world, so we really want to see the best we can of New Zealand. We'll have seen so much already and being from Canada and the Rocky Mountain area I don't want to spend the entire time attempting to drive on the wrong side of the road to see hills, grass and mountains as we get that here. I want to see nice scenery of New Zealand sure and use the cities as a base to do 1 day exploring.

We run an internet business and have to work on the road as well, so we can't spend all of our time camping and driving. Any down time we should be working, which is why it would save us time to just fly across New Zealand. We can rent cars for a day or two in each place if we want to go somewhere on our own instead of a tour.

I know this is different than what most people do in New Zealand, but a driving across the country tour just won't work this time for this trip.

Auckland Central...
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5. Re: First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

Hi

For your particular needs your proposed itiinerary looks fine. My only question would be the 5 days in Christchurch.

I would also stay in Taupo rather than Rotorua as it is quieter with lovely scenery and places to stay and eat. However that is very much just a personal prefefrence and Taupo is just down the road (about an hour's drive) from Rotorua.

When in Auckland I recommend t that you head out to the Waitakere Ranges, an area of exceptional natural beauty under an hour from the city where you will find black sand beaches, regenerating rain forest,, many miles of walking tracks, beautiful scenery and (coastal) views - a different natural environment to what you have at home. Yjhe Arataki Visitor Centre on Scenic Drive is a good starting poinf for a visit to the Ranges.

Calgary, Canada
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6. Re: First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

So what about this:

4 days Auckland see Waitekere and Mt Eden

3 days Bay of Islands see Kauri Rainforest and maybe Rainbow falls

4 days Rotorua see White Island Volcano, Lake Taupo and Wai-O-Tapu

3 days Christchurch see Arthurs Pass and Botanic gardens

5 days Queenstown see Routeburn track, Skippers Canyon, drive out to Lake Te Anau/Fiordland National Park

1 day Auckland

Anything we should/shouldn't see that I put here? I'm trying to go by what I found rated on Trip Advisor and what sounded interesting to me.

Thank you for the help!

Wellington, NZ
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7. Re: First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

Your itinerary looks fine - but perhaps rob a day from Auckland and spend it down south. You could drive from Christchurch over Arthurs Pass, down to the Glaciers and across to Queenstown through Haast Pass (you will need to do this over at least 2 days, staying at one of the Glaciers). The West Coast is beautiful and I think it's worth foregoing a day in Auckland to see it.

Downside of your itinerary is that you will be missing out on seeing #4 on Lonely Planet's top cities to visit list :)

Christchurch, New...
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8. Re: First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

Hard to work out from your itinerary and replies which days are working days & which are sightseeing. Good to see you have added Fiordland. I can understand a Canadian not wanting to see more mountains but what about spending more time in Northland - both beaches and Maori culture there. I also suggested Akaroa earlier - dolphins & history there.

Calgary, Canada
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9. Re: First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

Well I try to make my husband compromise and work in the mornings or evenings and in between stops while we travel.. New Zealand has a lot of stuff to see so I don't think we will have full days to work every few days.

I put 4 days in Auckland because someone wanted us to do a seminar event one night and that will take some time to prepare. If they don't we can change the itinerary.

I love Dolphins and Polynesian culture but we have already spent 5 weeks in Hawaii this year doing that, and we're going to Fiji and French Polynesia and The Cook Islands as well, so I don't think we'll be lacking in tribal culture!

New Zealand seems really really pricey for tours too, so we can do dolphin tours much cheaper elsewhere.

I am looking at a map now, is it really worth flying to Christ church and renting a car there and driving to Arthur's pass and then all the way down the west coast to Haast Pass Makarora Road and then to Queenstown? Then from there where do you drive, Lake Te Anau or Milford Sound?

(Doing this instead of flying to ChristChurch and then to Queenstown.)

I would need to know if we can get some sort of wireless 3G stick for the computer and if there would be reception out there. I know the Rocky Mountains in Canada block a lot of reception so it's hit and miss.

And where to stop for lodging if you have any suggestions. I will see what my husband thinks about driving the last part, driving on the wrong side of the road takes a little practice, we only did it in the Seychelles on a small island before.

Calgary, Canada
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10. Re: First Time to New Zealand - 3 weeks

So I squished the first end of our trip in North New Zealand and am looking for help for the stops on the Southern part. We can drive from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass, stay over night and do a day hike, and then get back and drive down the west coast.

There are some places that I don't know which ones to stop at for lodging, and which ones to just take a quick look driving by (if possible)

tourism.net.nz/region/… has a map with some B&B's and some tourist locations. This is what I can see on the way down to Queenstown.

Hokitika

HARIHARI AND ROSS

FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER

Fox Glacier

HAAST

HAAST PASS

MAKARORA

ALBERT TOWN/WANAKA

And then from Queenstown we want to see

Te Anau Lake - is there lodging here?

Milford Sound - can you easily drive from Te Anau?

and then from there we'd have to come back to Queenstown to fly back to Auckland.

This is a tentative schedule so I can break down the time in between places.

March

Mon 7 drive to Arthur Pass - Arthurs Pass B&B 2 hour drive from Christchurch

Tues 8 Arthur's Pass hike

Wed 9 leave for HariHari area 2.5 hours drive or somewhere nearby - need lodging

Thurs 10 leave for Haast Pass area 3 hours 15 min or somewhere nearby - need lodging

Fri 11 leave for Queenstown 2 hour drive - go to Onsen Hot Pools -need 2 night lodging

Sat 12 Routeburn Track tour from Queenstown

Sunday 13 leave for Lake Te Anau 2.5 hour drive - need lodging

Monday 14 Milford Sound 1 hour drive and then drive back to Queenstown 3.5 hours - need lodging

Tues 15 fly to Auckland

This is just an estimate for spacing out the driving. Is Milford Sound nice to drive to? Everyone says to do a helicopter tour over that, but it's over $500 each!