We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

18 days in New Zealand - please comment

Philadelphia
Level Contributor
160 posts
Save Topic
18 days in New Zealand - please comment

Here is a very tentative itinerary for our mid July trip. I thought it best to circulate the rough draft to get ideas at a fairly early stage; you may see it is already influenced by my reading of this forum (thanks). We have 18 days in NZ, with days two through four required for a meeting in Auckland. However, we have the arrival day as well as all but the evening of another of these days for side excursions near Auckland.

Things important to us include:

Enjoying a variety of typical New Zealand experiences

A few wineries; nice dinners, etc

Hiking (probably up to half day hikes; We’re in good shape in our early 50’s)

Skiing two days

Sailing – we’ve bareboated before – maybe a lesson or a ½ day trip on a sailboat where we can help crew

Seeing beautiful beaches, beautiful mountains

Relaxing is more important than seeing everything; quality is more important than quantity (I'm pretty sure we'll be back sometime to see the summer.)

With all that in mind, I’d appreciate thoughts on the following itinerary.

I have many specific questions including the best routes for the middle of the trip (Mt. Cook?; Arthur’s pass, etc.) but I will wait until I hear ideas from the group.

Day Place

1 Arrive Auckland 7 am; pick up a car

2 Meeting in Auckland; do 1/2 day side trips

3 Meeting in Auckland;

4 Meeting in Auckland but free during the day; Waiheke Island returning for evening meeting

5 Drive to Rotorua/Te Puia – stay somewhere in the area

6 Drive to Thermal Attractions/Naiparo

7 Napier

8 Wairarapa

9 Wellington – drop off car

10 Pick up another car drive to Nelson

11 ChristChurch

12 ?

13 ?

14 Queenstown

15 Queenstown

16 Queenstown

17 Queenstown/or back to Auckland to avoid chance of bad weather

18 Fly back to the states

Thanks Much

Skis&Songs

Aoraki Mount Cook...
Level Contributor
786 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: 18 days in New Zealand - please comment

I think you've got a fairly well balanced schedule. It's unusual - (IMO) most people really try to pack toooooooo much in for the time they have.

Napier is a bit out of the way - it you want to spend time around the wineries or whatever, make sure that you get an reasonably early departure from Rotorua and Wairarapa is also a bit of a drive for the following day.

Days 12 & 13 - well it depends on what you want to see. With 2 days you could either go down the West Coast and see the Fox and/or Franz Josef or drive through the Mackenzie country to Queenstown.

The West Coast Glaciers are pristine white whereas the eastern side glaciers look 'dirty' - this is due to the different types of rock on each side of the alpine fault. But Mt Cook and the area really are quite beautiful as well. It really comes down to you and the types of things you want to see or do. It's a hard call - but personally I'd probably opt for going down the West Coast - it will give you a greater range of scenery.

I know that there has been a bit of a debate on airport closures, but you also have the option to drive back from Queenstown to Christchurch - if you drove down the West Coast, you could always drive back up past Mt Cook to Christchurch before flying back up to Auckland. You could even take the option of having a day's skiing at Mt Hutt or Ohau on the way if the conditions are good!

New Zealand
Level Contributor
9,447 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: 18 days in New Zealand - please comment

Hi Skis&Songs

You have a good amount of leisurely drive time in the South Island but as Nettie says you will doing an awful lot of driving and not much seeing once you leave Auckland, especially the bottom half of the North Island.

Have you thought about flying from Napier to Nelson (or fact Napier to Wellington if you want to do the Cook Strait crossing, as it stops there before connecting to Nelson).

Here's your timings, as you can see you don't have much time for doing things;

Day5 Auck-Rotorua (4hrs) Afternoon for attractions- check this thread if you haven't already for the best thermal site. I would also visit the Polynesian Spa for a thermal swim in the evening- lovely private pools(no need for swimsuit) Sooo nice on a winter's evening.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g255111-i1219-k414…

Day6 Rotorua-morning for attractions, maybe drive through to Taupo for lunch (1hr). Drive to Napier- (3hrs) You would want to be off the Napier-Taupo highway by nightfall, it is a spectacular drive but it can be very unforgiving after dark on a winter's night.

Day7 Napier- wineries etc (Have you checked out my insider page on Napier?)

Day8 Napier-Wairarapa (5hrs) Visit Mt Bruce Wildlife Reserve. Wineries. Stay in Martinborough

Day 9 Martinborough-Wellington- (1.5hr) drop off car. Depending what ferry crossing you choose you may have time to visit Te Papa Museum.

Now that I've set it all out, I think you probably will be fine doing it and it will certainly give you a wider view of NZ. And also you will have rested in Auckland and with a bit more rest in the South Island, it won't be too bad.

For sailing your best bet is in Auckland on the Hauraki Gulf, check out this website. It would pay to book or check with them as they may be on limited cruises because of winter.

www.prideofauckland.com/

A couple of things you may want to check out in the South Island- visit World of Wearable Art in Nelson (near the airport) fabulous outfits, you just won't believe your eyes. www.wowcars.co.nz/

And if you are looking for a spectacular hike- walk the first part of the Routeburn Track either by yourselves or there are guided trips(track starts near Glenorchy, south of Qtwn) Very beautiful!

Well thats it for now- of course come back with any queries you may have.

PS- Live dangerously & fly back to Auck the same day! :) Also you can always decide nearer the day after checking weather situation.

Philadelphia
Level Contributor
160 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: 18 days in New Zealand - please comment

Zappers and NettieNZ

Thanks for the wonderful tips. I am not disappointed. I'll digest that and get back with other questions. I do like the idea of flying part way. I even thought of Napier - Christchurch or Napier - Nelson. However the guide books make much of Wellington and the wine country and even Nelson Let me know if you have any thoughts on this.

Also, the day trip to Waiheke Island is my compromise on the need to be at the meeting. I'd prefer to stay there overnight and perhaps should reconsider?

The West Coast South Island Idea sounds good - would you do Milford sound on this leg? I was thinking of a flight from Queenstown but perhaps I'll go by it if I drive.

On the West Leg or elsewhere - can you suggest places to stay or even lodging? We would probably opt for comfort but not extravagance. We plan to stay at Browns Hotel in Queenstown.

Suggestions for elsehere are most welcome.

Thanks S&S

New Zealand
Level Contributor
9,447 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: 18 days in New Zealand - please comment

S&S- Flying Nap-ChCh would be OK but I think you will miss a wonderful trip down the West Coast from Nelson. But yes you could give Wellington a miss and fly Nap-Nelson, Wellington it's a lovely compact city but a city non-the-less. Because you'll probably be doing wineries in Napier/Waiheke giving Wairarapa a miss won't be a problem either.

Regarding Waiheke- I think you'll be fine with just a day trip, because it's winter some of the wineries won't be open and if the weather isn't that great the island won't look that spectacular. Having said that there are some wondeful lodges on Waiheke that it wouldn't matter if it was howling a gale, it would be heaven! Make sure you visit Mudbrick Restaurant & Winery.

Regarding accomodation, have you checked the TA recommendations out to the left of the thread. Have a look at them and also do a google search in the area, there are so many wonderful places (not all of them on here either). If you find something that appeals let us know and then someone may be able to comment. Are you keen on hotels, motels &/or B&Bs?

Philadelphia
Level Contributor
160 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: 18 days in New Zealand - please comment

I really like the idea of flying from Napier to Nelson. I think it will save me two days and permit an even more leisurely exploration. Indeed, it looks like we could fly from Wellington to Westport as well. I must do more research on Nelson. I'll check the things mentioned and get back with more questions. Meanwhile ---

I'm also warming to the idea of a return drive to Christchurch from Queenstown. How long should that take with tourist stops and say a 2 hour hike?

Given that I start from Nelson, what are the recommended nightly stops en route to Queenstown?

We've enjoyed B&Bs as well as motels and hotels. The right B&B can be fantastic and provide so much more of the local charm. However, we also enjoy more anonymous lodging. Our ideal would be something authentic (not a chain) cozy, with great views, good food, and if the weather permitted - a balcony from which to sip coffee while enjoying great views of nature (lakes, mountains) etc. Recommendations are welcomed.

Aoraki Mount Cook...
Level Contributor
786 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: 18 days in New Zealand - please comment

Starting from Nelson I'd choose to have one stop probably at Franz Josef. Alternatively for two stops I'd choose Greymouth or Hokitika and Wanaka (but if you've got to Wanaka you haven't got far to go to get to Queenstown).

Drive back from Qtn - Chch. Bare driving time is 5-6 hrs. You will need to make a call on just how much extra time you are going to take! Afterall you might stop at every vineyard along the way - while there aren't tooooooo many on the actual road it would certainly add a few hours!

Just the drive up and back from Mt Cook Village to the main road will add 1.5hrs.

Flying Napier - Nelson sounds like a great idea. However check that you will get a good connection in Wellington. The Air New Zealand website is www.airnz.co.nz - worth checking to make sure you don't end up spending too long in Wellington airport.

New Zealand
Level Contributor
9,447 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: 18 days in New Zealand - please comment

S&S Don't miss Nelson! Stay here, friends have, and said it's wonderful, it also gets good reviews on TA. And I've been to this restaurant a number of times and have never been disappointed- fabulous NZ seafood!

www.boatshedcafe.co.nz/

www.tepunawai.co.nz/

Philadelphia
Level Contributor
160 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: 18 days in New Zealand - please comment

Thanks. I'm sold on the flight to Nelson and on the west coast trek. I'll report more after I do some background work on the TA sites and on your own pages. Thanks for all of the help!

S&S

Philadelphia
Level Contributor
160 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: 18 days in New Zealand - please comment

NettieNZ, Zappers and other friends

Here is my second draft incorporating suggestions. I'd like to get your thoughts before booking rooms, etc. A few concerns - First, are any of the drives too long for one day? I understand Queenstown to CC is 5-6 hours plus stops. What about Nelson to Franz Josep? Second, am I staying too long in any one spot so that I'm missing something elsewhere without sacrificing a relaxing vacation? (Obviously, I'm missing some wonderful sites and will want to return!!!) Third, Will we need a car in Auckland or for Waiheke? We may want to try 'Pride of Auckland' the first day if we can make it. My wife may tour a bit on her own on days two and three. Fourth, Zappers, you had suggested (I think) just one night in Rotorua. Would that be rushed? Are two nights too long?

If this looks good, I'll add some thoughts on lodging and attractions and a few other questions - after more analysis of your comments and web pages. Thanks much for your comments.

Day Place

1 Arrive Auckland 7 am - pick up car

2 Attend Meeting in Auckland; do 1/2 day side trips

3 Attend Meeting in Auckland; do 1/2 day side trips

4 Attend Meeting in Auckland but free during the day; Waiheke Island returning for evening meeting

5 Drive to Rotoua/Te Puia

6 Thermal Attractions/Naiparo

7 Napier - wineries, etc

8 Napier - drop off car - fly to Nelson

9 Nelson - pick up car - wineries, etc

10 Nelson

11 Franz Josep

12 Queenstown

13 Queenstown - ski one or two days

14 Queenstown - ski one or two days

15 Queenstown - fly to Milford

16 ChristChurch

17 ChristChurch - drop off car

18 Fly back to the states

Thanks - Skis and Songs

New Zealand
Level Contributor
9,447 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: 18 days in New Zealand - please comment

Hi again S&S- it all looks fine, hopefully one of the SthIslanders will comment about down there although it does look fine. The drive from Qtwn to ChCh is a long one (especially if you're stopping frequently as you will be, I would allow most of the day for it.

Regarding Rotorua- Yes you could do with an extra night in Rotorua but you really need 2 nights in Napier as well(otherwise you''ll arrive Napier in the afternoon and fly out the next day without seeing anything. It's a matter of deciding which attractions you really want to see in each place and adjusting it to suit (haven't looked back but I think I have the nights right)

Let me know the things you want to do in each of these places and I can advise times etc- if you leave Auckland early enough (no hangover from the night before :) you'll have an full afternoon & the evening in Rotorua and then maybe do one of the thermal areas the next day on your way to Taupo/Napier.