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Help NZ itinerary with toddler

Sunnyvale...
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Help NZ itinerary with toddler

Hi,

We're planning a trip to North and South Island late November/early December, and will have my in-laws (60s) as well as our 18-month old baby with us. We're from San Francisco and well experienced travelers and fast paced, but I'm having trouble figuring out if this itinerary is doable with a toddler. I've somewhat narrowed it down to two possible options - one option trying to include Abel Tasman which looks amazing, and the other without.

Looking for your advice - is this too ambitious? Feasible with a toddler? All these places "worth" the drives involved?

Option 1: TOTAL: 9 nights

Day 1: Arrive Auckland, pick up car, relax and night in Auckland

Day 2: Waitomo caves, drive to Rotorua, night in Totorua

Day 3: Rotorua, night in Rotorua

Day 4: Drive back to Auckland, flight to Queenstown, night in Wanaka

Day 5: Day in Queenstown, Arrowtown or Wanaka, night in Wanaka

Day 6: Drive to Glenorchy, drive to Te Anau, night in Te Anau

Day 7: Drive to Milford Sound, afternoon Milford cruise, night Te Anau

Day 8: Drive to Mount Cook, night in Twizel

Day 9: Tasman Glacier NP, drive to Christcurch, night in Christchurch

Day 10: Christchurch, international flight out

Option 2: TOTAL: 10 nights

Day 1: Arrive Wellington, pick up car, relax and night in Wellington

Day 2: Cross ferry to South Island, night in Nelson

Day 3: Abel Tasman NP, night in Nelson

Day 4: Drive to Mount Cook, night in Twizel

Day 4: Tasman Glacier NP, drive to Wanaka, night in Wanaka

Day 5: Day in Queenstown, Arrowtown or Wanaka, night in Wanaka

Day 6: Drive to Glenorchy, drive to Te Anau, night in Te Anau

Day 7: Drive to Milford Sound, afternoon Milford cruise, night Te Anau

Day 8: Drive back to Queenstown, flight to Auckland, pick up rental car, night in Auckland

Day 9: Waitomo caves, drive to Rotorua, night in Totorua

Day 10: Rotorua, night in Rotorua

Day 11: Drive back to Auckland, international flight out

Thanks!

California
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1. Re: Help NZ itinerary with toddler

Just focusing on Itinerary #1 at the moment - why not fly from Rotorua to Queenstown instead of driving all the way back to Auckland? And why are you basing yourself in Wanaka when all of your day trips are around Queenstown? And if you are going to drive to Mt Cook, why not stay there instead of driving back to Twizel (which is not a scenic town)?

Of the two, itinerary #1 is the most viable. In Itinerary #2, Day 4 is listed twice, so I'm not sure what your intent is. But if you intend to drive from Nelson to Mount Cook, just no. It's a minimum of 2 days driving.

2. Re: Help NZ itinerary with toddler

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Sunnyvale...
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3. Re: Help NZ itinerary with toddler

Thank you both, that helps.

Good catch on the numbering in Option 2, I guess that is more like 12 days not 11. Also Twizel was something I had seen in another itinerary, if it's feasible to stay at Mount Cook itself and not inconvenient for driving to/from, would much rather stay there.

I hadn't realized that we could fly from Rotorua to Queenstown directly. If we end up renting a car in Auckland, would it be possible to return it in Rotorua and fly from there to Queenstown? For example in the US, there's typically a surcharge for returning cars at a different location.

I've shown staying in Wanaka b/c that is where my in-laws have a timeshare unit, but not sure if it makes more sense to stay in Wanaka at the timeshare or in Queenstown. Open to suggestions.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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4. Re: Help NZ itinerary with toddler

Both itineraries are majorly wonky

if exploring Queenstown then stay Queenstown, not Wanaka - Twizel is not Aoraki/Mt Cook - Glenorchy is completely the wrong direction for Te Anau - Te Anau to Aoraki/Mt Cook is a long drive

my solution;

1 arrive Auckland, fly to Queenstown

2 explore

3 collect rental car, drive to Te Anau

4 explore Milford, stay Te Anau

5 drive to Wanaka

6 drive Lindis Pass to Aoraki/Mt Cook

7 drive to Christchurch

8 fly to Rotorua

9 explore

10 drive to Waitomo, Auckland, fly out

Edited: 13 June 2013, 00:16
Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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5. Re: Help NZ itinerary with toddler

I think the amount of driving in both these itineraries is way too much even without the toddler. I don't htink the toddlers i know could tolerate more than 2x 2 hr stretches of driving in a day, whereas you have 10-11 hours driving scheduled from Nelson to Twizel.

Assuming that your port of arrival in NZ is AKL in both options, why don't you skip Wellington and fly to Nelson on day 1?

Personally if I was travelling with a toddler, I'd skip Milford Sound and spend more time around the Wanaka area.

Sunnyvale...
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6. Re: Help NZ itinerary with toddler

Thanks WLnz, I think your suggested itinerary makes a lot of sense. Am wondering if I can get some opinions here, is the scenery and drive better between Tasman/Fox glacier area and Wanaka on the coast or through Lindis pass?

I'm trying to decide between WLnz's suggestion or flying into Christchurch and doing the reverse, going into Wanaka from the Coastal side.

Also am wondering on the North Island, is we have spent a lot of time in Yellowstone and Lassen parks in the U.S. is Rotorua fairly similar? Any suggestions on the best way to spend the time in Rotorua and between Auckland and Rotorua would be great.

Canandaigua
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7. Re: Help NZ itinerary with toddler

I also think you are bananas. Toddlers(at least mine) have no appreciation for scenery, hate to sit in car seats for any length of time, adjust poorly to time changes, and do best when their routines aren't disrupted. NZ will be there when your child is older, or better still, leave the baby at home.

We have travelled the world with our now grown children, and spent time both in the western US and the Swiss Alps, but we would chose a base and minimize travel for everyone's sanity.

I suggest renting condos or motel with kitchenette in 2 bases, one on the NI and one on the South and get well acquainted with less of NZ on this trip.

Rotorua is nothing like Lassen or Yellowstone, but it would be a good NI base. There are the volcanoes, the lake, the agridome animal show, and the beautiful bay of Plenty is just a few hours drive( or less)

Then I would fly to Queenstown and base there. I wouldn't do Milford at all. Get the Wild NZ hiking book and a good child carrier pack. There is plenty to do nearby and everyone will be happier.

Sometimes less is more. If the baby sleeps all day in the car, she'll be up all night!

Canandaigua
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8. Re: Help NZ itinerary with toddler

Correction NZ Frenzy Hiking book by Scott Cook. We used it a lot and found it very accurate and helpful.

Oz
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9. Re: Help NZ itinerary with toddler

Hi,

We have visited NZ many times with our children and grand children. Fly between centres and use Granny and Grandad as babysitters and do day trips or take it in turns to ski or whatever. It worked for our kids, and we survived.

Your plans reek of the Griswald Family Holiday without the roof racks. Snowyand Sniggles "nailed it">>I also think you are bananas<<

Cheers,

Edited: 20 June 2013, 04:50
10. Re: Help NZ itinerary with toddler

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