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Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

New York City, New...
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Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

Hey all.

Here's the itinerary I've come up with for my big trip around NZ. Please have a look and tell me what you think! I'm not backpacking, but not doing a luxury tour either. I'm not self driving. I have other destinations on either end of this itinerary.

Dec 30th Arrive Auckland

**Advice for New Years in Auckland welcome! I want to photograph the fireworks.**

Jan 1 fly Auckland to Queenstown, TSS Earnslaw tour

Jan 2 Real Journeys tour to Stewart Island

Jan 3 Tour transport to Te Anau

Jan 3-5 Glowworm Caves, Doubtful Sound, Milford Sound. Pre-arranged tours.

Jan 6 Te Anau to Queenstown (bus)

Jan 7 Queenstown to Tekapo (bus)

Jan 7 Tekapo Stargazing tour **I've spent my entire life in NYC. I'm gonna see some stars.

Jan 8 Tekapo to ChCh (bus)

Jan 9 Tranzalpine train round trip

Jan 10 Birdlings Flat **I'll self drive for this bit since there's no other option and I like rocks.

Jan 10 (evening) fly to Wellington

Jan 11 **Recommendations for Wellington?

Jan 12 Northern Explorer train to Hamilton, connect with late bus to Rotorua.

Jan 13 Maori cultural tour **If anyone can please recommend a hotel/motel with a/c and no smell

Jan 14 Rotorua to Auckland (bus) **Auckland hotel recommendations welcome

Jan 15 Bay of Islands day tour? **I'm undecided and might play this by ear.

Jan 17 BDO, if it doesn't get cancelled :D

Jan 18 fly out of Auckland

I know the weather can be a little bit finicky so I'm trying to leave a bit of room to account for that, but I worry about things selling out. I haven't booked a Maori cultural tour yet in Rotorua as I think there are several, but I am concerned that if I don't book in advance they will be all booked when I get there. Same goes for the extra day I wound up with in Auckland. I'd like to take a day trip to the Bay of Islands but I'm not really loving any of the tours I've found, PLUS if it ends up being a gray and rainy day it might be worth skipping. Please let me know what you think and if you have any recommendations for me.

Thanks!

New Zealand
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for South Island
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1. Re: Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

Welcome to the forum :)

Your trip is packed but it actually flows quite well. You will find you are sitting on a bus, or waiting for a bus, for the majority of most days. I suggest you drop a few activites/places to allow longer in places.

I think Stewart Island magical but it's a heck of a journey gettting there - I always suggest a two night minimum stay.

happy planning :)

Ballarat, Australia
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2. Re: Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

Firstly, have you already booked your accommodation? If not there may be some problems, eg Queenstown in Jan 1st you probably won't find anything.

With only one day from Auckland I would either do a day cruise from Auckland eg Coromandel Town or Tiritiri Matangi http://www.360discovery.co.nz/index.php or do a day tour of Waiheke Island, or general Auckland sightseeing eg Devonport, museum, etc depending on weather. Going to BoI for a day you will spend most of the time on the bus.

New York City, New...
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3. Re: Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

Thank you for your reply. The things I wanted to do on this trip just so happened to be far enough away from each other that air travel wasn't possible, but ground transportation requires overnight stays! lol. It's ok I plan on sleeping on those buses for the most part.

This is another reason why I haven't booked many activities - just in case I want to be lazy and lounge around for a day or two I won't end up losing money. Most of my transportation leaves insanely early in the morning, with the exception of the flight from ChCh to Welly leaving pretty late. I don't really get jet lagged or coach lagged, this was done to maximize my time available in cities.

New York City, New...
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4. Re: Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

Thank you for your reply. I did have trouble finding a room for that night in Queenstown, about a week or so ago was when I started looking. Luckily I found probably the last room in Queenstown that night.

The only accommodation I don't have booked already is for Rotorua and the 2nd leg in Auckland. I just can't choose a place in Rotorua. I definitely want to do a day cruise from Auckland, I couldn't find any going to BoL but I'll check out the places you recommended. Thanks!

Christchurch, New...
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5. Re: Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

Make sure you enjoy the stars at Queenstown / Te Anau too, in case it is cloudy on the 7th!

New York City, New...
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6. Re: Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

Oooh can you see the dark sky preserve from there too?! That would be awesome.

I have a question about weather. Do I need some kind of rain jacket even in January? I was just reading the thread about umbrellas and it got me thinking, I wasn't planning on bringing anything more than a light hoodie!

Ballarat, Australia
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7. Re: Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

Yes, you need a raincoat in NZ year-round. We don't get weeks of predictably fair weather, even in summer. Hopefully you won't need it much, but could pour in Fiordland.

Tel Aviv, Israel
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8. Re: Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

Hi rawr703,

First of all I must mention I've only been in the south island therefore can't comment on anything at the north island.

1. It is my suggestion to skip on Doubtful Sound, it is very nice but I don't think that traveling to both Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound is necessary. I did both and felt like I could have skipped the latter.

2. I would give Queenstown at least one full day (even more if possible), it's such a great city and has so much activities going around, and on top of that it is beautiful, so I wouldn't just drive through it.

3. Mount Cook and the breathtaking Mueller Trek is a not miss. I believe one of the most amazing things to do in NZ.

4. I also wouldn't skip on Arthur's Pass and Wanaka which is amazing.

Good luck !

Wanaka, New Zealand
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9. Re: Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

Yes, the sky can be seen from everywhere in NZ. Seriously though, remember NZ is sparsely populated compared to where you come from. You will see decent stars in most places without the glow of lights interfering. Even in a more populated place like Queenstown, you only have to drive a short way away and you will see good stars.

Auckland Region...
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10. Re: Itinerary for Jan 2014 trip - your thoughts?

You were after accomodation in rotorua that has a/c and no smell ( lol )? I visit there once a month on business and always stay at the quality inn on Fenton st. Always clean, decent pool/spa, a gym ( fairly average ) and a/c. You are close to everything like shops restaurants. It's around $90 a night for a studio which I think is pretty good value.

You have obviously decided that the bulk of your trip will be the Sth Island. My advice is dont rush up to the BOI from Auckland. It's a bit of a tourist trap and at that time of the year it'll be packed. When you come back (!) spend some time meandering up the east coast from Auckland to the far north. The beaches in that region are absolutely spectacular. IMO the best in NZ, coromandel coming in 2nd, but to truly enjoy long white sand beaches and turquoise waters with 2-3 people on the beach you're going to have to spend a week or so taking your time. A bus trip to the BOI just doesn't compare. Hope that helps.