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24 day New Zealand tour

Belluno, Italy
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24 day New Zealand tour

Dear friends, I'm from Italy and in these weeks I'm planning a 24 day long tour of New Zealand.

Some info

- 2 people

- fly and drive

- trip scheduled in December 2014 (I'm planning it quite in advance :)

- both South and North Islands

- car rental, accommodation and some excursions booked on-line in advance

- we like sea but we are not very keen on sunbathing

I'd like to have your opinions on the following itinerary:

1) Christchurch - landing at 15.30 - brief city tour. I truly believe we'll be very tired after a so long flight :)

2) Christchurch - Lake Tekapo

3) Lake Tekapo - Oamaru (hope we'll the penguins... actually my girlfriend would enjoy seeing them :)

4) Oamaru - Dunedin

5) Dunedin (1 day here to have some strolls along the beaches)

6) Dunedin - Te Anau

7) Te Anau - Milford Sound (Mini Cruise) - Te Anau

8) Te Anau - Queenstown

9) Queenstown - Wanaka

10) Wanaka (1 day here to have same trekking and relax)

11) Wanaka - Fox Glacier

12) Fox Glacier - Punakaiki

13) Punakaiki - Kaikoura (I've read it's a very nice trip but quite long. If we won't be too tired we'd like to go whale watching :)

14) Mouteka

15) Mouteka (Abel Tasman Park.... some short tours)

16) Mouteka - Picton - Wellington (ferry transfer in the afternoon)

17) Wellington

18) Wellington - Tongariro Park

19) Tongariro Park (Tongario crossing... or at least a part of it :)

20) Tongariro - Rotoura

21) Rotoura

22) Rotoura - Waitomo Caves (I'd like to have some time to visit Matamata beacuse I'm a great fan of LOTR)

23) Somewhere in the nearby of Waitomo Caves:) - Auckland

24) Auckland

25) Leave Auckland at 18.30

I've planned this trip after reading as many on-line travel diaries as possible.

Any feedback? Am I underestimating/overestimating anything?

Thanks a lot!

Edited: 30 March 2014, 23:02
Dunedin, New Zealand
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31. Re: 24 day New Zealand tour

What will you explore on your one day in Queenstown? It would be a shame if you missed visiting beautiful Glenorchy and perhaps doing a walk in the woods beyond Glenorchy.

http://www.glenorchyinfocentre.co.nz/

…govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/…

When in Dunedin, if you are going to be staying/overnighting on the Otago Peninsula, keep in mind that the area with the most motels, hostels and vacation rentals is the village of Portobello, which is about a half hour from downtown Dunedin. The Otago Peninsula has a high road (Highcliff Road), which has stunning views overlooking the harbor and ocean, and a low road (Portobello Road), which runs along the harbor. To best appreciate the views, it's best to drive into the peninsula on Highcliff Road and drive out of the peninsula on Portobello Road.

You might also want to look at Wotif.com, http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/, http://www.bookabach.co.nz/. Some places require a two night minimum stay. Many use https://www.airbnb.co.nz/ but I've personally had no experience with them.

Belluno, Italy
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32. Re: 24 day New Zealand tour

Our day in QT is not planned yet, but I've read about Glenorchy and the scenic trip you have to make in order to get there from QT. I thought we could take it in morning of the day after, before leaving for Te Anau. I hope a morning is enough to enjoy that location. I've bought the latest NZFrenzy guides.... and I hope they could give some ideas:)

I've already made a motel reservation in Dunedin, but thanks to the free cancellation, I could change my mind. Do you suggest looking for an overnight in Portobello?

Dunedin, New Zealand
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33. Re: 24 day New Zealand tour

Queenstown and Glenorchy offer different things and are distinctly appealing. If you want to drive to Glenorchy, see the village, walk around a bit (Glenorchy walkway is a nice short walk through its wetlands), then return to Queenstown, a morning will do. But then you'll have to drive two hours to Te Anau. If you want to take a longer walk beyond Glenorchy, it might not suffice. Though the days will be longer in December, with about 15 hours of daylight:

timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html…

Queenstown is beautiful (Lake Wakitipu and its setting amidst surrounding mountains is stunning) and fun, as it offers action-activities (jet-boats, luge, bungy, hang gliding, etc.) as well less adrenaline-fueled hiking, wine tasting, bicycling, and so on, but it's busy with downtown traffic (buses, trucks, cars) and lots of hotels, motels, restaurants, and tourist shops. In December (summer high season), its center will be crowded. I was there a couple of days ago (not high season and before school holidays) and it was still busy and crowded.

Rural Glenorchy is only about a 45-minute drive away but it feels a world away: it's quiet, peaceful, with hardly any businesses; its main attraction is its spectacular natural beauty. It's great for hiking/tramping, photography, or for just slowing down for a while. The road to Glenorchy is as pretty as Glenorchy itself; it's curvy and follows the shoreline above Lake Wakitipu, but it's in good shape and entirely paved (I should mention there's a brief narrow stretch of it without a centerline, where you have to take extra care). In Glenorchy, the closest thing to a traffic jam is when you have to wait because sheep are crossing the road.

Here's a brochure about Glenorchy's walking tracks:

…govt.nz/Documents/…head-of-lake-wakatipu.pdf

Belluno, Italy
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34. Re: 24 day New Zealand tour

I've just booked a Motel in Portobello:)

I hope I'll be able to visit Glenorchy, thanks a lot for your accurate and interesting suggestions!

Dunedin, New Zealand
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35. Re: 24 day New Zealand tour

I was just about to post this, but I see you have already booked Portobello. I'll post this anyhow.

I asked about Portobello because if you're estimating Dunedin driving times from Te Anau or to Wanaka, you'll have to add another 30 minutes if staying there.

If you're mainly traveling to Dunedin for the natural beauty of the Otago Peninsula: its beaches, hiking tracks, scenic country roads, wildlife, so on--stay in a motel or vacation rental in or around Portobello. It's a quiet village on the harbor with just a few places to stay and eat. You'd probably be better off self-catering, but buy your groceries in downtown Dunedin because there is only a tiny convenience store in Portobello.

Stay in the city center If you mainly want to see city center attractions (Baldwin St., the steepest street; Botanical Garden; Otago Museum, Dunedin City Art Gallery; Toitu Settlers Museum; St. Clair Beach; Tunnel Beach; Speight's Brewery Tour; historic Railway Station/Saturday morning farmers' market/Taeri Gorge or Seasider Railway Trip; Cadbury Chocolate Factory; Signal Hill views). The compact downtown also has many restaurants, shops, and large Countdown and New World supermarkets. It's easy enough to drive to the Otago Peninsula from downtown. If you go on an Elm Wildlife Tour or Monarch Cruise they'll pick you up from downtown or Portobello. A reminder: YEPs come in during the late afternoon (though in December you might have chicks around during the day); Little Blue Penguins come in as it's getting dark and can be seen at Taiaroa Head.

Dunedin's weather is unpredictable, maybe foggy, windy, a little wet, cold OR sunny, warm and clear (and all on the same day). So please think about what you'll do it if rains, if you still feel like walking on the beach, or if you prefer to do indoor things. I went on the Elm Wildlife Tour one afternoon that started off warm and sunny, then became increasingly cloudy and wet. The weather does not affect wildlife viewing, just one's comfort. We saw many of the solitary Yellow Eyed Penguins, many Hookers Sea Lions, Northern Royal Albatrosses, and hundreds of fur seals. December is a great time for wildlife viewing.

Don't forget your waterproof jacket!

Dunedin's St. Clair Beach also has accommodation and a few restaurants. It's 10 minutes to the start of the Otago Peninsula and about 15 minutes to downtown.

Too bad you can't spend a night in the Catlins. Curio Bay is a great place to see the Yellow Eyed Penguins (and Hector's Dolphins at next-door Porpoise Bay).

If you are following the SSR from Te Anau to Dunedin, make sure to turn onto Finlayson Road at Lake Waihola, then follow the coast up to Blackhead Beach Road, continue to Tunnel Beach Road, walk down to Tunnel Beach if the weather is fine (this is still part of the SSR). To get to Portobello from here, drive down to St. Clair Beach, follow the coast (Victoria Road/becomes Tahuna Road/becomes Tomahawk Road) to Centre Road (just before Smails Beach). Take Centre Road to Highcliff Road, turn right onto Highcliff Road and then follow the signs to Portobello. This is most scenic route.

When leaving Portobello, take Portobello Road, the scenic harbor road.

Belluno, Italy
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36. Re: 24 day New Zealand tour

Thanks a lot for your accurate itineray! I've noted it down:)

37. Re: 24 day New Zealand tour

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