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Booking Ahead?

Saffron Walden...
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Booking Ahead?

We (both in our mid sixties) are from the UK have booked the flights arrive Christchurch 31 Jan 2011 and depart Auckland midday 4 March. We have the car booked for the whole trip with Apex (that gives us the free ferry from Picton to Wellington) for midday on 14 Feb [this is flexible]

With 14 nights on the South Island and 18 on the North Islands, we hope to see a lot (but not all) so have planned a number of 2 night stays.

We did our own planning (before we discovered this forum) and are pleased that it roughly follows the “standard”.

We have pre-booked the Christchurch, Mt Cook and Queenstown motels but want to keep the rest “flexible”. We are not big on hiking or canyon speedboats hence the short time in Queenstown.

We didn’t want to rush things so didn’t include the drive to Milford but if the weather looks good, we could fly/visit to get the best of the views in a short time.

The main question is about accommodation (plan for all motels at the moment). We thought that after your summer school holidays ended, we should be OK to go as we wish but looking on the hotel websites, it seems some are getting booked up already. Is it that places like Fox/Franz Joseph are so popular and on the one south-north road, that they are a Mecca? Should we be ok on flexibility once we are nearer Greymouth?

Does anyone have a “chart” of accommodation availability or just some experience of early February?. Thanks in advance!

PS: Congratulations on the next Lord of the Rings filming – just heard it will start Mid Feb 2011!!!

Will this affect availability (based on last time they filmed)?

South Island Plans:

Mon 31-Jan-11 Midday Arrive Christchurch booked

Tue 01-Feb-11 Christchurch booked

Wed 02-Feb-11 Mount Cook booked

Thu 03-Feb-11 Mount Cook booked

Fri 04-Feb-11 Queenstown booked

Sat 05-Feb-11 Queenstown am

then drive/stay Wanaka late pm

Sun 06-Feb-11 Wanaka then drive Franz Josef

Mon 07-Feb-11 Franz Josef

Tue 08-Feb-11 Franz Josef

Wed 09-Feb-11 Franz Josef

Thu 10-Feb-11 Greymouth area

Fri 11-Feb-11 Greymouth area

Sat 12-Feb-11 Hamner Springs

Sun 13-Feb-11 Hamner Springs

Mon 14-Feb-11 Picton – Ferry - Wellington

Regards Retiredbri (and now, Retiredbabs)

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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1. Re: Booking Ahead?

Early Feb is still peak season for tourists like yourselves, sure the kids are back at school but the weather is good and the European tourists are at full volume. Do book a day or two ahead. As you observed, FJG is a mecca and there is not much accommodation. I think 3 nights is too many there, unless you plan to do a lot of hiking. Why 2 nights in Greymouth? (many people would think 1 was too many!!) Punakaiki might be a better place to stop.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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2. Re: Booking Ahead?

Welcome to the forum R :)

My suggestion;

31 arrive Chch

1 explore

2 drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook

3 explore

4 drive to Queenstown

5 bus/cruise/fly Milford?

6 explore Q'town, TSS Earnslaw

7 drive to Wanaka :)

8 explore

9 drive to Franz

10 explore

11 drive to Punakaiki, explore Pancake Rocks

12 drive to Hanmer Springs

13 soak

14 drive to Picton

15 ferry to Wellington

hope this helps :)

New Zealand
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3. Re: Booking Ahead?

Forgot to add... for accommodation take a look at www.wotif.com

You can only book three months in advance but it offers instant availability and good discounts.

Happy planning :)

San Francisco, CA
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4. Re: Booking Ahead?

WanakaLakes, do you typically find good deals on Wotif?

I've used it to research prices and availability for my upcoming trip, but have been reluctant to prepay because the rates I've seen weren't much of a deal off rack rates. Maybe it's the places I'm looking or the timing (holidays).

I've had better luck with Booking.com where most rates are discounted and flexible and can be canceled until ~48 hours without penalty. Just curious.

New Zealand
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for South Island
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5. Re: Booking Ahead?

Hi Windy :)

Wotif works well for me so haven't even looked at other booking sites.

A while back I was looking for a hotel, checked the rate on wotif which was considerably discounted but had more restrictions. I phoned the hotel directly and asked if they would match the wotif deal. They were happy to do so, and I was happy with the cost :)

San Francisco, CA
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6. Re: Booking Ahead?

Thanks WL. Yes, it's a good point, that many hotels will match online rates if you contact them directly.

For bigger cities and large hotel chains, I've found a fairly wide spread on rates.

New Zealand
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7. Re: Booking Ahead?

I also use wotif quite regularly and fine it excellent for good discounted prices.

Retriredbri, when you arrive collect an AA accomodation book from the nearest iSite(information centre) there is one at Auckland Airport but they are in just about every tourist town and city. This has pages and pages of motels, motor lodges, hotels etc(check the website you'll see what I mean) You can use this to decide and then phone ahead a couple of days to book your motel. If you do arrive and can't find anything look out for a "duty motel" sign, they are in each town and they can direct you to places with vacancies.

Saffron Walden...
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8. Re: Booking Ahead?

Thanks for all the replies and all the helpful info and ideas.

wotif.com looks like a great way to track availability for Feb as the next 28 days unfold. Also the tip to call the hotel to try and get a match to the wotif offers.

The AA books – it’s on my list for as soon as we arrive.

Regarding the 3 days Glacier and 2 days Greymouth – I must have had a senior moment! I think we put in some time to drive to Arthurs Pass

The 3 days Queenstown makes much more sense, as does the Franz & Punakaika days.

One questions: We thought of a slow trip (maybe even an overnight stay on the way to Franz) so as to take in Haast Pass (waterfalls), Haast Beach, .the lakes etc before getting to Fox/Franz. Any thoughts? .

We had heard of sand fly problems. Are they a problem in the above locations or are they much further north? Also, any tips as to minimise their impact? (early Feb)

Once again – thanks for the very quick response.

Retiredbri & retiredbabs

9. Re: Booking Ahead?

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