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North Island or South Island

Summersville, West...
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North Island or South Island

I am only beginning the educational stage of what New Zealand has to offer. Somewhere, I have read that the South Island has more to offer in the way of WOW scenery but would like suggestions.

Also, today I looked over South Island N Z Frenzy by Scott Cook. Does anyone have suggestions as to what guide I might read to look regarding:

1. What a couple in their early 60s might enjoy?

2. Drives with drop your jaw gorgeous views?

3. Shorter walks (under 4 km round trip) with the wow factor?

4. Special scenic places to spend the night in a small camper van.

To give you a heads up, we have always used and appreciated Rick Steves for Europe to let you understand a typical author we appreciate greatly. Sincerely thanks in advance for your words of wisdom and keep traveling.

New Zealand
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1. Re: North Island or South Island

Welcome to the Kiwi forum C :)

Which month are you planning to travel?, as that can influence where best to go and which stunning drives to enjoy.

And yes, the South Island has much to offer. If you are here more than two weeks you could possibly also spend a few days in the North Island.

For overnight camping, DOC sites often are in stunning locations and are very low cost. The rest of the time you will need to stay in commercial campsites or designated camping areas. Stopping wherever you wish, such as at a remote lake edge, is not an option - there is a $200 fine for illegal camping http://www.camping.org.nz/

I can't recommend a guide book, but www.newzealand.com offers plenty of good information.

Happy planning :)

Christchurch, New...
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2. Re: North Island or South Island

From the outset I must say I am biased because I live in the South Island. A lot of people tend to land at Auckland then make their way down to Wellington and ferry over to Picton, then fly out of christchurch.

I would suggest you rethink the campervan bit. People I know who have done that way say it would have worked out cheaper to hire a car and stay in motels/camping grounds which have tourist flats and or motels etc. Driving a car on some of our roads is easier than driving a campervan. Also if you stop in a camping ground with your campervan it adds to cost and if you are hooked up to power and water lines it is time consuming to unhook just to go off to the local supermarket or go for a meal! Consider also that all your valuables are on show in a campervan - easy picking for theives.

As to where to go and what to see it depends entirely on your 'likes and dislikes'. I could suggest North Island - Bay of Islands, coromandel, Taupo, Napier/Hawke Bay, tauronga. I would not suggest Rotorua (visitor rip-off place).

South Island - Nelson, West Coast, Haast, Wanaka, Queenstown, Te Anau, Milford Sound, Invercargill, Catlins, Dunedin (Otago peninsula). could go inland via Omarama, Twizel, the Lakes then back to christchurch. there are so many places to go and things to see you just have to do the research and decide for yourselves. Whatever you decide to see, enjoy it! PS Don't ignore Christchurch. Our earthquakes have calmed down again, and it would be good to get over to Akaroa.

Edited: 22 June 2012, 03:15
Summersville, West...
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3. Re: North Island or South Island

Thanks for the wonderful suggestions, and I am sorry that I didn't include we will be visiting in January.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
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4. Re: North Island or South Island

If you are a beaches and coastal scenery fan, the North Island has a plethora of beautiful beaches and bays. Kiwis spend much of their summer holidays near/on the sea. The Bay of Islands, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne are top eastern coast-line areas, and there are many more places to choose from around this island and with coastal walks and native bush trails on offer that take in stunning scenery.

Waiheke Island (North Island) has formed a series of coastal trails which terminate at some of the island's villages or at a popular beachfront. Many of these would meet your interest for short walks, and there is good infrastructure and accommodation locally available. Waiheke is very easy to get around with its regular passenger bus srvices, explorer bus, shuttles, taxis, tours and rental vehicles. Take a passenger or vehicle ferry from Auckland city to reach the island - www.waihekenz.com

Wanaka, New Zealand
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5. Re: North Island or South Island

Hi Charlene51

I think the North Island is better for beaches and Maori Culture. The South Island has more jaw-dropping scenery - particularly in regards to mountains and lakes. My preference is for the South Island even though I live in the North.

While you can get just as much info, if not more, about NZ on the net, I understand the want to read some good guidebooks. If you can get hold of them, I would recommend:

101 Must dos for Kiwis: I love you NZ


It's the third book down on this page (not to be confused with the weekends book which is also good). All this information is also available on the AA website, but I just love flicking through my copy of this book.

Another fantastic book is Excellent Short Walks in the North Island by Peter Janssen. I carry it around in the glove box when I'm travelling and refer to it often. There is also a South Island version. If you can't access this book, I suggest you do your short walk research on the DOC website


Lastly, I would like to refer to 5nmgs7's comment about Rotorua being a rip off. I love Rotorua and have some of my cheapest holidays there. There is a wealth of free or inexpensive things to do in the Rotorua region, many just as good, if not better, than the tourist traps. Some of the prettiest lakes in the North Island are within a 15min drive of Rotorua central, and there is such fierce competition with hotels and motels that you can usually get good specials even in the holidays.

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6. Re: North Island or South Island

Having rented a campervan in North Island and wanting to be included in the Rotorua debate, let me say that it does have it's pros and cons. It's very commercialized, true. However, Waikite Valley Thermal Hot Springs is a wonderful overnight campervan spot. You will have access to their pools and they have a neat eco-path along the thermal spring that feeds the pools. It won't cost any more than a commercial Holiday Park (power, showers, kitchen and laundry included).

Also of note is you can park overnight for free at Orekei Korako, and pay admission to the park the next morning before anyone else shows up. If you are like us, you'll have the entire place to yourself with a wonderful view of the thermal mist across the lake. We pitched some chairs on the shore, watched the swans, and sipped wine that evening.

Free stuff includes the Mud Pools and Kerosene Creek - no charge at all! And go to Wairere Falls and hike the trail there. We were fortunate to be there at the same time that the photographer was for the rafting trip. We followed her and caught some great shots of rafters and kayakers shooting over the falls.

Plan wisely in this area, it has it's merits.

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7. Re: North Island or South Island

We spent several weeks campervanning in the South Island ealier this year, the two short walks that I really enjoyed were the Blue Pools of Haast and Lake Matheson. The scenery is amazing!

We have campervanned in both Islands and if you can only do one IMO the South Island is the way to go.

If you are planning on staying at DOC sites I would suggest arriving early so that you can choose a good spot, haul out the deck chairs and enjoy the view.

Edited: 25 June 2012, 00:37
8. Re: North Island or South Island

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