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  • OT - Trip to New Zealand Advice needed

    My wife and I are planning a trip to NZ in February. We will get off a plane in Queenstown and have two weeks to make our way back to Auckland for the trip home. What sights should we not miss? I would appreciate any advice.

  • #2
    Queenstown to Auckland, driving, would mean quite a bit of your two weeks behind the wheel but perhaps you would like to spend your time in just a couple of areas?

    Q'town has a wide choice of activities aimed at the younger, active, travellers but there is plenty there for older folks too. I suggest (whatever the age) at least a lake steamer visit to the sheep station for a glimpse of NZ sheep farming life and an evening meal in an idyllic environment before the moonlight cruise back to Q'town.

    A visit to Milford Sound from Q'town is a must. Its about 5 hours to drive but only a short distance by plane, a nice way to do this is fly one way and bus the other. It is a day trip and you can include a cruise on the fjord in that. It is well worth the visit on a fine sunny day but even more so if it is raining as heavy rain at Milford Sound is something everyone should experience at least once.

    If you are into star gazing there is a famous observatory at Mt John, Tekapo. More or less on the road from Q'town to Christchurch.

    A lot of the small towns in NZ have interesting museums and displays of interest to home shop machinists but very few have the patronage to be open every day of the week so if you find one thats a bonus. 50 miles south of Christchurch is Ashburton which has a small aviation museum open 7 days, if you let me know which day you might be passing I would strive to be there to show you around!

    Christchurch is an interesting city if you want to see the aftermath of an earthquake which destroyed much of the city and what was left teetering is slowly being reduced to rubble.

    It is a five hour drive from Christchurch to Picton from where the ferry takes the cars, and trains, to the North Island. Vineyards, whale and other wildlife watching and other sights along the way make this a full day at least especially if you want to take in the first class aviation museum and displays at Omaka which is near Blenheim.

    I think that would be at least half of your two weeks taken care of....

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    • #3
      My son and his wife just returned from a 4 week trip to New Zealand. The rented a "caravan" and just went where ever it seemed interesting. They still haven't stopped talking about Milford Sound. They were so impressed and happy they spent 4 days in the area, "just soaking it all in". Their next favorite spot was a hike up an active volcano -- I forget the name. They also said they avoided everything associated with LOTR and the Hobbit. Over hyped and over priced.
      Kevin

      More tools than sense.

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      • #4
        I'll be back in Chch (home) and surrounds for a month late November. My sights will be different - mostly within 200 miles, and like many places, most only known to locals

        One thing you should do is take a flight up onto to the Franz Joseph glacier - you can land on top with a ski equipped plane..
        Last edited by lakeside53; 10-28-2013, 03:00 AM.

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        • #5
          Get out of Queenstown as fast as you can. It is crawling with tourists from China. If you are driving, forget about Milford. Two weeks will not allow you the time that trip will require.

          Head for Invercargill. Then drive the Catlins route to Dunedin. This is very scenic, with views of the Southern Ocean and many secluded bays and stands of native bush.

          Dunedin is a treasure, the southernmost English-speaking city in the world. There are two great Japanese restaurants there, and a fine tour of a Victorian mansion built by a man who made his fortune selling pianos to those who struck it rich in the Otago gold rush of the 1860s.

          You will get to Christchurch, but there is not much reason to stay there. Head to the West Coast over Arthur's Pass and and see Reefton. This was the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to get electric lighting, six years after Thomas Edison brought electricity to New York. The Black Point Museum in Reefton has machinery from the era of mining, which continues with a new open-pit gold mine behind the hills.

          From Reefton go to Wellington via Nelson, and the Picton ferry. Wellington is even hillier than San Francisco, and the museum there is the best in the country.

          Head north to Taupo and visit Wairakei to see the huge geothermal power facility there. Your wife might appreciate the Terraces spa which has recently opened there, the best mud baths and hot spring soak in the world http://www.wairakeiterraces.co.nz/. So you won't need to go to Rotorua, which like Queenstown is overrun with tourists.

          Now your time is getting short. You might not have time to see the Coromandel Peninsula. You could go to Raglan, but I guess by this stage you will have acquired enough advice from people you will have encountered on the road.

          North of Auckland is a different world, which you can save for your next trip. When you finally do get up there be sure to see the Tane Mahuta tree http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tane_Mahuta. Send me a postcard, if you like it.
          Allan Ostling

          Phoenix, Arizona

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          • #6
            That is good advice from Allan but if I may expand on it I would say forget about Auckland and instead leave from Christchurch after spending your two weeks touring the Mainland.

            BTW, even one day, or half an hour even, at Milford Sound is better than never having been there at all!


            ...... Milford Sound Flight Service station c. 1969. (Super handsome young chap on duty that day!)

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            • #7
              Actually the statistics for queenstown show there are 4 american for every chinese visitor and 5 australians for every american.
              There is alot to see in christchurch but it isnt your normal tourist destination, well worth a look.

              They speak english in Invercargill a city 150 miles south of dunedin.
              My neighbours diary says I have boundary issues

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Bruce Griffing View Post
                What sights should we not miss? I would appreciate any advice.
                One more thing. As a physicist you might enjoy a pilgrimage to Havelock, on the Marlborough Sounds. The school where Ernest Rutherford learned to read is still in existence there. This is where modern physics began.
                Allan Ostling

                Phoenix, Arizona

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Yow Ling View Post
                  Actually the statistics for queenstown show there are 4 american for every chinese visitor and 5 australians for every american.
                  Errr..... is that right? Better turn left when you come out the gates of Frankton (Queenstown) Airport and dont stop until you see piles of swedes for sale at the roadside.

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                  • #10
                    Talking about sites of world shaking historical interest one could consider Shag Valley Station at 2353 Dunback-Morrisons Road (State Highway 87), Morrisons, OTAGO. The station is notable for Frank and Brenda Bell, who made the first radio contact between New Zealand and London in October 1924. Their equipment is retained in a small museum on the station.

                    Their feat was at that time still considered by many as impossible as they used "useless" short waves whereas the "official" long distance radio systems of the time operated of long waves. At least as significant as the battle between proponents of DC v AC.

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                    • #11
                      With the greatest respect to my friend John in Ashburton, if this is your once-in-a-lifetime visit to NZ, don't spend it all in the South Island. But then, as a resident of the Far North, I would say that, wouldn't I?
                      The natural scenery of the South Island is simply stunning, but the North has its beauties too. The Tongariro National Park just south of Taupo is amazing (stay a night at The Chateau on Mt Ruapehu). The Waitomo Caves are very popular, Auckland is just a horrible big city, and the Far North reveals itself gradually to those who really look. The Coromandel Pensinsula is also worth a trip. Rotorua has its attractions, but being a very active geo-thermal region, it stinks of H2S.
                      The real problem you pose is that two weeks is far too short a time to experience all that this amazing little place at the wrong end of the world has to offer.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Yow Ling View Post
                        Actually the statistics for queenstown show there are 4 american for every chinese visitor and 5 australians for every american.

                        Hey.. If we can divert the Chinese that means no Americans or Australians! Perfect... all back to how it was 30 years ago

                        I agree about Auckland... Just SFO on the other side of the world. Shut your eyes when entering from the south, and in about 1/2 a day of traffic you'll be through it and northwards towards the Bay of Islands etc.

                        Two weeks to see NZ? LOL.... sure. I'm not one for driving to see "scenery". Ok, if you have to do it then once, but then come back and send a few weeks in one spot to explore the people and life. Alternatively... pace yourself, follow no real plan and hangout wherever you are having fun. Don't sweat the LONG list of possibilities and final destination until a day before you have to leave, then ditch the car and catch a plane to Auckland.
                        Last edited by lakeside53; 10-28-2013, 03:13 AM.

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                        • #13
                          OK, getting serious now, I have to repeat my opening statement that you might consider concentrating on just one or two locations as two weeks spent travelling between Queenstown and Auckland by road (or rail) would leave too little time for the interesting stuff. Incidently, rail options are very limited.

                          I am confident that if you were to spend your entire two weeks with, say, a few days at a number of places that would be a more satisfying reward for the time, expense and discomfort you had to endure to get here.

                          Therefore, I think we should be recommending a few locations for you to choose as your temporary bases. My suggestions for such bases are, Queenstown (alternative Te Anau), Dunedin, Westport, Wellington, Taupo (alternative Rotorua), Whangarei, Napier (alternative Hastings).

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                          • #14
                            If you do come up the east coast of the South Island or cross over to Christchurch, stop in Akaroa and explore the zillions of untouched bays on the Peninsula. If the wind is blowing from the south - check out Birdlings Flat - that's one impressive place in storm, but now I'm giving away local secrets!

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                            • #15
                              We went to Akaroa via the summit road last week, great drive although we could not get into St Lukes' church which has the gate closed right now.

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