Getting Around New Zealand: the Itinerary Advice Thread

Discussion in 'Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific' started by ThatJohn, Feb 12, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. ThatJohn
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    ThatJohn Silver Member

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    Kia ora and welcome.

    Got questions about itineraries? Planning a trip to New Zealand and want to run your ideas past friendly Milepointers for advice? Fancy a quick squizz at what other people have suggested? Post away!

    To keep things manageable, it would be super-helpful to keep this thread to getting around NZ rather than getting to NZ. For advice on making the long trip down, hop on over to the Getting To New Zealand thread.

    Thanks!
     
  2. ThatJohn
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    [Placeholder for further content that may or may not ever appear. Please enjoy this lovely picture of a 777-300ER at Wellington Airport in the meantime.]

    [​IMG]
     
  3. ArizonaGuy
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    Oh I'm flexible enough to work around weather screw-ups. It's just the lack of leeway means if something has to be missed, it won't be seen until the next trip. The usual response, 'Now you have an excuse to come back!" doesn't apply. People like us never need an excuse to travel somewhere! It's more the worry of so many places to go and see with such short human lifespans!

    I too am always leery of smaller rental companies anywhere. They lure you in with the price and if things go well, so much the better. What you pay for with the big names is (in theory) better service. I've even seen a friend of mine return an Opel to Europcar Italy in Naples after sideswiping a bridge crash barrier (and nearly severing my arm) - and they didn't bat an eye despite not having paid the CDW. Whether it was because she was US Navy or not I'll never know but any lesser company would have balked.

    Oh - and most importantly you can't earn airline miles with most smaller companies!

    I didn't clarify - if I drive to Greymouth to Wellington, I will obviously turn the car in at Picton. Won't need one in WLG and will fly WLG-AKL most likely rather than make the 7-8 hour trek by car.
     
  4. ThatJohn
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    ThatJohn Silver Member

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    In NZ, my experience is that it's that you pay for more widespread locations.

    Well, it's not always the case outside airport locations: I once got fined €80 (yes, eighty euro!) for leaving a couple of empty coke bottles in an Avis Germany local rental office's car. :td:

    Quite! Nor do you get the added benefits of frequent renter status, like unnamed extra drivers and whatnot.

    There are certain things that a car is useful for in WLG -- getting out to the lovely southern coast, and around Island Bay to Lyall Bay, Miramar and Seatoun. But there are numerous local locations in town if you want to pick a car up for the day.
     
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  5. Bizi
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    Bizi Silver Member

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    Good work setting up this thread. The ability to do one-way trips (e.g. we did CHC-ZQN with Hertz) may be another benefit of the larger companies, but I've not used the smaller companies so shouldn't really compare them.

    A potentially broader range of cars is another possible benefit, but being NZ, the smaller companies might actually have a more diverse range!
     
  6. ThatJohn
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    ThatJohn Silver Member

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    Oh, yes, the one-way thing is a good point in their favour too.

    And some day, I do want to rent a Datsun Sunny and drive around the country with bits of it falling off en route. Today is not that day ;)
     
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  7. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    Don't forget the sometimes free one-way trips (albeit normally have 48 hour limit) between Auckland & Wellington or Christchurch & Picton.
     
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  8. Bizi
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    Bizi Silver Member

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    Ah, the successor to the mighty 120why!

    Chip ez Chups Car Runtl. :D

    You are a wise man.
     
  9. Bizi
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    Bizi Silver Member

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    The CHC-Picton one could be useful for some people. With a bonus side trip to Marlborough. :p
     
  10. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    Picton is in Marlborough.
     
  11. ThatJohn
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    ThatJohn Silver Member

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    So I was thinking about what the most scenic internal flights are in NZ. Answer: pretty much anything, but still, I thought it might be useful to note down the very loveliest.

    When kiwi and I were having Christmas drinks in the WLG Koru lounge, I asked him what his vote was for the most scenic internal flight in NZ. With nary a moment's hesitation, he said "anything into ZQN". (Hope you don't mind me quoting you, kiwi.)

    I haven't yet wangled myself a flight into ZQN, but it's definitely on my list. I recently did WLG-BHE (Wellington to Blenheim), which is run on a 19-seat Beech 1900D, where every seat is a window and an aisle (just like Business Premier!), and which I thought was stunningly beautiful as we banked left around Wellington and passed over the Cook Strait, Marlborough Sounds and the geometric beauty of the vines running north-south across the Marlborough wine region. Plus, 25-minute scenic flight for $39 if you can grabaseat it at that price: bargain!

    Any other recommendations for top scenic scheduled flights?
     
  12. kiwi
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    kiwi Gold Member

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    To clarify, flying into ZQN is the most scenic (in my view) regularly scheduled commercial flight. AKL-ZQN being slightly better than CHC-ZQN since you also get to see Mounts Ruapehu/Tongariro/Ngauruhoe & Taranaki, Farewell Spit and the wild west coast of South Island. The time I flew ZQN-WLG we got special views of Mounts Cook & Tasman thanks to a tiki tour by the captain.

    There are other flights even better (eg between Queenstown & Milford Sound).
     
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  13. ArizonaGuy
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    Wasn't sure if I should ask this here or the master thread since this isn't directly itinerary-related - but might come up for anyone planning so I've selected this thread. :)

    Fox and/or Franz Josef. Fitness level requirements for the half / full / heli-hikes. Any advice? Keep in mind the wife and I are American. ;) We're not tip-top shape by any means but I believe we can certainly hold our own - we easily handle walking around any big city all day long when we travel, we didn't have too much difficulty with the castles and palaces in Sintra, Portugal - which would be our most recent trip involving physical exertion. And it was bloody humid too.

    I just have a feeling they overhype the agility requirements to make sure people who really aren't suited for the hikes don't join. But since they accept children as young as 8 I doubt we'll have an issue.

    The one real concern I have - and I've emailed both glacier tour companies for info - is whether provided boots are available in equivalent US size 14. :) I may have to go find a new pair of hiking boots otherwise, my old ones are quite worn including the soles.
     
  14. ThatJohn
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    Although I have no hard or fast rules for you, I would assume overhyping as well. I've never heard of anybody being turned away. Did the organisers get back to you about shoe size?

    (Sorry for the delay...have been wineing my way around Hawke's Bay all long-weekend!)
     
  15. FlyingFree
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    FlyingFree Gold Member

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    I've had very good luck with Hertz out of Christchurch returning Queenstown. Have made the trek around the south island several times and will be happy to answer any questions that covers something I've experienced...
     
  16. ThatJohn
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    ThatJohn Silver Member

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    Hertz is my current fave, although (DYKWIA warning!) the WLG branch did recently miss out my #1 Club Gold status, which meant five minutes of "what is your licence number. what is your credit card. do you want CDW", a long walk to the far end of the rental lot, and an absolutely awful dirty, smelly clunker of a Camry that would have fit better in the Happy Backpacker Rentals lot.
     
  17. ArizonaGuy
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    I figured. Two organisers returned my email - they have men's boots up to UK size 16!!
     
  18. ArizonaGuy
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    Sadly, I'm stuck to only Avis if I want to depart from Westport for Wellington. Avis is the only company at Westport, though the price for the hire/rental jumps for using Westport as a drop-off.

    Flying Hokitika to Wellington is ridiculously expensive (cheaper to book HKK-CHC and CHC-WLG separately actually). Could drive back to CHC instead of up to Westport but the idea was to enjoy the short part of the coast from Greymouth to Westport before leaving the south island. And Westport to Wellington flights fares are reasonable.
     
  19. Muerl
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    Muerl Gold Member

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    I can say when I did Fox Glacer 5 years ago, they had shoes for my size 14-15 2e feet, and at the time I was 6'4" 300lbs or so. It was hard and tiring, but I was able to do everything.
     
  20. ArizonaGuy
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    Thanks. At the time you were 6'4". Are you now 6'10"? ;)
     
  21. Muerl
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    Muerl Gold Member

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    lol, naw, just 205 and my feet are now a 14d.

    Highly recommend the glacier though, I did a half day FYI.
     
  22. ArizonaGuy
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    With zero disrespect meant to the victims of the CHC quake or all people involved in the rescue / recovery / rebuild (life must move on, after all, and tourism dollars will help) the earthquake has thrown a small spanner in the works of my trip in May.

    It kind of gives me two more days to do something else but not sure what. Had intended to spend 2 nights in the CBD with one day including a drive out to Akaroa before driving down to Dunedin. I suppose we could go spend a night on the peninsula and then make it a two day drive to Dunedin.

    Any ideas for immediate alternatives near CHC or in a southerly direction from CHC?
     
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  23. ThatJohn
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    Where are you coming from to get to DUD?

    I had an absolutely marvellous day poking my nose into little valleys up near Aoraki Mount Cook. (Check out my Google Map South Island Itinerary for location -- it's a comfy day's drive west of CHC.) But I seem to recall that you might be going there anyway.

    I also highly recommend the Lord of the Rings Edoras Tour from Hassle Free Tours, which is Chch based but resumed operations this week. They do pickups from Methven, a small town west of Christchurch, and take you up to Mount Sunday, which is where they filmed Edoras in The Two Towers and The Return of the King. It's absolutely breathtakingly beautiful up there, even if you're not a Quenya speaker or in the habit of quoting Tolkien.
     
  24. ArizonaGuy
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    The original plan as 2 nights in Christchurch (day in Akaroa) then the 5-ish hour drive to Dunedin for a couple nights. I'll give the LotR tour a spot on the list as a possibility. I know you rave about this a lot, more than most other things so I'll definitely do some research. Couldn't care less about the LotR link myself, I can't stand Tolkien and am not a big fantasy genre fan in general. :)

    And I also know you're not a huge DUD fan. But I just feel like I have to go, so does my wife. Edinburgh of the north, Dunedin of the south. It's like a pilgrimage to get to some of these places since I have a passion for all things even remotely related to Ireland and the UK. (Hence one of the major reasons our honeymoon was in Tasmania, I'd wanted to continue tracing Irish history there for many years.) And besides, how can we go to NZ and not snap a photo the most photographed building in all of New Zealand? ;)

    After Dunedin, weather will determine the route taken to end up at Te Anau or Manapouri.
     
  25. Muerl
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    Not to throw disrespect to ThatJohn who has boots on the ground, but I really enjoyed Dunedin, it just had an awesome feel to it, also I am a sucker for breweries.

    Also, I enjoy Te Anau, it was a good base to go to Millford, rather than ZQN, and much less touristy.

    The other thing I liked about Dunedin was the absolutely crazy weather. Sunshine to hail in the time it took to buy a coffee.

    Sorry I am rambling. Its time to leave the office. My trip around the South Island ended in Dunedin after a drive down the west coast then across Te Anau -> Invercargill -> Dunedin, and then a rapid drive north.

    Moeraki Boulders are about the only thing I recall between Dunedin and Kaikoura, they were pretty cool looking though ;)
     

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