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3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

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Los Angeles...
posts: 6
3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

Hi Everyone!

Thanks for all of your posts, I have been reading for the past couple weeks, and it has been amazingly informative!!

I will be coming to New Zealand for a three week honeymoon in December of this year. My fiance and I are in our early 30s and very active - we want to swim with dolphins, go rafting, kayaking, etc. (Although we won't be as adventurous as skydiving or bungy jumping.) We also want to absorb New Zealand culture as much as we can.

We would like to see a lot, but don't want to have long drives every day - we would like to stay in the same place for a couple days at a time to slow down and better enjoy our honeymoon.

I'll post my inital itinerary below, but main questions are:

-Is it ok to skip wellington? (are we missing out)

-Is doing a helitour of Mt Cook just as good as driving to it?

-Where to stay in glacier area? We would like to stay in one place for both days of glacier hikes.

-What city in Bay of Islands? Thinking Russell for honeymoon, but wondering if public transportation will get us there?

-Any other locations I am missing that are a must-see?

We’ll be driving all of South Island, so I wanted to take public transportation when it’s available and convenient for us. (which actually doesn’t seem very often)

Day 1: land Auckland 7am from Los Angeles, stay in Auckland

Day 2: Take bus to Bay of Islands (relax)

Day 3: Bay of Islands (relax, rent a car for drive to Waitomo/Rotorua/Tauranga)

Day 4: Drive to Waitomo Caves (glow worms, black water rafting), stay in Rotorua

Day 5: Rotorua (maori culture, zorbing)

Day 6: Rotoura (hot water springs), drive to Tauranga

Day 7: Tauranga (blokarting, sea kayaking, beaches)

Day 8: Tauranga (the Mount hike, White Island), return rental car, fly to Christchurch in afternoon, rent car in Chch

Day 9: Kaikoura day trip (dolphins), stay Chch

Day 10: Arthurs Pass to Punakaiki (pancake rocks)

Day 11: Punakaiki/Greymouth/Hokitika (white water rafting), stay Punakaiki

Day 12: Drive to Franz Josef Glacier (do a hike), stay in Lake Matheson?

Day 13: Drive to Fox Glacier (do a helicopter tour to see Mt. Cook), stay in same place as night before

Day 14: Drive to Wanaka via Haast pass, stay Wanaka

Day 15: Wanaka, stay Wanaka (canyoning, sledging)

Day 16: Drive to Te Anau (via Cromwell for wine), stay Te Anau

Day 17: Milford Sound, stay Te Anau

Day 18: Drive to Queenstown (return rental car)

Day 19: Queenstown

Day 20: Queenstown

Day 21: Fly out of Queenstown in early morning back to Los Angeles

Any suggestions are helpful! Thanks again

15 replies to this topic
Wellington, NZ
Destination Expert
for Wellington
posts: 2,089
reviews: 7
1. Re: 3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

Are you missing out if you don't visit Wellington? Of course! You'd miss out on the masterpiece that is a Wellington flat white! And there's Te Papa, the national museum, and the indisputable fact that Wellington is NZ's prettiest city when the sun is shining. Wellington was deemed Lonely Planet's 4th best city to visit in 2011.

If you wanted to visit Wellington, I'd cut Tauranga. I think Tauranga is an unusual choice. Personally, I think the beaches and kayaking opportunities are much better in the Bay of Islands. You can do White Island as a day trip from Rotorua if you decided to cut Tauranga out. Then, you could fly down to Wellington from Rotorua, take the ferry across the sounds (good kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds as well) and drive down to Kaikoura.

Having said that, I think your itinerary is quite sensible, and has a good balance of seeing different things and having time to relax. You are going to have a great time no matter what you decide to do.

Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 20,459
reviews: 45
2. Re: 3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

Welcome to the forum Sienna and congratulations on your honeymoon :)

You trip looks fabulous.

Yes, Wellington is a great wee city but you can save it for your next visit.

enjoy :)

Oz
posts: 4,613
reviews: 32
3. Re: 3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

Hi Siena J ,

Ahh to Wellington or not to Wellington. Congrats......sounds like a great trip and if you don't enjoy your honeymoon well...................

Cheers,

Edited: 11:31 pm, February 19, 2013
Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Macau
posts: 18,963
reviews: 170
4. Re: 3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

I think you are rushing the first 3-4 days too much and underestimating the cost/difficulty of picking up & dropping off rental cars in small towns in NZ. Have you got a quote for a pick-up in the Bay of Islands and a drop off in Tauranga? i don't think it will be viable.

Day 4: driving from the Bay of Islands to Waitomo Caves to Rotorua is 8 hours just DRIVING! Add an hour for one cave plus an hour for lunch and you have 10 hours which includes some cross-country navigating and no stops for photos, fuel, toilet etc!! Personally I'd stay the night at Waitomo Caves.

Day 7/8 - I wouldn't stay at Tauranga if wanting beaches - it is on a harbour! Mount Maunganui would be a better choice - but I don't think you can do White Island tours from either Tauranga or Mt Maunganui!! Probably easier to drop off rental car and fly to Chch from Rotorua, as this is more touristy.

Day 11. Not worth returning to Punakaiki after a visit to Hokitika - means driving the same road THREE times. Stay in Hokitika and don't miss the new tree tops walks!

http://treetopsnz.com/

Auckland Region...
posts: 130
reviews: 45
5. Re: 3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

You would be much better to rent your car from Auckland and drive yourself to the Bay of Islands. The rental car options would be very limited in the Bay of Islands. It will not take you long to get clear of Auckland if you avoid rush hour and will be good practice for when you drive back through to Waitomo.

Plus it is much more convenient to have a car the whole time in the Bay of Islands. It will be fun for you to take the short car ferry trip from Opua over to Russell if you want to stay there or you could stay in Paihia and get a passenger ferry across to Russell which go back and forth regularly during the day.

Agree that going from the Bay of Islands to Tauranga via Waitomo would be an all day drive.

Los Angeles...
posts: 6
6. Re: 3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

Wow, thank you for all your comments! There were so many things I didn't consider. zhuhai2007, you are correct, renting a car from BOI to Tauranga is not feasible. And you are correct that tours to White Island are mostly from Whakatane, not Tauranga.

Here is what I am thinking, in order to factor in Wellington for a flat white :)

Day 1: land Auckland 7am from Los Angeles, stay in Auckland (rent car)

Day 2: Bay of Islands (relax)

Day 3: Bay of Islands (relax)

Day 4: Drive 5 hours to Waitomo Caves (glow worms, black water rafting), stay in Waitomo

Day 5: Drive 2 hours to Rotorua (geysers, maori culture), stay Rotorua

Day 6: Rotorua (hot water springs, adventures), stay Rotorua

Day 7: Rotorua (day trip to the Mount or White Island), stay Rotorua

Day 8: Fly Rotorua (return rental car) to Wellington, stay Wellington

Day 9: 8:15am Ferry to Picton, kayak Marlborough, pick up rental car by 6pm, drive to 2hrs to Kaikoura, stay Kaikoura

Day 10: Dolphin swim early a.m., drive 5.5 hours Arthurs Pass to Punakaiki (pancake rocks), stay Punakaiki

Day 11: Hokitika (white water rafting and/or tree tops), stay Hokitika

Day 12: Drive to Franz Josef Glacier (do a hike), stay in Lake Matheson

Day 13: Drive to Fox Glacier (do a helicopter tour to see Mt. Cook), stay in same place as night before

Day 14: Drive to Wanaka via Haast pass, stay Wanaka

Day 15: Wanaka, stay Wanaka (canyoning, sledging)

Day 16: Drive to Te Anau (via Cromwell for wine), stay Te Anau

Day 17: Milford Sound, stay Te Anau

Day 18: Drive to Queenstown (return rental car), stay Queenstown

Day 19: Queenstown

Day 20: Queenstown

Day 21: Fly out of Queenstown in early morning back to Los Angeles

Sound feasible? I'm very excited :)

Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 20,459
reviews: 45
7. Re: 3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

A couple of issues -

day 9 is overlong. You will need to be at the ferry by 7:15am at the latest and you plan to be still driving at 8pm. Driver faitgue is the major cause of NZ road accidents. We don't have the easy cruising freeways systems you are used to - our roads are narrow, twisty and often quite steep. And the road Picton to Kaikoura is particularly twisty and narrow, requiring a fully alert driver. This is not a drive you consider late in evening after a very full day.

day 10 early swim followed by a long drive. The drive Kaikoura to Punakaiki is 5 hours via Lewis Pass - but the route you have chosen over Arthur's Pass is closer to 6.5 hours if driven non-stop - considerably longer if stopping for food, sightseeing etc. Another altogether exhausting day.

Plus where do you plan to stay in Lake Matheson? To my knowledge there isn't any accommodation at the lake - the closest will be in Fox.

You are best to;

9 ferry to Picton, kayak Marlborough Sounds, stay Picton

10 drive to Kaikoura, dolphin swim

11 drive to Arthur's Pass

12 drive to Punakaiki

13 drive to Hokitika

which means either extend your time or reduce your wish list.

Wellington, NZ
Destination Expert
for Wellington
posts: 2,089
reviews: 7
8. Re: 3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

Day 7 - definitely go to White Island. It's on my bucket list. Take a look at these photos - taken every 30 minutes geonet.org.nz/volcano/info/whiteisland/camer… Only go to the Mount if you can't get to White Island because of weather or too much volcanic activity.

Los Angeles...
posts: 6
9. Re: 3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

Yes, ok, good point. I don't want to be tired and traveling. I'll have to do more research/rethink what's more important to us, and what the plan will be.

Right now I have enough of an itinerary to book the roundtrip flight from LAX --> Auckland, and then Queenstown --> LAX. I guess I can book Rotorua --> Chch or Rotorua --> Wellington later.

Again, thanks so much for the valuable advice.

Los Angeles...
posts: 6
10. Re: 3 Week Honeymoon Itinerary - North and South Island

Hi again, I've redone my itinerary, factoring in less driving. I'm thinking now to go to Coromandel over the Bay of Islands, because it has good beaches and frankly, is closer to everything else. We really want to relax the first couple days of the honeymoon. This will eliminate the 5 hour drive from BOI to Waitomo, and instead makes Waitomo a day trip from Rotorua.

I did realize that I have 22 days, not 21 so this allows me an extra day, which I think we will do day trip to Doubtful Sound for kayaking. Unfortunately I dont think Wellington will fit, as that requires at least 2 extra days. (and more driving)

Day 1:   land Auckland 7am, stay in Auckland (rent car)

Day 2:   Whitianga (beach, Cath Cove, Hot Water Beach)

Day 3:   Hahei (beach)

Day 4:   Mount Maunganui or White Island, stay around one of these places

Day 5:   drive 1 hour to Rotorua (sledging, rafting, maori), stay Rotorua

Day 6:   Rotoura (Geyser tour, mud pools), stay Rotorua

Day 7:   Rotorua (day trip to Waitomo Caves), stay Rotorua

Day 8:   Fly to ROT --> Chch, stay Christchurch

Day 9: Kaikoura, stay Kaikoura

Day 10:   Arthurs pass, stay Punakaiki

Day 11:  Punakaiki/Greymouth/Hokitika (white water rafting, tree tops), stay Hokitika

Day 12:  Drive to Franz Josef Glacier (do a hike), stay in Fox

Day 13:  Drive to Fox Glacier (do a helicopter tour to see Mt. Cook), stay in Fox

Day 14:  Drive to Wanaka via Haast pass, stay Wanaka

Day 15:  Wanaka, stay Wanaka (canyoning, bikes, puzzling world)

Day 16:  Drive to Te Anau (via Cromwell for wine), stay Te Anau

Day 17:  Milford Sound, stay Te Anau (milford track)

Day 18:  Doubtful Sound, stay Te Anau (kayaking)

Day 19:   Drive to Queenstown

Day 20:   Queenstown (jet boats)

Day 21:  Queenstown (arrowtown)

Day 22: Fly out of Queenstown

As always, thanks again for all comments!!

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