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New Zealand in 40 Days.

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Southern, Ontario
posts: 27
reviews: 35
New Zealand in 40 Days.

Hi all, we have 40 days to visit New Zealand (Oct.28-Dec.7). I think that a year would not be sufficient. A quick travel overview with days circled. Auckland(3),fly to Christchurch(2) (pick up car), Dunedin(2),Queenstown(3),Wanaka(2), Franz Josef Glacier(2), Hokitika(2),Westport(1), Nelson(2), Blenheim(2), Wellington(4), Taupo(5), Napier(2), Gisborne(1),Whakatane(1),Waitomo(2),Whangarei(1),

Kerikeri(1),Kaitaia(2), back to Auckland.

Any suggestions to improve our itinerary? We plan to do some hiking(not our primary holiday goal). We like 3-4 hour hikes. The Routeburn Encounter (Queenstown area),

and the Tongariro Crossing, and Waihohonu Traverse (Tongariro National Park) are 6-8 hour treks. Are these hikes that must be completed to be appreciated?

Thanks for all your help.

Destination Expert
for Breckenridge
posts: 2,505
reviews: 21
1. Re: New Zealand in 40 Days.

When you are going between Dunedin towards Queenstown, you may want to read up on the Catlins area (SW of the S.Island) as that is a lovely area (in which case you would have to add time for this area).

Nelson-love this town. Abel Tasman is a great hike

Blenheim is ok, but if you like marine things (whale watching or swimming with the dolpins) you may want to head down to Kaikoura for an ocean activity.

Wellington- 4 days here??

If you can free up some time out of Wellington or Taupo (5 days), you can add them on to Bay of Islands area or to take in the Corromandel area. (Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach).

Christchurch- drive up into the Port Hills for great views over the town (and some nice short or long hikes up here). A nice Day trip from Christchurch is to head out to Akarora on the Banks Peninsula.

I would recommend that when going to Milford (assume you are going that way), stay in Te Anau the night before. Much better as if you leave early, you can catch the boats out on the Sounds before the big buses with tourists show up coming from Queenstown.

40 days in NZ will be nice

Southern, Ontario
posts: 27
reviews: 35
2. Re: New Zealand in 40 Days.

Thank you for your suggestions, they were a great help. Wellington is our base for sight seeing and wine tastings and Taupo is our base for the geothermal areas and the Tongariro National Park. If I free up 3 days in those two areas, would you suggest adding them North of Auckland, or visiting the Coromandel Peninsula?

Wanaka, New Zealand
posts: 788
reviews: 2
3. Re: New Zealand in 40 Days.

There are some great walks in the Mount Aspiring National Park when you use Wanaka as a base. The Rob Roy Glacier is a spectacular one which has alpine scenery including snowfields, waterfalls, glaciers and sheer rock faces. It takes about 3 - 4 hours return. Diamond Lake walk is a 2 - 3 hour loop track with amazing views of the lakes and mountains. For a full day hike, try the Mount Roy which takes 5 - 6 hours but has the most awesome views from the top.

When going on a hike, always check with DOC first to see if there are any adverse conditions that may affect the walk - there could be avalanche dangers in mountainous areas up to November.

Destination Expert
for Breckenridge
posts: 2,505
reviews: 21
4. Re: New Zealand in 40 Days.

Depends on how much time you have left.

Corromandel, is more "on your way" to Auckland and would wipe out retracing your steps. I have had great times in both areas so have a hard time picking one over the other (although I would guess that Bay of Islands is more of a draw). Would encourage you to read up on both and see if one interests you more than the other.

With 40 days, it gives you the chance to add or subtract time as you go and play it by ear. Although as you get closer to the ferry crossing, you may want to call a day or 2 beforehand to reserve a spot.

In Nelson, you can take a water taxi out to a beach, get dropped off, hike to another beach 1-3 hours, and get picked up by the water taxi later. Nice way to see the park from the boat as well as enjoy a small hike in the park.

Wanaka- Mt. Iron hike, great views over town

Queenstown to Wanaka- take the back way over Crown Range Road


Check out Arrowtown when in the Queenstown area.

Take the small boat on Milford


If going up the West Coast, go to Westport, but consider staying in Punakaiki


and figure out when high tide is so you can experience the blowholes

here is a place we stayed at and really liked



Destination Expert
for Breckenridge
posts: 2,505
reviews: 21
5. Re: New Zealand in 40 Days.

And when i said in Nelson take the water taxi, I meant out at Abel Tasman Park (about ~1 hr. outside of Nelson).

Also, if you are looking for a splurge event, check out


This was such an amazing trip. You can do a helicopter ride (which is what we did) instead of the plane. Helicopter is a rush at times.

The Siberian experience takes you into the Siberian valley. You also have the option of being dropped one valley over (jumboland experience) which is the route we did. But a really pretty day and a 3 in 1 package. Great fun and incredible scenary.

Southern, Ontario
posts: 27
reviews: 35
6. Re: New Zealand in 40 Days.

Thanks for all your kind suggestions. I have written everything down and hope to incorporate as much as I can into our New Zealand experience. The shorter hikes sound perfect. The water taxi for the Abel Tasman Park is something I was not even aware of. I do not think we can afford to pass on the Siberia Experience. You have been a tremendous help.

Destination Expert
for Breckenridge
posts: 2,505
reviews: 21
7. Re: New Zealand in 40 Days.

the water taxis are a great way to experience the park.

Here is a link to get some more info. about it.



posts: 3
reviews: 2
8. Re: New Zealand in 40 Days.

I think two nights in Auckland is sufficient when you arrive, unless you are visiting anyone there or know some attractions I don't. It's not a very pretty city. The nice bits down by the harbour is very compact and you can walk across it in less than 10 minutes. You can spend an hour or so in the Skytower, but that's as exiting as it gets.

I would suggest adding a day in Queenstown and give Wanaka a miss, and when there, splurge on a flight to Milford sound. The views from the plane was amazing and you will not see any of this from the road. We booked the flight through the tourist office. The price included pick up from accomodation and it took only approx. 30 min to get there and flying in through the sound before landing was breathtaking! Once you land, you're a 15 min walk from the aircraft to the sightseeing boats. I felt very sorry for the poor tourists piling onto those packed buses or cars for the 5 hour drive back. We spent 4 nights in Queenstown (white water rafting down Shotover river, the BIG bungy jump,etc) but I would have loved to stay for one more day, that's how good it was.

The other day left over if giving Wanaka a skip, you could spend in Nelson and if going from to Abel Tasman, you can also do the sea kayaking up the coast to the seal colony, and then "sail" back in the kayaks, if the winds are favourable.

In regards to Taupo, it depends on what you are planning on doing there as most attractions/activities (except for aquatic stuff on the lake) are a bit of a drive away. I wouldn't stop here to chill out, as it is VERY touristy and a bit like spanish beach holiday resort. Most restaurants are "cheap n chearful", but there is a fab restaurant slightly outside the town centre called "the Bach" which was excellent. Perhaps 5 days here is a bit much.

Definitely include Coromandel it is sooo beautiful. Did the Cathedral Cove kayaking and I would REALLY recommend it. We stayed in a top class B&B in Tairua www.rewahouse.co.nz.

Finally, the travel times you might have gotten from www.newzealand.com are very generous and most of our drives took 1-2 hours less than stated on that website.

You have probably booked most of your trip, but I hope this was useful anyway.

Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 20,479
reviews: 45
9. Re: New Zealand in 40 Days.

skip Wanaka ?!?

oh dear, not recommended.

not at all, lol

the most common lament made by travelers as they leave Wanaka is that they aren't staying longer...

posts: 721
reviews: 2
10. Re: New Zealand in 40 Days.

dubchickIreland, BSCskiers has said why they wish to stay a few days in Taupo. Cut back on Taupo you say!

No No. They will need this time to base themselves and cover all the geothermal areas and the Tongariro National Park. The Tongarirro Alpine Crossing will take a full day on its own. Yes, Taupo is a tourist town, but that’s because it has so much to offer visitors. Taupo is the Queenstown of the North Island, but with a difference. The Volcanic Zone stretching from White Island to Tongariro National Park and the biggest crater lake in Australasia. Taupo is the perfect base with short drives to many other destinations that can, and are done within a days return drive.

Sadly, the Bach has closed but Taupo has many more excellent restaurants and cafe's to choose from.