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North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

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Melbourne, Australia
posts: 4
reviews: 8
North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

Hi All,

My partner and I (both late 20's) are travelling to New Zealand for the first time from March 12th-31st. Flights are already booked- flying into Auckland (landing approx 6pm) and out of Queenstown (flying out approx 9am). Car is not booked as yet- nor is accomodation. So im keen to move on booking both asap!

Any advice you can provide on the 'draft' itinerary below would be greatly appreciated so we can make this a memorable trip and maximise our time, sight seeing etc...

12th- AUCKLAND (NORTH ISLAND)

13th- COROMANDEL

14th- COROMANDEL (worth driving via Waitomo Caves to Roturua?)

15th- ROTURUA

16th- ROTURUA

17th- ROTURUA (via Taupo to Napier)

18th- NAPIER

19th- NAPIER

20th- NELSON (SOUTH ISLAND)

21st- NELSON (via Abel Tasman and Westport to Greymouth)

22nd- GREYMOUTH (via Hokitika on way to Lake Wanaka)

23rd- LAKE WANAKA

24th- QUEENSTOWN

25th- QUEENSTOWN

26th- QUEENSTOWN

27th- TE ANAU/MILFORD SOUND

28th- TE ANUA/MILFORD SOUND

30th- QUEENSTOWN

31st- QUEENSTOWN

Other questions:

1) Car Hire company suggestions for 2 people?

2) Any suggested stops offs in the itinerary above?

3) Any 'Must Do's' or 'Must See's'

4) Should we pre book all Accomodation or just maybe Auckland and Queenstown? Thus providing a bit of flexibility- or is this a bit risky?

5) Is the Bay of Islands a 'must do' once landing in Auckland? We are keen to go there it just 'absorbs' a bit of driving time...?

6) Do we need to pre book the ferry from NI to SI?

Thanks guys!

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Macau
posts: 18,362
reviews: 169
1. Re: North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

Wow, steady on! You have made the classic mistake of not allowing travel time! Are you bringing a teleporter ;-)

So you arrive at your AKL hotel around 8-9 pm and set off first thing next morning for Coromandel. To visit a few beaches etc in this area would require a minimum of 2 days but you are leaving early next morning for a 7 hour drive ( plus time to tour the caves)! Can you take some time off the 2 days in Rotorua?

On the 17th you'll spend pretty much all day in the car to get to Napier, esp if you stop to look at Huka Falls etc in Taupo.

On the 20 th how do you plan to get from Napier to Nelson- fly? because Napier to WLG will take 4:30hr, then you need to allow at least 4 hours for the ferry, with check-in etc. Longer if you are taking your car across, plus another 1:45 from Picton to Nelson. Then there are delays for fuel, food etc.

However once you get to Nelson you aren't even stopping for a photo because you have to get to Greymouth ...

Please slow down and delete some places. Ideally limit your visit to one island - NZ is so close you can come back next year!

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Macau
posts: 18,362
reviews: 169
2. Re: North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

Also don't forget Easter will have a big impact on accommodation. Already many places will be fully booked in the touristy areas.

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 4
reviews: 8
3. Re: North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

Thanks for your feedback. The flights are booked so we will have to start in Auckland and finish in Queenstown.

How does the revised itinerary below look? Ive factored in travel times and your right the Napier-Ferry-Picton trip will be significant but I guess thats all part of it...! We will be driving and putting the car on the ferry.

I think we will skip the caves on route to Rotorua...

DATE LOCATION

12th AUCKLAND (NORTH ISLAND)

13th COROMANDEL

14th COROMANDEL

15th COROMANDEL

16th ROTORUA

17th ROTORUA

18th NAPIER

19th NAPIER

20th PICTON

21st GREYMOUTH

22nd LAKE WANAKA

23rd QUEENSTOWN

24th QUEENSTOWN

25th QUEENSTOWN

26th TE ANAU/MILFORD SOUND

27th TE ANAU/MILFORD SOUND

28th TE ANAU/MILFORD SOUND

30th QUEENSTOWN

31st QUEENSTOWN

Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 19,892
reviews: 44
4. Re: North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

Still far to many long days driving - and please kindly don't post in caps.

My suggestion;

12 arrive Auckland

13 drive to Coromandel

14 explore

15 drive to Rotorua

16 explore

17 drive to Napier

18 explore

19 drive to Wellington

20 explore

2i ferry to Picton, drive to Punakaiki

22 drive to Franz Josef

23 explore

24 drive to Wanaka

25 explore

26 drive to Te Anau

27 explore

28 drive to Queenstown

29/30 explore

31 fly home

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 4
reviews: 8
5. Re: North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

Hi,

Thanks for your feedback. That itinerary looks great and makes perfect sense.

Do you suggest pre booking all accom and car ferry?

Thanks again!

Wellington, NZ
Destination Expert
for Wellington
posts: 2,066
reviews: 7
6. Re: North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

You should book the ferry once you confirm your dates. First check that your rental car company allows the car to go on the ferry. Most don't (Apex do though).

Definitely book in Auckland, and I recommend booking somewhere in Wellington. In most towns, the hotels are easy to spot - not so in Wellington where they are spread out all over the place. But what you can do is utilise the i-sites. Use them to book accommodation a couple of days before you arrive in a town. That way you don't waste time looking for accommodation when you arrive, or risk arriving in a town when the i-site is shut.

Nelson, New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
posts: 19,892
reviews: 44
7. Re: North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

Punakaiki and Franz are both tiny with limited accommodation - you might want to prebook.

For the other locations you won't need to prebook, but you might want to. Are you the type of person who likes to travel on a set budget and a certain standard of accommodation or are you happy to arrive at a place late in the day and begin driving around looking for a place - and because you are tired and just want to get a place, you end up in a place more expensive or a lower standard than you might usually choose. On the other hand you might stumble across a wee gem you wouldn't otherwise have found.

I have been on holidays with booked accommodation - it does remove the stress factor of 'where will we stay tonight' plus your budget is contained.

I have also really enjoyed arriving places and looking for a place - on some occasions I have found nothing suitable and had to drive to the next town.

Check www.wotif.com for availability.

and yes, book the ferry.

Best of luck :)

Edited: 8:40 pm, February 13, 2013
Auckland Region...
posts: 9
reviews: 82
8. Re: North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

I'd rather drive from Nelson to Mt Cook and when to Queenstown. Greymouth is not worth visiting. Well the Punakaiki and glaciers are nice, but the central SI is much better. NZ's west coast is nothing comparing to australian Great Ocean Road :)

Napier is not worth such a detour either. I'd rather go via New Plymouth or visit Taupo and Ruapehu.

From Queenstown do a drive to Glenorchy, take a jet boat tour.

We always prebook all accommodation just to be safe. Be aware that during Easter it could be hard to find accomodation for 1-2 nights as minimum stay applies during the long weekend.

Melbourne, Australia
posts: 4
reviews: 8
9. Re: North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

Interesting- so the Central SI is better than the West Coast of the SI?

Is that the general consesus?

Im booking everything tonight so I'll have to lock it all in over the next few hours.

Very exciting.

Thanks for all your help guys- much appreciated.

10. Re: North Island/South Island Itinerary Advice- Driving

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