Kia ora!
September 14, 2017 6:12 PM   Subscribe

My rooster and I have a fabulous trip to New Zealand on the calendar, but we haven't nailed down the planning part. Will you tell us if the itinerary is crazy or missing something obvious?

We'll arrive in NZ Saturday evening and fly out of Sydney 11 days later. We're flying in between cities to maximize our time on the ground. So here's what we're thinking:

- Saturday night: Auckland
- Sunday: bus tour (can sleep off some jet lag, if needed) to Waitomo and Hobbiton, dropping off in Rotorua
- Monday: Rotorua (hot springs, hangi?)
- Tuesday: morning flight to Nelson
- Wednesday: Nelson (wine tour?)
- Thursday: morning flight to Queenstown, wander around the city (we don't care about the "adventure capital" activities)
- Friday: bus to Milford Sound for an overnight cruise
- Saturday: bus back to Queenstown
- Sunday: fly to Sydney
- Monday/Tuesday: Sydney

Yes, this itinerary is aggressive, and I know that we're missing plenty, but since we don't have a lot of time it seems like this will give us a nice flavor of NZ. We often hop around from city to city when we travel, and don't mind doing so. Since we'll never see everything we'd like to, we try to target a few things to do.

Any suggestions for great things to see or do, or recommendations for places to stay are welcome. Thanks for your input!
posted by Wet Hen to Travel & Transportation around New Zealand (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't been there since the nineties, so I may be out of date (I'm obviously out of date), but are you sure Queenstown is worth a stop if you don't care about the adventure stuff? As I recall it, there wasn't much else interesting about the place.
posted by LizardBreath at 6:16 PM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

A friend who recently went to NZ raved about the Queenstown Luge. Even if you don't actually luge down, the gondola ride and the hikes/walks at the top looks amazing.
posted by basalganglia at 6:28 PM on September 14, 2017

Ha! I also think Queenstown is awful boring. Is there a cool spa/resort you can book into with massages and hot tubs and horseback riding? Because Queenstown is a snore.
posted by jbenben at 7:34 PM on September 14, 2017

I did an overnight in Milford Sound and it was totally worth it. Make sure to kayak there if you can! Queenstown is the usual jumping off point for it, but we had a car and stayed in Glenoarchy instead- it was quiet and relaxing. There's some great b&bs there. And we did horseback riding there that went through some Lord of the Ring sites. Also Hobbiton was really cute.
posted by inevitability at 7:41 PM on September 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yea, if you don't like adventure stuff (ftr I loved the canyon swing and the speedboat ride on the river) there isn't much to see in Queenstown. I also stayed in Glenorchy at a B&B and it was super relaxing and nice. I honestly thought Nelson was the most boring of the places we stayed, and we left a day early from there.

If you get a chance at all to see the glow worms, I'd recommend it. It was the most peaceful and also supercool of all the things we did.

Mostly, though, you can do as little or as much as you want. I thought it was a wonderfully relaxed country in general, and there is astonishing nature everywhere. You will have a great time wherever!
posted by gemmy at 7:51 PM on September 14, 2017

That seems like a reasonable itinerary, but I agree with the others that you won't get much out of walking Queenstown - it's a small town (pop. 13,000 people) and very strongly adventure tourism oriented. If you have the budget for it, though, it might be a good chance to take a walk on a glacier before they're all gone.

Nelson is okay but for wine tours you might want to try Hawke's Bay instead - or add extra time in Rotorua.
posted by Paragon at 8:06 PM on September 14, 2017

If you want to spend a day in a town in the Queenstown area, Arrowtown is super cute (although still probably not enough to spend a whole day on.)
posted by lollusc at 8:58 PM on September 14, 2017

I think the itinerary sounds rather mad, tbh. But maybe that's just me.

I actually love Nelson, and there is a lot to do/see in the region (Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson Lakes, Kaiteriteri, etc.), but if the only reason to visit is to do a wine tour? I'd say skip it. Especially if you have ever been on a wine tour previously. And then just give yourself a bit more time in the other areas. And slow down and enjoy!

[Alternatively: if you want to add something instead of Nelson and/or Queenstown, how about visiting one of the Glaciers, e.g., Fox or Franz Josef?}
posted by Halo in reverse at 9:42 PM on September 14, 2017

I think 'rooster' is referring to a human, and in any case NZ does not allow the importing of birds, so I really hope you weren't planning on bringing a real rooster with you? Be some great holiday pictures tho.

Time of year you are coming will probably influence what is good or meh to do. Is this trip happening soon, as in this Saturday? It's only sort of just starting to get warm here. I actually don't think your itinerary is that aggressive because most of the places you are visiting are smaller.

I agree that Queenstown is not much fun without dropping a lot of cash and doing all the touristy things. If you are coming in spring/summer then a short walk somewhere scenic might be nice.

You are probably aware that Rotorua can be really fragrant because of all the geothermal activity there. So depending on how you feel about that, you may want to find a hotel that is out of the stink-zone.

I have nothing against the places you've picked but anything I want to recommend is stuff that essentially takes you out of the towns, and into the wild, which might be difficult without a car. I just don't think our towns and cities are all that interesting, and that the best stuff here is nature stuff. It seems like you are trying to avoid big cities (fair enough, I live in Auckland and it's not great as a travel destination) but I'd personally recommend Wellington over Nelson. Very walkable CBD area, Zealandia is great, Weta Workshop Tour is awesome, generally has a lot of character. You can go and see the ridiculously shaped Beehive building, and take a nap on the parliament lawn.
posted by BeeJiddy at 10:04 PM on September 14, 2017

Rotorua: redwoods. Definitely Waitomo glow worms, Hobbiton. Bring spare battery for camera.
Auckland: sky tower.

We did the Coromandel instead of South island, which was gorgeous, but we wish we could have seen the South island.

There are good nz honeymoon asks that might be helpful.
posted by freethefeet at 3:57 AM on September 15, 2017

I think 'rooster' is referring to a human

/u/Wet Hen posted this question so I believe she is referring to her husband.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:01 AM on September 15, 2017

Is been a while and I was quite sleep deprived but go see the glow worms and hot springs in Rotorua definitely. We also did a luge somewhere that had sheep exhibits and Zorbing. The Lord of the Rings sets are also out there somewhere too, lol
posted by PJMoore at 11:33 AM on September 15, 2017

I've visited NZ many times and my partner just did the north and south island in October. You are wedging a ton of things in here and there is one specific change I would make to your itinerary.

Some notes:
- If you're not into adventure stuff, Queenstown is also located adjacent to the Central Otago. Great wine, very Pinot Noir focused, memail me for a list of recommendations.
- In addition, the scenery around Queenstown is truly spectacular; worth renting a car for the day.
- I think you're missing a huge opportunity flying from Nelson to Queenstown instead of driving. Yes, it's probably a two day drive, but it's one of the most spectacular drives I've ever done and I used to drive through Big Sur on the regular. We stopped to hike Franz Josef Glacier and it was truly spectacular.
- With regards to the bus to/from Milford Sound: many people have told me to fly in (at least) one direction if you can afford to do so. The bus is looooooooooong and if you are seated at an interior seat you won't get much of a view. This would also be a way for you to free up the time to drive from Nelson to Queenstown.
- I love love love Wellington (it's very high up on my "cities I would like to live in" list) but I'm not sure quite where you'd wedge it in here.
- The ferry ride from Wellington (on the North Island) to Picton (on the South Island) is frequently said to be one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world, and they ain't lyin'.

If I were you I would make the following modifications to your itinerary:
- Half-day wine tour in Nelson, then pick up a car and drive south to Franz Josef Glacier
- Get up early, hike Franz Josef or Fox Glacier and then drive the rest of the way to Queenstown, maybe with a stop at Wanaka along the way
- Bus one way to Milford Sound, plane/helicopter in the other direction
posted by rednikki at 3:01 PM on September 15, 2017

- Half-day wine tour in Nelson, then pick up a car and drive south to Franz Josef Glacier
- Get up early, hike Franz Josef or Fox Glacier and then drive the rest of the way to Queenstown, maybe with a stop at Wanaka along the way

That is indeed a very cool drive. Stop at Fox Glacier & have a Captain Cook at lake matheson along the way.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 10:44 PM on September 18, 2017

"Captain Cook" == Look
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:19 PM on September 19, 2017

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