New Zealand with kids
February 8, 2020 8:26 AM   Subscribe

We have about a week in New Zealand in early June after I have a conference in Australia. We will have a baby and a tween. What should we do?

We are using a travel agent for this, so we will have some help, but this is entirely open ended. We will rent a car and will likely want to stay in apartments for kitchen/laundry facilities.

The baby will be about 10 months. And yes, I've traveled with a baby of that age before and know that we will have to be flexible and not assume that we will be able to accomplish much.

The travel agent suggested flying into one island and departing from the other.

Any suggestions are welcome.
posted by k8t to Travel & Transportation around New Zealand (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: We are open to camper vans.
posted by k8t at 10:02 AM on February 8, 2020

June is usually the first month of winter (weather is out of kilter right now). So pack cold gear for layers along with waterproof/water resistant coats. That’s the quiet time for tourism, so booking hotel rooms or Airbnb’s will easy.

If you decide to get a camper van, search for “freedom camping new zealand” to get more info. Rules regarding freedom campers have tightened up.

A week is not enough time to have a relaxing explore of both islands. Assuming you’re flying into Auckland, I’d advise staying on the North Island.
* Ski fields of Mt. Ruapehu: Turoa and Whakapapa. You can rent equipment there.
* Glow worm caves of Waitomo
* Rotorua: hot springs
* Kaikoura whale watching: June/July is peak migration period
* Hobbiton LoTR tour in Matamata

posted by lemon_icing at 10:47 AM on February 8, 2020

Our roads are slow, so consider spending more time in a smaller area than trying to cover a lot of ground.

NZ campgrounds are waaay superior to what I've seen offshore, often include motels, and many are in rural locations.

Hard to say what weather would be, expect colder, esp. at altitude, but recent years we've been losing all seasonality.

The South Island is cooler than the North but quieter any time of year. If you fly into Christchurch you could drive over Arthur's Pass and spend some days in the rainforest, see Alpine areas and there are many short walks available from the roads.

Also some really wild coastal scenery and geology.

Christchurch is not so great to hangout in after the quakes but still has a great botanic garden, museum and art gallery.
posted by unearthed at 10:59 AM on February 8, 2020

My wife doesn't agree with me and says you should fly to Christchurch, get a van, head south to Dunedin and see Oamaru and Moeraki, see native wildlife and city of Dunedin, then to Queenstown (where you should book ahead as even pre ski it's like Aspen), then back to Christchurch via Mount Cook.

Lots of wild and farm scenery and less chance of flooded\avalanched roads than my route.
posted by unearthed at 11:13 AM on February 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nthing the "NZ looks tiny but it's huge". We spent about 10 days there on our honey moon and just did the North island because that had what we really wanted to see, but I want to go back and check out the South Island later.
posted by freethefeet at 8:20 PM on February 8, 2020

If you decide to visit both islands, it may be better to fly from island to island rather than taking a rental car or camper van across by ferry. Moving from one island to the other takes approx 3.5 hours by ferry, and vehicles usually have to be booked in advance. Although it’s a beautiful journey in calm weather, the crossing can be rough in winter if the waves whip up. Re the roads - the majority (outside of the major cities) are one-lane-each-way highways. Some routes are narrow and winding, so allow plenty of time.

Also, factor in travel time from Australia. Depending which city your conference is in, there may not be a direct flight to NZ. Although there are many direct flights from Aus to NZ, if you need to take a connecting flight within Aus before heading to NZ, the trip may take half a day or so if transit time has to be factored in. Aus is a wide country - the flight from Perth to NZ, for example, is a much longer trip than the hop from Melbourne to Auckland.
posted by The Patron Saint of Spices at 1:13 AM on February 9, 2020

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