New Zealand - 3 weeks in June/July(17 Posts)
DP and I are planning a New Zealand self drive holiday in June/July next year.
At the moment it's just going to be the North Island, but we might get the ferry over to the South Island and drive down to Christchurch too.
We live in NSW so will be flying out from Sydney to Auckland (about a 3.5 hr flight) so there isn't jet lag to consider.
What are the must see bits of the North Island? I'm the only driver so don't want to be driving all day every day.
Is it realistic to be able to see the North Island then down to Christchurch in 3 weeks?
I have been to the North Island a couple of times and recommend:
Auckland - the domain, auckland museum and art gallery - the ferry across to Waiheke island is nice too - Stony Batter Fort built in WW2 is interesting also lots of good wineries, but may be shut in the winter.
Waitomo caves - have been there in winter - kids really liked it
Napier - great for all the deco buildings - easy to explore the town centre.
Rotorua - thermal pools, museum is interesting and there is a redwood forest about 5 km outside the town which is great for walks. I like Wai o tapu thermal wonderland. Again easy to explore the town and have a car free day.
Hobbiton is at mata mata and not too far from Rotorua.
Wellington has the excellent TePapa museum - you must go here!
Have also been to the Coromandel region - hot water beach and cathedral cove - but did not really enjoy it as much as some of the other areas, probably because is rained most of the time we were there.
The first trip I did was - Auckland (did not hire a car until we left the city) then Waitomo caves, Rotorua, Napier and then Wellington in 2 weeks. Did not use the car in Napier or Wellington. It was quite a long drive from Napier to Wellington. We were there for 2 weeks and had quite a few non car days.
Second trip - Auckland, ferry to Waiheke island, Thames and Coromandel, visited Hobbiton on the way to Rotorua then drove to Napier. The drive back to Auckland was about 5-6 hours, but that was the longest drive of the 2 week holiday.
Hope some of the above is useful
We've decided we're definitely going to go down as far as Christchurch on the South Island - and I think we've got a basic route planned out. Just need the hotel rooms to become available on the cheap sites so we can book them!!
We're probably going to stay in cheap motels but break up the holiday with a couple of nights at the Masonic Horel in Napier.
DP wants to do as much if the LOTR stuff as possible so it looks as if we're doing the Evening Tour of Hobbiton with dinner at The Green Dragon :D
Jus got back from NZ. It was unbelievable. What is the reason for going to Christchurch? It's not that exciting and Queenstown is much more fun. You can fly to Christchurch / Queenstown from Wellington once you have finished touring the North Island.
If you do go to Christchurch, a day trip to Akaroa to see dolphins and penguins is fab.
Other places we loved were Waiheke Island, Roturua and Hawkes Bay.
And bear in mind that the recent earthquake makes driving from Picton to Christchurch very difficult as the main road to Kaikoura is blocked and not expected to reopen from some time.
We went on our honeymoon and went from Auckland to Christchurch in 2 weeks (couldn't get any longer off work) and we had to factor in jet lag and using public transport as we couldn't drive. It was amazing but not at all relaxing!
Anyway, we spent a couple of days exploring Auckland, went to the museum and up the Sky Tower, then visited a friend who lived not too far away. Waitomo glow worm caves on the way to rotorua where we stayed for a couple of nights to see the thermal pools etc. Took the best part of a day to travel to Wellington from there. We only stayed the night in Wellington before getting the ferry to South Island, went to kaikoura for whale watching, then on to Christchurch for a few days. This was nearly 10 years ago, so I don't know how much of what we did in Christchurch and kaikoura is possible at the moment after the earthquakes. We flew back to Auckland and had dinner in the revolving restaurant at the top of Sky Tower before flying home! It certainly is possible, and, with 3 weeks you might be able to fit in some of the stuff we had to miss out.
I live in Hawkes Bay (we mumsnetters are everywhere ). Napier is great, also worth going down to Havelock North and going up Te Mata Peak, awesome views at 399 metres high. You can park halfway down and walk up or drive all the way to the top. Some of the mums at kindy run up there during the morning session then down again, but i am not that fit or crazy...The wineries are pretty too, Craggy Range is at the bottom of the peak and has awesome views, as well as tastings and a posh restaurant. Te Awanga is nice for a drive out to the pebbly beach and Clearview winery is nice there. If you want anymore advice about the local area let me know.
Wellington is about 4 hours drive from here, personally I would go via sh2 and stop off in the Wairarapa, somewhere like Greytown, which is about 2 hrs 45 mins and is lovely. Auckland is about 5 or so hours. You can go via Roturua and Taupo, both good stops. Keep in mind that driving anywhere here takes a long time as most roads are only single lane mostly. The views are generally great wherever you go though!
I lived in Christchurch for several years and there is lots to do, gondola, trams, botanic gardens, museum as well as all the gap filler stuff. Banks peninsula is beautiful, you could always go to governors bay and across from Lyttleton to Diamond Harbour if you don't want to go all the way to Akaroa which is about 90 mins. You will have to go through the middle of island instead of sh1 though which will take longer (although I know of at least 2 people that have done the alternate route recently fine). If you do want to do it I would stop off at hanmer springs, then down to kaikoura then Christchurch. it is an amazing road. Picton is lovely, as is pelorus, charlotte sounds, nelson etc which might be much easier to do than christchurch. Personally with just 3 weeks I would concentrate on the north island though so you don't have to rush. Or maybe the top of the south. The south island is amazing but a 3 week holiday in itself!
We did both islands this time last year in a motorhome, it was fab but we packed far too much in!
My faves in North Island were Hobbiton, Lake Taupo, Wai o tapu, The Coromandel, the drive from Auckland was amazing, Tongariro - afternoon tea at the Chateau Tongariro was divine, sat overlooking Mount doom!
Wasn't a massive fan of Rotarua but the thermal highway was good. Wellington was good, The Weta cave was incredible, we parked for free down at a marina where you could stay all day and got talking to others in motor homes. Wellington museum is superb, if the Gallipoli exhibition is still on it takes your breath away! I would have liked more than just a day in Wellington but we had an early ferry to catch , the ferry is an experience in itself
We are hoping to go next Easter for 3 weeks and also can't decide how much to do. We will have an 8 year old and a 5 year old so don't want to spend too long 'just driving' but want to see as much as we can as I doubt we will ever be able to afford to return!
These brochures are a great place to start, they are what you'd pick up at the tourist information when you'd arrive. I find them useful for holidays still. www.aa.co.nz/travel/getting-around/ebooks/
desperately if you only think you'll come once I'd fly into Auckland and drive down to Wellington, then do some of the south island and fly out of Christchurch (either via Auckland or direct). You can pick up a motorhome at Auckland and drop it off at Christchurch no problem, we've had relatives so this. I have dc aged 6 and 8 and you can get motorhomes plenty big enough for 4 and really nice, it would be my dcs choice of travel! We get lots of families touring in them round here, we often bump into British tourists at the park. The plus with them, that prob isn't clear from UK is that there are loads of places all over NZ that you can freedom camp if you are self contained, that have dump stations and wc and are beautiful. So most nights you could have free camping. You can camp in Napier for free for example, or by the sea at Te Awanga.
I'll have a look of some ideas for travel routes based on good places for dc if you like?
Fellow Brit living in New Plymouth (west coast NI) As others have said Waitomo is amazing I really love Taupo and Rotorua loads to do and good if you would like to learn about Maori culture.
I would 2nd Queenstown over Christchurch much more to see and do a simply stunning place.
Enjoy your trip New Zealand is amazing 😃
Can I just say that if you come over in June/July you will really not be seeing most of the country at its best at all!
I realise you probably don't have any choice in that, but it won't be anywhere near the experience (Queenstown aside - agree that Queenstown would be far the better 'quick visit' option over Chch) you'd have in the summer.
We've just moved to Wellington from Christchurch (and have done several weekend of driving vans with belongings in them) and it takes about 45minutes to an hour longer to drive from Picton to Christchurch on the new route so don't let that put you off.
For the South Island you could either get the ferry across and do Nelson, the west coast, Queenstown then back up to Christchurch to fly out or Blenheim if you like wineries, Hanmer springs then Christchurch to fly out if you're going to spend more time in the north island. It's also often cheaper to hire a car going from Christchurch to Auckland as most people fly into Auckland and they need to get the rentals back up so you could consider doing south island then north island. Jucy normally the cheapest option here for no excess insurance by far.
We host airbnbers and you can see an awful lot in three weeks if you don't mind a 3-4 hour drive every couple of days!
Accom wise Airbnb is pretty good over here, also look at bookabach or even consider buying a cheap tent from the warehouse as there are some beautiful doc campgrounds around with cooking facilities. All of these will generally be cheaper and nicer then cheap motels
Yes please @dontevenblink that would be amazing! A motorhome sounds like a great idea, I always wanted to holiday in one of them as a child . We have friends on the north island (not far from Auckland) so we will hopefully spend a few days with them.
I live in Chch. My two pennth for what it's worth. The weather in June/July will probably be sunny but very cold at night on the S.island so bear that in mind if you go down the camper route. Friends of mine costed camper V motels and found motels cheaper. Queenstown is lovely with plenty to do with children. Chch city would only be a day with children. Akaroa is lovely, you will not necessarily see penguins, we never have. My son has just done the Hobbiton experience from Hamilton and thoroughly enjoyed it ( they did the night banquet excursion) but depends how old your kids are. There are quite a lot of special offers advertised by car/camper rental companies in about March who offer free vehicles from chch to be delivered to Auckland which might be worth looking at.
As someone who lived in Queenstown for 15 years, it is a bit overrated if your not into all the adventure tourism or skiing and it is a completely expensive mad house. Everything is so bloody expensive, about $300 for a jet boat ride!! (My Dh use to work in the hospitality industry there) and it's not very family friendly. However I moved there in 80s pre tourism boom and everything was cheap but After a night there back in December, I more than happy to go home. So chch might be more your cup of tea if you like what dontblink suggested, my dd loved the Antarctic centre in chch.
However, I cannot stress how stunning central Otago is (and Lake Tekapo), much nicer than Queenstown especially Alexandra and Wanaka, I have spent many happy holidays there. Although it might be a bit on the cold side if your coming from Aus in July/June.
I'm in Dunedin now (don't knock it!) and I have to say our chocolate factory is quite cool (Cadbury world)
Coromandel is beautiful! We did a 3 week driving holiday a couple of years ago, stunning country. Queenstown was lovely, Milford and Doubtful sound were stunning, Christchurch I can't commyon as there was still a lot of devastation from the bug earthquake but the botanical gardens were beautiful.
Mt Cook was also amazing.
Can't wait to go back
Join the discussion
Please login first.