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New Zealand - flight company recommendations, stopovers and trip planning

(54 Posts)
rookiemere Sat 30-Dec-17 13:52:14

Hi,
So its a bit early but we're thinking of going to NZ for Easter 19 as DS gets slightly longer for his Easter break then so we could go for roughly 2.5 weeks ( including travel).

I have some relatives and friends in Auckland that we want to visit, but other than that are open to suggestions. I've been before a long time ago, but it will be DH and DS's first visit - DS will be 13 by then.

I'd welcome thoughts on who best to book flights with - we're in Scotland if that makes any difference - and where to stop over.

Thanks.

OP’s posts: |
SeaToSki Sat 30-Dec-17 13:56:47

We just went in Easter this year and used Fine Tours New Zealand. Lovely people and very efficient and helpful. Even if you dont use them, there are great ideas on their web sites for your itinerary .

WeaselsRising Sat 30-Dec-17 14:39:57

We flew with Air New Zealand and I thought they were pretty good. But to save money we went via LAX which I wouldn't recommend to anybody. Friends who have been the other way via HK or Singapore had a much better experience.

We travelled by car from Wellington to Auckland and saw lots of different bits of the country. Driving in NZ is not as much fun as driving in the US and everywhere takes much longer to get to than you expect. If we ever went again I think I would pick 3 bits of the country as a base, fly between them and explore when we got there, rather than drive place to place as we did.

rookiemere Sat 30-Dec-17 16:03:40

Thanks for responding.
Weasels - what was wrong with LAX as a stop?

OP’s posts: |
ShanghaiDiva Sat 30-Dec-17 16:36:28

Cathay is good with a stop over in HK and I think they now fly to Christchurch as well as Auckland.
Agree with pp driving in NZ is pretty slow going. I have been to NZ several times and these are my itineraries.
North Island - Auckland, glow worm caves, rotarua, Napier and Wellington.
South Island - Akaroa, omaru, moraki, Dunedin, invercargill, bluff.
South Island - Nelson, picton, golden Bay Area, kaikoura
North Island - waiheke Island, coromandel peninsula, hobbiton, rotarua, Napier.
South Island - Christchurch, train to greymouth, fox glacier, wanaka and queens town.
We spent a few days in each place and explored the area visiting wineries etc so not too much driving.
If you like wildlife recommend akaroa for hector Dolphins, whale watching in kaikoura and loads of seals too, omaru for blue penguins.
I planned my routes using lonely planet and the AA site has good info on driving distances.

WeaselsRising Sat 30-Dec-17 22:26:17

I shall just say we had some issues with airport security who seemed to be on some sort of power trip; the plane engines caught fire on the way home so we went back to LAX where nobody knew what to do with us and herded us around like cattle for several hours, then we spent almost a whole day in the airport and there weren't any proper shops. Big problem with an 11 month old and no food/nappies as we'd gone into an extra day.

Have spoken to other people who didn't have the grounding issue we had who still didn't like their experience of LAX.

LovingKent Sun 31-Dec-17 08:57:44

I wouldn't go via LAX either. I went to NZ about 15 years ago and back then LAX made you collect your luggage, re check in and go back through security. The queues were huge and this took the whole 2 hour stop over. Never again.

Driving in NZ is slow but you won't encounter much traffic outside the cities grin. I'd pick a couple of areas and see them (I was there for 6 weeks so saw most of it).

Highlights for me
North Island
Rotorua (geo thermal area)
Waitomo - glow worm caves although the ones at Te Anau on South Island are much less busy.
Auckland
Paihia (Bay of Islands - lovely beach area, you can do boat trips to see deals)
Taupo
Wellington - has a great museum
called Te Papa.

South Island
Kaikoura - for whale watching
Christchurch
Fiordland - the whole area. Milford Sound was stunning. It is less of a drive if you stay at Te Anau rather than Queenstown
Queenstown - lots of adventure sports to do if your teen is into that, going on the luge, shotover jet etc
Fox and Franz Josef glaciers - you can hike them or fly over them.

We stayed in YHAs. Some were better than others (more in terms of noise than anything else). You will need to book city ones in advance.

Flew Air Newzaldn. They were fine.

If you hire a car you never used to be able to cross the islands with it so if going from north to south, you left it at the ferry terminal then picked up a new one at the one on
South Island.

Hope that helps. Have a great trip.

LovingKent Sun 31-Dec-17 08:58:33

You would see seals not deals in Paihia!

honeysucklejasmine Sun 31-Dec-17 09:01:40

We flew Singapore Air, who are fantastic.

You can't really go wrong with where you visit tbh. My favourite place was Kaikoura on the south island.

MargaretRiver Sun 31-Dec-17 09:26:17

Flights: Air New Zealand if you can get a skycoach (Row of 3 seats for 2 adults or 1 adult 2 kids in which the footrests lift up to form a flat bed that you can all just about sleep on. Doesn't cost much more than an economy fare and is great on a night segment with small kids.
Hiring a campervan is a good way of seeing a large area without having to pack/unpack, but go for a small one not a large RV type which are a pain on the narrow, winding roads.
Or indeed a cruise ship, which can also go deep into the fjords, but Ester might be too late in the season for that.

rookiemere Sun 31-Dec-17 11:45:48

Some great ideas here. I'm loving the idea of the skycoach - cannot sleep well on planes at all, plus the thought of a campervan.
Looks like there is so much to see in NZ that our stopovers shouldn't be for long - I was wondering if we could squeeze in a visit to Singapore and say Hong Kong as they aren't destinations that we'd go to in their own right but would like to see.

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Sun 31-Dec-17 20:37:45

Singapore is not that brilliant but Hong Kong is great and can easily be combined with any trip to China. Much more culture in HK and worth more than a stopover.

2.5 weeks in NZ makes me shudder - all that flying for a quick whizz round. I would rather leave it until there is more time before university. China is a brilliant place to go and easier to get to!

fuzzyduck1 Sun 31-Dec-17 22:08:47

Don’t forget hobbiton on the north island.on the way to rotaroua well worth a visit for any lord of the rings fans

fuzzyduck1 Sun 31-Dec-17 22:11:46

Singapore is worth a 3 day stop over. Lots to see and do. A day in the bay park and greenhouses. Get a hop on hop off bus to see the rest. Stay in marina bay sands hotel for a swim in the highest infinity pool great views.

MargaretRiver Mon 01-Jan-18 06:58:02

"2.5 weeks in NZ makes me shudder. All that flying for a quick whizz round"
Many families are time-poor, and would never manage to travel long haul at all if they felt they had to have enough time to immerse themselves fully and see everything. By the time DS has more time before Uni, he may no longer want to travel with his parents.
2 weeks there (excluding travel) would make you feel you'd seen loads but not everything. I would consider choosing one island (I'd probably pick North Island but others would disagree)

If DS has any interest in LOTR / the Hobbit I'd definitely book a trip to Hobbiton in advance online (I have no interest at all in those books / films but still loved it.
Also loved:
Rotorua / hot springs
Waiheke Island off Auckland
Zealand and Te Papa in Wellington

MargaretRiver Mon 01-Jan-18 07:02:13

(Last line should read Zealandia, its a conservation park cut off from any introduced species by the geography and a dam. So basically NZ flora & fauna before the europeans arrived. Lots of large flightless birds strolling about when we were there)

JellyTipisthebest Mon 01-Jan-18 08:11:30

I agree with everyone that says travel in NZ is slower. Our roads are not as good as uk roads. Stick to the speed limits and enjoy the view. Although we dont have as many police as the uk per head they do seam to catch speeding motorists. They will even step out between cars to catch the second or third car in a line so keeping up with the cars in front if they are going over the limit may not be a good plan.
To check traffic use this page.
Just over a year ago we had a big quake in the south Island in Kaikoura the road just open but only during the day and with single lane bits and traffic management. Its amazing what has been achieved in such a small time. This video shows what has happen youtube .
2 weeks does seam like not much time try not to do to much. As you have family on the north Island I would stay on the north Island.

rookiemere Mon 01-Jan-18 09:26:28

We can't really postpone the trip for another 5-6 years, due to various reasons. The only option to stay longer would be to go in their summer, but don't fancy going in winter.

I suspect we will go and then decide to visit again in the future. A campervan sounds like a good plan for maximum mobility.

OP’s posts: |
rookiemere Mon 01-Jan-18 09:26:29

We can't really postpone the trip for another 5-6 years, due to various reasons. The only option to stay longer would be to go in their summer, but don't fancy going in winter.

I suspect we will go and then decide to visit again in the future. A campervan sounds like a good plan for maximum mobility.

OP’s posts: |
rookiemere Mon 01-Jan-18 09:27:46

Oops sorry posted twice and i meant to say we could go in our summer but dont fancy being there for winter

OP’s posts: |
WhycantIhavearealwand Mon 01-Jan-18 11:01:33

We’ve recently booked to go to NZ - flights with Austravel who we found really helpful in complete contrast to some other places I tried (travel bag). The flights were a really good deal, we are flying with Emirates.

Completely disagree with pp who thinks it’s not worth going for two weeks! If you’re not over ambitious with distances covered you can do loads. We are spending a week on South Island travelling around and a week in north island in one location to see family.

We are also campervanning this time, we booked with wilderness campervans who have been great so far.

Good luck with your planning!

WhycantIhavearealwand Mon 01-Jan-18 11:04:33

Just another point on fitting things in to two weeks - we are flying from South Island to north island mid trip to save us a bit of time. It’s not cheap but not extortionate either.

rookiemere Mon 01-Jan-18 15:34:16

Good tip about flying rather than driving and quite a relief that some posters think its ok for a fortnight.

OP’s posts: |
WreckTangled Mon 01-Jan-18 15:50:08

I've been a few times. I prefer not going via lax too. Last year we went with Thai airways and stopped in Bangkok it was all very easy. We got return tickets for the four of us (2 adults + 2 kids) for £1200.

There's already loads of great recommendations so I'll add mine of the Rotorua canopy tours. So much fun!

SellFridges Mon 01-Jan-18 16:05:47

Our last trip we stopped in Tokyo for 4 nights then Hong Kong layover on the way back. Definitely avoid LAX if possible.

Our itinerary for almost 3 weeks was:

Auckland (visiting friends) - 3 nights
Taupo - 1 night
Napier - (with friends) - 3 nights
Flight
Christchurch - 3 nights
Franz Josef (when you could still go up it) - 2 nights
Queenstown - 5 nights
Flight
Auckland - 2 nights

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