Ok, so we’ve just bought our tickets for New Zealand and we’ve been trying to work out a plan for what we’re going to see and when. There are definitely some things we would do if we were on our own but that don’t really work with a baby in tow (swimming with dolphins? Not so much…) Luckily we really aren’t the types to throw ourselves off buildings, bridges or planes anyhow, so those things aren’t a problem. We have also traveled a fair amount, so there are some things we have seen before and aren’t that bothered if we don’t again (geysers come to mind). We tried to keep the “schedule” pretty light. You never know when you’re going to wind up awake all night
partying with a jet-lagged baby. We’ve bought an open jaw ticket so we’re flying into Auckland and out of Queenstown.
So far this is what we’ve got:
Day 1: Arrive in Auckland 5:00AM – OUCH.
Day 2&3: Auckland
Day 4:Drive to Waitomo
Day 5: See caves.
Day 6: Drive to Rotorua.
Day 7: Zorb! Visit Maori Cultural Center (Hangi, possibly?)
Day 8: Drive to Napier and do the LP’s Art Deco walking tour.
Day 9: Drive to Wellington (if time, take the cable car to the Botanical Gardens).
Day 10: Ferry to Picton, drive to Blenheim.
Day 11: Go wine tasting.
Day 12: Drive to Christchurch.
Day 13: Christchurch (Festival of Flowers?)
Day 14: Explore the Banks Peninsula (Akaroa).
Day 15: Drive to Franz Josef (via Arthur’s Pass).
Day 16: See glacier.
Day 17: Drive to Milford Sound (via Wanaka).
Day 18: Boat cruise on Milford Sound.
Day 19: Drive to Queenstown.
Day 20: Queenstown
Day 21: Fly home (Queenstown-Auckland-SFO)
Okay, so here are my thoughts:
I don’t really think you need 3 days in Auckland. Personally, we weren’t impressed with any of the cities that much – I would spend the 1st day and then on the afternoon of the 2nd day, move on to Waitomo.
On day 3, you could see the Waitomo Caves (depending on whether you are planning on blackwater rafting or doing the Sounds of Silence tour). We did Sounds of Silence and loved it.
In Rotorua, you will probably want to do the Wai-o-Tapu park even though you have seen a geyser because the park is really incredible. We did the Mitai Hangi tour and thought it was fun but pretty expensive. If you want to do it in a cheap way, stay at the Cosy Cottage Holiday Park in Rotorua where you can make your own hangi (I am going to be posting about our hangi experience soon).
I think your South Island part is a bit rushed and you will have a hard time fitting everything in. The roads in the South Island are much slower than the North Island because the roads are so windyso it takes a really long time to get from one spot to the next.
Frankly, we thought Christchurch was incredibly uninteresting and most everyone we talked to agreed. I would drop your extra day in Christchurch.
If you feel fit and up to it, definitely do the full day glacier hike – it is really worth the experience (also going to post about it too).
I think you should plan on at least 1 full day to drive from the glaciers to Te Anau (it took us about 6 hours or so), then one full day from Te Anau to Milford Sound because there are tons of great hikes along the way, and then you can either kayak or cruise in the morning at the Sound and drive back to Te Anau in the afternoon. (See our post here: http://www.theroadforks.com/worldtrip/newzealand/milford_sound)
For reference, we did the following in 25 days:
3 days in Christchurch (which we really regretted and only did because we had to catch up on some work)
1 day down to Otago Peninsula
1 day in Otago Peninsula
1 day in Te Anau
2 days in Milford Sound
2 days in Queenstown
1 day in Wanaka
2 days at Fox Glacier
1 day at Hokitika
1 day in Nelson
2 days in Blenheim
1 day in Wellington
1 day driving from Wellington to Rotorua
2 days in Rotorua
1 day in MataMata
1 day in Waitomo
1 day in Auckland
Let me know if you have any questions about NZ. We had a really amazing time – it is one of our favorite countries we have traveled to and because we just did the trip, everything is fresh in my mind. (And, sorry, for the really long comment.)
Hi there . well firstly, I’m really sad to see you being discouraged from staying in my city – Christchurch. I am often with a group from the Sierra Club (I have nothing to do with itennary which they have been following for some years)when they do hiking tours in NZ and this is the one place they always have their 3 day reat period and always rave about it . so go figure .. we are all v.different in what we want and how we experience it .. eg my fav island in Malaysia is not liked at all by my adult kids.
back to your itinary. I agree with Akila, the road trips will take a lot longer than you think so make sure you have checked my blog with links to mileage etc.
wellington is a FAB place, often ignored, used as a jumping off place to the south island .. the cable car is good to go up for views .. so is mt vic which you can drive up.
te papa is a must! as is walking the waterfront
I recommend Maori Tours in Kaikoura … a small family-focused eco tour ( see my blog) and do a walk around the penisular. In christchurch .. at Willowbank is ( as far as i know) still the only place in NZ you can see many kiwi, not behind glass! they can be inches away from you if you stay still.
rotorua .. hells gate is good ( also on a blog) and in Napier the art deco tour is worth doing. i lived there for nearly 3 years as night manager of a backpacker/b&b (as well as working in my real career as therapist in a alcohol and other drugs rehab centre) and my fav thing there was to walk out to see the gannets … think i have blogged about them ,, only mainland colony on the world. this walk is tide dependant and there will be a website which tells you the days it is possible to walk or go by tractor.
in chch — dont know how old your child is, but Sumner beach and cave rock is good for chn. As i have also said the Tamamki village/ event/meal is well worth doing … i also recomend the YMCA as a great place to stay .. central, walking distance to everything n town, chch also has the award winning Antarctic Centre and penguin rehab.
queenstown .. great scenery, but a party and adventure town.
hope some of that helps .. if you have specfic questions email me heatherATkiwitravelwriter.com and check my blog under NZ for places you are going to.