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21 December 2007 @ 07:26 pm
Ping micheinnz and any others knowledgeable about New Zealand  
One of my co-workers will be spending two week in New Zealand (leaving the US December 27). She will be stopping in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, somewhere near the Franz Joseph Glacier, and Queenstown. She expects to have a rental car.

Would you like to suggest any cool things she should do, places to go (including nearby, for whatever value of "nearby" seems reasonable to you), places to eat, etc.?

Many thanks for any help!
Dr. Ben Mack: Prominent User of the Internetepi_lj on December 22nd, 2007 12:38 am (UTC)
Does she *NEED* to stop in those places? Franz Joseph Glacier, Queenstown and Christchurch are on the South Island. Auckland and Wellington are on the North Island. We found when we were there that two weeks was not really enough to see everything we wanted to see on both the North and South Island, and we found ourselves wishing that we had spent two weeks on the South Island and come back for the North Island another time.

That said, I really, really liked the expensive but gorgeous Doubtful Sound boat tour that we took. I liked watching the blue penguins come home in that little down on the east coast of the South Island that okoshun would remember the name of better than I did.

There's a really nice game shop in Auckland, if your co-worker is nerdy in the same way that some of us are. ;)

Um. All of New Zealand was gorgeous, actually. Queenstown was my least favourite place, but I think it was some sort of school break when we went and the place was FILLED to the BRIM with annoying tourists of the high-testosterone late-highschool-early-college snowboarder type.

Speaking of nerdy, we did like going to the Hobbiton set. Oh, and okoshun greatly enjoyed the hot mineral spa she spent the afternoon at in Rotorua. Both of those are on the North Island.
Villiersdianavilliers on December 22nd, 2007 03:21 am (UTC)
The little town on the East coast with penguins is Oamaru. You're right, the small French place is Akaroa.

Things to do - fairly low key, 'cause being local I don't tend to do tourist stuff.

Wellington - Head for the Bach on the South Coast (near Island Bay) for brunch. If she'd prefer to stay in town, Fidel's on Cuba St is good for lunch/brunch. It tends to get crowded on the weekends though.

Christchurch - go to the Arts Centre, in the old university buildings near the centre of town, for arts and crafts type shopping. Saturday is market day with craft stalls and buskers.

Edited at 2007-12-22 03:33 am (UTC)
Simon Bissonsbisson on December 22nd, 2007 10:37 am (UTC)
Fidel's is good, though for the Peninsula we like the Chocolate Fish Cafe a lot.

The Arts Centre is great - especially the market.

The architecture at Oamaru is wonderful too.

And then there's Kaikoura, which is spectacularly beautiful, and that can be tied in with a trip to Hamner Springs.
Simon Bissonsbisson on December 22nd, 2007 10:38 am (UTC)
Most Rotorua motels have hot springs for free (with a room of course)
Simon Bissonsbisson on December 22nd, 2007 10:39 am (UTC)
And seconding the Doubtful Sound trip - we did the overnight version, which was amazing.
Dr. Ben Mack: Prominent User of the Internetepi_lj on December 22nd, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
Oh, and there was a town just north east of Christchurch I believe that started with an A. Akaroa? I'll try to verify it. Anyway, it's a preserved French fishing village. The drive out there was BEAUTIFUL. We took a billion photos on the side of the road. And the boat tour we took to see dolphins and penguins swimming in the wild was wonderful.

We went in the summer (here), which was the winter (there), so it was too cold to swim with the dolphins and so on when we were there, but if your friend can manage to do that, I hear it's wonderful.

Not far from Hobbiton, there was a place doing Black Water Rafting, which is going through rapids in an inner tube in underground caves with just a lamp on your head. It sounded like wonderful fun, but we didn't try it. If your friend likes adventure type stuff, it sounded really cool. There's also Zorb.

We liked the Glow Worm Caves, which were also on the North Island in that general area -- we drove between Hobbiton and the Glow Worm Caves tour on the same day.
Miche: kiwimicheinnz on December 22nd, 2007 03:48 am (UTC)
Yes, Akaroa. Gorgeous little place.

Black Water Rafting if they're brave (it's not dangerous but it is dark). The same complex also has glow-worm caves, which are spectacular.

Queenstown is NZ's home of adventure tourism (white-water rafting, jet boats, several bungy jumps including the original, all that sort of thing) as well as having some attractions for the more sedate (the Earnslaw steamer, gondolas). Also vineyard tours for the wine connoisseur.

IMO Franz Josef Glacier is a must -- it's one of only two glaciers in rain forests in the world (the other is just up the road at Fox Glacier).
Simon Bissonsbisson on December 22nd, 2007 10:34 am (UTC)

First thing. That looks more like a 3 week itinerary rather than two - New Zealand roads aren't particularly fast - unless it's a fly in at Auckland, fly out of Christchurch trip.

I'd recommend the Coromandel Peninsula on North Island, then a fast drive down to Wellington stopping at a few places along the way (that'll take three to four days). Wellington needs at least two days, especially if she wants to see the Weta sights...

Ferry across to Picton will take much of a day with queuing and the like.

Then from Picton to Nelson is a day or so, another day to the Abel Tasman National Park, a day or so there, and through the mountains to Greymouth. It'll be much of a day from Greymouth down the West Coast to Franz Josef, and another day from there to Queenstown.

It's worth driving from Queenstown to Dunedin and then up to Christchurch - but I suspect she'd be running out of time by then!
A monstrous ramblingbibliofile on December 22nd, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
If renting a car, make sure she's very comfortable driving stick in a very hilly environment. They drive on the other side of the road down there, and I found the combination a bit too much at times. Or make sure you ask for an automatic.

Um, they should go to the national museum in Wellington, because you never know when another earthquake will suck that part of town back under the ocean. (I don't know why they built it there, either.)

I went to NZ once, a dozen years ago, so most of my info is out date. The Lonely Planet book had excellent info and suggestions, though.
madshutterbug: Expostulationmadshutterbug on December 22nd, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC)
I will bow to micheinnz of course, as she's a Kiwi in Dunedin.

That said; I agree about the rental. It's not hard driving on the opposite side of the road to what one is used, while in town. After all, everyone else is as well. Learning to shift a standard at the same time, not so much. We rented an automatic transmission.

All we saw of North Island was Auckland International Airport.

Christchurch: Agree about the Arts Centre. Nearby to the Arts Centre is Hagley Park, and the Botanical Gardens as well. There are several goood places to eat in all of NZ; and I'm not counting the franchises which made it over either. In Chch, try Dux De Lux, also fairly near the Arts Centre. I know it's still there, I check their web site periodically.

Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, you're going to see the glaciers. Not much else there.

Queenstown: not sure what it will be like in summer (season friend will be there); skiing, outdoor adventure (jetboats, bungee jumping). We didn't do much in Queenstown proper to be honest. Not far from Queenstown is Arrowtown and a bit of history about NZ's gold rush as well as some shopping.

Overall, yes, two weeks is a whirlwind tour. We spent a month, one week for a nursing conference and re-packing for the driving tour, two and a half weeks on the road circumnavigating South Island, and a half week back in Chch to again repack and get our film processed; that trip predated my move into digital, and spanned the events of New York on 9/11 (States) 9/12 (NZ).