Question Traveling to New Zealand for the First time

Junncha

First Runs
May 18, 2014
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This will be my first time visiting New Zealand, well first time traveling at all!
Hi guys, I'm from Australia and my plan this winter (July) is to go to New Zealand to travel around the south island and ski at Queenstown. I am traveling with 1 friend.

Since it is my first time in New Zealand and first time travelling i am very scared that i will get lost or something will go wrong, i am a careful person but I still worry haha.

For days now i have been trying to sort out flights and accommodation and have decided to hire a Campervan or some sort and
Arrive in Christchurch and drive to Queenstown. We are only here for 2 weeks :( and would like to get the most out of this experience.

Here is a little plan i have made for now:

Possible trip routes:

Day 1: Christchurch--- Mt Hutt---Mt Cook
Day 2: Mt Cook--- Lake Tekapo--- Twizel--- Wanaka
Day 3: Wanaka--- Queenstown

Day 4- 9 (5 days) Ski at Queenstown deal

Day 10-13: Drive back to Christchurch?

is this route any good?

If anyone has any suggestions about where we should go, what we should do, where we should stay, any good deals, it would be great help from a New Zealander or someone who has done a trip like this before!
I am so excited about going to NZ.

Thanks :)
 

Balsta

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New Zealand is easy as, so don't stress it. I've done the South Island twice in a camper van and both were in Winter. Worst part of hiring a van is the huge hold they like to place on you CC, some charge up to $10k. You can reduce this by paying the excess reduction but that is such a rip off. I have always used travel insurance with inbuilt excess reduction.

If skiing is your main goal then your route is ok, although you could ski a day or two at Mt Hutt and also out of Wanaka. Like Australia ski conditions can vary and some seasons July (especially early) can be ordinary. Depending on your ski ability Club fields are worth a look.

If scenery is your thing and you can spare the days away from skiing I would definitely see a bit of the Island, as it is such a beautiful place especially if the weather cooperates. Drive from Christchurch to Greymouth via Arthur's Pass, then down the west coast (although if you head about 35min north from Greymouth Pancake Rocks & Punakaiki Cavern are worth a look) to the glaciers and if funds allow it do a heli tour up to the top of a glacier, expensive but awesome especially if the weather is great. Then drive to Wanaka via the Haast Pass.

This will take 3 days, but doable in 2 if you don't mind driving. Once your in Queenstown take a day and go to Milford Sound and do a boat tour of the sound, it is a long day trip from Queenstown though and so you could spend a night at Milford.

Heading back to Christchurch from Queenstown you can do in one day, although Duneden and the Otago Peninsular are worth a visit.

With the Camper Van it is low season so you can book a lot closer to your departure date and you may pick up some great deals. You probably won't have the time but you can sometimes get one way hire from Christchurch to Auckland for next to nothing, but the savings are offset by the ferry crossing costs, though you would get to see and ski both islands.
 
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Telestrom

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Jun 3, 2002
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Firstly, it would be very difficult to get lost in NZ.

Your day 2 itinerary has a bit of backtracking. Lake Tekapo is on the way to Mt Cook, so I wouldn't bother going back to it after you've already gone through it.

Probably the main thing you need to watch out for are road conditions. It can snow down to sea level and the main passes can be closed (although, generally for no longer than 1 day) due to the snow. Just make sure you can be flexible with your route in case you need to divert or change plans.
 
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Heinz

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Yeah as above. Traveling in NZ is pretty easy, not too much to worry about. The route down look fine - it is pretty much the standard one. I'd suggest taking it over a few more days. You can ski various places on the way - Mt Hutt, Round Hill, Ohau and definitely stay an extra couple of days in Wanaka and ski the local resorts there. Don't worry about getting a 5 day 'ski deal', just go to where it looks good on the day. July is relatively early so you can be pretty flexible.

Once in Queenstown a trip to Milford is worthwhile. For the trip back you could go the same way (quickest) or via the west coast over 2-3 of days.
 
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dr80

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All the above.

Are you planning on skiing just the 5 days at Queenstown?
If so, you've got 8 - 9 days to cruise around and sight see.
Easy to do Christchurch - Lake Tekapo - Queenstown in 2 days
A day to Milford Sound , and 3 or 4 days up the West Coast and back via Arthurs Pass or Lewis Pass.

Or just keep as many days free to ski as possible and then just go to a nearby hill when the weather / conditions are good.
In the middle of the South Island you're never more than a couple of hours from a ski field:thumbs:

I'd just have a couple plans and then be flexible with what you do according to weather, snow, what you feel like.
It's all good. You can't really go wrong whatever you do. And it's very hard to get lost; only 6 main roads really.

Don't over think it. Just rock up, make it up as you go and enjoy cruising around and exploring. Wherever you go or look the scenery is all pretty speccy!
 
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Heinz

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The above was assuming the friend you were travelling was also a skier. That is you could stop off anywhere on the way down or back and ski somewhere if conditions looked good.

If not that may not work - places like Methven, Twizel, are pretty limited if not skiing. Mt Cook is worth a detour if weather is clear -- there are some good walks there or maybe a scenic flight. You would want to spend more time in Wanaka and especially Queenstown where there are a multitude of non skiing options.
 
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Junncha

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May 18, 2014
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Thanks guys for the great suggestions, i will definitely be going to milford sounds and take a cruise there!
But the thing is, we're only students and we're on a tight budget i guess, we have about $2500-3000AUS to spend in NZ. Do you guys think that is enough?
And also how much is the ski hire and lift passes if we decide to just ski anywhere where it is good on our way from places like Wanaka and Mt Hutt as some of you have suggested :D
Thank you guys for helping and making my head not explode from thinking about his haha, I'm just over thinking all this i think :p
 
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ScottGN

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If you're going tiki-touring (as well as skiing) then I'm going to stick my neck out for the Otago coast, pretty much everywhere from Oamaru south to The Catlins, though the highlights are Otago Peninsula and The Catlins. All the commercial ski area full day lift passes are about $95 these days, except TC which is about $99 (I think), club fields are about $65, gear hire $30 odd for the day maybe. 'Tis an expensive sport we've all succumbed to.
 

Donza

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Nz peso setting the world on fire too...its not as cheap as it used to be.

imo. First trip to nz....in winter. Hire an ordinary awd wagon and stay in accommodation. Nz is really well set up for self drive budget accommodation. Campervans are limiting in winter. Pita to drive up the hectic access roads. Cold. Crap mileage.
 

bluestick

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Heading to NZ mid august for a couple of weeks ... plan is 'decide on the day' flexibility ....one of the more helpful and cost saving bits of information would be an up to date list of what places do one way rides to the top (for touring)....and morning/arvo half day tickets & specials ....I understand the following: some club/smaller fields do a one way ride - for about $20 anyone know exactly ? these do not seem to be available at Hutt, Cardrona,Treble. Re tickets the best no prior commitment deals seem to be
1/2 day (morning or arvo) @Porters $55 also 2 for 1 day tickets on Mondays so $43/day
Family ticket at Cheeseman $67 /day ....1/2 day $50 (arvo only)
Hutt 1/2 day (arvo only) $65

The smaller fields have day tickets for around $70.
I know some do a "buy a day ticket" and if returned by 12.30 because it was crap we'll give you 1/2 day price refund...

This may all seem like penny pinching but it adds up with three or four people and goes into the kitty for heli rides and nice meals or more tickets ....



 

grantn

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Ohau and Mt Dobson are both $53 for a half day. Dobson has 2 for 1 Mondays, and Women are half price on Tuesdays.... some years Dobson also has had a "buddy pass", where if one person pays full price the second person pays either $30 for 3 days, or $50 for 5 days......... they don't tend to offer that until the season is up and running, you will just have to check their website to see if they will do it again this year........
 

DougFoo888

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May 19, 2014
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0
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I'm just doing 1 week in Methven area -- would you all suggest that is too long or short?

I'm thinking... 2-3 days Mt Hutt or one of these "clubs" and 2-3 days Methven Heli when the weather is clear.

I'm looking at late Aug 25-31 -- I can't find much historical snowfall data, but it sounds like its a bit late, but hopefully OK. Suggestions? I found it hard to find flights early Aug!

Look forward to my first NZ ski trip! Any help highly appreciated.
 

Heinz

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I'm just doing 1 week in Methven area -- would you all suggest that is too long or short?

I'm thinking... 2-3 days Mt Hutt or one of these "clubs" and 2-3 days Methven Heli when the weather is clear.

I'm looking at late Aug 25-31 -- I can't find much historical snowfall data, but it sounds like its a bit late, but hopefully OK. Suggestions? I found it hard to find flights early Aug!

Look forward to my first NZ ski trip! Any help highly appreciated.

That should be fine. Snow coverage should still be good. Enough terrain to keep you interested for several days. Porters & Dobson other alternatives as well as the club fields if the norwester springs up. Heli is also good from reports I've heard.
 

ScottGN

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I'm just doing 1 week in Methven area -- would you all suggest that is too long or short?

I'm thinking... 2-3 days Mt Hutt or one of these "clubs" and 2-3 days Methven Heli when the weather is clear.

I'm looking at late Aug 25-31 -- I can't find much historical snowfall data, but it sounds like its a bit late, but hopefully OK. Suggestions? I found it hard to find flights early Aug!

Look forward to my first NZ ski trip! Any help highly appreciated.
Late August should be primo.
 

ScottGN

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Nz peso setting the world on fire too...its not as cheap as it used to be.

imo. First trip to nz....in winter. Hire an ordinary awd wagon and stay in accommodation. Nz is really well set up for self drive budget accommodation. Campervans are limiting in winter. Pita to drive up the hectic access roads. Cold. Crap mileage.
I recall driving home from Christchurch a few years ago, heavy snow at Tekapo and the Lindis was a nightmare. I came around a corner on the Otago side, which was foggy and thickly hoar-frosted, to find a campervan flipped over in the ditch. The kids on board seemed quite happy though, they'd pulled out folding chairs and were sitting wrapped up in duvets, drinking beer and waiting for the towie.
 

essjaywhy

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October ~ ski area boundary , and not in the S.Is.
[ just a taster ! ]
t6ffnp.jpg
 
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ScottGN

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Apr 14, 2010
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Nz peso setting the world on fire too...its not as cheap as it used to be.

imo. First trip to nz....in winter. Hire an ordinary awd wagon and stay in accommodation. Nz is really well set up for self drive budget accommodation. Campervans are limiting in winter. Pita to drive up the hectic access roads. Cold. Crap mileage.
The only thing holding back the kiwi dollar at the moment is, apparently, the relative volatility of the Aussie dollar.
 

Tiu

Hard Yards
May 16, 2014
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1
53
I'm also very excited about my NZ trip in mid Aug as well. First time visiting NZ, always hearing the good snow over there!!

Will be in Queenstown for 8 days!! but probably realistically on the snow for 7 days tho which should be enough.
 
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Hacski

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I'm also very excited about my NZ trip in mid Aug as well. First time visiting NZ, always hearing the good snow over there!!

Will be in Queenstown for 8 days!! but probably realistically on the snow for 7 days tho which should be enough.
Tiu, welcome. Just under eight weeks out I'm getting excited too, for the third trip to NZ.
 
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