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NZ - South Island in September

Discussion in 'Holidays & Travel' started by mmBax, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. mmBax

    mmBax Member

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    Hey guys, looking at heading over to NZ in September for a honeymoon and a bit of a break.

    Just looking for a bit of input, we've got a tonne of feedback already, but I'd like to nail it down with some further details.

    Data? I'm with Telstra prepaid, was thinking about taking a tablet over with Wifi only, but there's a huge potential for getting something with a sim, 90% of our travels are usually on the fly, booking accommodation and finding camp sites etc.

    We're going to be travelling/staying in camper vans. Any recommendations? How hard is it to find places to camp?

    Looking at flying directly into Christchurch, unfortunately it looks like all flights we're looking at arrive around midnight. Any good hotels close by with 24 hour check-in? Wouldn't mind spending a day or two in and around Christchurch winding down before renting the van and moving on.

    I've got a lot more questions but I'm drawing a blank now. We'll be looking at photography locations, wineries, good food and I think we plan on doing a glacier trip and some bungee.
     
  2. izequel

    izequel Member

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    You'll have an awesome time, I did the south island for my honeymoon as well :)

    For data, Spark (formerly Telecom NZ) was great for us. Went to a shopping centre in Christchurch and within 10 minutes I was up and running (from memory it was $40~ ish for a couple of gig and unlimited texts/calls).

    Can't speak for travelling in a camper van, but definitely check out Queenstown, Wanaka and Lake Tekapo if you can; all were highlights of our trip.

    We stayed at the Commodore at Christchurch Airport (http://www.commodorehotel.co.nz/). We also got in on that midnight flight and they have a phone at the airport you can use to call them, and they send their bus straight down. Took 5 minutes from when we called to being in the hotel :)
     
  3. MR CHILLED

    MR CHILLED D'oh!

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    The tablet is wifi only? Did I read that right? You could purchase a prepaid sim over in NZ, plug it in to your phone, if you don't mind the mucking around, and use the phone as a hotspot for bookings, browsing the net etc.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    mmBax

    mmBax Member

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    Thanks, I'd seen Spark when I had a quick look yesterday, the thread was pretty old though so I wasn't sure what their current data setup was like. I'll jump on that today and see what I can find.

    Will do, thanks.

    Ahh that's brilliant, I was initially looking at finding something relatively close by that was still a high enough standard to keep us steady for a few nights, but this will do the trick instead I think.

    That is correct, was hoping to take the tablet and just use wifi where available. But on second thoughts if I'm taking the phone as well I don't really want to double up on tech, we'll be in a camper van so battery life shouldn't be an issue. Phone can play the GPS and can be on the lookout for campsites while we're driving between locations. I should probably try and track down a guide book of some sorts. We missed some nice places in Tas because we had no clue what we were driving past.
     
  5. [AOB]TommO

    [AOB]TommO Member

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    How long are you there for? I'd say the must visits of the South Island are these four, with rough amounts of time to budget there.

    Queenstown - 2 days
    Lake Tekapo - 1 day
    Milford Sound - 1 day
    Either Glacier - 1 day

    However, if you have more time then it's very easy to add a lot of stuff...
     
  6. OP
    OP
    mmBax

    mmBax Member

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    I think we're pushing close to 3 weeks.

    Hoping there's a lot of places that you can pull up in a camper and stop for the night?
     
  7. sirshelldrake

    sirshelldrake Member

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    We did our honeymoon in NZ south island in September about 11 years ago. We chose to hire car and follow our nose in travelling. We found that because we were in between seasons all the hotels were really cheap, so we would just rock up to a new town, talk to the info hut/desk and ask them for a good deal. we often got top of the range for about a 1/3 of the price. Very much hassle free and lived the high life for two weeks and I think we spent about 4k all up, for everything (car hire, clothes, food, trips, hotels).

    If I recall we spent first two nights in Christchurch but got bored fairly quick.
    Took a day to get to Mt Cook, stopped off at lake tekapo.
    spent a few days in Queenstown, could easily spend a week there.
    then we went to the west coast for a couple of days. the glaciers were interesting, but overall, I think spending more time in Mt cook/queenstown would have been better. the rest of the time was travelling, which I loved in the sporty corolla and the windy roads, the wife, tho :sick: :rolleyes:

    I aim to take the family to NZ for a few weeks when they're old enough, and I plan to do it September for the good deals that were possible.

    Edit: notice you mention you want to do photography there. Hard to take a bad photo in NZ, when I went through, the thing I wish I had was a tripod and a good wide lens.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  8. JamesR

    JamesR Member

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    I just booked flights to Christchurch for mid to late November. Flights were ridiculously cheap, $460 return for 2 people, with checked luggage flying Jetstar. I'm going with my girlfriend and we're looking at hiring a camper too.
     
  9. Smoza

    Smoza Member

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    If you've got a bit of time, why not do a loop of the island and see all the best bits?

    Maybe start in christchurch, head north (stopping at Kaikoura - swim with the seals/dolphins, visit the baby seals in Ohau stream), spend some time around the top of the south island, blenheim, nelson, picton areas are all beautiful apparently. You could prob duck up to Hanmer springs while around chch as well for something to do, quite lovely up there.

    Then head south down the west coast, past the glaciers etc and make your way towards wanaka/queenstown. Explore around here for up to a week, including a trip down to Te Anau and Milford sound.

    Then head north again through central otago then the mackensie region, taking in Twizel, Tekapo, Fairlie, Geraldine and then veer left and take the 72 through the gorge and past mount hutt instead of SH1 for a more scenic route.
     
  10. sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Laugh it up, fuzzball!

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    Tekapo is so pretty. :upset:

    Looking down from the observatory was the best view of my trip.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    mmBax

    mmBax Member

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    Just booked flights last night. We've got 16 days. Flight arrives at around 3 in the afternoon, and we're leaving in the afternoon.

    The reason we're doing South Island is because most people that have given us advice say that if we're looking for the best scenery, do longer in the South and don't worry about the North. Even a lady that lived there for 40 years said that the North Island is nothing by comparison.

    Having said that there will no doubt be another trip eventually, whatever we miss this time we'll do next time.

    Cheers for all the advice though guys I'm making a note of it. Just got a travel brochure with lots to look at.
     
  12. AngelMoo

    AngelMoo Member

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    allow some flexibility with your days if you want to do weather dependent activities... NZ weather is super fussy so you may have to reschedule a few times.
     
  13. Michael H

    Michael H Member

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    Also visit Dunedin on the Otago Peninsula and Milford Sound.

    A helicopter flight out of Fox Glacier or Franz Joseph Glacier is a real treat. They land on the snowfields just below Mounts Tasman and Cook.

    There are some excellent train trips, day trip out of Dunedin, plus Christchurch to Greymouth (Trans Alpine), also Christchurch to Picton (Trans Scenic). Best part of my trip.

    I return to South Island in September for 5 weeks.

    Also free iOS app called Essential NZ.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  14. metamorphosis

    metamorphosis Member

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    If you have more than a month, I would travel to Stewart Island as well.
    Great place, very alien.

    Otherwise my best advice is - don't overdo it. I used to hitch around the south island, back when the world was a better place, and the main problem tourists seem to have is doing too much in too short a space of time. You need a good 2 months if you want to really cover everything in the south island. Otherwise, take it easy... enjoy your time, don't rush from location to location - it takes ages and it's not worth it.
    Also pancake rocks are kinda meh.
    Fox glacier is better than franz joseph.
    Good luck finding accomodation near either though, you're better heading up north or down south to haast afterwards.
     
  15. OP
    OP
    mmBax

    mmBax Member

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    Thanks for that, as I stated earlier on we'll be in a camper van, will there be anywhere that we could pull up and camp in that sense?

    Looks like we'll be staying in hotels as well occasionally to mix it up.
     
  16. Michael H

    Michael H Member

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    Make sure you have the apps Wikicamps NZ and Camp Mate.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
  17. MR CHILLED

    MR CHILLED D'oh!

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    It's pretty good, I've used a few times on my trips back.
     
  18. iSTELTHYi

    iSTELTHYi Member

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    Not sure what other people have posted, so i'll just post what i can remember.

    Personally, i wouldn't hire a camper. We had accomodation and hired a sedan (falcon) to get around. Although we did make a mistake with booking flights, flew into Christchurch and drove to Queenstown before we knew we could fly direct. Wasted 2 days because our return trip was already booked from christchurch (otherwise we would have just hired another car). If you are set on the camper though, make sure you let faster cars behind pass. So many dicks who dont understand how slow their vehicle really is over there.

    While i'm on Christchurch, you wouldn't be disappointed if you missed it. It was interesting looking at the earthquake damage, but other than that, we were done in a day (the chairlift/lookout was the only other good thing, but only because it overlooked the docks on the other side)

    Regarding the phone, we took my old S3 and got a prepaid sim. Originally we got a wireless dongle for the laptop but found not having a working phone to be a problem so we just bought the sim.

    If you're driving, make sure you read up on the road rules. Theres quite a few different to Aus (specifically, if you're turning left, you must give way to bikes behind you, over here, the vehicle in front has right of way).

    Check out the chocolate factory tour in Dunedin (if you're into that). You'll end up with more chocolate than what the tour costs. But you have to book in advance. Its about a 4 hour drive from Queenstown from memory.

    We did a lake tour at Queenstown (mainly because i wanted to go on the catamaran :p). Was quite informative (and the one we went on has an open wheelhouse so you can sit with the captain).
    Also in Queenstown, we did a helicoptor flight because my fiance hadn't touched snow before, ended up with a longer flight because we went with another couple and they booked the longer flight. Highly recommend The Helicopter Line if you are flying anywhere (they also do Milford Sound like someone recommended, however we ran out of time to do that aswell).

    If you do happen to go to the North island, definately do the Sky jump/walk at the Sky Tower.
     
  19. Symon

    Symon Castigat ridendo mores

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    As I type this, I am in Dunedin on day 4 of our 2 week holiday around the south island :leet:

    We flew into Christchurch and stayed at the Sudima motel which is literally beside the airport, they have a courtesy shuttle that takes you to the motel so you don't have to walk or taxi. The motel is pretty basic (looks to be a remodeled construction camp) but it is clean and after touching down at midnight any bed was a good one.

    We hired a motorhome and so far it seems to have been a great choice, it is great to be able to just pull up and have pretty much everything already set up for the night. Since it is bloody cold and windy over here I'm really glad to not be stuffing around with tents or anything like that. The only problem we have had is that some of the attractions are close to the centre of town so finding a big enough park can be a problem. Apart from that, its been great so far.

    One thing you need to get is the Rankers camping app - https://www.rankers.co.nz/about/official-camping-nz-app we downloaded all of the offline content before we left so you don't need any internet connection to use it while here. Best of all this app shows you all the free camping sites of which we have used a couple already.
     
  20. JamesR

    JamesR Member

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    So my girlfriend and I were keen on a small camper van for our trip to the South Island, but not sure if we would be better off just getting a car and staying at cheap hotels along the way. Any thoughts? Pros/cons?
     

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