26 Oct Our Plans for Travelling Around New Zealand
Stunning scenery, glaciers, skydiving and glow worm caves – it’s no wonder New Zealand is near the top of our travel wish-list. When it came to planning the itinerary for our round the world trip, New Zealand came first for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s an English speaking small-ish country that’s simple to get around in, so we can ease ourselves into our new travelling lifestyle. Since we’re leaving in March, it also makes sense to stop in New Zealand first to catch the end of their summer before we travel on to Australia and Asia.
What to do in New Zealand
There are so many New Zealand attractions to visit and cool, adrenaline-filled activities to take part in that it’s going to be a pretty full-on month – here are some of the things we hope to do:
- The Rock Boat tour around the Bay of Islands, recommended by GQ Trippin and Answering Oliver
- Visit the Glow Worm caves in Waitomo
- Check out the thermal springs in Rotorua
- Climb the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (aka, Mount Doom)
- Take on the Franz Joseph Glacier hike – complete with helicopter ride
Our New Zealand Itinerary
Although we generally favour the idea of travelling slowly, we’ll only be in New Zealand for a month so we’ll be moving around pretty quickly. On the 3rd March 2013 we’ll fly to New Zealand for the start of our incredible travel adventure! After that here’s how our itinerary looks:
- Auckland – two nights
- Paihia – three nights (including one night on the Rock Boat)
- Auckland – one night
- Cathedral Cove – two nights
- Waitomo – three nights
- Rotorua – five nights
- Tongariro – three nights
- Wellington – three nights
- Kaiteriteri – one night
- Franz Joseph – three nights
- Queenstown – two nights
- Dunedin – two nights
- One night in Christchurch before we fly to Melbourne on the 5th April 2013
Our New Zealand Budget
Although March might be the best time to visit New Zealand weather-wise, it’s probably not the best time budget-wise. We always knew that New Zealand and Australia would be the most expensive stops on our trip, but choosing to travel in summer when prices are higher and guesthouses are full isn’t exactly helping to keep costs down.
However, we didn’t spend years planning, dreaming and saving for this trip to skimp on our experiences – we want to make the most of our time in New Zealand and if that means blowing the budget a bit, then hey, we’re ok with that. We know that once we hit Asia we can slow down our spending and set a £1,000 per month budget.
To try and keep costs down we’ve decided to spend only a month backpacking in New Zealand and we’ll try and save our money as much as possible by cooking our own food and staying in the cheapest places we can. To make sure all the best New Zealand hostels aren’t booked up in peak season we’ve already made reservations and sorted out our car rental.
Here’s what we expect to spend during our month in New Zealand (our flights cost £540 per person but we’re including them in our pre-trip costs instead):
- Car rental = £380
- Fuel = £230
- Interislander ferry = £125
- Accommodation = £840
- Food = £300
- Activities = £910
- Total cost = £2,785
*Thanks to GQ Trippin, who shared the cost of their month-long New Zealand trip with us via email and in this post to help us budget.
What do you think of our plans – did we miss anywhere?
PattiPosted at 01:43h, 27 October
Tongariro is beautiful country even though it is highly remote, but that’s part of the beauty. When we were there in early October (many Octobers ago) we never saw the sun shine so I can only imagine how pretty it will be. I hope it shines brightly for you! Don’t forget your rain gear!
AmyPosted at 09:01h, 27 October
Thanks Patti – I’m so excited now! We certainly will be packing our rain coats, thanks for the tip.
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)Posted at 00:43h, 30 October
NZ really does look like a beautiful, magical land! Alas, for us, Japan (and possibly Iceland) was our big splurge on this trip, so we decided we would save Oz + NZ for a separate trip some day. But it will be great to get a taste for them through your own travels!
AmyPosted at 09:36h, 30 October
Yes, we’re really looking forward to starting off in NZ, I do start to panic a bit when I think of how much money we’re going to spend there though! Iceland is another place we would love to go – too many countries, not enough time (or big enough budget right now)!
BeastPosted at 09:10h, 01 November
Sounds brilliant, can’t wait to see the photos.
AmyPosted at 09:31h, 01 November
Thanks Beast – I’m sure we’ll have thousands of pics to share!
David (Rosie's husband) & RosiePosted at 09:57h, 02 November
Hi Amy, we were interested in your potential timetable in New Zealand. We have visited NZ twice, on our first visit travelling both north & south islands, & have a couple of suggestions for you.
Waitomo has beautiful caves, but nothing else! We were very surprised, it is not even a village, just has a couple of hostels, so really doesn’t warrant 3 nights’ stay. We just stayed for one night, maybe stay 2 if you want to take your time exploring the area.
Similarly, Franz Jozef has a magnificent glacier (the hardest part is the track to get onto it!) but is a very small community, in our opinion not warranting 3 nights. Unless you have something exciting in mind for your second day.On the other hand, there is masses to do/see @ Queenstown, especially if you do a day trip out to Milford Sound, a real must-see. So maybe a little longer there.
Presumably you are visiting Lake Taupo from Rotarua. This is a fantastic lake, with many choices of boat trips (we did the large yacht) & THE place to do a sky dive! (according to our daughter – we didn’t indulge ourselves!) I’m sure you’ve looked up the many magnificent areas between Taupo & Rotarua.
We travelled around the south island by Magic Bus, a great company where the drivers give travel commentaries, as indeed they do on regular long distance buses, and drop & pick you up from hostels door-to-door! We used back-packer hostels, slightly cheaper than youth hostels.
As you can see, we are very excited by New Zealand, & have to restrain ourselves from giving you a day-by-day outline of our activities! A month is the minimum time to explore this beautiful country, but you have the whole world to see! Look forward to reading more of your blog! All the best, Rosie & David
AmyPosted at 10:22h, 02 November
Thanks for your comments guys; we really appreciate the advice (and yes, your enthusiasm for the country does shine through in your comments, which makes us all the more excited to visit!). I think we’ll reduce the amount of days in Waitomo and Franz Jozef and spend a bit more time in Queenstown then. We had also been wondering where’s best to skydive, so thanks for the tip. We did consider getting around by bus but in the end opted for renting a car for maximum flexibility – my little brother is visiting New Zealand next year too though and he will be taking the infamous Kiwi Experience bus! Thanks for reading guys and any other tips, let us know!
KarenPosted at 20:51h, 08 November
NZ is such an awesome country, I am sure you will love it!
I agree with almost everything Rosie says, except for the Skydiving. I did my skydive over Fox Glacier with http://www.skydivingnz.co.nz/ and it was awesome. Contrary to Taupo (where friends did theirs), it is a very small and thus personal operation, and the views are truly amazing!
AmyPosted at 09:45h, 09 November
Hi Karen, thanks for your comments, it’s great to hear tips from people who’ve already been to New Zealand. I’ll check out that skydiving link – looks like we’re going to have to research and weigh up the options!
Rosie ThomasPosted at 21:43h, 04 November
Thanks for the reply and kind words. We think you are right to reconsider your itinerary….you didn’t mention doing a bungee – jump…the best place for that is just before you get to Queenstown from the north, where you can jump from a bridge into a narrow canyon and have your head splash into the river below before bouncing up, and down, and up etc etc. We didn’t indulge in that either, but there’s a free viewing platform which is good to spend time at! In Queenstown we stayed at the Thomas’s Hotel ( of course) on the lakeside but quite central to town, a cross between hotel and hostel really. Take a jet-boat ride, take the chairlift up the mountain, visit the cemetery to see graves of Victorian settlers, and do a daytrip to Milford Sound. You can also fly back from Milford to Queenstown by helicopter if you bus out there instead of driving yourself. It will stretch the budget though! (and bungee-jumps are at least 150 dollars a go). When in Auckland go up the Sky City tower for the views. Wellington is a city you can walk across in a couple of hours from the ferryport and parliament (the Beehive) (to the north) via the harbour to the beaches (in the south). Drive around the coast road to see the bays and see the scary plane approaches by the airport when the wind catches them! Must stop reminiscing or we’ll be booking tickets back there ourselves! We’ll watch out for news of your trip, our heartfelt envious good wishes go with you!
AmyPosted at 09:36h, 05 November
Hi Rosie, to try and keep costs down we chose to skydive rather than bungee jump. Also, I’m not sure I’d have the guts to actually throw myself off the edge, whereas if I’m strapped to someone for skydiving I have no choice! It would be fun to watch other people jumping though! Thanks for all the tips and suggestions, Milford sounds brilliant and we’ll be sure to check out the skytower, bays and Wellington.Thanks for the well-wishes and your comments, we really appreciate it. I hope you guys get to go back and visit New Zealand one day too!
SophiePosted at 00:43h, 09 November
I found your website through a facebook link on the rock overnight cruise. I went to NZ precisely one year ago, for one month too.
I can tell you, you made the right choice starting there. There’s not one day since, without thinking about going back and eventually settle there… It is beautiful, wild, untamed and people are really nice!
Of course we didn’t have the same itinerary (a month is not enough so you have to make some difficult choices). I think you have a nice itinerary but if I could give some advice, it would be to take unpredictable weather conditions into consideration. Allow some adjustments on your way.
I prefer south island so I would suggest to spent less time in the north to discover places like the Nelson Lakes or Wanaka ou Lake Tekapo.
If you don’t change the places you visit, I would suggest less time in Rotorua, 5 nights is a lot! You can visit Te Pua, Waimagu and Wai-o-tapu in one day, so you might want to reconsider. 2 or 3 nights would be enough.
That would allow you to add a night in Kaiteriteri or Milford Sound. Abel Tasman and Fiordland were our favourite parts of NZ.
If it rains while you’re in Kaiteriteri, there is nothing to do! So be prepared and maybe add a day there, because Abel Tasman is beautiful! Same for Franz Josef and this area. If you’re looking for some adventure as skydiving, Franz Josef is the place to go. You jump above the Alpes and can see both the mountains and the sea! I think 2 nights is fine too.
Then, you absolutely can’t miss Milford Sound and Milford road! That place is breathtaking! Allow some time to go there. It would be a shame to miss it!
Have fun in NZ!!! I wish I was there now 🙂
AmyPosted at 09:53h, 09 November
Hi Sophie, thanks for commenting. It’s great to hear all these stories of how brilliant New Zealand is – it’s making us even more excited to visit. How long were you there for and at what time of year? We’re working on adjusting our itinerary to fit in some of the places people have been recommending – Milford Sound seems particularly popular so we’ll definitely add that in and try and hit up some of the other places you’ve mentioned. We had been hoping that the weather will be good considering we’ll be there in March; but we’ll definitely be packing raincoats too! I hope you get to visit New Zealand again soon!
Chris StocktonPosted at 14:59h, 07 February
I think you’ve already contacted our son Matt, who did what your mum fears…..arrived in NZ and never came back! He loves his life there, and the country, and we love it too. We went out twice for several weeks each time, spending 2 summers there. I feel a sense of nostalgia every time I think of it! They’ve had an amazing summer weather wise this year, and hopefully its going to last into March. We didn’t see a lot of the south island sadly, but loved Kaikoura, the Abel Tasman area, and relaxing in the hot pools at Hanmer. Back on the north island, if you get a chance, go to the Bay of Islands, and further north to Cape Reinga, where the Tasman sea and Pacific ocean meet. Its magical! You can also surf down the massive sand dunes at 90 mile beach! I know your time is limited……you’ll just have to go back after you’ve seen a bit more of the world! I hope you have a great time.
AmyPosted at 15:21h, 07 February
Hi Chris, thanks for your kind wishes. Yes, I have indeed contacted Matt and we’re looking forward to staying with him in March – his place looks amazing! Andrew is a secondary school French teacher so he’s interested in taking a look at Matt’s school too, maybe he’ll be tempted to go and teach over there at some point (don’t tell my mum that!). I’ve heard such rave reviews about New Zealand that I just can’t wait to get out there now; we’re doing an overnight boat trip in the Bay of Islands and hope to visit 90 mile beach too.