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Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-03-2006, 10:41 PM   #1
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Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

My girlfriend and I are planning a DIY trip around New Zealand this Dec-Jan, with a 26 hour layover in Fiji on the way home.

All we have so far is the plane ticket to/from there. Everything else is in the planning stages. We expect to stay in hostels/cheap hotels, and are expecting to rent a car (but may buy tickets for the bus that drives around the islands). It will be the first time there for either of us.

Any suggestions on must-see places (or, sometimes just as good, things you should avoid), in both NZ and Fiji?

We prefer the beautiful scenery-type things, but would also enjoy some activities like kayaking (me), horse back riding (her) and other similar things. You can leave off bunji-jumping and other death-defying adrenaline-laden activities.

I know that Australia is just off the shore, but we prefer to stay in NZ the whole time.
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-03-2006, 11:06 PM   #2
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

When we did this a few years back we rented an RV (camper van) for the north island then took a bus/train tour of the south island. Whatever you do, do NOT rent a large vehicle. The roads are twisty and narrow, the locals drive without regard to the center line. They charge for hot water in the campgrounds.

Many visitors rave about Rotorroa(sp) on the south island. I grew up with hot springs, geysers are old hat to me - so that interested me less than learning about the social stresses between the natives and those of European descent. B & Bs are an option to explore.

If you don't go to Milford Sound you will regret it.

We are maritime focused so loved the fishing villages, beaches and Auckland (there is lots to see there). You will find the activities you listed, particularly on the north island.

South Island NZ has a climate similar to the northwest. The soil is thin, not much loam on top of the rocks.
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-03-2006, 11:07 PM   #3
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

Fiji: Do you fly to Nadi or Suva?
If Nadi - you might have enough time to go to Mamanucas or even Yasawas (although 26 hours is not really enough).
Surfing, beechcombing, snorkelling/diving, kayaking between islands or just sailing around.
There was horse riding available on Viti Levu, but we haven't tried it.
You can also stay on "mainland" and visit Koroyanitu park.
If Suva, you could take a ferry to Lomaiviti.
Even if you'd decide to go out of Viti Levu, have a contingency plan (like Koroyanitu) in case the sea is rough.
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-04-2006, 08:27 AM   #4
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

Ditto on Milford Sound, take one of the buses out of Queenstown that has the glass tops. I loved the farm tour in Queenstown that included a ferry ride. I was there during lambing season and a highlight of my life was seeing a lambing with the shepherd while the rest of the group had tea on the front lawn.
The Otago penninsula (Dunedin) was also really nice and the drive across the South Island from Qtown was absolutely beautiful.
On the North Island, I had a great time at Pahai, it was a cool backpacker town with some inexpensive lodging options. The driving is incredible. I only had two weeks, not enough!
Sarah
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-04-2006, 08:43 AM   #5
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

Slightly different option. Do you have to go through Fiji? I like the place a lot but it does take time & effort to get out of Nandi to see the really neat parts. If you are flying Air New Zealand then therre is a route through the Cook Islands which connects with Tahiti. DW & I have been headed down to NZ a couple times and we never make it past the Cooks, an amazing relatively unknown place. You could see most of the main island in a day although it deserves several and the off islands are priceless. Warning, if you do this at the end of your trip you may decide to never come back.
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-04-2006, 09:51 AM   #6
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

I got stuck on at the Nadi airport for a day (cancelled flight) in the 70's. There was literally nothing around there at that time so I decided to sleep out. Fortunately a taxi driver was kind enough to take me to his house and let me stay with his family. We drank a bunch of kava and didn't really get any sleep. Great unexpected experience though. If it's Suva you could at least go into town and poke around or drive out a ways. My favorite activity in Fiji is big wave surfing, of which there is a ton, but it's not for the inexperienced and a 26 hour layover wouldn't even be enough to get you out to watch a little.
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-04-2006, 03:03 PM   #7
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

DH and I were in NZ in June (winter). We really loved the northern part of the South Island. We had an especially good time hiking and kyaking in the Able Tasman National Park. We rented a car and stayed in the town of Motueka at one of the YHA hostels (Baker Lodge I believe - sparse, but adequate and cheap, doubles with bath) The little town has good restaurants.

If you are taking the ferry between the islands take some dramamine even if you don't normally get seasick. It is a rough ride.

Our rental car place (thrifty) let us drop the car off at the south island and brought a different one to us at our hotel in Wellington. (BTW, the YHA hostel in Wellington is ok, but noisy! I'd ask for a room away from the street even if it means no private bath)

We will definately go back sometime during the summer - when we do I think we will spend most of our time on the south island. But now yakers is making me want to go check out the Cooks!
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-04-2006, 10:03 PM   #8
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

Thanks a million for the replies so far...feel free to keep any other suggestions coming.

As for some questions so far:

Itinerary - We are flying on Air Pacific. Flight from Los Angeles to Nadi, Fiji. Going there, we have just a 3 hour layover before we continue on from Nadi to Auckland. Coming home, I know that there isn't a hell of a lot you can do in just 26 hours (much less when you factor in time to go through airport security, etc.). However, it was either a 26 hour layover, or a scant 1 hr 30 min layover. And, given the situation, we didn't think it was too terrible of a bad thing to have to stay in Fiji for an entire day. As for not wanting to come back - I hope it's that good. We already bought the tickets on Orbitz, so no changing them now.

Transportation - I was actually thinking of renting a microvan (never heard of it before I started looking for plans for this trip. They're about NZ$59/day, while a cheap compact car can apparently be had for about NZ$39/day (?). Still trying to figure out w/ the gf which one to go for. She prefers the smaller car, and apparently isn't too keen on staying in the van at night.

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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-04-2006, 10:17 PM   #9
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

Women aren't keen on camping in unknown campgrounds. By the time you pay the campground fee and the higher microvan rental you won't be spending all that much more to stay in a B & B or hostel. We gals have a thing about hot showers.

You can always car-camp once she is compfortable. Just pack a sleep sack and favorite pillow and keep your options open. Bring along your swim fins, wet suit, and water footwear.
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-11-2006, 12:35 PM   #10
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

I haven't heard anyone else suggest it so I'll chime in. I think Franz Josef Glacier is very impressive. You can take a heli ride up there for sightseeing or for heli-hiking. There are some really pretty blue ice caves there. Hiking to the edge of the glacier is also very nice since you have to hike through a forest (!) to get to it.

If you are interested in bungee jumping, go to Queenstown and do the Hackett 47m bungee jump in the evening. It has a totally surreal view! I've talked to others who did the Nevis jump (150m??) and they liked that a lot as well.

Able Tasman/Milford Sound were great as others have suggested. I personally think Rotorua is a must-see since the whole freaking town is geothermally active! Sheep-shearing seems to be a popular tourist activity in the south island.
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-11-2006, 02:10 PM   #11
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?


Peter76:

My DW and I were in New Zealand in late March-early April of this year.
We were very fortunate to have friends who pretty much designed our
itinerary for us. Native New Zealanders.
In addition to all the activities/locations mentioned in previous posts, you
might consider spending a bit of time in the Blenheim-Nelson area.
Its the heart of New Zealand wine country, and if you have any interest in
wines, its worth a little time. Excellent Sauvignon Blanc.
Also if you get the chance, get out on the Marlbourough Sounds.
Lots of kayak trips of all skill levels.
We were there in fall, and it was still gorgeous. Your summer months should be
spectacular. I regret not getting out in a kayak.
If you would like to see a photo or two feel free to e-mail me.

gwix
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-14-2006, 02:12 PM   #12
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderALot
I haven't heard anyone else suggest it so I'll chime in. I think Franz Josef Glacier is very impressive. You can take a heli ride up there for sightseeing or for heli-hiking. There are some really pretty blue ice caves there. Hiking to the edge of the glacier is also very nice since you have to hike through a forest (!) to get to it.

If you are interested in bungee jumping, go to Queenstown and do the Hackett 47m bungee jump in the evening. It has a totally surreal view! I've talked to others who did the Nevis jump (150m??) and they liked that a lot as well.

Able Tasman/Milford Sound were great as others have suggested. I personally think Rotorua is a must-see since the whole freaking town is geothermally active! Sheep-shearing seems to be a popular tourist activity in the south island.
Thanks gwix98 and WanderALot for the suggestions.

I personally (and, thankfully, the SO does as well) detest the mere thought of bunji jumping. That whole "stomach rising up into my throat during freefall" feeling would come close to giving me a heart attack.

The helicopter ride sounds like fun, but we're trying to minimize the cost at the moment. I'll do some google searches and see what the pricing is like.

However, hiking through a forest to get to the glacier definitely sounds like a must-do.

We're getting ready to start outlining our itinerary. When we're done I'll post it.

--Peter
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?
Old 10-20-2006, 06:32 PM   #13
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Re: Trip to New Zealand/Fiji Dec-Jan...any suggestions?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter76
I personally (and, thankfully, the SO does as well) detest the mere thought of bunji jumping. That whole "stomach rising up into my throat during freefall" feeling would come close to giving me a heart attack.
Yeah, it's pretty scary, but my friend and I really enjoyed it. It was a total rush! The girl who jumped right before us asked to be thrown backwards from the jump scaffolding. Queenstown is just a crazy town, even our 80+ yr old cabbie had been bungy jumping.

Quote:
The helicopter ride sounds like fun, but we're trying to minimize the cost at the moment. I'll do some google searches and see what the pricing is like.
Now keep in mind that my opinion is based on our 1999 trip there (pre-Lord of the Rings), so this might not hold true anymore but I always thought that New Zealand is one of the cheapest western countries that I've traveled to. As I recall, the helicopter ride was only about $50/person per half hour, which very reasonable. If you can squeeze it in your budget, I would definitely do it. There's not too many places in the world where you can fly and land on a glacier in a helicopter.
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