New Zealand - Facts and Information
General Summary
Some practical comments and what we would do differently next time

Luggage, climate and a general assessment of success of the trip



Main New Zealand Index

Lyttelton & Banks
Arthur's Pass
North to Picton
West of Nelson 1
West of Nelson 2
East of Nelson
Nelson to Westport
Denniston & Westport 
Pancake Rocks
South to the glaciers
Central Otago
Gold mining
Arrowtown & Glenorchy
Te Anau
Catlins to Dunedin
Around Dunedin 1
Around Dunedin 2
Around Dunedin 3
To Mount Cook
To Geraldine
North of Geraldine 


Facts and Information Index

Background to the trip
Getting around
General Summary







Pictures, problems etc

Weather and packing the car
As we were going to have the same car for all of the time (apart from very beginning and end) we gave some thoughts on how we would get stuff in and and out of it every day. We took a couple of Lakeland Supermarket Savers with us. Once there one of these got used for stuff that went in and out of the car every day, like food, maps, cameras and so on. The other was filled with sweaters, waterproofs etc. This meant that we could empty one of our checked cases and put the (full) other one inside it and even leave it in the car overnight if we wished. This arrangement worked well and saved a lot of hassle during the trip.

We arrived on October 9 and left on November 9 so it was spring in New Zealand. Christchurch was bright but chilly when we arrived and a lot warmer when we left. In between we saw a lot of real rain in the west, but otherwise had generally good weather which was quite warm, although evenings could be cool. However in Central Otago (where we had great weather) it was cold overnight with frosty mornings and very hot days.

Was it a success?
The answer is a resounding yes! We became hooked by the peace and space that South Island offered. It was also refreshing to be somewhere that was largely free of litter and graffiti and had polite, courteous people. We had a great time and would very much like to go again. However if we did go there again there are a number of things we might do differently.

Booking and travel
Another time, with the confidence gained on this our first 'big' trip and with going to an English speaking country, we would probably make the arrangements ourselves. To some extent we found that we had to push the agent to get exactly what we wanted rather than conform to the usual tourist route routine. It would certainly give us a wider choice of motels if doing it ourselves.

Would we use Air NZ again? Yes. This was our first experience of Business Class and we were impressed by the level of service, food and - dare we say it - the wine (but the port was naff). But getting to Heathrow was a drag and the change in Auckland a bit hectic. Another time we would seriously look at Emirates who have the attraction of departures from UK regional airports to Dubai with a connecting flight to Christchurch.

In London we stayed before and after at the Premier Inn in Hayes as it is reasonably priced, can be cancelled up to midday and the short, though possibly congested, journeys to and from it did not cause us concern with the times of flights. For parking we used Purple Parking at Hayes. They were efficient but the roads near the park can be very badly congested at times. Another time we would use Q Park on Bath Road which is virtually on the airport, has easier access and is also efficient. It is also next to the Bath Road Premier Inn which, though more expensive than Hayes, is so much closer to the airport.

Accommodation in NZ
We found the motels in New Zealand good; all were very clean. There were a couple we found a bit inconvenient in minor ways. However we would stop at all of them again (except for one that was unfriendly and noisy). But another time with independent booking making us free of Golden Chain motels we might stop at others in some places. We were impressed by the one farmstay DBB we did and might try to do one or two more.

We were glad we had decided to give NI a miss, and don't feel any great urge to go there in the future. We felt we could have spent even more time in SI as there were other things we would have liked to see. We set out to get a feel for SI and the route we took let us achieve that, but another time there are probably some changes we would make.

The forest is interesting to walk in and look at closely but becomes monotonous and obstructive of views when driving. There is a lot of forest and for this reason we would probably not bother with the coastal areas between Blenheim and Abel Tasman (although the country inland from Nelson and Motueka is great). For this reason, and because of the likelihood of heavy rain there, we would probably miss out on the west coast south of Westport. We would also not bother with the glaciers which we found disappointing. However we would probably want to get back to Westport and while there spend more time looking at the industrial arcaheology and go north to Karamea, hopefully on a dry day!

The jury is still out on Fjordland. Scenically this areas is superb, but it is virtually impossible to get into and rain can be an issue. Eleanor was very keen to get to Doubtless or Milford Sounds (or both!) but the weather was against us. Michael was a lot less keen given the logistics of such excursions, the number of people going there and the fact that we have seen a lot of marvellous fjord scenery in Norway.

The Catlins and the area behind them around Gore would merit more time. Otago (with the exception of the coastal area near Dunedin) merited a lot more time and there were a number of old gold towns we would like to get to see. The eastern foothills and valleys of the Southern Alps also merit more attention

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