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Thread: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

  1. #1
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    Cool Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Hi guys

    good day. Am thinking of bringing my family (2 adults and 1 baby) for a holiday to NZ this year end. It'll be our 1st trip to NZ hence would need all your advice:

    1. Our baby daughter will be 1.5yrs old in Dec. Should we self-drive or join an organised tour? My friends tell me it's better to self-drive but we're not familiar with the place at all and have no itinerary to start with. Has anyone done a self-drive to NZ and willing to share your itinerary?

    2. We are thinking of doing a 7-10days trip, where should we visit? Possible to do both North and South Islands? We're not the shopping type, just want to enjoy the beautiful scenery in NZ and have a relaxing time bonding as a family.

    3. Anyone with self-drive experience to NZ care to give us some pointers? Esp itinerary, good accomodation and car rental etc? Would a self-drive holiday end up being more expensive than an organised tour?

    4. Any tourist traps to avoid (if any)?

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us in advance!
    Last edited by pixie_genie; 18th May 2009 at 09:59 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    See my Photo Gallery at the Clubsnap

  3. #3

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    OMG i typed a bunch of stuff.. then it just din post.. haha

  4. #4

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    NZ tourism board website has a Travel Planner to help you plan your driving route and itinerary.
    http://www.newzealand.com/travel/get...outes-home.cfm

    You will need to decide between North or South Island for 7-10 days. For South Island, 7 days can probably cover only half the island. For the whole of South Island, you will probably need around 12 days.

    Try not to rush from places to places. Take time to enjoy the scenery and take some nice pictures.

  5. #5
    Senior Member xtemujin's Avatar
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    Arrow Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    You'll be covering large distance and 7-10 days for North and South island is just a no go.

    Even 7-10 days is not enough for either the North or South island.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    totally agree with them, stayed there for 9years.. haha. ^^ havent seen and done everything yet

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Thanks guys for the helpful advice and tips! Will take my time to surf the sites given... Is it easy to self-drive in NZ? From destination to destination, it is very long distance drive (eg. 4-5hours min)?

  8. #8

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by pixie_genie View Post
    Hi guys

    good day. Am thinking of bringing my family (2 adults and 1 baby) for a holiday to NZ this year end. It'll be our 1st trip to NZ hence would need all your advice:

    1. Our baby daughter will be 1.5yrs old in Dec. Should we self-drive or join an organised tour? My friends tell me it's better to self-drive but we're not familiar with the place at all and have no itinerary to start with. Has anyone done a self-drive to NZ and willing to share your itinerary?

    2. We are thinking of doing a 7-10days trip, where should we visit? Possible to do both North and South Islands? We're not the shopping type, just want to enjoy the beautiful scenery in NZ and have a relaxing time bonding as a family.

    3. Anyone with self-drive experience to NZ care to give us some pointers? Esp itinerary, good accomodation and car rental etc? Would a self-drive holiday end up being more expensive than an organised tour?

    4. Any tourist traps to avoid (if any)?

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us in advance!
    Just came back from New Zealand in April...
    For 7-10 days trip I think u better stick to south island. Personally if u going only 2 adults and a baby...I would suggest tour group, safer and the group will make it more fun. Personal experince once went with a group ....there's a couple with a 2 years old. The whole group actually take turns carrying and looking after the baby, more relaxing for the parents...it's a vacation anyway. But have to consider if ur baby takes well with strangers. If there's more adults like 3-4, then self drive can be considered. Itenaries wise I think u already have enough help.
    Last edited by RezzShaz; 20th May 2009 at 12:09 PM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Thanks RezzShaz for the tips. My baby is very sociable and is comfortable with strangers, that's why I have not ruled out joining group tours (if the package offers are good!). But thought maybe self-drive may be better cos she can take her afternoon naps when cranky. Is NZ group tour very rushed and tiring type (i.e. leave hotel by 7am, back only after 9pm)? Which company did you go with?

    Megaweb, thanks for your many helpful links! I'm thinking of following this particular itinerary if we do self-drive. http://www.newzealand.com/travel/get...ristchurch.cfm Any comments? Once we fix the itinerary, still have to book air tickets, car rental and accomodation (phew!). If you have good accomodation in each pitstop to recommend, do let me know!
    Last edited by pixie_genie; 20th May 2009 at 12:12 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by pixie_genie View Post
    Thanks RezzShaz for the tips. My baby is very sociable and is comfortable with strangers, that's why I have not ruled out joining group tours (if the package offers are good!). But thought maybe self-drive may be better cos she can take her afternoon naps when cranky. Is NZ group tour very rushed and tiring type (i.e. leave hotel by 7am, back only after 9pm)? Which company did you go with?

    Megaweb, thanks for your many helpful links! I'm thinking of following this particular itinerary if we do self-drive. http://www.newzealand.com/travel/get...ristchurch.cfm Any comments? Once we fix the itinerary, still have to book air tickets, car rental and accomodation (phew!). If you have good accomodation in each pitstop to recommend, do let me know!
    Went with Chan brothers a couple of years back so price wise can't confirm. Made a couple of trips back to NZ after that but self drive. Either way group or self drive u might need to leave early i.e by 8-8.30am depending from where and ur destination. from one attraction to another might take hours...again depend on destination. Longer if ur not familiar and takes longer breaks in between( which u most pobably will).

  11. #11

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by pixie_genie View Post
    Thanks RezzShaz for the tips. My baby is very sociable and is comfortable with strangers, that's why I have not ruled out joining group tours (if the package offers are good!). But thought maybe self-drive may be better cos she can take her afternoon naps when cranky. Is NZ group tour very rushed and tiring type (i.e. leave hotel by 7am, back only after 9pm)? Which company did you go with?

    Megaweb, thanks for your many helpful links! I'm thinking of following this particular itinerary if we do self-drive. http://www.newzealand.com/travel/get...ristchurch.cfm Any comments? Once we fix the itinerary, still have to book air tickets, car rental and accomodation (phew!). If you have good accomodation in each pitstop to recommend, do let me know!
    That was exactly the route that I took for my 14 days trip, except I went in the anti-clockwise direction (for no particular reason). Actually I feel that for 1.5yrs old baby, it might be better to self drive as the timing will be more flexible and less hectic. Too be frank, I think 12 days is a little bit rush, I would have preferred to do it in 16-18days if possible. Pre-booking accommodation might be a good idea for Dec peak season, although you will lose the flexibility of self-drive holiday. Maybe you can pre-book only certain places like Christchurch and Queenstown.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    QUESTION : have u done this before on a smaller country or with more numbers ?


    despite all the suggestions given, we seriously feel its better for both of u and kid to join a tour group.

    Driving in a foreign country is not as easy as it sounds. We usually go with a seasoned driver and learn along the way. We have done many continents.. and believe me each country has their own highway codes and signs.. so road safety is always FIRST....In addition, if we are arriving at a LEFT HAND DRIVE country, you need to 'tune' your brain Moreover, if you choose the wrong route or make a wrong turn, road conditions will slow u down or even pose u some adventure ... with your current human : kid ratio, it can be really stressful handling both.... enjoy your trip.. leave the stressful bit to the tour operators.


    That said... SOUTH islands more scenic ... NORTH islands is where u find wild dolphins/ Whales - A MUST for me as I am a dolphin lover - VISIT PAHIA. So, make a choice .. not possible to cover both de ... I spent two weeks covering both North and South Islands and felt there wasnt enuff time ..... would ve loved to stay longer in certain locations


    have fun ! Oh... do read the NZ guide books ..they are often helpful if u still insist on self-drive

  13. #13

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by pixie_genie View Post
    Megaweb, thanks for your many helpful links! I'm thinking of following this particular itinerary if we do self-drive. http://www.newzealand.com/travel/get...ristchurch.cfm Any comments? Once we fix the itinerary, still have to book air tickets, car rental and accomodation (phew!). If you have good accomodation in each pitstop to recommend, do let me know!
    See my NZ trip route at http://megaweb.clubsnap.org/nz%20copy.jpg.
    Mark with X is the place where my wife and I stayed. We went there during mid April 2004.

    You can see my NZ photos at
    http://megaweb.clubsnap.org/nz/
    http://megaweb.clubsnap.org/nz/pano

    I would recommend to visit the Eastern route like Kaikoura, Christchurch, Lake Tekapo, Dunedin, Queentown, Te Anau and Milford Sound. These places are more scenic than western route like Fox Glacier, Greymouth, Hammer Spring.

    As for accomodation, most of them are ok. You can book them one day before. As for meal, try to do self cooking as their fresh food from supermarket is cheap and fresh. My wife and I had salmon sashimi almost everyday
    Last edited by megaweb; 20th May 2009 at 07:41 PM.
    See my Photo Gallery at the Clubsnap

  14. #14

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    you should post this in the travel forums.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Megaweb, your route is almost total opposite of what I did. My route and photos are in flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/alpc2/sets/72157618060076277/.

    Frankly, it depends on your view. If you go by tour, you might have to spend quite a fair bit which you might be able to save if you self-drive. There should be no issue of driving in NZ, assuming you have been driving in Singapore, as they are driving on the same side of the road, except that they have a little more road signs than us - one very familiar one by the end of my trip was the 1 way (give way) bridge sign!!!

    One feature I find very useful is the google map - if you get have a starting and ending locations, you can get directions and also the estimated distance. I did that... but then I also rented the GPS, so in the end, I followed the GPS. I had 2 long drives of over 500km in my trip, which take the entire day. Then again most of them were almost entire day, but with lots of stop in between. Therefore, planning is very important.

    It would be good if you have at least 2 drivers in the group. This is what I learn on this trip as I was there for a work-holiday, so I was travelling all over the South Island on my own and driving of over 500km is not an easy thing. Furthermore, think of the amount of driving you will do for the entire trip. I was fortunate enough that I had friends over in South Island, and while I was with them, I did not have to drive. From day 6 to Day 12 (with reference to my route) I was not the driver, and just those 8 days of driving comes up to around 2700km. Yes, it's madness, but then.. Well, I want to travel as much as I can, taking in as much as I can. And yet... I still have to head back there as I have not finish what I wanted to see there - Like missing out on Heli-hike of the glacier due to lousy weather!!!

    For tour groups, you will not need to drive, but you will still be on the road for that long hours, and you can't spend more time in areas that you want to, like if I was in a tour group, I would not have gone to Gore Bay, Clay Cliffs, Elephant Rocks, etc. So, it really depends on what you like to do. Secondly, since you do have young children, you have to consider how well they travel, and whether you have anything to keep their interest while on the journey. My friend has 2 young kids, a 4 year old and a 1 and half year old and surprisingly they did pretty well on the journey, but we were in a mpv, and my friend had ensure they got stuff that they can do in the car. She also packed fruits and sandwiches and stuff to ensure they were fed or able to have some snack as well.

    Since it will be year end, you still have plenty of time and to make your decisions - I had only 2 - 3 weeks to string this trip up. So, I basically read the travel books like lonely planet and google a lot for those week to ensure I have route to follow. I had also done the same thing, asking for advice here!!!

    And since you have only 7 - 10 days, just take 1 island and leave the other for another trip. In fact, you might need another few 7 - 10 days in the same island to cover other areas!!!
    Last edited by Alpc; 20th May 2009 at 10:46 PM.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Agree with Alpc, you can use google map at http://maps.google.com/ and search for any place in NZ e.g. NZ dunedin. You can drag the "man" icon ( just above the scale bar ) onto the map and it will zoom into the map in Virtual Realistic mode where you can see the surrounding of the actual place.
    See my Photo Gallery at the Clubsnap

  17. #17

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    May I know from which company you rented the car? I'm also going end of this year for 18 days.

    TIA.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpc View Post
    Megaweb, your route is almost total opposite of what I did. My route and photos are in flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/alpc2/sets/72157618060076277/.
    Hi Alpc, May I know how you created your route plan? How did you put the route info with colors at the right hand side of your map?

    Thanks.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Planning for a NZ self-drive holiday, need advice!

    Hi Alpc and Megaweb, your NZ pics are breathtaking! Thanks once again for the very very useful and generous info on self-driving in NZ. It's starting to get a lil overwhelming now with so many options and itinerary to choose from. But everyone's tips here are good foundation to work from.

    Btw, night86mare are there any local travel forums? I'm not aware of any....

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