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Thread: Self Drive in NZ

  1. #21
    Moderator ed9119's Avatar
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    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    thanks Peter......... this is useful .... thanks for the links too

    for those of you who have rented a car or a motorhome...... which are the ones that are reliable ?
    Last edited by ed9119; 3rd March 2010 at 05:31 PM.
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  2. #22

    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ed9119 View Post
    thanks Peter......... this is useful .... thanks for the links too

    for those of you who have rented a car or a motorhome...... which are the ones that are reliable ?
    The big ones are everywhere - Avis, Budget & Hertz. I used GO, which uses older cars.

    IMO, if you can afford it, get a better car, there are many smaller companies but the cars are older and driving should be fun.

    I would caution against caravans, esp if you are going cross country, the winds are strong and the vans can topple over.

    Also you may not want to be that close to the others in a van - when you move, go to pee, everyone is affected by the shaking and the noise.

    Figure out if you really wish to be so close to your travel mates first.
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  3. #23
    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    I rented from Go-rental cars, a smaller company. Didn give any issues ( so far )

    ed9119 : Actually campervans are pretty popular and my seasoned aussie / NZ travelling friends actually recommend them instead. pros and cons, and it has its seperate things to look out for like gas, electricity, dirty/clean water levels, waste disposal etc ... but i think the idea of camping overnight a nice lake is a whole new different experience. It is actually cheaper on the whole ( since u can choose not to check into the more expensive motels / hotels ) as u can choose to bunk at the camper van sites.

    kcevangelion : i booked mine a month in advance, and got only the 1030 am slot ( mainly because the skies are still pretty bright ard 9pm in summer as the sun has just setted ). U have to check back with them again the day before the trip to ask regarding weather ( u can given them a call ) I am not sure of earlier slots other than the 1030am for summer though, but there are later slots. Again i recommend staying at Lake Tekapo for convenience if u r doing star watching that day. Free parking along the road next to all the shops and restaurants and Earth&Sky centre in Lake Tekapo, the bus will take the members up Mt John. Very strict light discipline there, the light from the dslr LCD can be blinding

    ryan

  4. #24

    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    I don't think there are many sites where a campervan can park next to a lake... its an illusion... these days you need permits and you need to hook up for water, power etc...

    Sure, you can camp in many places, but you can also pitch a tent and drive about in a SUV, which is what I did in USA.

    Cheers
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  5. #25
    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    Quote Originally Posted by petetherock View Post
    I don't think there are many sites where a campervan can park next to a lake... its an illusion... these days you need permits and you need to hook up for water, power etc...
    True. There are sites where there are clearly demarcated no campervans allowed. a vehicle with tent camping can be a good alternative. But looking from a perspective of a hotel stayer, there are places where camping would make one a happy camper! campervans are very popular, so book in advance.

    Roads : Very well maintained for such a large area, very impressive. but with longer distance, make sure u got fatigue in check. There are many windy mountain road stretches especially Milford drive ard Hommer tunnel, stretch betw Fox and Franz Josef, the ride back from Akaroa to Christchurch when u take the more scenic summit road drive etc. Wet road conditions are even more trecherous. Try not to do night driving, because most of the highways do not have street lights unless passing through the towns. The only significant bit of pitch dark driving I did was from tekapo - Mt Cook area, and driving from Dunedin to Moraeki boulder beach. But luckily those were easier drives. Lots of animals cross the roads , so do not recklessly swerve. I dunno how many birds and rabbits i hit though ( rabbits love to come out at night )

    Petrol : more expensive in the stations at touristy spots. For instance, Fox and Franz Josef charged almost 10 cents more per litre for their 91 unleaded. Check up the locations of petrol stations from the NZ AA website. some notorious places lack petrol stations along Milford drive so u have to top up at Te Anau for instance ( I suspect the defunct mobil station in Milford nxt to the car park at the restaurant / cafe might have some emergency fuel cause there was a sign board when i was there , but seriously dun do it ) . Most of the time u gotta do the pumping of petrol urself, which issin an issue. They have a unique obselete looking air pump that i have not seen locally ( yet ) The small company stations such as Challenge end early, the bigger companies such as BP, Shell, Caltex etc opens later

    ryan

  6. #26

    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    You are absolutely right about the petrol!
    I paid 20C more at Franz Josef! A few miles down the road to the towns, it was 20c less...

    Also some places close at 5pm or don't open on Sundays.

    NZ is also a place where there isn't much to do at night - good for couples but if you are travelling with friends, bring a card game!
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  7. #27

    Default Best pies in S Islands + food

    Most pies in NZ are great, some places bother to make their own and those at Arthur's pass are just fabulous!





    Anyone headed there should try them.

    The MacKenzie's shop in Lake Tekapo is also pretty nice, plus you get a great view of the lake.

    There is a stop along the way to Queenstown, where the Manuka Honey is cheap, if you want the therapeutic properties, go for UMF 20+.
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  8. #28

    Default Best treks

    http://www.smh.com.au/travel/travel-...0209-nows.html


    I did the Milford Trek - 55km in 5 days, rain, hail, snow and fantastic scenery... worth doing it.

    Choice tramps: New Zealand's top five hikes
    February 22, 2010
    Jaw-dropping ... walking the Milford Track.

    Special New Zealand feature
    Rachael Oakes-Ash puts on her tramping boots and names the best hiking trails in New Zealand.

    'Tramping' is the New Zealand term for trekking. 'Jandals' is the New Zealand term for thongs, but whatever you do, don't tramp in jandals. If you plan to tramp around New Zealand bring shoes with soles as hardy as the local folks.
    You're likely to cross volcanic craters and glacial rainforests or find yourself knee-deep in warm crystal tidal waters with white sand between the toes. All this while experiencing the country's famous micro climate system that can serve up four seasons in one day.
    Here are New Zealand's five best hikes for keen trampers.
    1. Hollyford Track sits in the Hollyford Valley which has been carved out by glaciers in the South Island of New Zealand. It is one of only two places in the world where rainforest meets glacial waters.
    The beauty of this walk is that you're not tramping en masse: the track is guided in small groups of no more than 16. Accommodation is in two intimate private lodges, one for each night of the trek.
    Expect to walk 17 kilometres on day one, around 14 on day two and around nine on day three, with easily marked trails and swinging bridges over wide river waters.
    A jet boat will appear to take trampers across a pristine lake and a helicopter flies trampers out on the last day with a spectacular ride into Milford Sound.
    A good walk for those who like their creature comforts, but don't expect abundant wildlife. The focus here is on the plant life as the possums have killed pretty much anything that breathes. The plus side is no snakes and plenty of native birds. See http://www.hollyfordtrack.com/
    2. The South Island's Milford Track is the most famous trek in New Zealand which means it can get crowded, though a crowd in this country could barely fill a hall in another.
    If you don't mind sharing the view, expect a walk that is both challenging and inspiring as guides lead trampers through world-renowned fjordlands with deep water lakes, jaw-dropping gorges and past spectacular waterfalls.
    The zig zag ascent through Mackinnon Pass on day three is the most demanding part of the trail, but the rewards are panoramic. Trampers spend an average of seven hours a day with three full days of tramping and four nights in the fiordland.
    Accommodation is in remote private lodges with both multi-shared or private rooms and all the mod cons including hot showers to warm bodies that have been exposed to the elements throughout the day.
    Blue skies may be preferred but Milford Track truly comes alive in inclement weather, when water cascades from sheer mountainsides - so bring a raincoat. See http://www.ultimatehikes.co.nz

    3. Tongariro Crossing in the heart of the North Island is a one-day trekking experience through the volcanic region of the Tongariro National Park. This is the place known as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings, a fitting title as parts of the 18.5km trek can be steep and the weather unpredictable; come prepared with appropriate attire, maps, communications and plenty of food and water.
    The track features ancient lava fields that climb to over 1900 metres and exposed ridges with views of surrounding dormant volcanoes out to Lake Taupo.
    Trampers also pass a series of turquoise blue crater lakes up to the summit of Mt Tongariro. If you are a confident trekker you can do this unguided, but if you prefer the added safety and historical insight of a guide then many guiding companies offer the one day trek, some with pre-dawn departures to watch the sunrise from the mountain. See http://www.tongarirocrossing.org.nz

    4. Queen Charlotte Track stretches 71 kilometres through the Marlborough Sounds in the north of the South Island, a region of emerald green warm waters in a series of coves, bays and inlets with bushland ridges.
    Trampers can do the trek with or without guide and water transport services can transport luggage from accommodation points along the way.
    Bed down in luxury lodges, B&Bs, camp sites, homestays and motels dotted throughout the sounds.
    Companies such as Tuatara Tours and Wilderness Guides offer multi-day all-inclusive experiences in the region, all you have to do is show up (and pay).
    Trampers can also kayak and swim the pristine waters, take a cruiser, yacht or speed boat, or discover some of the region's best vineyards at the gateway town of Picton.
    The walk itself is not steep (the highest point is 400 metres) but it is long and undulating so reasonable fitness is required. See http://www.qctrack.co.nz

    5. Abel Tasman Coast Track near Nelson on the South Island's northern coastline is popular, with good reason. The series of white sand beaches along the 51-kilometre track are some of New Zealand's finest, offering a variety of landscapes and lush green bushland. Over 200,000 trampers a year take their time hiking here, cooling off in the crystal waters and sunbathing between hiking bursts.
    The track can be done on foot and kayak in multi-day experiences or single day trips that take in sections of the track. Beachfront private lodges serving organic cuisine are available for the cashed up, while there is backpacking accommodation on moored boats and campsites and huts provided the Department of Conservation for the budget conscious.
    Last edited by petetherock; 4th March 2010 at 07:23 AM.
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  9. #29
    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best treks

    Quote Originally Posted by petetherock View Post
    I did the Milford Trek - 55km in 5 days, rain, hail, snow and fantastic scenery... worth doing it
    Ah Milford trek aka world's "greatest walk". I am envious. Do share with us the beauty of the place pete!

    I stayed in Milford Sound Lodge for a day to take the cruise, very scenic place, and sunrise over the Cledau river at the back of the lodge is lovely. Milford Sound Lodge is the ONLY accomodation that is nearest to viewing Mitre's peak ( at the end of Milford drive route ) u will need to book WAY in advance. Otherwise the rest of the so called milford / fiordland accomodations are situated before the 100+ km Milford drive. Remember to factor in time to stop along the way for the various scenic lookouts along Milford drive in case u r there to take the cruise - last boat ends at 4-5+ i think. We got a discount booking the boat cruise from milford sound lodge the day we reached.

    Drive another 1km or so from Milford Sound Lodge and will reach the Blue Duck Cafe and Restaurant. Cafe ends ard 4+ pm, while the Restaurant runs later till dinner. There are two car parks there, free parking. Thats pretty much the only place u can get warm cooked food if u did not bring own food, else there is a nice kitchen that u can share with other guests at milford sound lodge.

  10. #30

    Default Re: Best treks

    I did post my Milford Trek pics in my Travel shots in the landscape section. (EDIT - did not want to clog up this travel info thread with photos...)

    Cheers. Good trip.
    Last edited by petetherock; 4th March 2010 at 09:43 AM.
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  11. #31

    Default Re: Best treks

    Quote Originally Posted by giantcanopy View Post
    Ah Milford trek aka world's "greatest walk". I am envious. Do share with us the beauty of the place pete!

    I stayed in Milford Sound Lodge for a day to take the cruise, very scenic place, and sunrise over the Cledau river at the back of the lodge is lovely. Milford Sound Lodge is the ONLY accomodation that is nearest to viewing Mitre's peak ( at the end of Milford drive route ) u will need to book WAY in advance. Otherwise the rest of the so called milford / fiordland accomodations are situated before the 100+ km Milford drive. Remember to factor in time to stop along the way for the various scenic lookouts along Milford drive in case u r there to take the cruise - last boat ends at 4-5+ i think. We got a discount booking the boat cruise from milford sound lodge the day we reached.

    Drive another 1km or so from Milford Sound Lodge and will reach the Blue Duck Cafe and Restaurant. Cafe ends ard 4+ pm, while the Restaurant runs later till dinner. There are two car parks there, free parking. Thats pretty much the only place u can get warm cooked food if u did not bring own food, else there is a nice kitchen that u can share with other guests at milford sound lodge.
    ryan: I have booked Milford Sound Lodge too, but we booked the backpackers room, on budget
    ya, we enjoyed discount too for the cruise (Mitre Peak cruise, smaller boat) as we are staying at Milford Sound Lodge. How's the weather there? I just hope that it won't rain on our cruise day (24 March). or else we can't take photos! How long did you take to drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound? We set aside 3 hours for that journey. Hope tat's enough for some short walks and photo taking.

    Pete: Thanks for the pie recommendation! Will definitely try the Arthur Pass pie when we are there! by the way, the manuka honey shop, is on the way to Queenstown from Lake Tekapo or from Te Anau?

    Anyone tried the Crown Range Road from Queenstown to Wanaka? We plan to go this route, but dunno how the road condition is. Other than winding and going up and down, it should be safe right

    KC
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  12. #32

    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    Quote Originally Posted by giantcanopy View Post
    Got my tickets booked. Gotten the Qantas ones gotta transit at Australia due to last min leave issues

    ryan
    We couldn't get the direct flight promotion by SQ, so we purchased Emirates tickets to Melbourne, staying 1 night in Melbourne, then by Jetstar from Melbourne to Christchurch.

    Wondering if we can bring vacuum-packed smoked salmon to Melbourne (still need to fly back to Melbourne before going back SG)? We are going to Salmon farm nearby Lake Tekapo, the smoked salmon should be very fresh!

    KC
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  13. #33
    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best treks

    Quote Originally Posted by kcevangelion View Post
    ryan: I have booked Milford Sound Lodge too, but we booked the backpackers room, on budget
    ya, we enjoyed discount too for the cruise (Mitre Peak cruise, smaller boat) as we are staying at Milford Sound Lodge. How's the weather there? I just hope that it won't rain on our cruise day (24 March). or else we can't take photos! How long did you take to drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound? We set aside 3 hours for that journey. Hope tat's enough for some short walks and photo taking.
    It rains very often in Milford Sound. But when it rains, the waterfalls are spectacular. We took more than 4 hrs , mainly because we stopped frequently

    ryan

  14. #34
    Moderator ed9119's Avatar
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    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    QUOTE
    True. There are sites where there are clearly demarcated no campervans allowed. a vehicle with tent camping can be a good alternative. But looking from a perspective of a hotel stayer, there are places where camping would make one a happy camper! campervans are very popular, so book in advance.

    Roads : Very well maintained for such a large area, very impressive. but with longer distance, make sure u got fatigue in check. There are many windy mountain road stretches especially Milford drive ard Hommer tunnel, stretch betw Fox and Franz Josef, the ride back from Akaroa to Christchurch when u take the more scenic summit road drive etc. Wet road conditions are even more trecherous. Try not to do night driving, because most of the highways do not have street lights unless passing through the towns. The only significant bit of pitch dark driving I did was from tekapo - Mt Cook area, and driving from Dunedin to Moraeki boulder beach. But luckily those were easier drives. Lots of animals cross the roads , so do not recklessly swerve. I dunno how many birds and rabbits i hit though ( rabbits love to come out at night )

    Petrol : more expensive in the stations at touristy spots. For instance, Fox and Franz Josef charged almost 10 cents more per litre for their 91 unleaded. Check up the locations of petrol stations from the NZ AA website. some notorious places lack petrol stations along Milford drive so u have to top up at Te Anau for instance ( I suspect the defunct mobil station in Milford nxt to the car park at the restaurant / cafe might have some emergency fuel cause there was a sign board when i was there , but seriously dun do it ) . Most of the time u gotta do the pumping of petrol urself, which issin an issue. They have a unique obselete looking air pump that i have not seen locally ( yet ) The small company stations such as Challenge end early, the bigger companies such as BP, Shell, Caltex etc opens later

    ryan[/QUOTE]


    thanks for advise...... we were thinking of getting a 6 pax motorhome (for 4adults and 2 kids) for a 12 day driving tour of the south island ...... just want to be together and stop where we want instead of getting 2 cars...... just don't want to cram everyone into ONE car

    easier to do all the camera battery charging , downloading and keep laptop running while the kids have room to run around and play while getting from one place to another

    how do u guys get wireless internet in NZ?

    wireless internet suggestions in NZ

    another wireless suggestion in NZ

    http://www.auswireless.net/
    June/July is our target
    Last edited by ed9119; 4th March 2010 at 06:44 PM.
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  15. #35

    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ed9119 View Post
    thanks for advise...... we were thinking of getting a 6 pax motorhome (for 4adults and 2 kids) for a 12 day driving tour of the south island ...... just want to be together and stop where we want instead of getting 2 cars...... just don't want to cram everyone into ONE car

    easier to do all charging and keep laptop running while the kids have room to run around and play while getting from one place to another
    June/July is our target

    You want to fit 6 pax into a campervan? Just consider whether you would want people to live in a space less than a HDB hall bro...

    BTW June / July is cold, you can check the weather online, but if you are the typical Singaporean, you will feel the weather. And the day is shorter, I suggest you bring lots of stuff to keep yourself occupied at night, esp if you are really using the campervan.
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  16. #36

    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    Honey shop is on the road from Lake Tekapo.

    As for rain at Milford Sound, you really need to do some homework and pack for the weather. There is 1000mm of rain annually and more than 250 days of rain. Expect daily showers, and heavy ones, especially if you are out in the forests.

    When we are talking about rain, it really pours, so be prepared rather than hope for good weather, you will enjoy your holiday better.

    During my Milford Trek hike, they had to heli-vac us to the next lodge, as the water levels were rising too quickly, reminds me of my Guards unit, free chopper ride.... nice...

    This is the kind of weather we hiked in:



    Of course it means huge waterfalls:
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  17. #37

    Default Re: Best pies in S Islands + food

    Quote Originally Posted by petetherock View Post
    Most pies in NZ are great, some places bother to make their own and those at Arthur's pass are just fabulous!





    Anyone headed there should try them.

    The MacKenzie's shop in Lake Tekapo is also pretty nice, plus you get a great view of the lake.

    There is a stop along the way to Queenstown, where the Manuka Honey is cheap, if you want the therapeutic properties, go for UMF 20+.

    I've had the exact same pie from there..its very nice..
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  18. #38
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    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    Nice !!! I'm going for "Self-drive" south island this Apr...wooohooo..can't wait..
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  19. #39
    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Self Drive in NZ

    Quote Originally Posted by ed9119 View Post
    how do u guys get wireless internet in NZ?
    I am not sure how u would be able to get wireless internet. I got mine from the places i stayed ( hotels / apartments, which all needed extra charges ) There are some areas like Fox Glacier township where anywhere within the area, there is a regional internet service which works somewhat like Wireless@SG locally except u need to pay with credit card during registration the moment u try to log onto it.

    I am using M1 vodafone mobile surf, somehow i cannot switch to NZ vodafone network to surf. maybe due to tech incompetence on my part.

    Here is the NZ vodafone surf, maybe the open term surf might for a month be an alternative but might have to call them first. http://www.vodafone.co.nz/mobile-dat...band-plans.jsp. Wifi / internet is not cheap in most of the places i went. charges could be a few dollars for every 20 min etc. horrid.

    ryan

  20. #40

    Default Re: Best pies in S Islands + food

    Quote Originally Posted by aruns View Post
    I've had the exact same pie from there..its very nice..
    Me too!

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