Should you be contemplating a New Zealand, here are some suggestions:
There is no place that we went that we regretted going to and many places where we wish that we had stayed longer…
Russell/Bay of Islands….instead of two nights, stay four nights or five nights (to allow time to go to Cape Reinga at the northern tip)- Calvert Cottage at Ounuwhao Lodge is lovely…the priciest place we stayed at $340 per night for the four of us, but it was a fully equipped cottage, very spacious, with a lovely host who was most helpful.
Coromandel – stay four nights instead of two. We did not proceed south along the southeast coast of the North Island. It has much to offer.
Rotorua – stay outside of town as we did to avoid the sulphur smell…stay two nights rather than one if you want to visit the Hobbit Village just north of Rotorua
Tongariro – definitely stay at the Fergusson Motel, with all the amenities of the Chateau Tongariro…a great deal ($175/night for the four of us)….let them know ahead of time if you want to book the barbecue…stay at least three nights, not one, there are many walks and we wish we had done the Tongariro Crossing…11 miles
Wellington- we did not stay here, but if you want to visit the capital and museums and art galleries, spend a couple of nights here
Motueka – we stayed here four nights and that was about right for what we wanted to do. Had we stayed longer we would have paid a visit to Golden Bay. If we had wanted to do the whole Abel Tasman trek we would have had to stay longer. We stayed at the well equipped Avalon Motel, very helpful host, close to shopping. Would have been nice to find a place on the water but it would definitely have been pricier.
Wanaka – two or three nights rather than one- the smallest two bedroom apt we stayed in but right across the street from the park and Lake Wanaka, very friendly host (she was actually the niece of the owner who was filling in that week)- Wanaka View Motel
Queenstown – everyone says we should have spent a couple of nights here…we did not, but we certainly recommend a visit to Arrowtown, just north of Queenstown
Te Anau,- we stayed two nights…four would have been better. This would have given opportunities for more walks and/ or kayaking on the lake. Beware the sandflies…they liked Jim and Kate more than us; so, a good idea to travel with someone who has blood that is tastier for sandflies. These little beasts are most prevalent on the west coast of the South Island.
Stewart Island – 3 nights was good for us, but there are plenty of walking opportunities if you wanted to stay longer….and you could not beat the accommodation we had – The Bathing Beachhouse on Halfmoon Bay – $200 per night for the four of us…a beautiful view, well equipped, colourful birds on the deck…and on our shoulders. Sit outside the library for a fast free internet connection.
Dunedin – stay three or four nights instead of one and possibly a night in The Catlins en route there from Stewart Island
Oamaru is well worth a visit…it could be another night’s stop
We did not go into Christchurch as it has not yet recovered from the earthquake but there are trips out from there, by train, to Mount Cook….you could also drive there from Sublime Wines – again a lovely spot with wonderful hosts!
Many have told us we should have visited Kaikoura for the marine life…whales, dolphins, seals…we saw all of these elsewhere on our trip, but this place was much recommended.
Many recommend the wine regions…Marlborough or around Napier…we did not do either as we are from Niagara where we have visited many vineyards, and we did stay at a vineyard…Sublime Wines.
Auckland – you may have noticed that ours was not a city tour, but Auckland is an interesting city to visit. As well as a fine art gallery, museum, aquarium, there are many boating tours and hikes available.
With the above additions in mind, you would have to stay in New Zealand 12 to 20 nights more than the month that we were there. Much depends on how much time you want to be there. I think six weeks would be good, probably more time to relax than we had. We did our relaxing in Hawaii, sort of, and have been pretty much out of it these past twenty four hours or more.
Food is expensive. We made a point of buying a soft bag cooler and two ice packs upon arrival and we made most of our meals including picnic lunches, although we also ate out about four or five times. Activities are expensive, but we chose to spend more money on the activities rather than eating out or spending extra on accommodations.
We tried a variety of accommodations with a variety of prices and were happy with all lodgings, certainly some were superb! In almost all cases we chose locations that allowed for cooking, had a fridge and possibly laundry facilities. Travelling as a foursome made staying in some of those superb locations more affordable. We travelled light, thinking we would rinse things out at night and hang things to dry overnight. Clothes do not dry overnight….generally the environment is humid. Best to use a dryer and bring an extra couple of t-shirts. Roll your clothes …they take up much less room in the suitcase.