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Old 12-22-2015, 10:45 AM   #1
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New Zealand bound

My wife and I are going to New Zealand South Island for 2 weeks. We will be renting a van (the only way to see it!). Has anyone been there and have any recommendations on must sees? We are looking for hikes, kayaking, anything outdoors.

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Old 12-22-2015, 12:22 PM   #2
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My parents did the camper van thing in New Zealand with us just over 40 years ago. We lived in NZ for two years between 1972 and 1974. Two of the most favorite years of my life. The South Island trip started at the north and went all around. I think it was about a month.

Two weeks in just the south island will only give you a flavor of what is there. Picton, Marlborough Sound, southern Alps, Queensland, Milford Sound, Christchurch, Canterbury Plains, Invercargill/Stewart Island if you get that far south. The beaches, the mountains, the rivers, rain forests, Maori culture, the people. It is all exceptional except the food!! If you fish, then both fresh and salt water varieties make for great BBQ.

Looking forward to your trip report!


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Old 12-22-2015, 01:21 PM   #3
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I spent 3 weeks in a van going from the north island to the south island!! BEST TIME OF MY LIFE.

I'm a big rock climber, so I had to spend a day ice climbing. I used this company.

Mt. Cook has some great hikes. Definatly do the Mueller Hut and MT Ollivier

When I think of more Ill add. But these are a good start. Don't forget your trekking poles!
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Old 12-22-2015, 02:02 PM   #4
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I'm envious. New Zealand is on my bucket list...motorcycle or van
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Old 12-26-2015, 07:54 PM   #5
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I did a month in New Zealand in 2000. It has been my favorite trip so far. There is so much to see and do if you like the outdoors. I did the Kiwi Express and really enjoyed it but will rent a camper next time I'm down there.

From memory I remember really enjoying the Milford Sound area and the Milford Track hike was likely the best thing I did on the trip. Skydiving in the Queenstown area was stunning and glacier hiking near Mt. Cook was great. Kayaking the Abel Tasman area was great but I only did a day there.

There is so much to see and do there you won't want to come home.
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Old 12-29-2015, 03:34 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input all.

No moto touring, just a van, I don't want to make the KTM too jealous. There are a couple dirt bike rental/guide services that look interesting though. About $200 for the day doesn't seem all that crazy to break someone else's dirtbike and have them take you on some gnarly trails.

Right now we're planning on:
Christchurch>Arthur Pass>Fox Glacier>Haast Pass>Queenstown>Milford Sound>Fiordland>Mt Cook>Christchurch.

About 24 hours of total drive time over 2 weeks, so should have plenty of time to explore. The Dept of Natural Resources looks like a combo of our Forest Service and BLM, it looks like they've built some amazing camp sites and trails.

Again, the more info the better! Thanks again though.

One more thing I've found is that a camper with a porta-potty is really expensive. You can't bushwhack camp without one per the DNR website which is very understandable. So we're going campsites the whole way, but without a dog that should be pretty easy.
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Old 12-31-2015, 07:25 AM   #7
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I was there in 2002 and in 2007. My experience was that the food was imaginative, fresh, and skillfully prepared. Only one experience with hum-drum food.

The northland, especially the Bay of Islands is one of the most beautiful places I've been. Intensely green land and turquoise sea. Oysters are farmed in the bays and are the freshest I've ever tasted.

Keep in mind that outside of Auckland New Zealand is very small town. They tend to roll up the sidewalks around 5 or 6 pm. Get everything you need before then. Also check out the ferry rules if you want to take your van on both islands. For rental cars one drops off a north island car in Wellington, and picks up a new car for the south island upon arrival. Obey speed limits. Be watchful for natives that don't obey speed limits. I saw some pretty awful crashes.

If you want to hike one of the famous treks (Routeburn Track, Milford Track for example) you will need to get reservations for the huts. Reservations open six months in advance of the season and go quickly. Research early and be prepared to act. The Tongariro Alpine crossing on the north island is also a great hike.

A trip to Milford Sound or Dusky Sound is not to be missed. The drive into Milford Sound is through park land and is beautiful. Kayaking in Abel Tasman National park is great. Arthur's Pass is nice if you have lots of time. If time is limited take a pass on it. Definitely drive up to Mount Cook. The drive alone is worth it.

Spend a couple of days in Queenstown. There is a lot to do.

Christmas through the end of February is the peak vacation season for natives. Keep that in mind.
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Old 10-10-2016, 10:51 AM   #8
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Did you ever take this trip?
If so, can you give a trip report?
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Old 10-12-2016, 12:53 AM   #9
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New Zealand

We had a camper van for 2 weeks a few years ago. We drove north from Auckland to Bay of Islands and Kerikeri and then south to Lake Taupo. Two weeks for the north half of the North Island was not enough. You find out quickly that you don't cover as much land as you expect. Roads are narrow and twisty. Commercial campgrounds are cheap and amazing. They have fully equipped kitchens with stove, refer, and boiling water on the wall for tea. Everybody leaves their leftovers and condiments in the refer for anybody that needs them. Try that here. You can try their Returning Servicemans Clubs for dinner. You can always find a member sponsor. He will be in the bar. Have fun
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Old 10-12-2016, 10:37 AM   #10
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Great advice! We have two kiddos and a decent set up with our Sportsmobile (WiLdABEAST) to explore Alaska with. This February we plan on escaping the darkness and taking ~3 weeks to explore New Zealand. Is there anyone else out there in Forum land who has recommendations for which island, van rental companies, favorite destinations?

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