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Forums » New Zealand » One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

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4wornpassports

One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

by 4wornpassports »

Hi, we are a family of 4 planning to spend the month of January in NZ.  Our daughters will be 14 and 12 at the time of travel.  We are trying to minimize 1 nighters and travel at a fairly relaxed place.  Our month in NZ is part of an overall 5 month RTW trip, so we need to factor in some down time so our girls can squeeze in homeschool stuff.  Here's a draft of our itinerary.  I would LOVE some feedback/advice.  Thank you!!

Queenstown-3 nights (Gondola, luge, jetboat)

Dunedin-3 nights (Cadbury factory, yellow-eyed penguins, brewery)

Te Anau-2 nights (glow worm caves, Milford Sound)

Wanaka-2 nights (Puzzling World, cinema, Rob Roy hike or canyoning)

Fox Glacier-2 nights (hike glacier)

Punakaiki-1 night

Abel Tasman/Nelson/Kaiteriteri-3 nights 

Weillington-2 nights (ferry from Picton, Te Papa museum)

Taupo/Turangi-2 nights (Tongariro Crossing hike)

Rotorua-2 nights (Huka Falls, Waiotapu, Zorb, Maori dinner)

Coromandel/Hahei-3 nights (via Matamata for Hobbiton stuff, Cathedral Cove, hot water beach)

Auckland-1 night

***Questions:

1.  Does Bay of Islands offer something differ from Coromandel?  

2.  Is Dunedin worth the drive from Q'Town?

3.  Where would be a good place to work in a farm stay?

4.  Do we need to pre-book for January since it is peak season, or can we wing it?  Our lodging budget is ~$150USD/night.

 

 

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RE: One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

by /bio/passarinho9 »

 

Yes, the Bay of Islands/Northlands is different from Coromandel, but it would not be worth your time to go there because it would take you more than 3.5 hours to get there, and then you would have to drive 3.5 hours or more to get back to Auckland. It would be out of the way. Don't get me wrong, I love it up there, it's a semi-tropical, laid back area of mainly coastal villages (we considered moving there).

 

However, for your purposes, it is similar enough to coastal Coromandel, that visiting one of these regions would serve. Visiting the Coromandel would not require any backtracking.The biggest kauri tree, Tane Mahuta, is in the Bay of Islands, but if you have ever seen redwood trees you might not be impressed with the giant Kauri anyhow. 

vhttp://www.newzealand.com/int/waipoua-forest/

 

By the way, you can see redwood trees, which are native to California, Oregon and China, around New Zealand, such as in Dunedin, Queenstown, Picton and Rotorua. Many exotic species are perfectly at home in New Zealand, including Pacific Salmon, Monterey Cypress trees, and many animals and plants from other parts of the world that are considered pests here. 

http://www.newzealand.com/int/waipoua-forest/

 

The Coromandel has a famed hot water beach:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_Water_Beach

 

You can research more about the two regions here:

http://www.doc.govt.nz/by-region/northland/

http://www.doc.govt.nz/by-region/coromandel/

http://www.northlandnz.com

http://www.thecoromandel.com

http://www.newzealand.com/us/destinations/

 

Is Dunedin worth a drive from Queenstown? I am not sure of your routing. Will you be driving to Dunedin and then back to Queenstown? Or continuing up to Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapo?

 

You answered your own question in part. It is home to Speight's Brewery and the Cadbury Chocolate Factory. When the weather is fine in Dunedin, it is absolutely beautiful. Walk down to Tunnel Beach (a must), go to St. Clair Beach (in summer its saltwater swimming pool is open, as well), explore city sights and the magnificent Otago Peninsula. City sights include the Railway Station, where you can catch a tourist train or attend a great farmers' market on Saturday mornings; the Toitu Settlers Museum (which is next to the Railway Station), the Otago Museum, the City Art Gallery, and the Botanical Garden (the country's oldest and among its largest, and home to a great aviary--the view from the Mediterranean Garden is one of the city's best). Apart from the Otago Museum and the Botanical Garden, all of these sights are blocks from the Octagon (the lively center of town). 

http://www.newzealand.com/int/article/tunnel-beach/

http://www.newzealand.com/uk/feature/st-clair-beach/

http://www.dunedin.nz.com/railway-station.aspx

http://www.dunedin.nz.com/railway-station.aspx

 

Dunedin is considered the "Wildlife Capital of New Zealand."  In summer you can easily see several endangered native species on the Otago Peninsula: the Northern Royal Albatross, the Yellow Eyed Penguin, and the NZ Hookers Sea Lion, as well as many non-endangered species, such as Little Blue Penguins, Shags, Herons, Fur Seals, Royal Spoonbills, and so on. 

 

I recommend you stay at least two nights on the Otago Peninsula, where you can do many walks: down to Sandfly Bay, Allen's Beach, Lover's Leap and the Chasm, and do some scenic drives, such as the drive along Hooper's Inlet, which is full of birds. Drive into the Peninsula on Highcliff Road (the high road) drive out of the Peninsula on Portobello Road (the road that runs along the harbor). On the Otago Peninsula, I highly recommend a trip to Penguin Place to see the rare Yellow Eyed Penguins, but go on the last tour of the day, as the penguins come in during the late afternoon. You can also see YEPs for free on many beaches on the Otago Peninsula, the Catline, Moeraki, and Oamaru, but it would be hit and miss, plus the talk at Penguin Place is informative. You might also get to visit their penguin hospital, which may be caring for other types of wild penguins, such as Fiordland Crested and Snares. I also strongly recommend a visit to Pilot's Beach at Taiaroa Head, not too far from Penguin Place. You can see up to 200 Little Blue Penguins swim onto the beach. They start coming in as the last light is on the horizon, so you don't need to be out at Pilot's Beach until after 7:30 p.m. It's a fantastic experience! You stand on a platform, which has small lights, so that you have no trouble seeing the penguins. There is an admission fee,

 

Penguin Place also offers farm stay accommodation. I think it is pretty basic, but the setting is great. I live nearby so I have never had a reason to stay there, but if I were visiting the area and on a budget, I would consider it.

http://www.penguinplace.co.nz/lodge/

 

Other places that offer reasonably priced accommodation on the Otago Peninsula are:

A family stable room at Larnach Castle:

https://www.thebookingbutton.com.au/reservations/larnachdirect/8413?locale=en

The Portobello Motel:

http://www.portobellomotels.com/item/rooms/

There are a lot of other choices:

http://www.otago-peninsula.co.nz/accommodation/selfcontainedotagopeninsula.html

http://www.otago-peninsula.co.nz/accommodation/motelsotagopeninsula.html

http://www.otago-peninsula.co.nz/accommodation/farmstay.html

 

The Monarch Wildlife Cruise is fun. You might be interested in Elm Wildlife Tour or Nature's Wonders.

http://www.otago-peninsula.co.nz/tours-cruises.html

www.elmwildlifetours.co.nz

 

The other side of the harbor, the West Harbor, is also worth visiting. You could drive out past Port Chalmers to Aramoana, a favorite area for the locals, In summer, the mole here is home to an enormous White Fronted Tern colony. Fur seals are also commonly seen. Orokunui Ecosanctuary is also on this side of the harbor. 

http://www.dunedinnz.com/visit/see-and-do/beaches/Aramoana-beach

http://www.orokonui.org.nz

 

You might want to spend one night in Dunedin's city center. I recommend staying in St. Clair or St. Kilda, which are a few miles from the Octagon. The downtown area (meaning the commercial area close to the Octagon) may too busy for you, especially when cruise ships are in town. But it is convenient to major city sights. 

 

I recommend you drive from Te Anau to the the Catlins by way of Gore, spend a night or two in the Catlins and then drive up to Dunedin. This is called the "Southern Scenic Route." 

http://www.southernscenicroute.co.nz

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Catlins

http://www.catlins.org.nz

http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/otago/coastal-otago/

 

The Catlins are beautiful, and a great spot for viewing wildlife. I would stay in Porpoise Bay. You can get a vacation rental there, where you can just walk down to the beach to see the endangered Hector's Dolphins, or walk around the corner to Curio Bay to see the petrified trees and the Yellow Eyed Penguins. Try to visit Cathedral Caves while in the Catlins, You can only visit at low tide. It is similar to Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel, only better.. Another must in the Caltins is Nugget Point Lighthouse. What a view! During the late afternoon, the YEP come in a adjacent Roaring Bay. There are also waterfalls (Purakaunui is small but photogenic), forest hikes, and beaches with lighthouses and endangered NZ Hooker's sea lions. 

 

From Dunedin, head north to Moeraki (penguins at Katiki lighthouse, boulders at Moeraki Beach, cute village), then to Oamaru (more penguins, beautifully restored Victorian centre) then head inland through the Waitaki Valley to Omarama and then from here return to Wanaka or Queenstown, or head north to Mt. Cook Village and Lake Tekapo, Christchurch, Kaikoura, up to Picton then over to Wellington. There are some key fossil sites in the Waitaki Valley and many interesting geological formations, such as the Elephant Rocks.

http://www.vanishedworld.co.nz

http://www.vanishedworld.co.nz/elephant.htm

 

Yes, you will have to book ahead for January, as this coincides with school summer holidays. New Zealand families will also be traveling, staying in family accommodations. This is also peak tourist season. Check cancellation policies before booking. It is best to book places that allow cancellations up to 24 to 48 hours prior to your stay. I have no problem booking and paying for accommodation months in advance as long as I can cancel a few days before, if I cannot make it.

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4wornpassports

RE: One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

by 4wornpassports »

 

Passarinho9,

Thank you for the FANTASTIC, helpful feedback.  I really appreciate it!!  You've defiinitely sold me on doing Dunedin/Otago Peninsula vs. BOI.  I think what you have described offers us some opportunities that are unique to other experiences we've had.  I will definitely check out the places and activities that you've suggested.  So does this itinerary make sense?  We are flying into QTown and flying out of Auckland, so I would love any feedback you can offer on the order of stops.

*Is there a different order that makes more sense?  

*Also, if we were going to squeeze in a farm stay, is there a logical place in the itinerary to insert it?  

*Are we allotting the appropriate amount of time per stop?

Thank you again!!

 

Queenstown-3 nights (Gondola, luge, jetboat)

Dunedin-1 night (Cadbury factory, yellow-eyed penguins, brewery)

Otago Peninsula-2 nights (PenguinPlace)

Catlins-1 night

Te Anau-2 nights (glow worm caves, Milford Sound)

Wanaka-2 nights (Puzzling World, cinema, Rob Roy hike or canyoning)

Fox Glacier-2 nights (hike glacier)

Punakaiki-1 night

Abel Tasman/Nelson/Kaiteriteri-3 nights 

Weillington-2 nights (ferry from Picton, Te Papa museum)

Taupo/Turangi-2 nights (Tongariro Crossing hike)

Rotorua-2 nights (Huka Falls, Waiotapu, Zorb, Maori dinner)

Coromandel/Hahei-3 nights (via Matamata for Hobbiton stuff, Cathedral Cove, hot water beach)

Auckland-1 night



 

Posted by Passarinho9[/QUOTE]

 

 

 

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RE: One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

by /bio/passarinho9 »

I am counting 27 days in New Zealand. Is that correct? Could you add a couple of more nights?    I'm going to throw a lot of info at you--I hope I don't overwhelm you, but I figure you want all the info you can get from different sources. Forgive me for any typos and if this seems disorganized. I also included some links to  amateur You Tube videos. They can be funky, personal and you'll probably want to mute the music but they are a good source of what things look like. I didn't do a lot of hunting, you could probably find better ones.   I guess if it were my trip I would start in the north and work my way south and fly out of Queenstown, Dunedin or, if you can add two or three days, out of Christchurch, which would give you a chance to see Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapo on the way. Christchurch is serviced by many flights, many airlines. Not so many flights out of Dunedin. A fair number of flights out of Queenstown, but not as many as Christchurch. By the way, if you encounter clear weather, the flights from Queenstown to Auckland can be quite scenic as you fly over the mountains.    Or you could just make a detour from Dunedin to Mt. Cook, stay the night, and then drive back to Queenstown from there, where you can catch your flight out of New Zealand or back to Auckland.  But you would have to add a day to your itinerary or cut a day from somewhere.    The mountain views from Mt. Cook Village are great. You can take a short easy walk to an overlook for the Tasman Glacier Lake, a lake fed by the Tasman Glacier that often has icebergs in it. You also have the option of taking a boat trip or kayaking onto this small lake.  http://www.glacierexplorers.com/ Here's a link to an amateur video from You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHW3dH723so Here's a link to the DOC brochure: http://www.doc.govt.nz/Documents/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/canterbury/Aoraki/walks-in-aoraki-mt-cook-national-park.pdf   Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier are just on the other side of Mt. Cook but no roads pass through these high glacial mountains. Sir Edmuch Hillary based himself in Mt. Cook Village in order to prepare for his Mt. Everest climb. The drive from Dunedin to Mt. Cook takes 3.5 to 4 hours.  Mt. Cook back to Queenstown would be about 3.5 hours via Lindis Pass. There are limited accommodations in Mt. Cook Village.   The other attraction of Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapo is the night sky. This is an "international dark sky reserve" and one of the best places on earth to go stargazing, especially during a new moon or during a meteor shower--if the sky is clear. You don't have to take a tour, you can just look up, but I enjoyed seeing stars and planets from the observatory through a telescope (I took the cheapest tour, to Cowan Observatory, same stars and planets as from Mt John Observatory).. http://www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2014.html http://rasnz.org.nz/SolarSys/lunarphases.shtml http://earthandskynz.com/earthandsky/ Should you visit Lake Tekapo, a visit to Mt. John Observatory is a must for the daytime panorama. I found this amateur video on You Tube, so you can get a rough idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-u04gg2LR8   It would take around 5 hours to drive from Mt. Cook to Christchurch, but you could stop at Lake Tekapo for a break. It's only little more than an hour from Mt. Cook. These days there is not as much to do or see in Christchurch, and accommodations are limited, plus it continues to shake (sad, but true).   You'll be seeing a lot as it is, and if you make no changes to your itinerary whatsoever, you will still have an amazing time.    I would start in the north and work my way south because the weather can still be unsettled in January and become more settled from February to April/early May. The South Island gets the worst of such unsettled weather. Last January started off so badly, but by mid-January it improved. During January, you can get stunning warm sunny days, where nearly everyone is at the beach, or almost freezing wet days with gale force winds. In general, it tends to be warmer in January and February, but wetter in January than in February. Sounds confusing because it actually is! Personally, I do my traveling around the South Island in late March to early May: more settled weather, fewer tourists, and lower off-season rates, but it starts to cool off and the days grow shorter. You can even get a brief snowstorm in April or May. You, however, will be blessed with long days in January (and it will likely be warmish and sunny most of the time). It won't get dark until after 9:30 p.m. and you can make the most of this.  Here' are a few articles from the local newspaper dated from January 2013 to give you an idea of how changeable the weather can be during December through January (even though we call this "summer"): http://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/241766/summers-extreme-weather-continue http://www.odt.co.nz/regions/otago/242034/wild-weather-ease-after-night-havoc http://www.odt.co.nz/news/queenstown-lakes/242297/wet-weather-proves-too-much-some   I would check accommodation reviews on Trip Advisor first before booking, just so you can be as informed as possible. Farms stays would probably be listed under specialty accommodations, holiday rentals, or B&Bs. I just googled "farm stay Coromandel" and got this: http://www.tripadvisor.ca/VacationRentalReview-g255369-d3897592-Nightingale_Falls_Farm_Stay_Retreat-Thames_The_Coromandel_North_Island.html http://www.tripadvisor.ca/VacationRentals-g652405-Reviews-The_Coromandel_North_Island-Vacation_Rentals.html You'll find farm stays in most of the places you'll be visiting because New Zealand is mainly rural, lots of paddocks full of sheep (more than you can imagine), red deer, cows (increasingly so), and so on. Even in cities like Dunedin, you'll find farms stays as you move farther away from the city center.    I've booked holiday houses from this site: http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/   But for motels I usually use Wotif.com or Hotels.com or book directly with the acccommodation.   It is yet early enough that you can get the best deals for family accommodations. I don't know how accustomed your teens are to creature comforts, like cable TV and Internet connections. You have lots of time to shop around. For instance, I mentioned Penguin Place  as it offers basic budget accommodations in a super-convenient spot for seeing peninsula wildlife, which might be fine. However, your family might be more comfortable in other accommodations on the peninsula, even other farm stays, as the peninsula is mainly paddocks full of sheep. The small village of Portobello is also near the end of the peninsula, close to wildlife viewing, and offers less basic family accommodation. I would just like you to be aware of all your options. http://www.tripadvisor.com/LocalMaps-g255119-d301181-c2-Otago_Peninsula-Area.html http://www.lonelyplanet.com/new-zealand/dunedin-and-otago/otago-peninsula/sights/other/penguin-place-lodge http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/14/travel/penguin-viewing   Penguin Place is a working farm. Even if you do not stay there, you can still pay admission to see the penguins (part of your money goes to penguin conservation, including their penguin hospital). It has spent more than 20 years restoring the habitat of their farm to make it also habitable for penguins, in addtion to sheep. You view the penguins from concealed trenches, overlooks, and hides, so they are completely unaware of your presence. In January, you are likely to see a few of them quite close. I have seen penguin moms feeding their chicks here, penguins molting, mated penguins calling to each other, penguins swimming onto the beach far below. If you see them elsewhere on the peninsula beaches, you can't get too close to them without causing them stress (sadly, people breach this code of conduct all the time). But, if you are patient, you can see them for free on beaches along the Otago coast.    If you go to the Catlins before Dunedin, you'll probably will have seen YEPs already, particularly if you go to Curio Bay. I would try to spend two nights in the Catlins. There is much to see and you wouldn't want to rush it.    Take a look at this itinerary from the NZ Tourism Website. Much of the route would be like the one you have planned. The major change I would make to this is that instead of driving directly from Christchurch to Oamaru (or vice versa). I would detour inland from Christchurch to Lake Tekapo and Mt. Cook and then make my way toward Oamaru. Also, you have no plans to go to Kaikoura (whale watching, cold-water dolphin swimming, fur seal viewing), so pay no attention to this segment.  http://www.newzealand.com/travel/getting-to-around-nz/driving-routes/christchurch-milford-sound-christchurch.cfm   Here are some You Tubes about the Catlins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KQH3Y7rAUY Curio Bay penguins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk0oGozKf38 Porpoise Bay's  Hectors Dolphins (these are rare endangered dolphins that live only in New Zealand)--you'll want to mute the music here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCQYr3B_UYU   Here are the Blue Penguins coming in at night in Dunedin (I think this must be Pilot's Beach): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLORjHANo5o Here's another one, taken a few years ago, before they set up lights on Pilot's Beach--now you can see the penguins much better (this person obviously came down in winter and note that he incorrectly identified shags as albatrosses): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8b1ggQd4R6I   Yes, I think you are allotting enough time for each place. There is a lot to do in and around these places, not only action-packed activities and interesting attractions, but some stunning little drives and walks. Of course, you could probably spend weeks in many of these places and not get bored. And you could certainly add more places in between--if you had an extra month! At least, you'll be seeing enough to know where you'd like to spend more time on your next trip to NZ. 
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RE: One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

by /bio/passarinho9 »

I just saw this article about Dunedin's Speight's Brewery. It has undergone major renovations and will be ready by Xmas. I have been putting off touring it, but I can't wait to to see it now. I have eaten in its pub, of course (a little overpriced and so-so food, but a gorgeous interior). If you take the tour, you get a discount on lunch here, I think.

http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/263420/speights-was-old-dark-and-now-light-green

If you are into beer, there is also Monteith's Brewery in Greymouth, which you will pass through from Panakaiki to Fox Glacier. Monteith's is housed in a more modern building. 

My husband's favorite NZ beer is Moa imperial Stout, which is based in Blenheim:
http://www.graphedbeer.com/2012/08/a-visit-to-moa-brewing-company.html
 

You didn't mention wine tasting, so I guess you don't like wine much, but there are some Central Otago wineries you might want to visit because they are so beautiful (your kids won't be bored)), among these:

Rippon in Wanaka
http://www.rippon.co.nz/
Chard Farm about a half hour outside of Queenstown, across from NZ's original bungy jumping site:
http://www.chardfarm.co.nz/
http://www.bungy.co.nz/kawarau-bungy-centre/kawarau-bungy
Mt. Difficulty in Bannockburn (about an hour from Queenstown). It also has a restaurant, but this might be too out of your way and not worth it, if you don't care for wine.
http://www.mtdifficulty.co.nz/

 

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4wornpassports

RE: One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

by 4wornpassports »

I can't thank you enough for the wonderful advice, tips, links, etc, etc.!!!  I'm especially grateful for the Catlins advice because it wasn't even on my radar and now I'm so excited about it!  My husband loves beer and I love wine, but I figured the vineyards would be pretty boring for the kids, so I didn't include that in my planning.  Looks like I may need to tweak some more.  I realize we are missing out on Mt Cook/Lake Tekapo/Twizel

Here is what I am now thinking for our month in NZ:

We are trying to work in a few 3 night stays just to exhale some and catch up on school work.  What do you think of the places I've worked in the 3 night stays?  

 

Queenstown-3 nights (Gondola, luge, jetboat)

Te Anau-2 nights (glow worm caves, Milford Sound)

Catlins-2 nights

Dunedin/Otago Pennisula-2 nights (Cadbury factory, yellow-eyed penguins, albatross, Penguin Place)

Wanaka-2 nights (Puzzling World, cinema, Rob Roy hike or canyoning)

Fox Glacier-2 nights (hike glacier, Lake Matheson)

Hotikaka/Punakaiki-2 nights 

Abel Tasman/Nelson/Kaiteriteri-3 nights 

Weillington-2 nights (ferry from Picton, Te Papa museum)

Taupo/Turangi-2 nights (Tongariro Crossing hike, whitewater rafting)

Rotorua-3 nights (Huka Falls, Waiotapu, Zorb, Maori dinner)

Coromandel/Hahei-3 nights (via Matamata for Hobbiton stuff, Cathedral Cove, hot water beach)

Auckland-1 night

 





Posted by Passarinho9[/QUOTE]

 

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4wornpassports

RE: One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

by 4wornpassports »

In Response to Re: One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!:[QUOTE]

Unfortunately, we are still planning to work South to North.  For some reason, it is quite a bit less expensive to rent a car in QTown and drop it Auckland rather than the other way around.  We've already booked our flights directly to QTown so we'll keep it that way and hope the weather cooperates.

I will definitely check out your Curio Bay recommendation, and we'll add the drive to Mt. Cook on the way to Wanaka that you suggested.

I'm so glad you mentioned the tacky tourist factor of both QTown and Rotorua.  That is definitely not what we typically like.  Do you think 2 nights in those locations would be sufficient to see/do the major things?  If so, where would you suggest adding a 3rd night?  We like places that are funky with a laid back vibe, walking distance to restaurants, etc.  Since Wanaka is so close to the QTown attractions, would it better to stay three nights there instead?  Or 3 nights on the Otago Pennisula?  Any other suggestions?  Maybe a farm stay instead?

Are the sandflies terrible everywhere on the west coast?  Te Anau? Milford Sound? Fox Glacier? Hotikaka? Are they mostly on the beach, or everywhere?  I've read that they are vicious!

Thanks again!  You're the best!  :)


Posted by Passarinho9[/QUOTE]

 

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RE: One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

by /bio/passarinho9 »

Are you still going to start in the south and work your way north?

I don't think you will be sorry for the extra night in the Catlins. While this area used to be the South Island's best-kept secret, it can get busy now. But January is an extra-busy time for most places. Here's a link to the school holiday schedule:
http://www.minedu.govt.nz/theMinistry/EducationInNewZealand/SchoolTermsAndHolidays/2014SchoolTermsAndHols.aspx

Last time we were in the Catlins, we wanted to stay at Curio Bay Salthouse, which is a modern accommodation right on Porpoise Bay. The Salthouse was full but the owner offered us her "older style Kiwiana" three bedroom house right next door. It was old and decorated with mismatched secondhand-style furniture, but it was clean and comfortable and had great ocean views. You could sit on its deck or walk just steps down to the beach, where Hector's Dolphns surf the waves, You can contact Val through her Salthouse website, if you are interested. The "older style Kiwiana" house looks nothing like the Salthouse, but it also rents for far less.We paid $120 per night (for 2 people) in March. Val can email you photos of it.

As opposed to the West Coast of the South Island, the East Coast doesn't get many sandflies. In 3 years, i have never seen or felt one in coastal Otago and I go to the beach almost every day. The owner of Salthouse, Val, said they had a few at Porpoise/Curio Bay this year, but we didn't run into any--anywhere in the Catlins, we never have. Sandflies are nasty creatures and the only place I have had a problem with them has been on the West Coast. 

You will be spending 3 nights in two of the most bustling touristy places: Rotorua and Queenstown. Both are beautiful and offer many things to see and do (Queenstown is more beautiful, in my opinion), but they are swamped with busloads of tourists in summer. I am not saying that these places are not worth spending 3 days/nights in, I just want you to get a feeling for what it will be like. It can be hard to find parking in downtown Queenstown. There are a lot of tacky souvenir shops in center of both Rotorua and Queenstown. Rotorua smells like sulphur.

As you drive away from the center, things calm down, the crowds and crass commercialism disappear and what you are left with is nature: forest, mountains, lakes, rivers. 

Because of the popularity of these places and because it will be summer, reasonably priced family accommodation costing around $150 per night will be harder to find. I just checked Hotels. com and I found this place:
http://www.shotoverlodge.co.nz
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g255122-d318391-Reviews-Shotover_Lodge-Queenstown_South_Island.html

I am not familiar with the Shotover Lodge, but I have stayed a couple of times at a hotel nearby. It is a few kilometers out of Queenstown on Arthur's Point Road, which runs between Queenstown and Arrowtown. It is quieter up there, and some of the accommodations on the Shotover River side have spectacular views of the river, the mountains and the Shotover Jet Boat, but if you stay far from the center, you will have to drive in and find parking to do things in central Queentown. 

You might also check this site:
http://www.kidzgo.co.nz/queenstown-and-southern-lakes/queenstown/accommodation

I don't know if your kids can study while in these places. I know I'd have trouble studying. I'd want to go out and do things while the sun is out during those long January days.

I suggested Rippon Winery because you will be in Wanaka. It's only about seven minutes from the center. What a view! They also have interesting sculpture around the property. 

The wineries of the Gibbston Valley are about a half hour from Queenstown. I am sure your kids will enjoy watching folks bungy-ing from the Kawarau bridge across from Chard Farm Road. Chard Farm Road, the long driveway to Chard Farm Winery, is almost as thrilling as a bungy jump. Other nice wineries here are Peregrine, which has pretty grounds and a pond with ducks, and Gibbston Valley, which has a restaurant. 

It would be a shame if you missed Mt. Cook. As I said before, you could leave Dunedin in the morning, be at Mt. Cook 4 hours later (unless you stop at Moeraki or elsewhere on the way), get there around midday, giving you some 9 hours of daylight at Mt. Cook. It would take about 3 hours to drive from Mt. Cook to Wanaka. Mt. Cook is another place that gets busy with bus tours, plus, it's just a tiny village--so accommodations get tight. After sightseeing for a few hours, I am sure your kids could squeeze in a few hours of study. 
http://www.tourism.net.nz/new-zealand/about-new-zealand/driving-routes/christchurch/christchurch-fox-glacier-christchurch/day-4.html

Twizel is a pleasant town and the countryside around it offers good bike trails, but I don't think you'd want to spend too much time there, given your schedule. Like Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapo, it is part of the dark sky reserve. It's most beautiful in autumn, along with the rest of Mackenzie Country. 

 

 

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RE: One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

by /bio/passarinho9 »

I've edited this to move the most pertinent info addressing your concerns to the top.

The sandflies are not that bad, just bring repellent. The only place where I've had a problem with sandflies was on a West Coast beach (somewhere between Haast and the glaciers) where a fresh water stream flowed out to the sea. But I was in Greymouth, which is also on the West Coast, a few months ago and spent a long time by its wetlands and never got bitten. i don't get it. I try to keep moving, cover up, wear repellent. Here's a good article about the dreaded sand fly:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/opinion/columnists/zane-mirfin/6789934/Sandflies-a-curse-and-a-blessing

 

It'll be all right, flying into Queenstown and starting your journey there. Ask for window seats! The view from the jet is breathtaking (if clear). 

 

It's cheaper to rent a car and drive from Queenstown to Auckland, I think, because so many people do the opposite and the rental car companies need their cars returned to Auckland. You are helping them out, so they give you a break on the rental. Jucy rent-a-car calls these "relocations" and they offer astonishing breaks on these rentals. See:

http://www.jucy.co.nz/special-offers/car-campervan-relocations.aspx

 

As I said, there are no guarantees with the weather, so it could just as easily be stunningly perfect weather at the beginning of January. Besides, the mountains and lakes of the South Island's interior are so forgiving, they look magnificent whether it's rainy or sunny. On the other hand, coastal areas can be miserable in the rain.

 

But it never stays cloudy or rainy for long, you could experience four seasons in a day. 

 

I don't think you should change your plans. Just be aware of how it will be so that you aren't surprised or disappointed The first time I visited Rotorua I was fascinated by the geothermal activity and the Maori culture in such abundance there, but I was dismayed by the tacky tourist shops and many motels. On my second visit, I knew what to expect so I mildly enjoyed the tacky tourist shops. I remember watching a Maori carver in one them, crafting delicate jade (pounamu) pendants with such artistry and skill, and, indeed, this is where some of the most skilled Maori artists are based. There are many in the Bay of Plenty and East Cape, as well. 

 

Same with Queenstown. I go there now, knowing what to expect. On our last visit, we rode the gondola, which we had shunned because it seemed too touristy, but it was fabulous. The views are great. There are trails at the top, and your kids will enjoy the luge. Glamorous Queenstown is surrounded by wonderful scenery. It sits on Lake Wakitipu and looks upon the Remarkable Mountains. It's not laid-back, but lots of shops, restaurants and attractions mean convenience and choice. 

So much to do in Queenstown:

http://www.queenstownnz.co.nz/information/thingstodo/

 

If you need to escape the bustle, drive to Glenorchy, about 40 minutes from Queenstown, but a world away. Arthur's Point Road is also quiet. Take a drive up to Coronet Peak. Rent some bikes and explore the biking trails. Drive to the bucolic Gibbston Valley wine country. There are quiet little beaches around Lake Wakitipu. It's easy to escape from the busy center when you need a bit of peace and quiet. Plus, you can always retreat to the serenity of your accommodation and you don't have to stay in central Queenstown, you can find a vacation rental outside of town. There is an abundance of accommodation here, but it does get busy in summer, so book early if you find a good deal.

http://www.holidayhomes.co.nz/for-rent/new-zealand/south-island/southern-lakes-otago-southland/queenstown/

 

Chances are when you see Queenstown's shopping district, you'll think, "It's not so bad." Here's a You Tube that will give you an idea:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjKrqtq2EYg

 

Wanaka isn't as busy, not by a half, but it still has restaurants, cafes, shops, supermarkets. It's a resort town, but also like a regular small nice town with spectacular scenery. It has a walkable, village atmosphere. It's popular with South Island families in summer, who go there to enjoy the lake's beaches, which are more reliably sunny, warm, and less windy than those of the coasts. You might want to spend three nights there instead, but it doesn't have the same attractions as Queenstown, so keep that in mind before you make changes. Wanaka is about an hour from Queenstown, but it would be a drag to have to travel this distance every time you would like to do something in Queenstown. There are two ways to get there: Crown Range Road or via Cromwell and the Kawarau River Gorge, both ways are challenging (more below). I am fairly certain that vacation rentals will be cheaper in Wanaka during summer. 

http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/Wanaka.asp

http://www.bookabach.co.nz/baches-and-holiday-homes/search/locale/lake-wanaka/kids_ok/yes/min_occupancy/4/keywords/wanaka/order-by/low-price

http://www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentals-g612500-Reviews-Wanaka_South_Island-Vacation_Rentals.html

 

There are some great drives here: the Crown Range Road from Wanaka to Queenstown is scary-exciting; and the drive from Wanaka through Mt. Aspiring Park to the glaciers is especially beautiful, particularly as it passes by Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. 

Crown Range Road (the first few minutes should give you an idea of what it's like):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQj88VrLDSQ

 

Do you plan on mostly going out for meals? (You mentioned walking to restaurants.) Because I'd assumed you'd want to self-cater. There are no restaurants in Porpoise/Curio Bay. There aren't that many on the Otago Peninsula, either, though there are a few on the harbor side. Curio Bay and the Otago Peninsula can feel like the end of the world, were it not for other tourists. There isn't much commerce.

 

Even if you plan on mostly going out for meals, it is useful to have a kitchen to make breakfasts or snacks. I often prefer my own preparations to those offered in restaurants or in B&Bs. For drive trips, it's useful to bring along a cooler for keeping food and drinks chilled. 

 

Dining out can be costly in New Zealand. Here's a link to a range of average-cost eateries in Dunedin to give you an idea:

Nando's, a chain, specializes in rotisserie chicken basted with a spicy Mozambican Peri-peri sauce:

http://www.nandos.co.nz/menu/menu_back_nz_061010.pdf

Shahi Tandoor is a cheap Indian restaurant in downtown Dunedin:

http://www.shahitandoor.co.nz/menus

Speight's Ale House (pub food, part of the Dunedin brewery):

http://www.thealehouse.co.nz/menu.html

McDonald's (NZ):

http://mcdonalds.co.nz

Zucchini Bros. is a local pizza parlor:

http://www.zucchinibros.co.nz

Fish Hook is a fish and chips shop:

http://fishhookdunedin.co.nz/menu/

Supermarkets often offer take-out items. 

 

I went out to the peninsula today and noticed another farm stay:

http://www.samsoffroadtours.co.nz/cottage.html

It is near Allan's Beach, one of the nicest beaches on the Otago Peninsula, and the drive to it, on Highcliff Road and then beside Hooper's Inlet is wonderful (much is unpaved, but in good condition). Allen's Beach is about a 25-minute drive from Taiaroa Head. 

 

There are sea lions on Allen's Beach, and sometimes you can see penguins. In summer, you can see many sea lions on the Otago Peninsula's Sandfly Bay (no sandflies here). This used to be a good place for watching penguins, too, but now it has the fastest declining YEP population on the Otago Coast due to human interference. Many penguins will not return to the beach if they see people on the beach, which is why you should sit down if you see a penguin swimming ashore. If they walk toward you, you should back away, as you might be blocking a path to their nest. The YEP is an endangered wild species struggling to survive, yet some people almost treat them as pets. They'll sometimes approach penguins or their nests, or harass them. At Sandfly Bay, the surfers, instead of taking the official track down to the beach, take a short cut through a steep hill used by penguins. 

 

Today, at Allan's Beach, I stopped a tourist family from climbing up to penguin nests (the nests are located up steep hillsides that require a long climb to get to). I was shocked they even considered doing this! For its part, the govt. does little to educate people on how they should conduct themselves while viewing wildlife and it does not help that they have made deep cuts to the Dept. of Conservation. NZ is not like the US, where you often see rangers in parks. Anyhow, if you'd like to read more about the Yellow Eyed Penguin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjKrqtq2EYg

 

If you prefer to walk to restaurants, you might stay in Dunedin city instead, but in a quiet neighborhood instead of the busy center: St. Clair Beach or Roslyn. When in Wellington, stay in its  center, so you can walk to Te Papa, the City Art Gallery, the cable car, restaurants, shops, the New World Market, Marine Parade. It's a good city for pedestrians, walkable. You'll like Coromandel, Nelson/Abel Tasman, Te Anau. Wanaka. You would have enjoyed the Bay of Islands, too. I wouldn't say that these places are funky, but they are more relaxed than Queenstown or Rotorua.

 

In Dunedin's St. Clair neighborhood, these holiday homes (within your price range, I think) are a few doors down from where I live (Earls Road), which is about a 10 minute walk to the beach, a swimming pool, restaurants, cafes, a small but adequate "Four Square" market, a fish and chips shop, bus stops. It is about a 10 minute drive to the city center (brewery, chocolate factory, museums, botanical garden, university, railways station and weekend farmer's markets), about a 20-minute drive to the start of the Otago Peninsula, another half hour or so to the end of the peninsula, where the albatross and blue penguin colonies are.

 

Earl's Road in Dunedin

http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/properties/14885.asp

http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/properties/22050.asp

Another St. Clair holiday house even closer to the shops and the beach:

http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/properties/24211.asp

This motel is right across from St. Clair beach and just steps to a few restaurants. It would be busy during the day, but quiet at night. Its rates might go up in summer. 
http://www.esplanade.co.nz

Roslyn is another neighborhood with a village type atmosphere (shops, supermarkets, restaurants, mostly catering to locals). 

http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/properties/13960.asp

 

I also came across these non-farm stay, reasonably priced holiday homes on the peninsula:

 

Otago Peninsula cottage:

http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/properties/10845.asp

Portabello (village atmosphere, not many restaurants):

http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/properties/14111.asp

Broad Bay

http://www.holidayhouses.co.nz/properties/20248.asp

 

 

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4wornpassports

RE: One Month Itinerary in January for Family with Kids--feedback please!

by 4wornpassports »

You are AMAZING!!!  I just booked Esplanade.  They've changed their name, but it's the same place.  It looks perfect!  I'm saving all of the great info, tips, links, etc.  I really appreciate all of your assistance!

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