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New Zealand trip report

  • Submitted by: Jim Burke
  • Website: None Available
  • Submission Date: 04th Feb 2005

On my trip thru NZ I had no reservations except for the first 2 nights in Auckland and the Milford Track. I had an InterCity bus pass. I generally tried to find single accommodations. All price mentioned are in local currency. I checked my email at public Internet access facilities where I could find them. Unfortunately, I lost my NZ notes and don't remember the exact addresses of these places.
I arrived in Auckland and stayed at a Flag Motel for about $100/night. This was an ordinary motel about half way between the city and the airport. This was booked before I left the US because I didn't want to deal with find a place on the first day in a foreign country. I spent a couple of days and did the normal tourist things, Mt. Eden and One Tree Hill I took a morning bus to the Bay of Islands area and planned to stay in Paihia. When I arrived in Paihia, I discovered that everything that wasn't beyond my budget was booked. The information center people found a motel, called the Falls Motor Inn, about 3.5 KM out of town near Haruru Falls. The place was ok, but was $100/night (more than I wanted to pay). There was an interesting track (trail) from just north of the falls back to Paihia that follows the Waitangi. I took a bus tour to Cape Reinga and down 90 Mile Beach. I don't remember the cost, but I thought it was worth the price.

From Paihia I took a bus to Rotorua and stayed at the Eaton House, which was a guest house with breakfast (cereal, fruit and toast) for $45/night. The geothermal area is in a Maori Cultural Center that includes carving and weaving exhibits and is worth seeing. There are lots of shops selling Maori artifacts, tee shirts, etc. One of the better ones I found is across the street north from the bus station. The next part of the trip was to Wellington. As usual there were several vans from the backpacker hostels meeting the bus. I picked one a random and ended up at a place (Rowena's?) that had no single accommodations and otherwise appeared to be very crowded. I walked down the street to a place called Beethoven Haus and settled for a bed in a 4 person room for $16/night. The owner was somewhat eccentric and interesting. I took the tram up to Kelburn Park and walked back thru the botanical gardens. There is a cafe with a PC for Internet access on Victoria St., near the Cuba St. mall. From Wellington I took the ferry to Picton and the bus to Nelson. In Nelson I stayed at Club Nelson in a single for $17/night (no meals, but cooking facilities). It's in a former boarding school building and is clean and fairly quiet. I took a wine tour that went to mostly small, family owned wineries. The most unusual was the oldest continuously operating winery in NZ. It was very small - only 2.5 acres. Everything is done manually and all of their wine is sold at the cellar. When we got there, one of the owners came out of the vines and gave us the tour and tasting. There was a lot of construction going on. They are in the process of converting 2 of the buildings into a B&B and a restaurant. It might be an interesting place to stay, when they are finished. It' on Richmond Rd. in Stoke just west of Nelson. I rented a car in Nelson and drove to the Golden Bay area. I stayed in a guest house called Shambhala. It's pretty isolated (about 1.5 KM from the paved road) and has solar hot water and electricity. It has cooking facilities and there is a roadhouse restaurant (Mussel Inn) down the paved road about 500 M. It's about 150 M from a fairly rocky, but deserted, beach. I hiked to Wainui Falls and did a day hike in Abel Tasman NP from Totaranui. Abel Tasman is beautiful. I wish I had taken one of the sea kayaking tours. The next stop was Kaikoura for whale watching. There was also swimming with dolphins and seals. I stayed at Cray Cottage in a garage that had been recently remodeled into a guest house for $15/night(+plus $2 for linen) in a 4 person room. It had a kitchen and lounge area and was very clean and pleasant. The owners, Brent and Lynda Thorp, were the friendliest people I met on the entire trip. From there I took a local shuttle van to Christchurch. I stayed at the Convent Lodge in New Brighton. It's a former convent about 300 M from the beach. It was a very pleasant place for $30/night for a single. It has a variety of accommodations and includes a cereal, fruit and toast breakfast. I checked my email at a store that seemed to focus on Internet games about 4 blocks southwest of Cathedral Square. From Christchurch I took the bus to Queenstown via Mt. Cook NP. The bus stops for about an hour for lunch at a hotel in the NP. There is also a hostel. I didn't check on accommodations, but it might be worth spending a day or two there.

Queenstown seems to be the tourist capital of NZ. There are lots of things to do. I did the jet boat on the Dart river and the gondola. I chose the Dart river jet boat rather than the Shooter because it was a longer trip and appeared to be more scenic. The gondola provides a great view of the area. I stayed in the Adelaide St. Guest House for $50/night including the standard cold breakfast. After Queenstown I did the Milford Track guided tour. Expensive, but probably worth it once. It has beautiful scenery and the accommodations were excellent. From there I went up the west coast and the first stop was Fox Glacier (Population 180). I stayed in the Fox Glacier Hotel ($38/night) and hiked the glacier. The glacier hike was worth it, the hotel was ok. There is not much choice for accommodations. It was raining when I arrived and the hotel was close. In talking to people later I think Franz Joseph (town and glacier hike) might have been a better choice. The next stop was Hokitika, which has a lot of jade carving. There are lots of jade shops and the opportunity to watch jade carvers. I stayed at the Ocean Beach Backpacker, which was a pretty typical hostel. The owner gave me a business card for a jade carver who did his carving from his garage. His name is Aden Hoglund and his business is Jagosi Jade Ltd. at 246 Sewell St. He gave me a very interesting talk on jade carving from getting the raw stones to the finished product. His prices seemed to be about 25% less than the shops and the quality was just as good. From Hokitika I went back to Nelson, then took the ferry to Wellington. In Wellington I stayed at Trekker's on the Cuba St. mall for $45/night for a single. They have a variety of accommodations and is a good location. I went on to Auckland and finally found a place to stay at Rockland Hall. It was also the dorm for a local teacher training facility. It was $20/night plus $5 for linen. They also had a restaurant that served simple, inexpensive meals. This was the last stop in NZ. On to Australia.

Jim Burke

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