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NZ Trip - April 1999

McKay Falls Not wanting to be in the embarrassing situation of not having seen much of the beautiful country I have lived most of my life in, I was determined to spend a month travelling the country before I left to go overseas. As it turned out, Connie (from the USA) also wanted to visit NZ, so the two of us teamed up to share the costs and the experiences...

Needless to say we were both "gob smacked" by the sheer beauty, the isolation, sparse population and the variety of surroundings. Golden sand beaches with emerald seas, stunning turquoise lakes, rugged wild coastlines, majestic mountain ranges, glaciers rising from rainforests, intensely green native bush, crystal clear rivers - just some of the many natural wonders of this country.

Add to that our activities ranging from the Milford Track (by all accounts one of if not the most beautiful walk in the world), the Pipeline bungee jump (102m), helicopter flights over the glaciers, overnight cruise on Milford Sound, exploring the Waitomo caves, hurtling down the luge, jet boating and numerous other walks and things to do made this an unforgettable trip...

For speed of downloading with the pictures, I have broken the trip into multiple parts...
April 1st-8th Auckland, Waitomo, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington, Nelson
April 9th-12th West Coast, Wanaka, Queenstown
April 13th-14th Te Anau, Milford Track Days 1-2
April 14th-15th Milford Track Days 3-4
April 17th-18th Milford Sound, Queenstown
April 19th-21st Mt Cook, Lake Tekapo, Christchurch
April 22nd-24th Kaikoura, Picton, New Plymouth, Auckland


Trip Costs (all in $NZ)

This is where I do my bit for NZ tourism, and volunteer some information which may assist anyone else who reads this page and is thinking of visiting NZ. Like most countries, there are three ways to travel NZ - cheap, good value and more expensive (although still very cheap in comparison to the USA or Europe). I used the Lonely Planet Guide to NZ to plan the trip, which was excellent.

We chose to stay in the YHA youth hostels, which turned out to be outstanding value. I hear that some of the hostels particularly in the USA have a bad reputation for quality of lodging - in NZ they were very clean, great facilities and friendly staff - for only ~$40 for a twin room. You cook your own food (or eat out if lazy), most were very centrally located and all had facilities for laundry, etc. Some even had internet stations in the lounges (Queenstown, Christchurch, Nelson) at $2 for 10 minutes.

This is where I know we not only saved some major dollars but also maximised the enjoyment of our time. As I was still living in NZ when we did the trip I drove my car around the country, with the only costs obviously being the fuel (which was high due to the nature of my vehicle and the speed at which it was driven). Fuel ranged from 84.9c/litre (main centres) to 98.9c/litre (Fox Glacier) for Premium 96. Not only did we travel in comfort at the speed of our choosing, but we had the flexibility to spend as much or as little time at any location as we pleased. I cannot emphasis enough the benefits of not being tied to a bus charter schedule - if the weather is lousy at a great place you may want to stay extra time. The roads are great in the South Island, but forgettable in the North (too few passing lanes, and more traffic!). Signposting is good on the highways, but very average in most of the cities. Most expensive component (after petrol) was the ferry between the islands - monopoly rules I'm afraid. Cost around $160 for the car plus $40pp for the people - they don't let you sit in the car! Charges vary depending on whether you take the InterIslander (slow) or the Lynx (a little less slow).

For our trip we chose to not skimp on the activities (after all, how many times are you going to do something like this in your life) without getting too carried away. Queenstown in particular is a tourist trap which will suck dollars off you faster than you can blink - but with the sheer beauty of the location and surroundings you learn to bear it! The Milford Track costs $90pp for hut fees, plus $110 for transport (various bus/water ferries to get from Te Anau to track and back) but was worth every cent - book months in advance! Bungy Jumping was $135 + $49 for your video of your jump if you want it (which everyone did - well put together). Helicopter flight for two glaciers cost $150. Haggas Honking Holes at Waitomo was about $60, as was Shotover Jet. Milford Sound overnight cruise was $120pp. Of course there are heaps of things to do and places to see for free - the Lonely Planet Guide rules!!!

  Trip Cost Approximate Summary
Over 24 days, 2 people for most of that...
Petrol (~5,000 kms)
Accomodation (approx 18 nights as excludes Milford Track, cruise)
Activities (Milford Track, Bungy, Cruise, Helicopter flight, Waitomo, Luges, etc...)

Total (Two people)

Which works out at about $NZ 90 per person per day (or ~$US 50 per day).
Connie travelling on the US Dollar found it a cheaper experience than I did, but
still fabulous value!

$NZ 4,180

  Last Updated June 22nd, 2002