Here is a 30 day itinerary I did for a couple picking up a camper van
Day 1/2 – 21/22 January – Wed/Thurs -
Arriving in Auckland after a long hard flight jet lagged and ready to get to normal. I recommend you take this day easy. Auckland is 20kms from the airport. A lot will depend upon your arrival time and how you feel. You can get a hotel close to the airport (If you do I recommend the Centra (www.centa.co.nz ) or the Hotel Grand Chancellor (www.granda.co.nz ). They both have restaurant & bar and airport tranfers so you don’t have to go anywhere but since you are staying a couple of days best to take a taxi into the downtown Auckland area and a chance to see the city while chilling out from a hotel you can walk everywere………….
Some accommodations to check out:
Copthorne Hotel Harbourcity (www.millenniumhotels.com )
Crowne Plaza - (www.crowneplaza.co.nz )
City Central (budget) - (www.citycentralhotel.co.nz )
If you go downtown go to the base of Queen Street and you will find the free Red Bus to take you around the city so you can get familiar with it before trekking around.
Recommended restaurants in downtown Auckland:
Antoine’s in Parnell - top classic (www.antoinesrestaurant.co.nz )
Ariake (Japanese) - (www.ariake.co.nz )
Cin Cin on Quay - (www.cincin.co.nz )
Dine by Peter Gordon - (www.skycityauckland.co.nz )
Hammerheads - (www.hammerheads.co.nz )
Number 5 (www.number5.co.nz )
The French Cafe - (www.thefrenchcafe.co.nz )
Vinnies - (www.vinnies.co.nz )
That should keep you busy for awhile! I recommend going to see Kelly Tarltons.
(www.kellytarltons.co.nz ) Free ride to there from downtown kiosk by Queen Street on the harbour.
Visit the Sky Tower, have a walk along Queens Street, go to Viaduct harbour, maybe take the ferry to Devonport or Waiheke Island?
Day 3 – 23 Jan – Friday -
Pick up camper van at the city depot. (ask for the pickup/transfer from your hotel. Pickup at 9am so you won’t get involved with the morning business traffic….)
From here head south again on route one to the Waitomo Caves. (1 1/2 hour drive). You will find markets along the way you can stock up. Turn into the Huntly town lane on the right. Best place for table/chairs, etc is the Warehouse. From route one below Huntly turn off on route 39 to by-pass Hamilton and continue to the Waitomo Caves turning off on the right south of Otorohanga.
At Waitomo Caves check into the Waitomo Top Ten Holiday Park (www.waitomopark.co.nz ).
There is a good little walk by the camp. Ask at desk.
By the way I would appreciate it if you would let everyone know you were sent to them by me if you would please………..
You have three caves you can pick from to explore, even some serious adventure stuff with tubing through the cave. (www.waitomo.com ) Then you can’t miss the Billy Black Show at 1:30pm (www.woodlynpark.co.nz ). You got all afternoon and even tomorrow morning to enjoy. Huhu Café next to the park is a great café……good facilities at all the camps….
Day 4/5 – 24/25 Jan – Sat/Sun -
Off to Rotorua. Go back to route 3 south to Te Kuiti and then on to route 30 that takes you into Rotorua the geo-thermal capital of New Zealand.
(2 hour drive) Here you check into the Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park (www.rotoruathermal.co.nz ).
( I am sitting here bow writing this for you). Love the hot pools….
This is a real spot to explore. (www.rotorua.com ) Meet up with your friends here!
Visit a Maori Village and have an evening meal(hangi). I recommend Hell’s Gate for a mud bath, Paradise Valley Springs, Agradome Sheep Show. Check with the park managers for full details and the timing especially for the hangi. They can book you.
Day 6 – 26 Jan – Monday -
South from Rotorua to Lake Taupo, route 30 to route one and then it will be route one all the way to Wellington. Have a stop and look at Lake Taupo (1 hr drive from Rotorua). This route takes you through the desert area and passes by our volcanic area with Mt. Tongariro and Mt Ruepehu on the right. It is a 5 hour drive to Wellington.
Wellington is a vibrant and fun city to visit. Enter the city from the north on route 2. Stay in the left hand lane entering the city and turn left onto Waterloo Quay. Stay on this street and stay in the left hand lane. It will change names a few times. Soon on the left will loom the giant Te Papa Museum. Just past the museum enter the street into the large parking lot. You can park here for the day for $10 and stay the night for $6. It is right in the middle of what’s happening in Wellington and no better place to stay. (Toilets in Te Papa). From the parking lot go back to Te Papa and beyond to the waterfront. When you get to the Boat House go to the bridge that crosses the road and enters Wellington at the City Centre. A walk left after the bridge takes you to funky Cuba Street, straight ahead takes you to the Information Centre and the shopping part of the place.
One block over from the parking lot you will stay is the restaurant area of the city on Coutney Place and the streets of Blair and Allen. Take you choice! Many and varied. This is the cafe centre of New Zealand. We prefer Mojo Coffee corner of Taranaki and Jervois Quay or Plums on Cuba.
Restaurants (impossible to name all the best there are so many) but we like Cafe Bastille, 16 Majoribanks close by where you stay.(www.bastille.co.nz)
Logan Brown, Cuba Street (www.loganbrown.co.nz ), Maria Pia’s Trattoria, Thorndon ( we just stopped there coming through Wellington and I still remember the scallopini and Italian wine!!!!)
Thursday night s Blues Night at the Bristol on Cuba - and check on the Matterhorn too. Love their breakfast’s. Monsoon Poon (www.monsoonpoon.co.nz )
If you feel you don’t want to stay in the parking lot (safe so don’t worry) you can stop north of Wellington at the Paekakariki Holiday Park – www.holidayparks.co.nz/paekakariki .
Day 7/8- 27/28 Jan – Tues/Wed -
Now the adventure begins. Off to the ferry to cross to the South Island. it is a 3 1/2 hour cruise. First third through the Wellington harbour, then middle 1/3 in Cook Strait and the last 1/3 entering the Marlborough Sounds via Queen Charlotte Sound to the little town of Picton............... One fine trip!
There is a 1pm sailing I suggest you take unless you really feel gungho and catch the one at 8am! Remember you are on vacation!!!
Since you may want to explore Wellington I still suggest the 1pm sailing.
You will arrive in Picton from the 1pm sailing at around 4:30. Go to the Picton Top Ten – www.pictontop10.co.nz . Drive through town from the ferry keeping on the road you turn onto on the right. The Park is right past the downtown area and an easy walk to Picton back through the harbour the entrance just past the park entrance on the opposite side of the street. I recommend two cafes, Gusto and LeCafe on the waterfront. Oh and the Irish Pub if you like! I live right here on the waterfront so I would like to invite you to our place for a visit. In fact if you want you can park the camper van by the house in the harbour parking lot for $2 a night instead of the holiday park….
Use of shower and toilet provided free!
Picton is a great spot to get on or in the water. Check out all the attractions offered on the waterfront and spend the day here. Another night at the camp or at our place!
Day 9/10 – 29/30 Jan – Thurs/Fri -
Off south. Head to Blenheim (if you want to cruise through the vineyards this is the place) then on south on route one to the town of whales, Kaikoura. As you cruise down and past the volcanic beaches the coastline gets rough. Be sure to pull off (several spots dedicated to it) and visit the seals.
On to Kaikoura checking in at Whalewatch if you want to take the boat ride out to visit them.
You may wish to go on the 7am whalewatch trip! Go south of town to stay at the Peketa Beach Holiday Park – one of our favourites…… www.holidayparks.co.nz/kaikourapeketa .
Then we head south of Kaikoura turning at the sign indicating Waiau where you meet up with route 70 and then route 7. Turn right. Turn off on route 7A to Hanmer Springs. www.hanmersprings.co.nz What I suggest is to go into town and get in the hot springs. Yeah! (2 hour drive from Kaikoura).
Stay the night at the Alpine Adventure Holiday Park – www.aatouristpark.co.nz .
Day 11 – 31 Jan – Sat -
From Hanmer go back out to Route 7 (Lewis Pass) and head for the West Coast. At Reefton take route 69 north to route 6 and head for the West Coast along the Buller River (1 1/2 hour drive) route six and south. Fabulous coastal scenery after Charleston. Be sure to stop at Punakaiki Rocks! Take your time today and enjoy the area. If you see signs of some walks you like anywhere in your drive help yourself. They are everywhere.
From you turn south on Route 6 it is about a 2 hour drive to Hokitika where you will stay the night at the Shining Star Holiday Park (www.shiningstar.co.nz ) One of the nicest parks in the country. It is just on the north edge of Hokitika right on route 6. Do the sunset on the beach!
Be sure to go into Hokitika, this is the centre for quality craftsmen and artists for greenstone and bone especially. Good to go in the morning for a walk.
Day 12/13 – 1/2 Feb – Sun -
From Hokitika we head south stopping at Pukekura (home of the giant sandfly) just to have a look and visit the animals. This is pure West Coast and then on to Glacier Country (2 1/2 hour drive) and book in to the Rainforest Holiday Park in Franz Josef. (www.rainforestholidaypark.co.nz ).
From here you can drive south of town to park and walk to the bottom of the glacier, I recommend taking a helicopter to the top, a once in a lifetime experience or one of the other excursions.
A few kilometres south of Franz is Fox Glacier where you can also drive close to the base. At Fox Glacier take the Cooks Flat Road on the right to see Lake Matheson. Have a walk around this lake
Early in the morning if you can before the wind ripples the water. Picture post card stuff!
Stay the second night at the Fox Glacier Park – www.foxglacierholidaypark.co.nz.
Day 14 – 3 Feb – Mon -
From Fox Glacier south it is a 2 hour drive to the bottom of the West Coast at Haast. Good Heritage display here and restaurant also at McGuires after the one-way bridge over the Haast River…
Now we enter into the Mount Aspiring National Park traveling along the Haast River one of the greatest drives in New Zealand through the mountains over Haast Pass. Stop and take the short walk to Thunder Falls and also right past it stop to have a close look at the Gates of Haast before climbing the mountain to Haast Pass. Your next stop is Makarora Wilderness Camp where you can spend the night. (www.makarora.co.nz ).
Day 15/16 – 4/5 Feb – Tues/Wed -
From Makarora we continue along route 6 passing by Lake Wanaka on the right and then over the pass to Lake Hawea on your left. Continue along route 6. You can turn in to Wanaka for a nosey if you like. Small Queenstown! From here you pass the Wanaka War Planes Museum if interested. Continue along route 6 by the Clutha River that turns into Lake Dunstan then follows the Kawarau River through the Gorge (awesome drive). Here you can stop at one of the wineries (Gibbston) and also stop to watch the bungy jump at the original spot it began. Maybe you will feel like jumping off a bridge yourself?
Through the gorge and take the Arrowtown Junction road to Arrowtown. You can park the camper van down by the river in back of the town just turn right when you get in the main commercial area. Fascinating historic goldmining town. Take a good walk around and explore the Chinese Village.
From Arrowtown drive into Queenstown and stay at the Queenstown Top Ten (www.camp.co.nz ) tonight and tomorrow night. (be sure to book this one way ahead of time) It is in walking distance of town.. Beautiful place! Take the gondola or maybe the old steam boat to a farm visit.
Day 17/18 – 6/7 Feb – Thurs/Fri -
Leave Queenstown. Good shopping centre super market at the airport turnoff just out of town on the left before you cross the river. Off to Te Anau (2 1/2 hour drive) and the fiords.
You will be on route 6 leaving Queenstown driving along the lake until Kingston. If you are into historic trains the Kingston Flyer is here. You can go to the end of the road by the lake and have a look or go on to Fairlight just down the road where the train goes to and turns around.
Past Fairlight is Five Rivers corner. Good cafe. Take a right on this road as it is a shortcut to route 94 and Te Anau. At Te Anau take the road to Milford and on the left is the Great Views Holiday Park (www.fiordlandgreatviewsholidaypark.co.nz ) with two of the nicest owners you will ever meet. Tell them Paula & Ron said hello.
Here you will take the next day and drive to Milford Sound. I recommend the boat ride out into the Fiords to really see what it is all about or perhaps go on their van and let them do the driving. You may want to do the Doubtful Sound instead…..(info document attached)
Day 19 – 8 Feb – Sat -
From Te Anau take route 95 south through Manapouri, route 99 to Tuatapere
and along the very southern part of New Zealand. Stop at Gemstone beach and pick up some real gemstones, slide through Colac Bay, and on to Riverton for the night.
(2 hour drive) At Tuatapere when the road takes a hard left into town go straight ahead to the beach at the head of the Waiau River. I guarantee you no one will be there! Along this route there also is Waiau Farms if you want to see what happens on a real Kiwi farm.
At Riverton before you cross the bridge keep on going around and to the beach and where they call the Rocks. Beach House cafe is along this route. Return from here and go back to the bridge and cross. Good little supermarket here. On the left you will see the Globe Hotel. Pull around back and go in to see the owners. Tell them Ron & Paula sent you. You stay the night here ($10 per night) and you can use the showers and toilets. I recommend going in the evening and having one of the best pizzas in the country and have a yarn with real Kiwis. A real bunch of good Kiwis!
Day 20 – 9 Feb Sun -
From Riverton we head out toward Invercargill but take route 98, route 1 to Gore. At Gore take route 90 to route 8 (Raes Junction) turning left toward Alexandra following the Clutha River by Lake Roxburgh. (driving time 3 1/2 hours) Stay at the Alexandra Holiday Park (www.holidayparks.co.nz/Alexandra ) Big park with lots of room and nice people running it. Interesting story of this park. Find out about the Bike Trail here if interested?.
Day 21- 10 Feb – Mon -
At Alexandra take route 85 into what is known as Central. it is rare a visitor gets to see this area and it is one of our favourites. Be sure to take the side trip to St. Bathans and meet the ghost at the pub and have a look at the Blue Lake across the street. Off to Naseby and see the indoor curling rink plus stop at the Naseby Hotel. Good chance to rent a bike if you feel like it. Stay the night in the holiday park in Naseby. Check out the curling rink!
Day 22 – 11 Feb – Tues -
From Naseby we go through the art deco town of Ranfurly following route 85 to Palmerston turning north on route 1. Just north of there on the right look for a sign saying Shag Point. Turn and go to the end of the road. Young adult make fur seals call this home and you can get close without danger. Great photo opportunity. Not a place known by most. Now back out on route 1 and the next stop is the Moeraki Boulders for a look. Then to Oamaru. Stop at the Little Blue Penguin Colony to see what time to return after dark to see them all come home from the seas. Startling!
After doing that go on through Oamaru a short distance north to the turnoff to Waimate on route 82. Here go to the Kelcy’s Bush Park for the night. You will enjoy the animals here! (www.kiwicamps.com )
Day 23/24 – 12/13 Feb – Wed -
From Waimate go the other way on route 82 to reach Kurow on route 83. We are heading up into the Mckenzie Country where the world will be a rainbow of beautiful colours the road sides and fields covered with lupins. (1 hours drive).
Stop in Omarama the gliding capital of the world, and see the display at the Totara
Gallery. From here it is on route 8 to Mt. Cook. At Twizal you can take a detour along the Pukaki Canal. Big salmon farm there.(not the one on the road you will pass). Route 80 to Mt. Cook. Stay the night at the Glentanner Holiday Park. (www.glentanner.co.nz ) Lots to do here for exploring both independent and excursion. Stay here two days.
Day 25 – 14 Feb – Thurs -
Not too far today. Just around the corner to Lake Tekapo. Stay at the Lake Tekapo Holiday Park (www.laketekapo-accommodation.co.nz ) and explore this region. Be sure to go up to the Mt John Observatory jst before town as you come in and the Church by the lake……
Day 26/27 – 15/16 Feb – Fri/Sat -
Off out of Mckenzie Country on route 8 to route 79 through Geraldine. Stop at the Berry farm complex there to have a look around. On the other end of town as you leave on the right is the gallery of one of New Zealand’s top Maori artists, Peter Jean Caley. Worth a stop.
Continue on to Akaroa, New Zealand’s only French village built in the heart of several extinct volcanoes. From Ashburton continue north on route 1 to Burnham turning right toward Springston, Lincoln that meets up with Taitapu and route 75 that will take you to Banks Peninsula and the beautiful small town of Akaroa. Great place to find a really fabulous restaurant. Stay at the Akaroa Top Ten - ( www.akaroa-holidaypark.co.nz ).
Day 28 – 17 Feb – Sunday -
It is an 1 1/2hour drive from Akaroa to Christchurch. Drop off the camper van by mid-afternoon and stay at a hotel close for departure tomorrow………………..
Copthorne Airport – www.commodore.net.nz
North Sourth Holiday park – www.northsouth.co.nz
Day 29 – 18 Feb – Monday -
Off top Auckland and back home…………….hope your stay will be memorable…..