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Visiting from NY.

 
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Padme of Hidden Lake ()
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:58 am    Post subject: Visiting from NY. Reply with quote

Hi Naboo!

As my Christmas present my uncle is taking me to New Zealand for about a week and a half and then over to Australia for a week. He has been to the South Island for a couple days a few years ago with his nephew who was working in Adelaide, Australia at the time. They spent basically the whole time in Arthur's Pass or driving between there and Christchurch. So neither of us really knows what to expect while we are there. We are both big Tolkien fans so we are flying into Auckland and going straight to the Hobbiton set tour and farm stay, then the next day driving to Wellington and doing the LOTR full day tour there the day after. The next day will be the ferry/train combo to Christchurch, driving to Arthur's pass the next day, Queenstown for 2 days after that (another full day LOTR tour and we heard there are PENGUINS!!!!) then back to Christchurch to fly to Australia.

So my questions are: the drive from Hobbiton to Wellington takes 6 hours according to Google maps, and we will be doing that on a Sunday, are there places along the way to stop to eat? And are there cool things to see on that route too that we can stop at to stretch our legs and see some cool New Zealand culture (the Hobbiton farm stay does include a tour of a working farm and a chance to feed the sheep and a three course dinner of local, traditional cuisine)? Are we likely to run into trouble finding restaurants and things to do on Sundays, my uncle is worried about this as he took my sister to northern Australia last year and did in a couple of the smaller towns and I did in Europe a few times. Are there any can't miss things to see in Wellington, Christchurch, or Queenstown? Our tours will all end by dinner (and the train gets into Christchurch in the early evening) so we will have some evening time to walk around and see the city stuff. We also really like going to local one of a kind restaurants, so any favorites in any of these cities that we should check out for dinner? And finally (unless I think of something else...) what are the chances of seeing whales on the ferry or from the train?

Thanks so much, can't wait to see your beautiful country!
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neimhaille ()
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kia ora! If you have time in Auckland I'd love a chance to catch up and say hello Smile There are some nice things to do from the CBD like catching a ferry to Rangitoto Island (it's one of those rare volcanos that actually looks like a volcano as we remember them from school Wink )

Anyway. If you follow the main highway (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_State_Highway_1) you'll find a lot of small towns and most do cater to tourists.
You may wind up in the middle of a flock of sheep in more rural areas of the south Island. We used to travel a lot when I was a kid and I used to love when that happened Smile Sheep being transfered from one part of a farm to another..
It does depend on where you wind up specifically on a Sunday as to what is available. Fish and Chip shops should be fairly easy to find (these are hot chips like you'd call fries Wink but again there are good ones and bad ones like everywhere Wink
http://www.menumania.co.nz/locations.php
Local pubs can be a bit rough.

When you land in Auckland Airport see if you can pick up some of the free maps (Jason's does a lot of good guides but also offer some free maps (usually on a stand near the info area- which should be on the way or near the rental car area.) The guides also have a good listing of places to stay, so you can often travel and book accomodation on the day. And the managers of the motels etc. should be able to give you pointers on local walking tracks or sights or places to eat.

You aren't likely to see whales from the ferry or train, Kaikoura is the whale spotting town and not too far from ChristChurch but you will need to plan for a day out there.

Christchurch CBD is very much a construction zone, for those of us who live(d) there it's pretty heartbreaking. The Arts Centre is still closed but the buildings are beautiful to look at from the outside. And there are still places open near the river near the CBD too.

Penguins can be seen at Kelly Tarlton's in Auckland (it's an underwater aquarium thing but they have an Antartic display) and at the Antactic experience near the Christchurch Airport. I haven't been to Queenstown for a long time so have no idea what attraction they are part of Smile


My netbook battery is about to die so I'll sign off with a yay and congrats on such an awesome gift Smile Also if you have the dates already it may be possible to see what festivals are on, summer means there are usually lots of, just all over the country Wink
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MattG (Matt Glasgow)
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Padme,

Your itinerary sounds great! The organized LOTR tours will be a great way to see some awesome scenery and locations.

Are you renting a vehicle and driving yourselves? Do be careful if you haven't driven in NZ before...a lot of our roads between the big centers still involve geography and terrain that requires care and attention (narrow roads, blind corners etc). Along the way, many of the smaller townships will be shut down on Sundays, but a good few regions will have food-stop oases that are open 7 days (sometimes centered around a petrol station, and often involving fast-food chains such as McDonalds or KFC).

In Queenstown, if you have time, get in touch with the staff at www.ReelCollectibles.co.nz, in the main town center ....they know all the LOTR filming locations and other cool places to visit.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone!

We are landing in Auckland On Sat Dec 29th at 7:15 in the morning (hopefully - leaving from LAX so expecting to sit on a runway for a while), so we are guessing we will be through customs etc by 10:30 ish. We will be renting our car there and probably stopping for lunch in the city before heading to Matamata and Hobbiton set - google maps says it is about 2 hours 8 minutes from Auckland (accurate?) we are going to shoot for the 2:50 tour time I think. Then the farm stay there for our first night.
The 30th will be the drive to Wellington, and we definitely want to stop a couple times to walk around on that trip, 31st in Wellington, doing the full day LOTR tour (in costume cause I can). Jan 1st ferry and train and Christchurch. Jan 2nd drive to Queenstown - want to find stops along the way. 3rd and 4th based in Queenstown - Dart River tour and a tour out to the coast that says it goes to a penguin colony - I don't think either is full day but they over lap/are at the same time so we will have at least a half day unplanned. 5th is Arthurs Pass and 6th back to Christchurch and flying to Australia in the afternoon/early evening.

Quote:
Are you renting a vehicle and driving yourselves? Do be careful if you haven't driven in NZ before...a lot of our roads between the big centers still involve geography and terrain that requires care and attention (narrow roads, blind corners etc).


Yes we are renting and driving. I haven't driven there before - its my first trip! But my uncle has a bit on the South Island. We do live in a wilderness preserve so are used to crazy roadways, just on the other side of the road... My poor car has seen so many one lane dirt roads it must hate me. Do you recommend a GPS in addition to maps and a compass? I know mine doesn't work very well at all in rural areas, but is great on Highways.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The South Island isn't too laden with roads but I would recommend using a GPS in the main centres. The roads between them are faily straight and well sign posted. And remember, we drive on the left here.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rebel Kiwi wrote:
The South Island isn't too laden with roads but I would recommend using a GPS in the main centres. The roads between them are faily straight and well sign posted. And remember, we drive on the left here.


Thanks! Your steering wheels are on the right side of the car too though right? So if we just remember the steering wheel stays towards the center of the road and we will be on the correct side, yes?

Another question: The Dart River tour (from Queenstown) has this " Summer – Sunglasses, sun hat, sunscreen and warm outer layer recommended" in their requirements and reccomendations section for the tour we are planning on. Would a sweatshirt be good enough for a "warm outer layer"? What temperatures should we expect? I know summer can be very different based on latitude, longitude, elevation, etc (the camp I went to as a kid and worked at for 10 years up in the mountains by home often got cold enough at night to need to sleep in gloves and hats and heavy sweatshirts in the middle of summer - one only a couple hours away in Massachusetts by the ocean had us sweating and sleeping without our sleeping bags at the same time) so what is your summer like?

Thanks again!
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, for the most part but we do have some tricky roads so just keep the the limit and keep your eyes open Smile

Most of your trip you'll be fine with light weight gear, but do pack a jacket that can keep the rain off you as well as a wooly or otherwise warm jersey/jumper/pullover whatever your term is for it Wink Trust me there will be lots of places to pick up woollen or possum wool items to keep warm if you need to keep luggage light.

When we did school camps thermal gear was vital, but that was for overnight stays in wooden huts.

Unless you are staying in a reasonably modern hotel, air conditioning and central heating are very rare in this country. We seem to have taken some of our early scots ancestry to an extreme ("ach noo we're hardy folk no need for that frippery!"). You'll find there are heaters in motel rooms though and never worry about asking for more blankets/heating where you are staying.

Also, most places will have a kettle/jug and a selection of tea, instant coffee and Milo*/hot chocolate. If you are fond of your filter coffee (I got addicted over at C6 and D*C to Mr Coffee!) then your closest and safest travel option is to get some plunger coffee and single stainless steel plungers- often both available at our larger supermarkets. The flavour seems to be pretty close Smile I know it seems little but every so often a small reminder of home is nice Smile
Also service stations are mostly really good on the main stretches so you can get hot food (try an NZ pie, they are hot and savoury or a sausage roll) and drinks and use their facilities. You can usually also pick up local and national map books.

Watch out for the kea!!!!! Very intelligent but very curious and destructive birds that haunt carparks in central oatago. There are signs usually out with warnings. They are mountain parrots so fun to watch as well.

Also tipping is not expected but in touristy areas it's something staff are prepared for as they deal with overseas guests Smile And for taxi's rounding up from the fare to a standard note is appreciated.

Oh! And while down south, from Dunedin and further south see if you can get a cheese roll Smile There are some gourmet ones but they come down to grated cheese mixed with reduced cream and onion and rolled up in a slice of bread and grilled. Again depending on where you are the quality will vary. But they are a local tradition.

Ditto if you can get to try whitebait fritters (not sure if they will be in season or if you eat fish) Smile

*Milo is like hot chocolate but with a malted flavour.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome thanks! Definitely wouldn't have thought about the heating/ac. and I LOVE trying local foods so I will make sure to be on the look out.

This is exactly why I always prefer to ask locals for suggestions when traveling anywhere - you answer questions I never think to ask, and that guide books leave out too.
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello again Smile Yeah, I found that with C6 and D*C general local and specific local help helped greatly Smile

I don't know if you have time to do any costume shoots but but Hayley (Ember) and Kristy (Anaria Zar-Rel) here have magnificent photos of their cold weather gear (Hoth Leia and "Snowbunny Padme") taken from down south Smile Near Queenstown are a lot of mountains. These are the sort pushed up from the two plates bumping in to each other. Mountains up on the North Island are the ones that are "hot". So you may see some actvity in Tongariro national park. It's low level whih is good Smile

So excited Smile For you Smile I can pm you my mobile number, or I have a twitter/tumblr account in this same name (neimhaille) or facebook (Michaela de Bruce- they have changed so anyone can message but feel free to add me while you are here so as to have an on call person who will squee in the same time zone Wink
Also I'd definitely love to meet for a coffee/tea/hot chocolate if you are drivng through the city Smile

Oh yeah, do do definitely do the Weta Cave tour. It's a corner of one of the workrooms with samples from their works that you can touch and get a feel for. And you can ask the guide any questions. I lurked at the end and geeked a bit over the clay they had out (different shore hardness and in 5Kg tubes! Great for getting ideas on props and costuming in general. And the milling machines. You can see them but no touchy. So you can look in to some of the department at last. No photos. I forgot to ask if we could take notes.



Customs is a tricky one to work out timing. If there are multiple arrivals it could take a while. Let's see...
Yes it is a busy time of day for International flights. Unless the computers are down it is still an efficient process though. If all things go well you could get through much faster, but yeah due to other flight arrivals it could be a while.

Will you have GPS/maps on your phone? Definitely recommended in addition to a paper map Smile Especially as the motorway around th CBD has a few tricks to it.

Oh! our power outlets will kill anything electrical! Ignore the little travel adaptors you will nee a transformer type adaptor. Or you can probably get a charger for the car. That is only 12 V so I think is an international standard.
I have a US air gun/spray and nearly destroyed it, but with the right transformer plug spritzes away happily Smile

I was just at the airport last week and it should be fairly easy to find info Smile The whole public area is one long corridor that heads towards domestic and there are car hire and info booths down that end as well.

A few links for info as you move about the country Smile We are currently experiencing a lot of humidity in the North Island.

http://www.aucklandairport.co.nz/en/FlightInformation.aspx
https://twitter.com/BreakingNZ (mainly for Tongariro or major transport issues)
https://twitter.com/geonet (ditto but for ChCh mainly)
https://twitter.com/MetService (For weather updates)


Also energy drinks are great, we do have a range, they are all fizzy. V is not one I reccomend but V Blue/Black/Not Orange are not too bad in that "I need a shot of sugar and caffiene icey cold stat!"

We do a lot of dairy too. Dairyfood in the fridge is sorta like pudding cups, but there may be pudding cup type things in the dessert shelves of a full supermarket.

Jelly is jello here! Except some strained jams are also called jelly- if you want your jelly type jam just keep looking through the jam you may find sweet sticky fruit spread. Or it may be available in the Internation Section most Countdown or New World supermarkets have. it may be under the English sampling.

Our butter is yellow and so is our cheese. Except gormet stuff Wink Then it's probably feta or brie/camembert. If you want posh nibbles on your way then Nosh on Domnion Rd is fairly easy to find and should be easy to get a park (on the side road) And will get you back on to the motor way again. It's also easy for me to get to so would be happy to be a guide. They have a cafe as well Smile

No pressure at all! Especially if travel means you need to avoid Auckand and go straight south Smile better to have a relaxed start to the drive Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://metservice.com/national/home
Finally this Smile You can have a quick look at the weather forecast for the plaes you will be heading Smile (linked from their twitter yes but here's a handy immediate link).
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh hey, sorry about the snow! Hope your trip home today is safe and easy Smile
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for all your help! Things got really crazy around Christmas with early Christmas at my girlfriend's then Christmas at home then leaving right away so I didn't manage to get on to post anything before then, but I bought an ereader with wifi and was able to download a copy of all your suggestions that I could check with or without a connection. We had a really great time, saw everything we had planned - but would have loved more time to explore a couple of the towns better. We were detoured off Highway 1 between Cambridge and Wellington due to an accident and ended up in this gorgeous little town on the shores of a huge lake. Made an unscheduled stop which added an hour to our day but it was so worth it. Would have loved to stay and explore the lake better but we had reservations and tours booked. And we had a lot less time in Queenstown (and a MUCH longer drive there) due to the storm that day. The train ended up not being possible with the rental car thing - couldnt get our new one in Christchurch when we would have arrived so we just drove and decided to go down the west side of the island over 2 days. Got to see Greymouth that way - we stayed there the first night, but we were about 5 cars back from the police getting to the Hari Hari bridge after it was washed out - no signs up yet - he was still checking to see if there was anyway across when we got there and ended up having to circle back to Lewis Pass and then all the way back down the other side (Arthur's Pass was already closed because of the storm). And they closed the little pass between Christchurch and Queenstown right behind us as it was starting to snow pretty heavily as we were going through (and they were up there checking conditions while we were fighting through it). But the tour was well worth it and we had a couple hours after to explore the little village where the jetboats left from with the wool shop having an orphaned lamb to feed and hold! I could have done with another day or 2 in Dunedin as well but we got to see a lot more of the Yellow-eyed Penguins than the guide thought and a couple of them came up right next to me - less than a meter away! They were GORGEOUS! And we saw baby fur seals and albatross which were amazing.

I didn't have space for any SW costumes with me, but I did bring my Arwen (the blue lined in pink from the cut scenes) and wore it to the Wellington tour. Got really good pictures at Rivendell with the tour company's elven cloak and sword added and at Lothlorien on my own across the lake. And at a couple other sites that we stopped at but I haven't had a lot of time to look at those - they are all on my uncle's camera - I should get them on Sunday.

I tried most of your food suggestions (couldn't find a cheese roll anywhere - until a half hour after our last lunch driving through another little town on our way back to Christchurch from Arthur's Pass). The NZ pie was really good - first thing I tried in the country at a little roadside cafe on the way to Cambridge. And the fish and lamb were good everywhere.

The snow didn't really bother us once we were through the pass. And it was only really scary then cause it was so dark and I dont have good night vision to begin with and my uncle was speeding down the twisty curvy mountain. It was really neat to see snow on the peaks but nothing where we were - to have decent temperatures where we were. And that was my first real look at glaciers which was intriguing in and of itself!

All in all a really good trip. Definitely going to come back one day once I have funds of my own!
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2013 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry the weather was imperfect. Sounds like you packed a good lot of interesting stuff in to your itinerary though. Glad you enjoyed NZ!
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks! The less than perfect weather days were all driving days which was good. Beautiful weather for all the tours which is what really counts. It was a great trip overall.
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