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Old 05-01-2017, 11:48 PM   #931
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Old 06-01-2017, 01:02 PM   #932
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Back. Will write one long post about preparation and budget for people planning to go South Island during NZ summer, but let me put summary here - two weeks trip costed $6700, one air ticket was bought on miles, we eat at restaurant only twice and stayed only at hostels/airbnb places, while taking just one boat tour at Milford.

So, have your expectations set correctly if you have not been at NZ.

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Old 06-01-2017, 01:07 PM   #933
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Old 06-01-2017, 01:14 PM   #934
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Back. Will write one long post about preparation and budget for people planning to go South Island during NZ summer, but let me put summary here - two weeks trip costed $6700, one air ticket was bought on miles, we eat at restaurant only twice and stayed only at hostels/airbnb places, while taking just one boat tour at Milford.

So, have your expectations set correctly if you have not been at NZ.
Do share your experience
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Old 06-01-2017, 02:46 PM   #935
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Tips/observations for successful NZ trip - Budget

I and my wife spent two weeks on our first trip in NZ, particularly part of South Island and want to share here my thoughts and observations (which obviously could be subjective) to the audience.

Note: these notes are written from the perspective of budget oriented traveler who does his/her research and due diligence before travel and prefers to deals directly with service providers. If you only travel in Business class and stay 5* properties, or if you outsource all your travel worries to an TA - skip this, this posting is not for you. I'm sure your travel agent can find something 'Experience New Zealand in 10 days for just $15000 per person' - saw something like this at one glamour travel magazine.

So, the list:

Budget. Unless you are coming from Australia, or you are taking Antarctic/RTW cruise, NZ will be probably your most expensive vacation destination. As with every vacation, expenses are coming from five major categories - airfare, local transportation/logistics, lodging/accommodation, food and entertainment/extra stuff. Let me try to go with each category one by one:

- Airfare. Again, unless you are buying tickets on miles/points, revenue non-stop flights are expensive, especially during holiday seasons and NZ summer. Return non-stop ticket SIN-CHC during Christmas season was $2130 in economy (from here and to the end - prices are in NZ dollars which is 1:1 right now with SGD), booked eight month in advance and it was the cheapest available non-stop option. You might get cheaper option by trying to flight wish Jetstar, but this is a flight with connection, you are stuck for two 7h/6h flights at Jetstar seats which I think are designed for kids and you have to pay for every glass of water. And if something with Jetstar goes wrong, you are screwed.

- Transportation. Rental cars from first-tier agencies are more expensive than in US/Europe. Hertz wanted $1560 for two weeks rental for an intermediate car after discounts. I settled to second tier off-airport ACE Rental Car agency with 5 year old economy car with close to 100K km on odometer. It was $560 for the same period. Another transportation factor is fuel price. With $2.03 cheapest price per liter of 91 petrol. We drive 3090km and fuel costed me close to $420, while using coupons giving 6c or 10c off from liter of fuel and trying to filling at major population centers with lower gas prices.
Other means of transportation does not come cheap either - to get bus ride card at Christchurch, you have to pay min $20 ($10 the card cost and $10 min top up). Taxi ride from the Queenstown harbor to the airport was priced $45 for 5km ride - I saw plenty of people trying to hitchhike that distance while I was driving around the city center. When we stayed at Wakana at a hostel, people told us that if we can take two people to Queenstown (1h ride) they will pay $25 per person for the ride. Intrecity bus fares start from $55 per person for a ride one way from Christchurch to Queenstown and if you want to fly from Queenstown to Te Anau or at Milford Sound - expect to pay $400 for a flight which goes 20 min one way.

- Lodging. A room for two people at a motel starts from $120/night and sky is the limit during the Christmas season. If you want to stay at a hotel during Christmas season, you need to make your bookings at least nine month in advance. You might consider as an alternative staying at hostels - BBH/YHA/Holiday Park, but consider that at these places, even if you rent a room with double/queen bed in the room, you are charged per person, not per room. Number of hotels, even mid-range, charge for occupancy as well, so it is advisable to check this before.
AirBnB, VRBO/HomeAway (or local NZ network - bookabach.co.nz) is a viable alternative, but if you want to have have a room with non-shared bathroom, you still have to expect to pay starting from $80 for two people per night. Majority of AirBnB hosts also charge $25-$35 per person per night even when double/queen bed is available.

- Food. If you plan to eat at cafe/restaurants every day, budget minimum $100 per person per day, not including alcohol. Breakdown is following: breakfast - $12 (coffee - $5 and a roll - $6-$7), lunch - $25-$30 and dinner with starter/main - $55-$60. Add alcohol - $9 per wine glass or $35-$40 per bottle.
If you want to minimize expenses, there are some options but not much - you won't get kopi for 90c and fried mee for $3. Cheapest takeout food you can get is fish and chips for $9. I and my wife resorted stocking up at supermarkets and do quick cooking/making sandwiches, but yet, all these shoppings at supermarket cost $520 during two weeks period.

- Attractions. Depends what you want to see/experience. Boat tours around Milford start from $70 per person for 1.5h tours. If you want to go on smaller boats and avoid busloads of mainlanders, it will be more expensive. Doubtful Sound tours start from $200 per person. Scenic flights around glaciers and Sounds start from $300 for 20 min helicopter flights and to $600 and above per person for flight/boat combination for 6-8 hour activity. BTW, be careful with these flights because last year one such helicopter crashed to glacier last year killing everybody.
While small local museums and attractions (short steam train ride) are affordably priced around $5-$15 per visitors, while some other interesting places charge $20-$25 (Olveston House and Orokonui EcoSanctuary for example at Dunedin or Tram ride at Christchurch). However, high visibility and well known tourist traps are costly. Gondola at Queenstown with two luge rides costs $50 per person, to visit Royal Albatross Center and Blue Penguin colony will set you back $90 per person. At the same time, you can get see these penguins if you know where to go - at Oamaru, where visitor center charges $45 pp for penguin viewing, you can wait them to come ashore couple hundred meters from the visitor center.

- Gifts/etc. Completely up to you and thus vary. We brought back number of magnets ($3-$5 per piece) and as well as Cadbury chocolate bars - bought them at the factory at Dunedin where you can buy $2 for 200g bar with really wide selection. Locally made clothing from wool is really expensive - think about a jacket for $350.

That's about budget. Next post will be about planning and expectations.
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Old 06-01-2017, 05:25 PM   #936
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I have amended my itineraray (going in march) as follow, as I realised Mt cook accomodation is very limited hence I have booked two nights in mt cook. drive from wanaka to christchurch like very far. Any suggestion how should I "change" it? or where should I stop?

Day 1 Christchurch
Day 2 Christchurch to Kaikoura
Day 3 Christchurch to Lake Tekapo to Mount Cook (accomodation booked)
Day 4 Mount Cook (helicopter ride - accomodation booked)
Day 5 Mount Cook to Queenstown
Day 6 Queenstown
Day 7 Queenstown
Day 8 Queenstown to Te Anau
Day 9 Te Anau (tour to milford sound)
Day 10 Te Anau to Wanaka
Day 11 Wanaka to Christchurch
Day 12 Depart Christchurch
so.. day 2 you'll be driving from CHC to kaikoura, and then back to CHC?
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Old 06-01-2017, 05:28 PM   #937
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Just came back from South Island.

I got lucky and managed to get a diesel-powered MPV (the new Kia Carnival). Saved a lot of money on fuel costs as diesel is around $1.30/l as compared to petrol $2/l.

For those going there, and if you go to supermarkets regularly (if you rent apartments etc) to do own cooking, get an AA Smartfuel card from Countdown supermarket. The card is free and each time you buy things from Countdown, you can clock discounts (eg 6cents off per liter) for your fuel purchase. You can accumulate the discounts. This can cut down on fuel costs.
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Old 06-01-2017, 05:47 PM   #938
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I and my wife spent two weeks on our first trip in NZ, particularly part of South Island and want to share here my thoughts and observations (which obviously could be subjective) to the audience.
great post! just a few comments..

airfare - non-stop is always gonna be expensive cos.. SIA. isn't there a cheaper alternative like qantas which has layovers in Oz? alternatively, sometimes Air NZ has good discounts on airfares, which it's usually during off-peak period.

car rental - generally nobody books with tier 1 without a corporate discount but yeah, the local companies (budget/ace/omega) can be just as good. i'm surprised by the difference in the prices though.
check out mana/naked bus instead of intercity bus.

food - zomato.com for food ratings.

attractions - groupon/grabone/bookme has coupons for some attractions if you already know which date you'll be going.
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Old 06-01-2017, 06:08 PM   #939
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Just came back from South Island.

I got lucky and managed to get a diesel-powered MPV (the new Kia Carnival). Saved a lot of money on fuel costs as diesel is around $1.30/l as compared to petrol $2/l.

For those going there, and if you go to supermarkets regularly (if you rent apartments etc) to do own cooking, get an AA Smartfuel card from Countdown supermarket. The card is free and each time you buy things from Countdown, you can clock discounts (eg 6cents off per liter) for your fuel purchase. You can accumulate the discounts. This can cut down on fuel costs.
The car is rented? From which company?
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Old 06-01-2017, 06:50 PM   #940
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airfare - non-stop is always gonna be expensive cos.. SIA. isn't there a cheaper alternative like qantas which has layovers in Oz? alternatively, sometimes Air NZ has good discounts on airfares, which it's usually during off-peak period.
Only SQ flies to CHC non-stop. With connection you will have options, but again everything boils down to price vs time/convenience situation.

car rental - generally nobody books with tier 1 without a corporate discount but yeah, the local companies (budget/ace/omega) can be just as good. i'm surprised by the difference in the prices though.
check out mana/naked bus instead of intercity bus.
Corp discounts give 20-25% off, even with these (I have one for Hertz) it did not make sense to book it. As was said, if one can book car with diesel engine - do it.

Bus travel... honestly even when someone goes there alone (can't imagine why would one do it) car rental comes more economical. And if there is group of 2-4 people sharing a car, than it is no brainer.


food - zomato.com for food ratings.
attractions - groupon/grabone/bookme has coupons for some attractions if you already know which date you'll be going.
Well, did not know it but doubt that there will be for attractions with already have steady stream of visitors. Why one would give discount if you can charge full price?
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Old 06-01-2017, 07:15 PM   #941
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Bus travel... honestly even when someone goes there alone (can't imagine why would one do it) car rental comes more economical. And if there is group of 2-4 people sharing a car, than it is no brainer.
depends la. i dont like driving that much, so i sometimes take bus from auckland to hamilton/rotorua, and then rent a car from there to start exploring. nakedbus can get ~nzd10 tickets one-way, so why not? haha.

Well, did not know it but doubt that there will be for attractions with already have steady stream of visitors. Why one would give discount if you can charge full price?
beats me. some attractions can even get 50% discount. not sure if you have taken the tourist booklets at the airports. some of the booklets have attraction coupons as well. i believe it's AA travel booklet with the "coupon" notice at the top-right hand corner of the front page.
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Old 08-01-2017, 07:04 PM   #942
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so.. day 2 you'll be driving from CHC to kaikoura, and then back to CHC?

Yup! Thinking whether we should drive or join a day tour
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Old 08-01-2017, 08:22 PM   #943
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Hi Guys and girls,

I be travelling to NZ , northernisland on 1st week of March. Thought of sharing my itenary and would welcome if you can share your opinion or suggestion to make our trip better.

Bought an airticket from SG to auckland at 1288 per pax. (NOW they come out with second birthday sale, which only cost 980!!).
Reach auckland airport on 3rd March at ~1140pm
-Will check in a nearby hotel and have a quick rest.
-Next day i would be renting a motorhome at nearby hotel, Wilderness is the company.
- Will travel down south, towards Waitomo for black water rafting. Will probably have brunch at Huhu Cafe
-After waitomo, will drive towards Lake taupo for a stay over.
- Skydiving the next day. follow by exploring of town at lake taupo.
- Go for the Torigario Alphine crossing, which will most probably take a day. Stay over at lake taupo again.
So its gona be 3d2n at lake taupo
-Go for the huka fall jet before driving off to Rotorua.
-Probably stay there for 3d n. Will join Te puria tour, try the Rotura night market. And go for the Wai O tapu or Hells gate tour. If time permit, will go for wine tasting at the wineary near the skyline condola.
-Drive towards Hobbiton village on the 7th day. Before proceeding back to Auckland main city.
-Explore the city for 3d2n, and back to SG

Budget would be around 2.5k per pax for 2 person.

Any suggestion?
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Old 08-01-2017, 10:38 PM   #944
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The car is rented? From which company?
I got the rental car from Hertz.
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Old 08-01-2017, 11:53 PM   #945
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Hey guys! Just booked my trip to Christchurch in late april to early May. Will be there for around 15 days. Got my airtix from Emirates for $900. Only downside is that its codeshared with Qantas but still its a good deal.

Any recommendations which company for car rental? There's 3 of us so i guess a normal sedan will do right?
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