Before we travel

 

Preparation

To set out our route, we obtained a large map of New Zealand, & used small post-it notes to indicate where we would like to go/see/do. This was assisted by sample itineraries from travel brochures, & by a self-made 'to do' list at the NZ Tourism web site.

From this, we worked out our route, planning accommodation stops so that we wouldn't have to do too much driving each day. Then we decided how long we'd like to stay in each place. Some only warranted an overnighter, while a few led to 2 nights. Then we started to book up accommodation. Our original plan was to be flexible on motels, by booking up as we travelled, but it soon became apparent (ie after the start of October 2010) that the places we had earmarked to stay were filling up quickly: we assumed the summer booking deluge was underway! So, we booked all of our accommodation up front.

We did not buy a travel guide to New Zealand and opted to pick up leaflets as & when we stopped so we could compliment our original 'to do' list as we travelled. We also found some places we wanted to see were not easily accessible, or involved walks of up to 3 hours (each way or round trip) - we're not against walking, but with time considerations, a few remote waterfalls didn't get seen. Some of the towns we stayed at had their own eating out guides, the motels provided menu selections for local restaurants & bars, & we did tend to take up their recommendations. 

We planned to purchase cereal for our breakfasts & make sandwiches for one of our meals each day. This we did, & also carried muesli etc bars & fresh fruit to snack on.

Our original plan was to visit Hobbiton on the way back to Auckland, but due to their proposed filming schedule, it would be closed then, so we visited on the way to Rotorua. Due to Peter Jacksons illness, it didn't actually close as planned.

To keep ourselves organised, we used a clear pocket folder, keeping, in date order, all the motel confirmations, ferry & other bookings, mileage charts, our full itinerary, car hire documents etc. It also proved to be useful for storing receipts, leaflets, cards & many other items - all conveniently in 1 place.

As well as asking many questions of our friends who either live in New Zealand or have previously travelled there, we used a lot of web resources to help plan our trip & gain information.

Tripadvisor was great for motel/motor lodge reviews. http://www.tripadvisor.com/

Vodafone gave us information on where to purchase a pay-as-you-go sim card & its cost. http://www.vodafone.co.nz/

We requested and received car hire quotes from the 5 big international companies, but settled in the end for a local New Zealand company: About New Zealand Rental Cars at http://www.rentalcar.co.nz/default.aspx

http://www.vroomvroomvroom.co.nz/ allowed us to compare hire charges across several companies.

& for fuel prices throughout the country, http://www.pricewatch.co.nz/pricewatch.aspx

Activities:

Hobbiton film set & farm tour: http://www.hobbitontours.com/

Franz Josef Glacier Guides: http://www.franzjosefglacier.com/

Southern Discoveries - Milford Sound Cruise http://www.southerndiscoveries.co.nz/

Travel between the North & South Islands: http://www.interislander.co.nz/


Other:

Tourism/where to go/what to see or do:

http://www.newzealand.com/travel/International

http://www.holidayguide.co.nz/


The more legal side of things:

http://www.dutyfreestores.co.nz/allowances

http://www.immigration.govt.nz/

http://www.customs.govt.nz/default.htm

We are not responsible for any of the information contained in the sites above, nor for any actions you may take as a result of visiting those sites.


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