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New Zealand Advice?

We are trying to plan a trip to NZ and feeling lost without Rick Steves to guide us! Any suggestions for other good resources to aid in the planning process?

Would also love to hear your suggestions and experiences! We are hoping to go in March 2020.

Posted by
1131 posts

The Rough Guide is comprehensive. Also the DK guide. Since they have different styles it might be worth trying them both. I'd imagine there is a Lonely Planet guide too, but I think they are best avoided with all the silly faux trendy nonsense.

We've found the official websites are very good. Starting with national "100% Pure NZ" site and then drilling down to city or area websites.

As for personal recommendations, it partly depends how much time you will have?

Posted by
1700 posts

We prefer the DK Eyewitness guide as well, but I agree that you should test drive a few at your local library to see which format you prefer.
March is a delightful time to visit the country. Depending upon your available time and personal interests I suggest devoting a large portion of your discretionary time to the South Island and particularly the area in and around Queenstown.
One note - during our most recent visit last year we noted the crowds in some of the popular towns had increased dramatically as compared to previous trips. Apparently, NZ has become quite popular with Asian tourists during the Chinese New Year celebrations, which in our case lasted well into March. Rooms were hard to come by in Queenstown, Wanaka, and Mt. Cook. Point being that I'd be sure to lock in your accommodations early to avoid possible disappointment.

Posted by
4124 posts

We did the North Island in 9 days and spent 3 nights in Wellington. Loved Wellington. The Botanical Museum is great as the wonderful museum.
Not sure that you have time for both islands. The north island has more the Mauri heritage, also if you liked the Lord of the Rings movies, go to Hobbiton.

Posted by
81 posts

I second the suggestion about using the NZ forum on Trip Advisor - when I went 2 years ago, I got some excellent tips after posting a tentative itinerary. Plus there are lots of threads on the forum about where to go and what to see. The tweaks that were suggested were very helpful and eliminated some backtracking I hadn't realized I was doing. Also figure out what your interests are -- are you a fan of Lord of the Rings? There are some interesting places linked to that (incl Hobbiton near Rotorua on North island that was fabulous). It's also near the glow-worm caves which were amazing - there are several options for tours that are well worth it. March was a nice time of year - not too hot. Enjoy - we loved it there!!

Posted by
704 posts

We used all the books mentioned but relied on the NZ TripAdvisor. We spend 18 night boots on ground. Auckland for 3 nights, three nights on the Tutukaka Coast then the rest was spent between Wellington and the north part of the south island - Blenheim, Nelson, hiking Queen Charlotte Track and Abel Tasman. With 8-10 nights I would find an region to explore and dig in. It will be wonderful!

Posted by
50 posts

We were there 12 days and only visited the So Island. I relied mostly on trip advisor and theNew Zealand tourism website to plan my itinerary. They were both excellent sources of information for this trip. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The best advice I can give is to not plan more than 4-5 hours of driving time from point to point. There is so much beautiful scenery you will want to stop and look at and photograph along the way.