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Cheapest Airport for NZ?

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Cheapest Airport for NZ?

Postby JWood521 » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:16 am

I'm planning a trip to NZ in October and will be flying from Seattle. I'm currently planning on hiking North around Nelson and South for the Rees/Dart rivers, so I plan on traveling completely across the South island.

I've looked at flying into both Christchurch and Queensland and the cost looks about the same. Are there any other major airports I should check on?
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Postby ktnbs » Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:44 am

Having been down there several times I have done versions with sometimes intent to save dollars but also to vary routine.

Just ticketed RT to Auckland from either LAX or SFO then separate ticket to Queenstown or Chch Depending, may have saved a few paltry dollars but increased hassle too and more than once it actually ended up costing me more due to changes I had to make.

Ticketed RT to Chch then bussed it to Wanaka.

Having had enough hassles with out smarting myself that I now just ticket to where I want to go. You can, as I am sure you are doing, really run a lot of options on NZ Air and Qantas.
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Postby Dow Williams » Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:02 am

I have always assumed Aukland would be the best value if you are doing both islands anyway. I normallly just do south island, thus fly into Christchurch through Aukland. Anyhow, there is a ferry you can take from north to south at Wellington which is a happening town....or vice versa without buying another plane ticket. Main advantage is that this option offers you more flexibility in the planning arena. Just show up to buy your ferry ticket vs having to buy a plane ticket in advance for the best deal. Cheers and enjoy.
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Postby Damien Gildea » Wed Jan 14, 2009 2:56 am

Nelson is on the south island.
Queenstown is on the south island.
JWood seems to be only going to the south island, from his original post.

Chch to Qtown is around 7hrs drive. Wanaka about 6hrs. Buses are not great value.

Getting the connecting flight Chch-Qt all on the one ticket might be better, so long as you can confirm that you won't pay excess baggage on the internal flight. The weight limit is only 20kg (45lbs) and you may have more than that, having a much bigger allowance US to NZ.

If you buy a totally separate Chch-Qt ticket, the limit will be 20kg and you may end up paying more than the bus fare (NZ$150?) in excess baggage.

But if you're going to both Nelson and Qt then you'll be on buses a bit anyway, so maybe some kind of pass is better. If you go Nelson first, then better just ticket to Chch, bus to Nelson, then bus down the west coast and over Haast Pass to Qt or Wanka.

Going LAX/SFO to Auckland to Chch to Qt is just extra hassle, unless you get a great deal.


D
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Postby JWood521 » Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:40 am

I noticed that all of the flights I've seen connect through Aukland and it's a couple hundred USD cheaper to skip the connecting flight. Looking through various trail descriptions and pictures around SP, it seems that the most interesting area is the South Alps, so it makes the most sense to me to just spend my time on the South Island. Interestingly enough, the flights to zqn are the same price as chc, so I may save myself some travel time and just fly into zqn.

Thanks for the input!
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Postby Scott » Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:43 am

If you do end up busing it and ferrying it from Auckland that really isn't a bad thing. The bus ride really is gorgeous.

Looking through various trail descriptions and pictures around SP, it seems that the most interesting area is the South Alps


If you have time, both are enjoyable. The South Island has the most rugged mountains (among the most spectacular I have seen anywhere on earth), but the North Island has things the South does not, such as active volcanoes, geysers and the Polynesian culture. If you have time, visit both islands. If not the South is a great choice.

We only had a month to see both islands and it was no where near enough time. Someday we'll be back.
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Postby Rick B » Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:35 am

I'm heading down there in three weeks time as well, for a total of 22 days on the South Island. We're renting a car to get around, I found the rentals are really cheap (probably because the euro is worth a lot of NZ$ at the moment), and the freedom you get compared to using buses is priceless anyway. On the other hand, if you're just alone then it's convenient if somebody else does all the driving for you...
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Postby Damien Gildea » Wed Jan 14, 2009 4:37 pm

If you haven't already, check out www.standbycars.co.nz I usually use them, but in the winter.

Be careful on the roads. There's not many overtaking lanes, even on the main highways, so people can get impatient and they have some bad accidents. The main road down the west coast has some single-lane bridges where you need to give way (yield) to oncoming traffic.

Also, beware the keas (short chunky birds with strong beaks). They will eat the rubber off your windscreen wipers and around your windscreen. They are really bad in some areas further south.

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Postby ktnbs » Wed Jan 14, 2009 6:49 pm

As I am languishing at home with a virus today, I am doing some airfare surfing.

March fares RT from LAX to Q-town - as cheap as $1,000 US. Tempting to pull the trigger and worry the details later!

Some October, November, early Dec RT fares - at least $1,800. If I recall I used to be able to fly cheaper in Oct and November.... one of the reasons my 08 trip was in late Feb and March. And usually specials for Oct and Nov appear later on in the year.

But attempting a minor peak in early March 08, the glacier approach was too chopped up but otherwise the weather seemed to be better and the tramping crowds were thinner.
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