We now have everything booked for NZ! Our itinerary isn’t as crazy as I thought it would be:
- Sept 14: Take ferry from Wellington to Picton, drive to Kaikoura (2 hr drive) for the night
- Sept 15: Kaikoura
- Sept 16: Drive to Nelson (3 hr drive) for the night
- Sept 17: Abel Tasman National Park (Happy Birthday to Emily and Sean!)
- Sept 18: Abel Tasman National Park
- Sept 19: Abel Tasman National Park
- Sept 20: Last day of hiking in Abel Tasman, drive to Punakaiki (3.5 hr drive) for the night
- Sept 21: Drive to Franz Josef, explore the glaciers, stay the night
- Sept 22: Franz Josef/Fox Glaciers
- Sept 23: Drive to Wanaka (4 hr drive) for the night
- Sept 24: Wanaka
- Sept 25: Drive to Queenstown (1 hr drive) for the night
- Sept 26: Queenstown
- Sept 27: Queenstown
- Sept 28: Queenstown
- Sept 29: Drive to Fjordland National Park (4 hr drive), stay the night at Milford Sound Lodge
- Sept 30: Milford Sound
- Oct 1: Drive to Invercargill (4 hr drive) for the night
- Oct 2: Invercargill, possible day trip to Stewart Island
- Oct 3: Drive to Dunedin (2.5 hr drive) for the night
- Oct 4: Drive to Oamaru (1.5 hr drive) for the night
- Oct 5: Drive to Christchurch (3.5 hr drive) for the night
- Oct 6: Fly to Melbourne, Australia
I’m really happy with this plan. I think we’ll see the highlights of the South Island (with the exception of Mt. Cook), but still have time to explore and relax. Brad updated the New Zealand Itinerary map, go check it out!
Oh yeah, in the midst of planning a year-long backpacking trip, we were also planning a wedding. (I would not recommend this, by the way.) Things got a little crazy the last couple of weeks, but everything ended up going great! If I do say so myself, our Bucky Badger themed wedding was awesome. We had a Bucky ice sculpture, Camp Randall style section seating with tickets (Brad is a genius and made them look authentic), Bucky chocolates and an appearance from the band and Bucky himself. I had so much fun and everyone keeps telling me that they did, too. The ceremony at Olbrich Gardens was exactly how I pictured it and went perfectly. We had to sleep in our car for a night in March of 2010 to book Olbrich, but it was definitely worth it. The flowers were beautiful, our readers did an incredible job, the string quartet sounded great, our vows were very sweet…. Really, I know nobody wants to hear me go on and on about how much I loved my wedding, but I can’t help it. I loved every second of it!
Now we’re up in Door County for the week, getting some much-needed relaxation in before we sell all our stuff, move out of our apartment and leave for New Zealand! Keep checking back or subscribe to our updates because things are about to get quite interesting!
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Normally New Zealand is, I’m told, a very rural place where you can drive for hours and not see anyone and the sheep population outnumbers the human population. If you’re there during the off peak season (which we will be), there’s no need to book ahead or really worry about where you’re going. And then I discovered that we’ll be in New Zealand during the Rugby World Cup, when hordes of angry rugby fans will descend upon the country and claim all of the accommodation and transportation.
Since we hadn’t booked anything yet, we considered changing our plans and starting in Australia instead. But after thinking about it, we decided it would be pretty fun to check out the RWC, so we’re making lemons into lemonade and just going with it. Last night we bought a ticket to the USA vs Ireland game on September 11th in New Plymouth. (It’s Patriot Day, so America has to win, right?) We’re still working on the rest of our itinerary, but here’s what we have so far:
- Sept. 1 @ 5am: Arrive in Auckland.
- Sept 2-3: Explore Auckland and surrounding area.
- Sept 4: Get rental car, stay in Coromandel Peninsula. (2.5 hour drive)
- Sept 5: Coromandel
- Sept 6: AM drive to Rotorua (3.5 hr drive), for the night.
- Sept 7: 2nd day in Rotorua
- Sept 8: Drive to Taupo (1 hr drive), for the night.
- Sept 9: Drive to Tongariro National Park (Mordor), spend night in Turangi.
- Sept 10: ? Somewhere between Turangi and New Plymouth (edit: we’ll be in Wanganui for the night.)
- Sept 11: New Plymouth, Rugby Match USA vs Ireland
- Sept. 12: Drive to Wellington (5 hr drive) for the night.
- Sept 13: Wellington
- Sept 14: Take ferry to Picton
- Sept 14: Night at Kaikura.
There aren’t too many RWC games in the South Island, so hopefully we won’t run into many conflicts. Even so, we’ll probably still book places to stay in advance, just in case. I’m hoping this is the only time we’ll have to stick to such a rigid itinerary.
We just bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand! It’s a pretty incredible feeling. We are leaving on August 30th from Chicago with one stop in San Fran. We also booked a flight from Christchurch to Melbourne on October 6th, so we have a little over a month to explore New Zealand. I don’t really like being locked in on a day to leave, but for some reason it was cheaper to book both the flight to New Zealand and Australia than just the one flight to New Zealand. Weird. I guess that’s airline companies for you.
The countdown has officially begun!