Driving tour of NZ.
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    Fellow Frogger! tasie C5's Avatar
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    Default Driving tour of NZ.

    Has there been a previous thread on driving through NZ, no bookings (except the car). We are thinking of going in April for a few weeks. Say starting in Christchurch and leaving from Aukland.
    Any recommendations. Allan.

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    Contented Peugeot Driver addo's Avatar
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    In the past, Roger Wilkinson has written a fair amount. Some of it probably has been lost by GoDuddy.

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    Yes, gone I am afraid. Before I start again, some questions. How many people in the car? What sort of car? How many days? Lots or little driving? Gravel roads OK? Accommodation preferences? What kinds of things do you want to see?

    Roger

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    Taking a hire car between islands can be exxy. Last time we went I looked into doing that and the extra charges from the hire companies were silly. If you must do the full stretch it may be better to cross Cook Strait as passengers only and get a new hire car at the other end.

    We hired a Previa (Tarago) from Apex Car Rentals and collected at the railway station at Greymouth after we caught the daily train from CHC station to Greymouth. We had four adults (2 couple). That meant there were four comfy seats with excellent views out the large windows. We flipped the rear seats over and our baggage easily fitted in the rear space and I had an old sheet with me that covered our bags from peering eyes.

    The car was a 2.4l auto so no racing car, but in NZ you don't need one in reality and their cops are as enthusiastic as ours. We did a circuit of 10 days or so which in included Fox Glacier, Lake Wanaka (beautiful!), Queenstown (bigger but not as nice as LW), Milford Sound including the overnight cruise on the sound (take LOTS of insect protection against the frikkin midges!), Dunedin and then Hanmer Springs (Spa town). We avoided CHC as much as we could as the earthquake occurred only weeks before we went.

    We then flew CHC to AUK and hired another car there which I booked as a Previa but none were available so they gave us a Highlander (Prado) instead which was important as we needed 7 seats there while visiting friends. We had a few days in Auckland and did touristy things there.

    On previous trips to NZ we have done heaps of the NI, but still more to see.

    We found that motels in NZ are getting exxy, but as a bonus they typically all have a kitchenette so you can do your own brekky and dinner if you wish.

    To sum up, any country that serves good coffee in a soup bowl is bloody OK with me!
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    Allan without wanting to pip Roger, yes there are some sensational drives in NZ... here's some of my recommendations.

    Consider flying into Queenstown or onto Invercargill from Christchurch.

    The drive from Invercargill (a very good motor museum in a really interesting town) to Riverton, Tuatapere, through the old coal mining towns of Ohai and Nightcaps (a wonderful 1940s style town hall) and then onto Queenstown is simply fabulous and scenic. High snow capped mountains in the distance, flattish river plains, no traffic about, no boys in blue, there's a real feeling of solitude on this drive. You could easily be in some remote part of South America but here there's large farms, sheep, interesting roads. I was due to meet my wife in Queenstown. With all the stops looking at this and that it was pedal to the metal for this boy... 140 where the roads allowed. It's doable in not much more than half a day..

    Queenstown is a great place to start a NZ visit. Nice modern airport, nearby historic Arrowtown would be my preference to stay as opposed to Queenstown.

    Allowing a few days around Queenstown one of the great drives lies ahead. Queenstown to Old Cromwell (the old Grain store on the edge of the lake). Morning tea at Clyde, another wonderful old town and if you are not in a hurry stay overnight here. Then into the really interesting stuff. We were in a Toyota Corolla in Feb/Mar 2013. Onto the Vulcan Hotel, take a few bob to throw to Dame Nellie Melba. NZ Allan Dick says this hotel and town is so pretty it will hurt your eyes. A night at the Vulcan would be my pick. There's a very pretty old limestone quarry filled with aqua water as blue as you will find in the Medittaranean.
    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=v...hp%3B640%3B480

    Next stop after St Bathans (Vulcan Hotel) would be Naseby about 2000' above sea level. Once again a very pretty little town. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid could walk through the door of the Naseby Hotel and not look out of place. From here it's a terrific mountain pass drive to Dunedin.

    Dunedin is one of my favourite NZ towns. The quadrant in the city centre, good cinema, theatres, food. St Kilda by the sea and a wonderful drive past Lanarch Castle (think Scottish Bluestone Castle) up to a very pretty hotel at Portobello. Even if NZ weather is not so good on paper, the sun is normally out.

    Last suggestion for this post is Thames about 90 mins south east of Auckland. The drive from Thames an interesting town in it's own right up to Coramandel hugging the shores of the Firth of Thames, the sea on your left hand side, lovely winding roads almost at sea level. Makes Victoria's Great Ocean Road seem boring. It's a match for roads like the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Some very nice hamlets.

    The drive from Christchurch to Picton where you can catch the ferry to Wellington.. just north of Christchurch some very nice beaches you can access by turning right off the highway. Before Hamner Springs some very nice vineyards with restaurants. Hamner Springs is great for a couple of nights. Christchurch to Picton is a pretty solid drive. We did it one afternoon but it's a long 300km.

    Suspect there are 100s more NZ drives like this. Like Australia you have to mindful of speed limits in built up areas and around towns. And it's important to study the topgraphy and the estimated driving times..

    Regards
    John
    Last edited by J'aime la vie; 12th March 2014 at 06:15 PM.

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    Thats what I want!! Good info. There is only 2 of us and we thought we would just " wing it" and stay wherever??? Cabins or top hotels.
    I know we should have some sort of plan. So I would like to catch up with my fellow shellfish harvesters in the south ( Dunedin and Marlborough areas). We will have around 1 month for the trip.
    If the car hire covers both islands some companies will split the hire. Drop off in Picton and pick up another car in Wellington. About
    $1400 for 28 days.
    We would probably self cater until it gets too much. What is eating out like, we do like good food. Rather pay a lot for good and small than a little for a lot. The plan is to stay in places for a few days rather than driving all the time ( we won't have a Citroen you see).
    Thank you for your info. John & UFO.

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    I'd just hate to think of you enjoying a week or so in an area that combines top shellfish and bloody good Sauvignon Blanc......
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    Hi Alan with NZ I think like a car rally you can divide it into "stages" with some incredibly attractive roads and towns. And then there are "transport" sections that really you are just going from A to B and are slightly hard work. "Stages" I'd say are the ones in my earlier post, "transport" sections are driving Christchurch to Dunedin (although Omaru plus or minus 30km north and south is stunning. Dunedin to Invercarghill although around Balclutha the road is interesting with a feel like perhaps around Narooma without being quite as coastal. Christchurch to Picton is another transport stage. A long, solid and at times a drive through country where you wouldn't want to breakdown. Blenheim is pretty once you get there, Picton is interesting and the ferry to Wellington is good if you get a nice day. Arriving as we did in Wellington in May around 6pm quite dark and chilly! Closeby Martinborough with its vineyards looks great

    Napier in the Norh Island rebuilt after the 1930 earthquake in a lot of Art Deco has a fabulous annual Art Deco festival each year around Feb. Sister city Hastings close by. We flew to Napier from Auckland. Anywhere within 150km of Auckand is a stage. Yet the drive north to the Bay of Islands can feel like a transport stage. Northland looks like a gem and of the east coast north of Gisborne where they filmed that film with the young girl and the whales.....few white people venture north of Gisborne.

    i'm told the topography of the Nth Island is much more challenging than the South Island. So hopping over this country by plane is generally what we have done to save time. And reduce 300-400km transport sections.

    Poor old Christchurch we've not visited since 2007 where a lot of where we stayed was lost or destroyed in the earthquake. Lovely Lyttleton the road over the too if the hill to the seaside town Sumner which had good restaurants and an old cinema like the "Last Picture Show". Akaroa about an hour out of Christchurch is French to the core and not affected. Perhaps an overnight here would break the journey and some research on lunch or dinner or some other local interest would be well rewarded.

    The Black sand beach at Piha out of Auckland is a favourite of mine, a little chilly swimming in Apr. there's another very remote looking place not far out of Auckland where a TV movie featuring the English lead actor from "Doc Martin" was shot. It's coastal and looks to have the solitude and catch the eye like the best parts of NZ have. If you make it to Invercarghill a visit to the HJ Smith department store, coffee shop and lunch at their restaurant are essential. If you want to get into the South Island mood hire or buy the Anthony Hopkins movie about Bert Munro.."The Worlds Fastest Indian". This captures the charm of the South Island and the feel.

    Good luck!

    Rgds John

    PS: The telemovie with Martin Clunes was called "The Man who lost his head" and the prettiest bits were filmed at Little Huia, west of Auckland with a lovely remote feeling..

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz...w-Zealand.html

    The other movie was "Whalerider" filmed at coastal Whangara, Gisborne NZ.

    If you're on Facebook it's worth looking at Allan Dick posts. Allan until he recently retired was a NZ Radio National broadcaster and Editor and Publisher of "NZ Classic Driver" and NZ travel mag "NZ Today". His travels around the highways (and more the byways of NZ and the photos, etc are priceless. And NZ car racing has a deep and rich history of "run what you brung" and host of interesting race cars and NZ specials like the Corvette powered Ford Zephyr, the "Morrari" a Morris Minor body with a cut down Ferrari chassis underneath. "Cust-axie" a 1955 Ford Customline with a 427 inch Ford Galaxie engine, a Renault Dauphine with Chev V8 motor, etc, etc. And yet garden variety cars like Humber 80s had racing success in NZ!

    http://nztoday.co.nz/
    If you look under "articles" and then "magazine issues" there looks a lot online you can read. I have most of the ones in Alan Dicks time here in hardcopy..

    http://www.classicdriver.co.nz/
    And last but not least the website for the companion magazine..
    Last edited by J'aime la vie; 13th March 2014 at 12:03 PM.

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    being a kiwi i can assist in planning.
    time of year can be important down south.

    always leave more time for distance as the roads are not straight and never expressways.
    the main highways are not always the quickest of nicest routes...

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    Used to be that you could get a good deal on 'returning' a motorhome back from the South to the North or such.

    Do not recall specific details -Simply accessing some old info from my memory box.-Would be nice if I could apply same one day & take a N.Z. holiday.

    Interesting fact to keep in mind while over there-While speaking to a K1W1 lady one day I mentioned that some of the earlier inhabitants used to eat the other.She laughed & said 'No-they did not do that all the time-That was ONLY done when another tribesman 'jumped the fence' & got to one of there tribeswoman -SO when they trapped the offender they cooked him up & ate him to show his former tribe as an example the any others who had 'trespass' in mind.

    Any body 'Hungi'??

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    In Wellington go to Te Papa museum - their national museum,

    Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, NZ

    then north to Southwards for an excellent automotive museum

    Home

    Dining out in NZ is always good. There was one place at Fox Glacier that was so good we went two nights running.
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    Alan if you have time I think I'd be adding the west coast of the South Island to an itinerary:

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kumar...2370638776013#

    The newly restored and freshly re-opened Kumara Theatre Royal hotel circa 1876 looks a gem. There's also "Shantytown" Heritage Park nearby

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kumar...035?ref=stream

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kumar...035?ref=stream

    And finally while in Dunedin a visit to Baldwin St, the steepest street in the world?

    http://www.funonthenet.in/articles/s...t-streets.html

    Rgds John
    Last edited by J'aime la vie; 14th March 2014 at 06:45 AM.

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    Thanks all. Looks like we need more time. Like the interesting little places.
    Benvv. Thank you for the offer. I assume that we can use our debit/credit cars and F pos to access the local Pesos?
    Do you know anyone in the shellfish industry?

    Is there a licence needed for fishing. We think we will start in the South and work North to finish up with some warmer weather.
    What is the average budget per day to take in most of the sites. We will not be going OTT with these and we will probably self cater most of the time. The reason we are not planning too much we don't want to be restricted by bookings and schedules.

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    I reckon the glaciers are dear for what you get - assuming you take a sightseeing flight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by addo View Post
    I reckon the glaciers are dear for what you get - assuming you take a sightseeing flight.
    Nope cant agree.

    Still the highlight of my aviation experiences, especialy when I got the front seat in the chopper and wound the pilot up to show me what the old girl could do.

    Think snowboard in a half pipe, and you'll get the idea of what one of those little crappy choppers can do.

    I dont think the other tourists in the aircraft were as impressed as I was at the whole shenanigans though.

    TassieC5, it was 20 years ago that I did my NZ experience, but I fully winged it.
    The only thing booked was the nice little 5 speed 2l hatch.
    Turned up to a town in the early evening, did the walk around and haggle with the best hotels I could find and scored cheap accom in every town.
    I cant imagine much has changed.

    Jo

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    When you get to Picton for the inter-island ferry crossings, watch out for the fast pace.

    When I was there last and I wanted a paper, the newsagent asked if I'd like yesterday's or today's. "Today's of course" I told him. "Then you'll be wanting to come back tomorrow" he said to me.

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    If you go to Fox Glacier and want to do a chopper ride over and onto the glaciers, don't book before you get to town. The excellent new motel we stayed at could book it for us and we saved about 10% or something. The locals will also know what the weather has been like and tell you the best time to book to avoid cloud/fog.

    Best bet re money is to get your favourite bank's Travel Card product which you charge with money prior to leaving. We use ANZ but all banks do it. Yes you pay an inbound fee and commission is built in but you use the card as a debit card for everything possible and you only pay a fee if you use it at an ATM to withdraw funds - fixed fee so you take as much as you have and wish to risk. These cards can now have more than one denomination loaded so if you're planning future OS travel you can add the currencies and keep them separate. Read stuff online to understand. We have an account each that comes with two cards - one is your spare - so Deb and I each carry the other's spare - just in case. Our cards now have NZD, USD, GBP and Euro setup after past and present use.

    You also know how much you have spent directly not waiting for the vagaries of currency exchange and per transaction fees. OUCH!

    Take a spare mobile and buy a local SIM there. Turn off data roaming on your smart phone.

    Use tripadvisor.com to start to get some ideas of costs of locations.
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    card work the same here as in aus. remember your banks own all our banks.

    eftpos is more prevalent here and almost all outlets have.

    What sort of shellfish?

    its oyster season where i am at the moment. look up our fisheries websites and bring your wetsuit for paua (abalone) kina, mussells crays etc. jus be careful of the limits and sizes for the different areas. you dont want to be caught.

    make sure you do the drive to milford sound. I take my alfa v6 over and love getting the symphony echoing through the valleys.

    catlins is also great for a forgotten part of the country.

    plenty to see in the north island also, but can save that for another post....

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    benvv. Do you hire your alfa out ???

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    I'll try to post a bit more later but my partner and I have absolutely fallen for NZ.
    We have had 4 fly-drive holidays there in the last 4 years.

    We have used "Worth a Detour" by Peter Janssen as our guide book to find interesting, unusual, quirky places. Unfortunately one of our favourites, the world's smallest library at Glentunnel, near Christchurch, was badly damaged in the quake and is no longer open.

    we loved Dunedin, Christchurch, Invercargill.
    From an Aussie perspective, where we are used to such large expanses of nothing between places of interest, NZ is amazingly compact. You should allow for travelling very small daily distances, and try to stay several days in a location. We had 5 full days based in Nelson, with daily trips to surrounding areas, including...what's that beach in the far NW corner of South island?...Farewell spit...? windswept place, fantastic trip.

    There are loads of one lane bridges, you have to note which direction has right of way and give way to traffic already on the bridge. Somewhere on the West Coast of SI there is even a shared railway/car bridge - you are straddling the train tracks as you drive along the bridge!

    British Car Museum near Hawkes Bay is...unusual. Cars stacked on hoists to cram more in the shed, with sheets of cardboard on the bonnets of the lower cars to catch the oil drips of the upper cars. (They are Pommy cars after all...) I loved it.

    Apex car rental have been fantastic. We have hired 2006-2007 Ford Focuses - available in Manual (They have autos too) - from Apex. A very pleasant car to drive, better than the Nissans and Toyotas you will get from the other rental companies. Prices are reasonable.

    The train trips are fabulous - TranzAlpine, and the other two Tranz-somethings.

    Consider planning now to make NZ into a series of holidays, do one area thoroughly now, don't try to cover the whole joint in one holiday. You'll come home planning to do it more thoroughly next time...

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    Yes Simca1000 Invercargill is a favourite of mine as well. We have a couple houses in Gore and when renovating these some of the fittings, carpets, wood heaters were bought in Invercargill and later delivered by courier. Stayed at several places in Invercargill including one of the motels on the road in, and what has recently been remamed Invercargill Apartment Hotel which is a bit like student Accomodation with communal kitchens and TV theatre rooms.http://www.iah.co.nz/

    Diagonally across the road from the Invercargill Apartment Hotel are the Quest apartments which is my current preference. The local Kelvin Hotel (a bit of an institution like the old Australia hotel in Collins St Melbourne) might be an interesting experience. In feel Invercargill is a lot like Ballarat in a Southland —Z setting. HJ Smith department store a lot like Myers Victorian country stores but with more style and pizzaz. Bluff is a very quirky town with the Oyster Festival perhaps 30-40km down the road. Invercargill does feel Scottish, the locals talk with a burr. If Invercargill is Ballarat, Bluff is a very rundown place a lot like Queenstown Tas.

    Just out of Invercargill on the way to the beach where in earlier times they used to race cars and motorbikes is the Cabbage Tree Inn.. not a bad place to eat...

    http://www.thecabbagetree.com/about-us/

    Like Simca1000 we've done multiple trips to NZ. I always thought it was because we never had 3 or 4 weeks to do it all in one visit. But yes there's a lot to see and with fuel relatively expensive it's better to base yourself in certain places mixed up with touring to get the full feel of the place. Like Europe best perhaps to fly into one city, make your way to another by car and fly home from there.

    with car museums there's a wonderful one near Wanaka not far out of Queenstown. Like the Ark there's two of most Marques and countries.
    Last edited by J'aime la vie; 17th March 2014 at 04:56 PM.

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    Thank you all!!
    We are looking forward to the trip. Later in the year perhaps as we go to Vanuatu next month.

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    Off to NZ on radiance of the seas Wednesday 19th. Milford Doubtful and Dusky followed by Dunedin and a lot of the west coast of South and North islands. Hope to spot some frog wheels on our trecks.
    .
    Some very useful tips thanks guys

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    It says a lot that I am so enthusiastic to reply further to this thread - more enthused that I have been about any car related stuff for ages....NZ is just fantastic.

    A few snippets - two of the train services run by Kiwi Rail have been re-named. So their three services are now TranzAlpine (Christchurch to Greymouth); Coastal Pacific (up the coast from Christchurch to Picton, meets the ferry to North Island); and Northern Explorer (Wellington to Auckland). We have done done all three and they are all great. From a quick look at their website it appears Northern Explorer has new carriages compared to when we did the trip a couple of years ago. They are not at all posh but they travel through spectacular scenery, including going through amazing tunnels and over ginormous viaducts. They have a live commentary on the places you are passing through, the comments are interesting, witty and depending on who you get on the day, can display a very dry sense of humour. It is not idle natter, it really adds to the trip.

    we didn't take mobile phones. Telecom NZ phone boxes are everywhere, and are much better maintained than Telstras ones here. But calls are expensive - timed local calls cost $1 for a few minutes.

    Dunedin is a highlight. It is a university city. Very steep streets including the steepest in the world, Baldwin Street. Also Larnach Castle as mentioned above and Olveston, a delightful historic house including the family's stunning 1920s FIAT car in the garage, behind glass. From memory the house was built in the 1920s and had every mod con of the day. The train station is gorgeous, and from there runs a half day historic train trip through more gorgeous scenery.
    Geraldine has a really good car museum.

    Don't book the train or ferry from Australia - if you go on their website from here, it detects you are from outside the country and only offers you higher fares. Once you are in NZ the same website page will offer you lower fares - half price or better.
    NZ is covered by "i-sites" - tourist info and booking sites. They are very helpful though they are generally trying to sell you something. If you want to book rail or ferry while you are in Australia, phone the i-site in the nearest major city and book over the phone - they will be selling you the local NZ cheaper fares as that is what shows on their computer screen. (It worked for us...)

    Same goes for tickets on Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound cruises. Except in peak times, you can be fairly confident of getting good discounted tickets on the wharf at time of departure.

    Christchurch is gorgeous, and it is on the mend. It is fascinating to see the centre of the city. When we last went, the Museum ran bus tours of the "red zone" which were an eye opener. I understand that the red zone is now open access, at the time the bus tour was the only way to go there. The ReStart mall in Christchurch is great, it was an instant shopping centre made from shipping containers, all brightly painted. A couple of cafes there have two containers stacked, the kitchen below and open air dining above. It is ingenious. The cathedral is a sad sight - we climbed the tower on our first visit, it is now severely damaged.
    I really enjoyed Wellington - te Papa museum; ride the cable car, ride the suburban train up the west coast to Paraparaumu, then taxi to Southward car museum. (The flashest car museum we saw in NZ.) We walked from the station to the museum. but it was too far and walking along the side of a freeway.
    Coromandel peninsula is beautiful. The North end of it is a "no go" area for rental cars. Due to my partner's excellent navigation we accidentally strayed up there (Shhh, don't tell anyone) and lost some hours, so we got to the hot water beach too late - you only get the hot water when the tide is out.

    Auckland sits across a point where the North island is very narrow, with a bay on each side. You can do a walk from west coast to east coast in about 4 hours, though the suburbs. I-sites have the brochure. Auckland is surrounded by a tangle of elevated freeways. It is horrendous to drive on. I enjoyed Auckland but it wasn't a highlight.
    Further North, Whangarei (pronounced Fong- a- ray, "Wh" in Maori is pronounced as an F) has a lovely quarry park. A disused quarry has been converted to a spectacular garden and artsy complex. Further up, Paihia is beautiful. Cape Reinga, northernmost tip, is where the souls of the dead leap off into the ocean, according to the legend.

    We are planning NZ trip 5 at present - from Wellington up to Auckland, which we only skimmed over earlier.
    Just love the joint.
    Last edited by simca1100; 17th March 2014 at 04:50 PM.

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    Cheers Simca1000.. thanks for the additional tips on Dunedin especially the Fiat behind glass. This thread will be useful to look back on later. (With our homework already done )

    I must get back there (preferably in the better weather). I reckon in summer or Nov/Dec, Jan/Feb if the water is warm enough at St Kilda Beach you could have a nice summer holiday here..

    Last visit in Feb/Mar 2013 we lobbed into Dunedin one Sat night without pre-booked accommodation. It was very difficult to find anywhere to stay. Fortunately using a borrowed mobile from a local we found some heavenly accommodation right in the middle of Dunedin a block or two from the Octagon. And just up the hill a wonderful cafe for lunch.

    Would thoroughly recommend this to anyone looking for inner Dunedin apartment accommodation. There's parking space for a car. The owner of the establishment was brilliant.

    Chapel Apartments - Dunedin's finest accommodation in the heart of the city
    Last edited by J'aime la vie; 17th March 2014 at 05:33 PM.

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