A Countdown

Apart from the never-ending – or never wanting to end – question of which brand of roaming chip you should buy for your mobile phone, the second most popular question on the various forums that I visit is, “Do I need to book in advance?” Probably the most annoying feature of this question is that a general answer seems to be required, and that is not possible without very detailed knowledge of what the petitioner expects to do.

There are some activities, places and times that require booking at the earliest possibility – Queenstown between Christmas and the New Year (but that has always been the case, even since 1974), the Milford Track (and, increasingly the Routeburn and Kepler Tracks as well) – because they will be booked out very quickly. This is not to rule out the possibility of getting a single place on the Great Walks at short notice – that has been possible in recent years. But that would require a sort of flexibility that few travellers have. Read more…

Debriefing: Inland Travel Costs

Well, I made it there and back, and through the countryside as well. As I suspected when I first wrote about this, having a budget of $2,100 (€1,428) for inland travel (one person, eight weeks) was more than sufficient. In the end, the tin had more than $430 (€290) leftover in it. This was remarkably cheaper than any of the vehicle hire options, especially when considering the fuel costs and necessary bus/shuttle rides that would have to be added in.

That being said, the combination of inland flights, bus trips, taxis and other shuttles to get around in has to be well planned. A number of the bus trips were best booked in advance to be somewhat cheaper (InterCity has special offer tickets which can be very cheap, but they can’t be changed). Most of the on-track/off-track shuttles as well as taxi fares are fixed price, but can be flexible (just ask if you can change). Inland flights are very much cheaper the further in advance you book; again the cheapest options cannot be changed after booking, except for a special fee. This is the only point where I could have saved about $150/€100, and it was on the Auckland-Invercargill leg. Read more…