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DIY New Zealand ports by rental car

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Our NCL cruise in January goes from Auckland to Bay of Islands, Tauranga,  Napier, Picton, Akaroa and Dunedin.   We are interested in Natural beauty and cultural events.  There are 4 of us traveling on a budget.  We are thinking of renting a car in each of these ports so we can get out and see the countryside.   Any “Must sees” for road trips from any of these ports?  I’ve done a bit of research, but sure would like to hear some of your recommendations!   Thanks! 

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Auckland.... take the ferry to Waiheke Island. It's #1 in all of my travels!

If you get a chance to see Queenstown it is spectacular.  Nothing is cheap Aust/NewZealand. Didn't rent a car on NZ, but did in Tasmania, and Aust. All very easy to do, everything works basically the same, roads are a tad narrow, and parking is $$$$

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I stayed with locals in Dunedin (I was visiting farmer friends that lived further north on South Island) who absolutely insisted I take a day tour of the Otago peninsula and I was enthralled. I have always been interested in natural beauty and wildlife so it seemed a perfect fit and it was one of the highlights of my entire South Island visit although the entire trip remains one of my all time lifetime best.

 

I am not exaggerating when I say everything in New Zealand, especially South Island, is a must-see. But don't worry, you are stopping in some wonderful places on both islands! The farmer's kids lived for a few years up in Tauranga as well and the family has toured the world but so often tend to holiday in their own spectacular country–why wouldn't they?

 

Chiming in along with 3Shelaghs, and remembering what my kiwi friends recounted as I remarked on the roads in NZ (as a life long NYC resident) unless you are very, very comfortable driving on roads that are sometimes quite (quite!!) narrow, curvy, and negotiating their  *bridges that have a long lane you may have to back up on before crossing in order to let an oncoming driver cross because they are further across than you are* all while driving manual transmission (possibly) on the right side of the car, I say BRAVA/O/X, or....it might be better to arrange a tour, no shame, just chill out and enjoy the view. I'm very much a DIY'er (and started my gig on these boards over at our Independent Traveler sister site, so you get me) but I also know what works for me, my host country, maximum happiness/survival for all involved. 😊 🙄

 

I suggest browsing through our boards for ideas on visiting other ports, try using the search feature or just clicking through using the page numbers near the bottom of the list of topics in recent weeks and months. You'll discover some great ideas and information from other CC members that have recently visited New Zealand or like you, are planning their cruises for the near future and members have pitched in with helpful information. Planning this trip help kickstart the dream into reality. Have fun. 

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Thank you so much, Host Bonjour and 3Shelaghs!   Such great, helpful info!  We appreciate tips from people that have had memorable experiences!  
My husband is a very experienced driver.  We recently lived in Germany for 5 years & he drove all over Europe, many tiny villages, in a standard car.  I think he’ll be great.  
We have cars reserved in 2 ports: Akaroa, Tauranga.   And for Bay of Islands, we have a car reserved in Kerikeri.  It looks like that is 20 minutes away, but there were no cars available at the port.  
The other three ports, we will DIY by foot and shuttle buses.

Any other suggestions are more than welcome!

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On 12/27/2019 at 9:01 PM, cc cruiser said:

Thank you so much, Host Bonjour and 3Shelaghs!   Such great, helpful info!  We appreciate tips from people that have had memorable experiences!  
My husband is a very experienced driver.  We recently lived in Germany for 5 years & he drove all over Europe, many tiny villages, in a standard car.  I think he’ll be great.  
We have cars reserved in 2 ports: Akaroa, Tauranga.   And for Bay of Islands, we have a car reserved in Kerikeri.  It looks like that is 20 minutes away, but there were no cars available at the port.  
The other three ports, we will DIY by foot and shuttle buses.

Any other suggestions are more than welcome!

I also  just rented a car in Napier,   which is also excellent,  and so is Dunedin      Tauranga can be tricky.   It's a very congested city,  and hopefully you have a long port day.    I suggest you get off your ship immediately upon clearance,  because the shuttle pick up is a distance away.     In New Zealand,   I have a data Sim,   because downloaded maps aren't always accurate and don't have traffic detour options.   

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4 hours ago, Budget Queen said:

I also  just rented a car in Napier,   which is also excellent,  and so is Dunedin      Tauranga can be tricky.   It's a very congested city,  and hopefully you have a long port day.    I suggest you get off your ship immediately upon clearance,  because the shuttle pick up is a distance away.     In New Zealand,   I have a data Sim,   because downloaded maps aren't always accurate and don't have traffic detour options.   

I’m a little behind technology  times....what do you mean by data Sim?  We have rented a GPS with each of our cars.  Will that suffice?  

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8 hours ago, cc cruiser said:

I’m a little behind technology  times....what do you mean by data Sim?  We have rented a GPS with each of our cars.  Will that suffice?  

 

Depends on the device.    I wouldn't consider it.   IF you have an unlocked phone-   you can purchase a Sim card and have data for your entire trip along with maps/gps.     I like Vodafone which I use a lot in my travels.   Having your maps downloaded in advance saves a lot of time.   

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On 12/27/2019 at 9:01 PM, cc cruiser said:

Thank you so much, Host Bonjour and 3Shelaghs!   Such great, helpful info!  We appreciate tips from people that have had memorable experiences!  
My husband is a very experienced driver.  We recently lived in Germany for 5 years & he drove all over Europe, many tiny villages, in a standard car.  I think he’ll be great.  
We have cars reserved in 2 ports: Akaroa, Tauranga.   And for Bay of Islands, we have a car reserved in Kerikeri.  It looks like that is 20 minutes away, but there were no cars available at the port.  
The other three ports, we will DIY by foot and shuttle buses.

Any other suggestions are more than welcome!

 

You’re welcome. 

 

With the driving international experience he has, then indeed it’ll be fine. Other experiences I loved and enjoyed were in different places and I’ve not yet returned but my kiwi friends, we’ve been friends for more than twenty years having met on a very small tour in southern China. I’ve seen them in various places here in the U.S. but aim to get back to this most breathtaking place on earth. 

 

I would absolutely encourage a certain amount of spontaneity. Equally memorable was just pulling off the road and stopping for a picnic lunch at gazebos in beautiful gardens that just seemed to be there or wandering Koekohe Beach that is populated with giant round monolithic round rocks, I have a photo where I am standing inside one that is split open (Moeraki Boulders) north of Otago.

 

However even without boulders that appear to be swallowing me whole, it become a challenge to find a place that isnt tempting to turn into an opportunity; this country is that stunning beautiful and rich with cultural history. 

 

My friend’s daughter and her family are avid hikers, her husband was an amateur competitive cyclist (and has Maori heritage), and I recall them often visiting Te Mata in the Napier region. http://tematapark.co.nz/

 

For Picton, there are also dolphin and orca wildlife tours, access to NZ’s Marlborough wine region (note: Te Mata includes Hawkes Cay, another of NZ’s wine regions) but there is also an opportunity to dive into Maori culture and get a look at the world’s oldest merchant ship, the Edwin Fox, in dry dock. All this in addition to the charm of the region. 

http://www.visitpicton.co.nz/

 

Here is a link to Bay of Islands. I’d have trouble choosing, to be honest. There’s a seal swim in shallow open water (not where their kept in an aquarium or water park!) that I think would be hard to pass up. Adding in a hike or guided kayak tour might make it a well rounded day...or just one of these things. 

 

You could mix/switch out any of these things in various ports, keeping in mind the spontaneity variable. I was on a budget, everyone more or less is, at varying levels. Mine was in the true meaning of the word but I fared well.

 

I encourage you to read more on the destinations you’ll be visiting to see what most interests your group, then create a list and come back here to whittle down your selections. Everyone here is always happy to help. 🙂 

 

 

 

 

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Spontaneity is my middle name!  We are so looking forward to all the natural beauty NZ has to offer us!  Thank you for your advice and encouragement!

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On 12/28/2019 at 3:01 PM, cc cruiser said:


We have cars reserved in 2 ports: Akaroa, Tauranga.   And for Bay of Islands, we have a car reserved in Kerikeri.  It looks like that is 20 minutes away, but there were no cars available at the port.  
The other three ports, we will DIY by foot and shuttle buses.

Any other suggestions are more than welcome!


How do you plan to get to Kerikeri to pick up the car and then get back again ?

The tender drop off wharf is at Waitangi and it’s a fair distance over to Kerikeri.

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1 hour ago, Kiwi Kruzer said:


How do you plan to get to Kerikeri to pick up the car and then get back again ?

The tender drop off wharf is at Waitangi and it’s a fair distance over to Kerikeri.

Yep, we noticed that also.  So we were able to find a company that would meet us at the pier.  Yay!  Time saver!

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8 minutes ago, cc cruiser said:

Yep, we noticed that also.  So we were able to find a company that would meet us at the pier.  Yay!  Time saver!


Good one ,😀

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On 12/29/2019 at 3:31 AM, Budget Queen said:

I also  just rented a car in Napier,   which is also excellent,  and so is Dunedin      Tauranga can be tricky.   It's a very congested city,  and hopefully you have a long port day.    I suggest you get off your ship immediately upon clearance,  because the shuttle pick up is a distance away.     In New Zealand,   I have a data Sim,   because downloaded maps aren't always accurate and don't have traffic detour options.   

We have booked an NCL NZ cruise later this year. Can you share where you are renting cars from that have port locations? Thank you.

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On 12/27/2019 at 6:01 PM, cc cruiser said:

Thank you so much, Host Bonjour and 3Shelaghs!   Such great, helpful info!  We appreciate tips from people that have had memorable experiences!  
My husband is a very experienced driver.  We recently lived in Germany for 5 years & he drove all over Europe, many tiny villages, in a standard car.  I think he’ll be great.  
We have cars reserved in 2 ports: Akaroa, Tauranga.   And for Bay of Islands, we have a car reserved in Kerikeri.  It looks like that is 20 minutes away, but there were no cars available at the port.  
The other three ports, we will DIY by foot and shuttle buses.

Any other suggestions are more than welcome!

Could you share where you are renting a car in Tauranga? We are on an NCL NZ cruise later this year and would like to explore this option. Thank you.

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1 hour ago, singnrn said:

We have booked an NCL NZ cruise later this year. Can you share where you are renting cars from that have port locations? Thank you.

You can rent from any of the ports.  I suggest- first figuring out where you want to go and include based on your port times.   Some people have unrealistic ideas and don’t rely on google maps for time estimates.    Be conservative with your plans especially if you have not been there.   I’ve visited at least half a dozen times and plan in this manner 

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On 12/27/2019 at 6:01 PM, cc cruiser said:

Thank you so much, Host Bonjour and 3Shelaghs!   Such great, helpful info!  We appreciate tips from people that have had memorable experiences!  
My husband is a very experienced driver.  We recently lived in Germany for 5 years & he drove all over Europe, many tiny villages, in a standard car.  I think he’ll be great.  
We have cars reserved in 2 ports: Akaroa, Tauranga.   And for Bay of Islands, we have a car reserved in Kerikeri.  It looks like that is 20 minutes away, but there were no cars available at the port.  
The other three ports, we will DIY by foot and shuttle buses.

Any other suggestions are more than welcome!

 

Bay of Islands has a great free shuttle that will take you from the area that you're tendered to into the little town,  there are a couple of hiking trails there, as well as little ferries that will take you to the other small islands/towns with more beautiful hiking trails. Sightseeing boats to see the little dolphins as well.    There's also the amazing Waitangi Treaty museum within walking distance...  unless there's a particular destination you have in mind, I wouldn't bother with a car there.  

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On 1/10/2020 at 3:59 PM, Budget Queen said:

You can rent from any of the ports.  I suggest- first figuring out where you want to go and include based on your port times.   Some people have unrealistic ideas and don’t rely on google maps for time estimates.    Be conservative with your plans especially if you have not been there.   I’ve visited at least half a dozen times and plan in this manner 

I was hoping that you could give us the actual contacts of the companies that have locations at the ports. That's the part I am trying to research.

 

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On 1/11/2020 at 11:01 AM, singnrn said:

Could you share where you are renting a car in Tauranga? We are on an NCL NZ cruise later this year and would like to explore this option. Thank you.

We are using Rad Car Hire in Tauranga.   Its not cheap... But we are splitting it 4 ways, so it's less expensive than an excursion.. And much more flexible!  😁

 

On 1/11/2020 at 11:01 AM, singnrn said:

Could you share where you are renting a car in Tauranga? We are on an NCL NZ cruise later this year and would like to explore this option. Thank you.

 

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On 1/12/2020 at 5:31 AM, cruise kitty said:

 

Bay of Islands has a great free shuttle that will take you from the area that you're tendered to into the little town,  there are a couple of hiking trails there, as well as little ferries that will take you to the other small islands/towns with more beautiful hiking trails. Sightseeing boats to see the little dolphins as well.    There's also the amazing Waitangi Treaty museum within walking distance...  unless there's a particular destination you have in mind, I wouldn't bother with a car there.  

Agree with the car advice.  Unless you specifically want to see something outside of Waitangi, Paihia and Russell then I wouldn't bother with the car.  If you want to see Kauri trees or Kawiti Glow Worm Caves then the car is fine.  You can easily walk to Paihia from the pier in Waitangi along the coast and plenty of ferry boats and excursion boats to other islands.

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On 1/10/2020 at 5:01 PM, singnrn said:

Could you share where you are renting a car in Tauranga? We are on an NCL NZ cruise later this year and would like to explore this option. Thank you.

 

We used https://www.abcrentals.co.nz/ last week.  They were the cheapest I found for our date, and picked us up and returned us to the port.

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On 12/14/2019 at 9:21 PM, cc cruiser said:

Our NCL cruise in January goes from Auckland to Bay of Islands, Tauranga,  Napier, Picton, Akaroa and Dunedin.   We are interested in Natural beauty and cultural events.  There are 4 of us traveling on a budget.  We are thinking of renting a car in each of these ports so we can get out and see the countryside.   Any “Must sees” for road trips from any of these ports?  I’ve done a bit of research, but sure would like to hear some of your recommendations!   Thanks! 

 

We just got off an NZ cruise this month.  At Picton, we rented a car and drove to the little town of Havelock for lunch.  There are two different routes to get there and we took both.  The first route was inland route that passed by several wineries.  We drove that way to Havelock.  

 

Heading back to Picton, we drove on the Queen Charlotte Dr which hugs the coastline of the sound. There are several turnouts with wonderful views of the sound and, as you get closer to Picton, nice views of the ship.

 

The lack of traffic and the simplicity of the route made the adjustment easier for driving on the other side of the road using a car with a steering wheel on the other side as well.

 

F65CE1D3-E76F-49B9-84BD-56E96D23410F.jpeg

Taken near Havelock at low tide.

 

E859BE7E-E49F-4B66-9A92-26D390266F7D.jpeg

 

34F0C30F-58DC-4A82-B79B-9835C937D681.jpeg

Edited by mahdnc

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4 hours ago, mahdnc said:

There are two different routes to get there and we took both.

 

I thought this was going to be a Yogi joke... :classic_biggrin:

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The Queen Charlotte  Drive is stunning. Great view over to the ship which opens up through the bush .

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NCL ships in Picton berth at Waimahara wharf in Shakespeare Bay. From there, you'll be shuttled through the port to ouside the i-Site information centre in Auckland Street. Most of the rental car agencies are at the Interislander ferry terminal, 300 metres (1000ft) from the drop-off point.

Blenheim (pop. 26,500) is notable for being the largest town in New Zealand without traffic lights. The major intersections are instead controlled by roundabouts, so if you're not familiar with them, you better learn quickly!

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