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NZ airfare and land package

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I am trying to find a good airfare from San Francisco to NZ for the summer skiing, from the "normal" online channel like Yahoo Travel etc, I got a fare for about 1,100USD. But my wife saw one fare on Travel zoo for about 600USD, nevertheless, its no longer on the web site.

Does any one have a better idea where to get a lower fare to South Island NZ? I have Two potential plans:

1. Fly to Auckland and join a local tour for Queenstown.
2. Fly to Queenstown or Christchurch and rent car & condos there.

Any help will be appreciated, we have about 6 people, maybe more.
post #2 of 11
I strongly recommend the fly to South Island and rent a car approach, which I have done twice. There are lots of things to do in NZ besides ski. The weather is unpredictable and you need flexibility to choose your daily activity on short notice. With no trees you can't see a thing in the ski areas during storms, and in the more severe cases the areas won't open at all. And in Queenstown you should use your best weather day to go to Milford or Doubtful Sound.
post #3 of 11
Originally Posted by jackwan1
I am trying to find a good airfare from San Francisco to NZ... I have Two potential plans:
1. Fly to Auckland and join a local tour for Queenstown.
2. Fly to Queenstown or Christchurch and rent car & condos there.

Any help will be appreciated, we have about 6 people, maybe more.
---Try Air Brokers International: airbrokers.com or 1.800.883.3273. These guys put together my 11 month trip-around-the world flights and a number of flights to Asia. They are an airline ticket consolidator: airlines dump unsold seats to them at a deep discount. They are based in San Fran. and have been in business for at least 15 years... awesome deals, depending on your ability to travel off-peak.

---Usually better air deals to Auckland. From there, you can book a flight to Queenstown or Christchurch. You can also rent a vehicle and take it across on the ferry to the S. Island.

---When I went for three weeks one March, we flew to Auckland for $490 R/T from LA. We took the bus around the N. Island and then to Christchurch. From there we rented a caravan (RV) and explored/camped at will.

---If you have time to do more than ski, spend a lot of time in Fjordland; Mount Cook area and Abel Tasman Park. The Sounds are just as awesome on a stormy day: massive waterfalls everywhere.

Have a blast... it is the most consistently wild, variable and scenically beautiful nation I have ever explored. Take a s__t-load of photos. A moron can produce Ansel Adams-like images in NZ... there is too much grandeur and magnificence not to.

post #4 of 11
Some good advice so far......

Air New Zealand fly from San Francisco to AKL, or you could fly direct LAX to Christchurch. Flying direct to CHC saves you the hassle of getting connections and losing travel time getting from AKL to CHC. A lot of the holiday promotions at our end are for 'Air Canada'

I may be biased but I'd suggest skipping the North Island and spending all your time in the South Isalnd. Christchurch is the major base for rental car firms and most have ski deals - Hertz, Budget and Avis. Not sure what sort of deals you'd get in Queenstown, but you can pick up rentals there. If you fly into CHC it is a beautiful drive to Queenstown and you drive by several so ski areas on the way.

I'd suggest getting a 4WD or AWD - you can rent Subaru's here, which make great ski vehicles in NZ. Most of the time you won't be travelling on snowy roads except the last 10kms or so on the ski area access roads. You don't want the hassle of fitting chains. Even with 4WD they make you carry chains cause if a storm comes in and the orad ices up, you need the chains to get down. Because most of the access roads are across barren mountainsides there are big drop offs, so it pays to follow the rules.

With a group of 6 or so, you probably need to plan ahead for accomodation. In NZ, motels generally have kitchens which can save a bit making your own breakfasts etc, plus you don't waste time in the morning going to a restuarent. Many motels also have family units, eg. two bedrooms, so can make it quite reasonable when you have a group.

Another option, is to rent holiday homes through real estate agencies, ideal for a group. Some require you to take your own sheets and towels but I am sure they have linen packages for a fee. I'll hunt out some web sites for you.

Many skiers rent campervans, which are fine in our climate, cause you are sleepoing below the snow line. They are slow getting up the access roads, but heaps of people do it so can't be that bad. All our camping grounds cater for camper vans, there are thousands on our roads.

Skiing in NZ is quite different to North America. No trees, and when you are not skiing you are below the tree line. You can visit vineyards, or even go mountain biking if you want.

If you want to search on the web within NZ, go to www.google.co.nz and only search within NZ pages.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the good advise. the other thread had mentioned Craigieburn, I am thinking about it. The round trip shuttle from CHC to Craigieburn costs around 150NZ each, nevertheless. Perhaps rent a car would cost less for a group of 6ish and we would have more options other than Craigieburn.

We are from SF, LAX is 6 hours drive away, so we cannot have direct flight to CHC which is bad.
post #6 of 11
If you could fly Air New Zealand from SF to Auckland, then you can get a flight from here to Christchurch or Queenstown. I suggest you fly into Christchurch, pick up a rental and work your way fown the island to Queenstown. All the ski areas are on the mountains between Christchurch and Queenstown. So starting at one point and travelling to the other will give you have a lot of choices. You can fly Queenstown to Auckland, and the cost of one way tickets on domestic travel in NZ is no dearer than half a return ticket so you are not penalised for departing from a different destination. Although you will have pay for a one way hire on the rental car. Alternatively you could start your trip in Queenstown and work your way back up to Christchurch.

I would not bother with public transport. If there are 6 of you you will always be better off renting vehicles. Although 6 will be too many for a standard vehicle, most take 5 passengers. Probably with your gear you would need two vehicles - note we don't drive monster vehicles like you do in the US. You could get a van but it would not be 4WD and they are a bit loose in the back end on slippery roads. Having your own vehicle means you are flexible about where you go, here some mountains can be closed and others open depending on the direction the weather is coming from. Because you are driving up mountain roads to access the ski areas, they have to be more cautious about letting people up and down the mountain.

Craigieburn is a club area, and is a totally different skiing experience to what you are used to, a good reason to try it. They use rope tows (see http://www.chillout.co.nz/nutcracker.asp ), and they don't have a groomer. But they also don't have crowds and you can get a backcountry style experience without the hiking. I have also had magic powder days there which would be equal any heli skiing - and there were only 30 of us skiing the mountain that day, inlcuding the staff. The other benefit of club areas is that you can stay on the mountain, with meals provided. eg. dinner, bed and breakfast for $65 NZ. But you do need a sleeping bag and your own towel. If you are only into groomed runs and like to rest on the chair then it is not for you. If it snows when you are staying on the mountain, the road may close or open late, and only those that stayed on the mountain overnight get the fresh tracks the next day - what a shame! The lodges sleep a maximum of 60 so it is like having you own exclusive ski area for a nominal fee. This year they have an espresso machine for the day lodge, so there are some comforts, and there is a bar to socialise in the evening.

If you tell me the type of terrain your group likes, I can give you some suggestions on which mountains to try.
post #7 of 11
Julie's advice is exactly what I did on my first trip to NZ in 1982: fly into Christchurch, rent a car, spend 10 days moving from Mt. Hutt to Mt. Cook to Wanaka to Queenstown, fly out from there. In our case we then spent 4 days on North Island and 4 days in Tahiti on the way home.
post #8 of 11

NZ trip

Hi Julie - we are a group of 7, one beginner, the rest intermediate to advanced. 3 skiers and 4 snowboarders. We will fly to Christchurch on 9 July, five us us will leave on 17 July while a friend of mine and me will stay till 21 July. We plan to do the Christchurch/Queenstown loop and maybe a day or two of heliskiing/boarding as well. We have never been skiing in NZ before so any advice on areas to ski and place to stay or a suggested itinerary would be much appreciated. As you indicated, we will probably need 2 cars and if necessary, we can split into 2 groups on certain days too.
post #9 of 11
Gosh you are not coming for long, NZ looks small on the map but there is a lot to see, and it can take time to get places. eg. Christchurch to Queenstown is a 6 hour drive. To make the most of your time, I suggest you spend the first week in Wanaka/Queenstown. You have 4 commercial areas to chose from, they have snowmaking and groomed runs so if conditions are marginal you will still get some skiing. And they have terrain for all levels. If you are in Wanaka, Cardrona and Treble Cone get exposed to different weather, so if one is closed due to high winds etc, the other can be open. In Canterbury/Christchurch if one is closed due to the NortWest wind, they are all closed and may stay closed for a few days - sometimes when the wind comes up it stays for a few days. Hence my suggestion to spend you time in Wanaka/Queenstown, you are more likely to get more skiing in. Plus it has the best scenery, best heli-skiing and other activites, like vineyards if you fancy a spot of wine tasting at the end of the day. They grow some really nice wines in the Queenstown/Wanaka region, Chard Farm is my favourite.

July is 'early', it can be great and it can be bad. August/Sept are the more relaiable months. You had mentioned the club areas, eg. Craigieburn - I suggest that you save these for the days once the othes have gone home. Maybe drop your mates back at CHC and then spend the final days at the Canterbury fields (Broken River, Craigieburn etc). My guess is it is the advanced skiers staying for the longer time. The club areas really tire you out cause you are using rope tows for ALL the vertical, not a good idea when you want to get in as much skiing as you can over a short time, you probably want to ski every day. Riding chairlifts saves your energy for the runs. No matter how fit you are, riding rope tows for thousands of vertical feet over the day wears you out.

Some useful web site for ski stuff

An alternative to heli skiing is Mt Potts (see Brown Bear site) , it is a combination of heli and cat skiing. But you have to book months ahead, although there may be a couple of spots free mid-week. I went once in July and conditions were not good then, but that is mother nature for you, no guarantees.

You must go to Treble Cone, has the best terrain and amazing views. When you go up the 6 seater, go right and traverse around to the ridge - it is signposted. You can look right up the Matukituki Valley and across to some incredible mountain faces.
post #10 of 11
Some other web links


http://www.aatravel.co.nz/main/index.shtml (AA is our automobile association)


To book a holiday house which are ideal for a group, try

I can recommend this one...no view but good location, and I know the owner


To get last minute deals on accomodation, try www.wotif.com
post #11 of 11


We wish we have more time too. Gee, Mount Potts and Graigieburn both looks good and Treble Cone too, many thanks
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