Category Archives: New Zealand Travel

Wellington’s LOTR Sites For Free

There are plenty of businesses’s in Wellington happy to take your money and show you the famous Lord of Ring and Peter Jackson sites for  a lot of money. However if your travel funds are running low – here’s a number of low-cost or free sites which you can enjoy, even if broke.

Wellington is a compact town so you can cover a lot of these by foot or bike – if you are reasonably fit. Alternatively use the generally excellent public transportation system.

1. Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshops are closed to the public (too keep all those film secrets safe) – but the WetaCave would love to relieve you of some cash in their shop – but is free entry. The cave is about  a 30 minute bus ride from down town (#2) out past the airport in the suburb of Miramar. While you are in the area you may want to check out the newly restored Roxy Cinema which is within walking distance. One of the original suburbian cinemas that died in the face of the onslaught of TV this one has been restored and reopens in 2011. Part-owner is Richard Taylor of Weta fame. This joins the growing list of mainly suburban cinemas which cater to the movie goer who would prefer a good coffee of nice glass of wine rather than a bag of popcorn and a coke at the local multiplex. The Roxy will feature a bar and restaraunt, and there are cheaper options around the corner in the Miramar shopping area. This area is within 5 minutes drive of the airport – so its not a bad option to kill a few hours if you are running early – or stopping over.

Queens Wharf, Wellington

2. Embassy Theatre – Courtney Place. Although obviously it costs to got a movie here (cheaper on Tuesdays and before 5pm) – wandering around the beautifully restored foyer and up the grand stairs to the Jazz bar is free.

3. Mt Victoria Look Out. On every LOTR tour bus itinerary – but easy to get to yourself. If you are fit you can walk from Oriental Parade (Mt Vic is part of the southern walkway which will take you all the way to the south coast) – or you can get lazy and catch a local city bus up and walk back down again for the views.

4. Many of the big-name actors, and Peter Jackson himself, lived in Seatoun – the pretty seaside suburb is adjacent to Miramar. You can get to Seatoun on a #3 bus or in one direction take the East-West ferry from Seatoun wharf which will take you right back to the heart of the CBD at Queens Wharf. Its also a quick taxi ride or a long walk from Weta Cave over to Seatoun. The beach here is pebbles – but warmer than some, there is a pretty park, a memorial to the Wahine, a ferry who sank off the beach in 1969, and pleasant set of village shops including a cafe or two.

5. You will see lots of advertising for Wellington’s premier Zealandia “land island” protecting native fauna and flora. Its not cheap though – if you want to see more of the New Zealand bush – head over to Wilton’s Otari Bush Reserve – not an actual Lord of the Rings location – but a great way to see real New Zealand bush within 15 minutes from Lambton Quay.

If you have more time than money then these are great ways to see Wellington and get your LOTR fix – you don’t need to do the tour to see most Wellington’s top attractions.

This post is part of Blog4NZ, a three-day travel writing blitz, designed to let the world know that New Zealand is open for business after the earthquake which struck the country one month ago.

Follow the hastag #Blog4NZ on twitter, check out the  facebook page, and meet the people behind #Blog4NZ.

 

Finding Cheap Air Fares to New Zealand

As a New Zealander who loves to travel finding cheap airfares away from my home country has been a topic of great interest to me for a very long time! Fortunately for those of us who live very far down-under the airfares are getting cheaper and cheaper as the air wars hot up.

Top Tips to Minimize Your New Zealand Flight Costs

  1. If you are touring the whole country consider flying into Auckland and out of Christchurch or vice versa – this avoids a whole lot of backtracking.
  2. As soon as you are sure of your dates make your flight bookings – this should get you the best prices. – 5-6 months seems to be the ideal time to find the best flights.
  3. Avoid school holidays in both Australia and New Zealand if at all possible – prices skyrocket.
  4. When flying short-haul flights which are popular with business travellers e.g. Wellington-Sydney or Wellington -Auckland, you will get cheaper flights on the weekends and mid-week and flights that arrive in the evening, the most expensive prices will be Monday morning and Friday afternoon.
  5. When flying holiday/vacation routes – you will find almost the opposite – more expensive over the weekends – cheaper flights on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday.
  6. In general the long-haul RTW multi-continent tickets often include New Zealand – but they are expensive – they may be worthwhile if you want to fly the Pacific to the US as that is still an expensive route – otherwise you may save a lot of money, and get a lot more flexibility by buying budget airline’s point-to-point tickets along the way.
Wellington's New International Airport Terminal

Cheap Flights: to New Zealand from Asia

Traditionally the main routes to NZ from Asia have been ex Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok on the main Asian Airlines: Singapore Air, MAS and Thai respectively. In addition AirNZ flew some of the routes as well. These  planes still fly  – but the prices are high: NZ$1200-$1800 depending on the time of year.  With two regional cut-price carriers adding New Zealand to their range – these prices have practically halved.

Air Asia – Christchurch – Kuala Lumpur

Late last year AirAsia began flying ex Christchurch (yes Christchurch had an earthquake and no there is no issue at all with flying in and out of Christchurch and the airport was undamaged). Flights are ex-Christchurch to Kuala Lumpur – their main hub from where its pretty much possible to fly anywhere in Asia including Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and further afield to China and the Indian sub-continent.

JetStar – Auckland – Singapore

From today  JetStar (the budget version of Qantas)  is flying from Auckland to Singapore – with connection on to Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Macau. Headline rates are about the same as AirAsia – you will need to check your own travel dates to find the best deal.

Cheap Flights: Europe to New Zealand

AirAsia are offering not just cheap flights to Asia – but you can connect through to Kuala Lumpur,  to Paris and London Stansted as well with them.

Cheap Flights: Australia to New Zealand

The main carriers between Australia and NZ are Qantas, Air New Zealand, Pacific Blue (owned by Virgin) and Jetstar. The main connections are Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch through to Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne – other options include Cairns, Gold Coast, Adelaide and even non-stop to Perth.

This post is part of Blog4NZ, a three-day travel writing blitz, designed to let the world know that New Zealand is open for business after the earthquake which struck the country one month ago.

Follow the hastag #Blog4NZ on twitter, check out the  facebook page, and meet the people behind #Blog4NZ.