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  1. #1
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Paging anyone from New Zealand

    Preferably with a knowledge base of the South Island. I was all set to land in Christchurch for a five-week tour on November 5, but due to work commitments, I may be unable to go at that time. What I want to know is, exactly how busy does the South Island get over the Christmas/New Year period -- and which areas suffer the worst from the tourist traffic. How about early December -- exactly when does it normally pick up?

    Riding in heavy traffic doesn't bother me unduly (I'm used to Gold Coast tourist seasons -- and the notable thing here is that the locals are generally even worse than the tourists!), however I do find noisy cluttered campgrounds quite annoying -- not to mention places where tent sites need to be booked in advance (I've seen those too). I did a tourist season tour in Tasmania a couple of years ago and didn't encounter any problems (largely due to knowing where all the obscure free sites on the West Coast were), but I wouldn't want to try it in some of the other places I've been.

    So how much of an effect does tourist season have in that part of the world?
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
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  2. #2
    aspiring wannabe hoogie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris L
    Preferably with a knowledge base of the South Island. I was all set to land in Christchurch for a five-week tour on November 5, but due to work commitments, I may be unable to go at that time. What I want to know is, exactly how busy does the South Island get over the Christmas/New Year period -- and which areas suffer the worst from the tourist traffic. How about early December -- exactly when does it normally pick up?

    Riding in heavy traffic doesn't bother me unduly (I'm used to Gold Coast tourist seasons -- and the notable thing here is that the locals are generally even worse than the tourists!), however I do find noisy cluttered campgrounds quite annoying -- not to mention places where tent sites need to be booked in advance (I've seen those too). I did a tourist season tour in Tasmania a couple of years ago and didn't encounter any problems (largely due to knowing where all the obscure free sites on the West Coast were), but I wouldn't want to try it in some of the other places I've been.

    So how much of an effect does tourist season have in that part of the world?
    mate, it gets very busy over the xmas/new year period ... like your part of the world, it is school holidays and every man and his dog has some time off and heads away if they can ...

    busy parts??? in no particular order ... queenstown/wanaka, nelson, anywhere else with lots of sunshine and some flat water ... some towns are more touristy than others and are busy anyway during summer months but just get busier [queenstown for instance] ...

    this means that camping grounds are full to overflowing, and its worse over the new year period when teenagers tend to get pissed and wreck things, especially those things that aren't theirs [speaking from experience having camped in a busy camping ground over new years in a busy spot] ...

    touring here over that time is possible but there are many more vehicles on the road and often theya re towing caravans or boats ... this also means long queues of traffic and irritable people getting stuck behind slow vehicles and they will take any opportunity or chances to get past, and if you are in the road of a passing manouvre you are more at risk ...

    i don't want to put you off, it can be done but you need to be smart about it ... pick less used routes, travel early in the day, plan your days in the busy places to avoid the busy periods, be prepared to be disappointed at not getting onto some form of accomodation at times ...

    early december is good ... generally it gets busy pretty close to christmas ... this year it should be 23/24 december and continue until about end second week of january and tapering off till end of third week as folks head back to work from annual holidays ...

    more on my website

    hope that helps ... give me a yell if i can help any further ... hoogie[at]xtra[dot]co[dot]nz

    cheers,
    hoogie
    timaru/oamaru, new zealand
    thought for today: "Does my ass look fast on this bike?"

  3. #3
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Thanks for that. Actually I've heard a few things about the sole caravan park in Queenstown that make me think possibly Frankton or somewhere like that might be a better option in that stretch. Also that I'll have to head for Kaikoura/Marlborogh Sounds at the absolute beginning if I have to go in December (rather than the Alps where I was planning to start). Either that, or pray for rain!

    What sort of opportunities exist for "stealth" camping over there? Are there laws about camping on vacant crown/public land? I know that over here the laws tend to vary from place to place.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
    My blog.
    My bike tours. Japan tour page under construction.

  4. #4
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    Here's a funny story. I was touring in NZ in late December-January '96-'97. Though I didn't want to camp, I shlepped camping gear with me because I was afraid that due to peak travel season there, there might be a night or two when "backpackers" or other inexpensive accommodations might not be available. BTW, I had toured in NZ once previously, mid-nov to mid-dec, and accommodations were never a problem at that time. Anyway, there was indeed one night in early January when I was in the middle of nowhere along the East Cape when I had no choice but to camp. I went to a motor camp and set up my tent. Shortly after my tent was up, I noticed several folks taking down their tents and departing. It was almost sunset! I walked up to some folks taking down their tent and ask them why they were leaving. They told me that cyclone Drina was headed toward us. Well, it was too late for me to leave and besides, I was exhausted. I listened to the forecast on a radio and it sounded like things would be OK until 9 or 10am the next morning. I got up well before dawn the next day, quickly packed up, and headed north in the darkness (with flashing warning lights front and rear) to the nearest town with a backpackers. I made good time and checked into the place by 9am. The cyclone had slowed during the night and it didn't get bad until the afternoon. There were several other cyclists holed up there for a couple of nights. After the skies finally, cleared, I set off with another cyclone cyclist refugee from Japan and we fought a horrible headwind the next couple of days that Drina had left in her wake.

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