» This Story:Read +| Comments
TRAVEL Q&A

New Zealand? Not So Fast.

Network News

X Profile
View More Activity
By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 22, 2008

Q. We're planning to visit New Zealand in September, arriving at Christchurch on the South Island and departing a week later from Auckland, at the north end of the North Island. Any suggestions for quiet, scenic, inexpensive places to stay?

This Story
View All Items in This Story
View Only Top Items in This Story

Ellen and Gabriel Roth, Chevy Chase

A. One word: Qualmark. That's the name of the rating program run by Tourism New Zealand, sort of a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for Kiwi lodging, and that's the logo you want to look for when checking out accommodations.

Independently vetted lodgings are listed at http://www.qualmark.co.nz, with star ratings from 0 (acceptable) to 5 (exceptional), and are organized by type: from hostels, B&Bs and lodges to farm stays, hotels and destination resorts. A search for three-star digs in Rotorua, for example, turns up Devonwood Manor, a five-minute drive from the city center and thermal attractions, with rates starting at $65 per night double.

You may even want to look at booking a house by the sea or in the bush; it's possible to do that just for a night, says Angela Gore, public diplomacy officer with the Embassy of New Zealand. Look under "Holiday Homes" on the Qualmark site, or check out the listings on New Zealand on the Web ( http://www.nz.com), http://bookabach.co.nz (a bach being a small holiday house) or Baches & Holiday Homes to Rent ( http://www.holidayhomes.co.nz). September is the shoulder season, so you should find reasonable rates.

Gore says good places to stop en route from Christchurch to Auckland would be Kaikoura, Blenheim, Wellington, Taupo and Rotorua. But wait! Is such an itinerary doable in a week? Not really, says Gore. "I really wouldn't recommend it. New Zealand is bigger than it looks on the map. And a lot of our roads are what you guys would call crummy. We don't have freeways or interstates." She recommends taking at least two weeks if you want to have a good look around. The Tourism New Zealand site, http://www.newzealand.com, has a travel planner that will help you plot a route. Map it out carefully so you don't find yourself up the boohai shooting pukakas. (In Kiwi-speak, that means lost.)

For a cruise leaving from Miami, we plan to fly into Fort Lauderdale because of lower airfares from Baltimore. How does a family with luggage get from the Fort Lauderdale airport to the Miami cruise terminal?

Marvin Dessler, Odenton

Fort Lauderdale is 28 miles north of the Port of Miami, about a 40-minute drive. The easiest thing would be to take a limo, but it's pricey: Fort Lauderdale Limousine Service (954-288-0646, http://www.fortlauderdalelimoservice.com), for example, quoted a rate of $102 ($85 plus a 20 percent tip) for a one-way trip for up to four people in a "luxury sedan."

Another option: Check with your cruise line, which most likely provides shuttle service to the port. Carnival, for example, charges $24 per person one way; Celebrity, $28. (The transfer is complimentary if you purchase your airline tickets and cruise through the cruise line, but it sounds like that doesn't apply in your case.)

Your best, and cheapest, bet is a regularly scheduled commercial shuttle. Fort Lauderdale Shuttle (754-246-1111, http://www.fortlauderdaleshuttles.com), for example, quoted a rate of $70 for four people. Go Airport Shuttle (954-561-8888, http://www.floridalimo.com) charges $21 per person, but if you ask for an "express car," which seats four, the rate is $70. You must reserve in advance for both companies.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.


» This Story:Read +| Comments
© 2008 The Washington Post Company


Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity