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16 day South Island Trip - February or March

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Hi

DH and I are planning a 16 (or 17) day trip to the South Island taking advantage of Air NZ's promotional fares for their new non-stop route from Houston to Aukland. We can go in either February or March of 2016. Any thoughts / comments as to better timing. Is March less busy? Is weather significantly different between early February and late March. Any holidays that we should be aware of in this time frame?

Also would appreciate any comments on what you consider to be the absolute must do / must see things on the South Island.

We are interested in nature, hiking, scenery and birding, not into vineyards. We are in our early 60s and are quite physically active, but we won't be planning any abseiling, zip-lining or bungee jumping.

Milford Sound - overnight cruise - any thoughts, comments.

We will have more questions later on but we only have until Monday to decide the timing of our flights

Thank you for any assistance that you can provide

Pamela

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