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3 1/2 weeks in New Zealand

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My husband and I will be traveling to NZ for the month of November. Presently, I am fine tuning our first few days. We arrive in Auckland at 5:00am - will rent a car and drive to Devonport where we will spend our first night. I have not found lodging there yet, and would appreciate some suggestions. For the next 4 nights we want to explore the bay of Islands area. Is Whangarei a good local spot to make as our base or should we do 3 nights there and 2 nights in Russel? Our lodging in Whangarei is the guest house at the Ara Roa Lodge, and if we go to Russel, I am looking at the Russell Cottages. After leaving the NI, we fly into Queenstown. Unfortunately, this is the week prior to the QT Marathon and lodging is filling up quickly. ( Villa del Laggo is full). Due to the expected crowds, should we locate in Arrowtown and if so, will we still be close enough to enjoy the darling city of QT? I would appreciate some suggestions for lodging in Arrowtown. We would like a special spot since we are celebrating our anniversary. From here, we will travel to TeAnu for 2 nights and go to Milford Sound. Again --info on favorite lodging spots is so helpful. thanks --to be continued.....

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