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3 weeks in NZ self drive

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Hi we are a family of four with two older teenage children and planning a New Zealand trip in December 2013 for about 3 weeks. We like to travel independently and self drive spending time in the great out doors, taking in the splendid locations. Very keen on trout fishing, and landscape photography. Wondering if we should use a car and stay in lodges, guest houses etc and is pre booking accommodations essential and can one find places to sleep along the way. Other option we are considering is a camper van? We love to do our own BBQ's etc.

Should we cover South Island or North Island or both, 3 weeks should give sufficient time to cover larger distances.

Appreciate some guidance and tips on special places to see.

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