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45 days in a campervan - Help please!

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This is bit of a last minute change of plan hence the need for some last minute planning. Any help would be very much appreciated

We arrive in Christchurch in a weeks time and will be spending 45 days in a campervan, leaving from Auckland at the end of Septmeber. Not our first visit as we spent 2 months touring both islands back in 2008. Yes, I do know it is winter but we did love it at that time of year!


Here is a list of the places we visited last time. I have no problems revisiting any of them, although I have to say, we we not that impressed with Hamner Springs or Wanaka (but maybe we didn't give them a chance or went to the wrong places?)

Akaroa
LakeTekapo and Inland Scenic route
Mt Cook
Milford Sound
Manapouri
Wanaka
Haast Pass
Greymouth
Kaikoura
Nelson
Golden Bay
Picton
Otaki Falls
Napier
Taupo
Tongiro ( aborted due to weather!)
Rotarua
Coramandel Peninsula
Northland

I would be really appreciative of any input or opinions on any "must see" places along the way that we missed the last time around.

Also, based on our experiences last time, we did prefer the South Island to the North and are inclined to spend more time in that south than the North - maybe 30/15. Am I being unfair to the North? We may have been influenced by the weather somewhat as it took a major turn for the worse for the last couple of weeks the last time - any opinions on the split of time?

Best providers for SIM cards? Mainly interested in data plan for an IPad. Is there much difference in coverage and performance between providers?

Finally, in 2008 we had a mix of free camping, DOC and regular campsites. Is it still possible to free camp?

Any input would be appreciated as I am in the midst of trying to sort out a rough itinerary and NZ guide books are thin on the ground in Vietnam which is where we are at the moment.

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