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Itinerary New Zealand trip - advice

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Hello People!
My wife and I, middle-aged couple, will be traveling to NZ in October for 17 days. We read most of the previous posts and considering our desires (we are keen on light cycling, hiking, kayaking activities. Also, sightseeing beautiful nature - beaches, mountains, lakes) and the short period we will have, we decided to skip East (Kaikoura, Christchurch and Dunedin) and West Coast (Glaciers) of SI. Also, Wellington region and Rotorua (NI). We are willing to enjoy more daytime than evening activities and plan to travel by plane inter-regions and by car intra-region. Our initial itinerary is:
* Six days on Fiordland region, staying four days somewhere Queenstown (or would be better Arrowtown or even Wanaka?) and two days in Te Anau (we are prone to try Doubtful day-cruise and on our second day, by car, to Milford only for enjoy the tracks/trails - no boat there). What do you think?
* One night in Lake Tekapo or Twizel or Mt Cook. It would be enough/worth?
* Four days in Nelson & Marlborough region exploring region (Abel Tasman NP, Sounds, wineries, culture of cities, crafts, etc.). Our plan is to choose one place and stay there all this period exploring the region. Sounds sufficient to explore the region?
* Three days on Hawke's bay (one for Taupo/one for Napier/one for Tongariro NP) staying, probably, in Napier.
* Two days in Bay of Islands/Northland (Paihia)
* One day in Auckland (Waiheke Island)
We are uncertain about the move from SI to NI (Napier or Bay of Islands).
We would love to hear your thoughts.
PS - We arrive/depart from Auckland.

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    Hi sitati -

    Two nights in Te Anau will basically give you one full day to explore - it's a two hour drive from Te Anau to Milford and you can easily fill a day with just the drive and a hike or two along Milford Road. If you also want to do Doubtful, I'd suggest a minimum of three nights, as the Doubtful trip takes the entire day. If you want to hike even more of the wonderful tracks in the region (loads to choose from), I'd suggest a fourth night...there are beaucoup tracks along Milford Road and Lower Hollyford Road, yet it's very difficult to fit in more than one or two in a day. There's only one short 20 walk IN Milford.

    Queenstown makes a good base from which to explore the lakes and there are some excellent hikes in the area, in addition to adventure activities, shopping, casinos, plenty of restaurants and pubs, but keep in mind that it's very touristy and parking is a nightmare these days.

    If you prefer peace and quiet to hustle and bustle, but still want easy access to QT, I'd suggest Arrowtown. It's much more sedate, with accommodation scattered in the countryside, yet it's only a short drive from the activity of QT. There are some great hikes in/around Arrowtown too.

    As you like hiking, I'd strongly suggest a day trip to Glenorchy, which is about 40 minutes from QT. It's absolutely stunning and the gateway to some wonderful hikes in Mt Aspiring Nat'l Park. In recent years we've been basing ourselves here instead of in QT or Arrowtown as we prefer the peace and quiet.

    Wanaka is a lovely place in it's own right, but as it's located 90 minutes from QT, and QT is a four hour drive from Milford, it doesn't make a good base to explore Fiordland. It makes more sense to visit Wanaka on the way to Mt Cook.

    I'd choose a night or two at Mt Cook over a night at Lake Tekapo, unless you're going to Tekapo to visit the observatory. Otherwise, there are better places to spend your time IMO. The only reason to stay in Twizel is if you can't get a room at Mt Cook.

    I personally don't find Nelson a good base for exploring Abel Tasman or the sounds. It's just not close enough IMO. The drive from Nelson to Abel Tasman takes about an hour, which cuts into time that could be better spent IN Abel Tasman. I prefer Marahau, Kaiteriteri, Mouteka or Upper Moutere (located between Nelson and Mouteka in wine country). But if you prefer cities over country, Nelson would fit the bill.

    Likewise, Nelson is just under two hours from the Marlborough Sounds, so by the time you drive there and back, you've not much time to see the sounds. There's plenty of lovely accommodation in/around Picton, Havelock and within the sounds that would provide better access and prevent all that driving. But then again, if you've chosen Nelson for the 'city culture' and are just looking for a day trip to see the sounds, and don't have a full day of activities planned it could certainly work.

    As you like to bike, you might consider the Queen Charlotte Track - the entire track is open to bikers outside of the peak summer season (December 1-Feb 28).

    Can't help with the NI, haven't been there in ages.

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    Melnq8 gives good advice for the South Island. I'd add that the Milford Sound cruise is very attractive and an overnight on the boat there or on Doubtful Sound makes good use of time.

    For the North Island, the Art Deco buildings in Napier are attractive, but Lake Taupo is of no interest (unless you are into fishing), and I did not find Tongariro worth the detour. The glow worms are a wonder, and Waitomo is a good place to see them. The Bay of Islands/Northland are very scenic (go up the East side and down the West or vice versa, and don't overlook the Hundertwasser Toilets) and the excursion to Cape Reinga/90 mile beach is interesting. I'd be inclined to take days from the Napier area (or eliminate it altogether) and add them to Northland.

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