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Itinerary Tradeoffs request for 3 week Aus-NZ trip

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This is a wonderful platform and has inspired us to take a couple of trips based largely on trip reports and feedback from the members here. We owe a trip report too as our way of contributing back to the forum with our opinions, and hope to post it soon in the Spain/Turkey forums.

We are planning a trip to Aus-NZ later this year, and this post is to concentrate on the NZ leg of the trip. We have gleaned what we can from the many itinerary posts on here, but still have a few questions.

Following are the 2 itineraries that we are toying with, no. of nights in brackets:

1) Mumbai -> Sydney (4) -> Christchurch (1) -> Punakaiki(1) -> Glaciers (2) -> Wanaka (1) -> Te Anau (2) -> Queenstown (3) -> Auckland (3) -> Cairns (4) -> Mumbai

2) Mumbai -> Sydney (4) -> Wellington (2) -> Nelson (2) -> Punakaiki (1) -> Glaciers (2) -> Wanaka (1) -> Te Anau (2) -> Queenstown (3) -> Cairns (4) -> Mumbai

For itinerary 1 above, we could stay in Auckland with friends and take it easy for a couple of days.

We are a couple in early 40s, like scenic drives, exploring cities and towns, short hikes, not big on museums/arts. We will be renting a car in SI and intend to travel in November.

We plan to kayak for half a day in Milford Sound, hike one of the glaciers, do drives/adventure sports/wineries in the Queenstown/Wanaka area, snorkel/dive, rainforest trips in the Cairns area, Blue Mountain, city tour and ferries in the Sydney area.

Wondering if the folks on here can comment on the questions below:


- Christchurch vs Wellington: Which city would you recommend for a day or two?
- Abel Tasman/Nelson:Would it be worthwhile to include this area as part of our trip? Does the Abel Tasman/Nelson area offer anything different (terrain, experiences, views) then what we would cover in other areas in terms of kayaking, views, national parks etc or would it be more of the same? Fatigue on such a long trip is a concern.
- Is it worthwhile to do both sounds, Milford and Doubtful or would it be kayak/cruise overkill, especially if we do Abel Tasman as well? If we had to choose a day trip to one sound, which one would you recommend?
- Fox vs Franz Josef Glacier: We don't plan the heli hike. If we wanted a half-day hike at only one of the 2 glaciers, which one would you recommend in terms of less-hike vs better view tradeoff?
- Would it be worthwhile to spend a night in Wanaka en route to Te Anau from Glaciers? Or should we consider Glacier -> Queenstown -> Te Anau -> Queenstown instead on that leg of the trip?

Feel free to comment on anything else such as no. of nights planned etc. as well.
Thanks in advance for your responses.

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