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New Zealand itinerary help

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My husband and I are going to be in New Zealand from March 19-26. We are flying into Christchurch and back to US from Auckland very early in the morning on 3/26. My husband loves trains and would like to do the TransAlpine that goes to Greymouth. If time permits I would like to go to Kaikoura and see the whales. Can we rent a car in Greymouth and drive to Queenstown for a few days? Skip Kaikoura? We would need to fly from either Christchurch or Queenstown on 3/25 back to Auckland for our flight the next morning.

Any help is appreciated. And yes I know our time is very limited.

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