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NZ Proposed Trip Itinerary (Constructive Suggestions Appreciated!)

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Hello, Fellow Fodorites! My spouse and I are planning a once-in-a-lifetime visit to New Zealand in December/January. I know it’s early, but I also know that that time period is “high season” for New Zealand, so we do want to get our reservations nailed down as quickly as possible! We are active adults in our mid-50’s, and we enjoy scenic views and historic sites. We don’t mind driving, particularly if we have fabulous scenery to keep us entertained, but we do like to get out of the car and explore a bit.

I’ve been reading some of the suggested/proposed itineraries on this site; they have been helpful, indeed! We very much want to visit both the north and south islands; my spouse is especially interested in LOTR “things.” :-)

I have roughed out a tentative itinerary and would appreciate opinions and/or constructive suggestions. I am also interested in hotel suggestions for our overnight stops!

Day 1 (Dec 25) – Flight to Auckland
Day 2 – Up in the Air
Day 3 – Arrive Auckland (hotel in Auckland)
Day 4 – Explore Bay of Islands (same Auckland hotel)
Day 5 – Explore Coromandel Peninsula (same Auckland hotel)
Day 6 – Drive to Waitomo Caves, Glow Worm Caves, Huka Falls (hotel in Wellington)
Day 7 – Explore Wellington LOTR WETA Workshop, Botanical Garden (same Wellington hotel)
Day 8 – Ferry to South Island (Nelson Hotel; thanks, tipsters!)
Day 9 – Explore Able Tasman National Park Charter Tour (Nelson Hotel)
Day 10 – Drive to Kaikoura, Ohau Point Look Out (hotel in Christchurch)
Day 11 – Drive to Christchurch to Dunedin / Explore Otago Peninsula (hotel in Dunedin)
Day 12 – Drive to South to Dunedin & Invercargill; northwest to Manapouri and Te Anau (hotel in Te Anau)
Day 13 – Explore Fiordland National Park, Kayaking in Milford Sound (same Te Anau hotel)
Day 14 – Explore Fiordland National Park, Doubtful Sound Cruise (overnight?? still need a hotel?)
Day 15 – Explore Fiordland National Park (same Te Anau hotel, maybe?)
Day 16 – Drive to Fox Glacier, Franz Joseph Glacier (hotel in glacier area)
Day 17 – Explore visit Glaciers / Drive to Nelson Lakes National Park (hotel in park area)
Day 18 – Explore Nelson Lakes National park (same park hotel)
Day 19 – Drive to Christchurch, Botanical Garden (hotel in Christchurch)
Day 20 – Flight home

I know we are doing a lot of driving, but we expect that we’ll see a lot of lovely scenery along the way, and we are making several stops to explore some key areas.

Thank you in advance!! :-)

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