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Romantic New Zealand?

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Hello!

My husband has just given me the green light to plan a trip during our Thanksgiving Break! We have a 2 year old who we are hoping will have a fabulous vacation with her grandparents so that we can have a "second honeymoon" of sorts before we begin to try for a second. I've always always wanted to go to New Zealand and am hoping to get a jolt of great advice before I start my own intense research.

Given our short time period (really just a week, with partial weekends on both ends as we need to get from San Francisco down to Los Angeles to drop the little one off), I know it's impossible to do and see very much. So i'm looking for the quintessential romantic New Zealand experience.

Things that I would like to do:
- Love stars, Lake Tekapo, Southern Cross?
- Bike riding on a vineyard trail
- Hot air balloon ride at down
- Natural mud baths, Rotorua?

You get the picture! Is there a destination that would be best for us to spend our time in and be able to hit up as many of the above activities, or similar ones?

Super appreciate any suggestions! Thanks so much!!
knemo

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    Hi knemo -

    With so little time, you'll want to stick with one island, and it should come as no surprise that I suggest the South Island, which ticks all your boxes except for the mud baths.

    Assuming that you arrive in Christchurch, you might consider driving one way from there to Queentown, then returning to Christchurch via air. This will save you drive time, but will also force you to choose between two entirely different routes...either the West Coast (wet, wild, rugged, mountains, waterfalls and coastline) or the inland route (dry tussock covered hills, glacial blue lakes, distant possibly snow covered mountains, Lake Tekapo and Mt Cook).

    Queenstown/vicinity offers much of what you're looking for. I'm not a huge fan of QT as I feel it's a victim of it's own success, but I have to admit that for short visits, it makes a pretty decent base and there's no denying how gorgeous it is.

    From QT you can easily get to an assortment of vineyards, partake of adventure activities, visit casinos, explore walking tracks, enjoy restaurants and clubs, visit Wanaka, Arrowtown, Glenorchy, etc. Many people also visit Milford Sound from QT as a day trip, but do be aware it's a long day - about 13 hours, eight hours of which are in a car or bus.

    When I think of romance though, I think of my favorite B&B in Glenorchy with in-your-face views of the Humbolt Range. Glenorchy is teeny weenie though and won't offer the other things you're after (but it's only a 45 minute drive from Queenstown). I also think of a nice little cottage in the countryside near Arrowtown, which gives easy access to the madness of QT without having to actually stay there and of a gorgeous little cottage we discovered this past June in Cromwell, Pinot Noir country.

    But I digress.

    I think you'll find it easy enough to make your own romance no matter where you choose. NZ has some very unique accommodation and it's not difficult to find out-of-the way places on the fringes of the activity, if that's what your after.

    As for some general advice, don't underestimate jetlag and driving on the left side of the road. You'll want to pace yourself, and take it slowly for the first day or two.

    Happy to help further as your plan evolves.

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    There are Thermal springs on the South Island
    http://www.hanmersprings.co.nz/

    And Wineries on the North Island
    http://www.tourism.net.nz/region/rotorua/tours/wine-tours/

    I quite like the North Island and would spend a week in Rotorua. There is plenty to do, see and experience (we are going for a week next Easter so I am a bit biased).

    There is Ballooning in Hamilton 1.5 hrs from Rotorua.
    http://www.kiwiballooncompany.co.nz/home4.htm

    http://www.newzealand.com/int/#/plan/business/kiwi-balloon-company/

    Given a clear night you will be able to see the southern cross from anywhere. Here are some sky maps that are simple to use from the Museum of Victoria that will show you where the southern cross is for any particular month. Depending on where you are in NZ it may be a bit higher or lower in the sky. It rotates around the South celestial pole so sometimes it is upright and others upside down. November it will be low in the sky and unpside down. If you are surrounded by mountains such as in QT you might have trouble.

    Right click on the month you want and "save target as".
    http://museumvictoria.com.au/planetarium/discoverycentre/sky-maps/

    If you draw a line from the "head" to the "foot" of the cross and extend it 4.5 times it will be the Sth celestial pole. Straight down from that is due south. (you can tell the time by the Southern Cross - but it is more trouble than it is worth!)

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