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South Island New Zealand - Travel with kids

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Hello All!

We are planning to take a trip to the South Island in Dec/Jan 2014. We are a family of 4. 2 kids 11 and 14. We will have about 2 weeks. I keep reading that it is really busy that time of year. How busy does that mean? Will it detract from the trip?

We would like to either rent a car or perhaps a camper van. Does renting the camper van make things more complicated?
If we rent a car do I have to book into all the hotels in advance or can we play it as we go?

We are looking for a trip where we spend 2 or more days in each place rather than spending too much time in the car. I know that we won't be able to see the whole island.

We are interested in animal life, beautiful land/sea scapes (my daughter loves photography) and some great adventures -kayaking, biking etc. We would be into seeing some more off the beaten track sites as well.

Any itinerary that you can suggest would be greatly appreciated!

We are open to anything!

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