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Two Weeks in March in South Island

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My husband and I are planning our first trip to New Zealand and seeking your guidance.
We are active seniors, one of us 64 and the other 69 who enjoy hiking, wildlife, scenery and favor the mountains over the beaches. We tend to stay away from museums, wineries, and cities overall. We prefer bed and breakfasts or non-chain comfortable motels.

We have some flexibility, but we are thinking of 14 days in March and want to avoid the Easter crowds. Should we travel within the first two weeks of March or are we fine going later into March? Will we need reservations long in advance or can we book as we go along.

Please shed light on my thoughts for an itinerary. I have yet to book flights, but I’m guessing that we will be flying from the US to Auckland and then on to Christchurch.

Day 1 - Christchurch, explore and work off jetlag – spend night
Day 2 – Go to Kaikoura - probably no whaling trip since too prone to seasickness, but want to see the coastline here as well as the wildlife. Stay overnight in Kairkoura or return to Christchurch?
Day 3 – Take Arthur’s Pass over and try to time Punakaiki for best tide times. Not sure where to stay.
Day 4 – Stop over Franz Josef or Fox – probably not do a guided hike, overnight location?
Day 5 – 6 Wanaka (two nights)
Day 7-8 Te Anau (two nights) Milford Sound boat trip and hiking
Day 9 – 10 Queenstown (two nights) possibly stay in Glenorchy – Day hike Routeburn, possibly a jetboat ride
Day 11 – 12 Mt. Cook (two nights)
Day 13 – overnight Oamaru
Day 14 – return rental car to Christchurch and make return trip to Auckland and US

It appeals to me to not reserve lodging ahead of time, making the most of good weather when we find it, and allowing our bodies to recoup when we need it to. But then I also like knowing that I have a good place to sleep at night.

Are we on the right track or is this overly ambitious?

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