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We are finally going to the South Island!

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Thank you all for your help with our impending trip to the SI.
We leave LAX on the 16th of Feb. and will be back home (CT) on April 30th.
All our traveling will be by Intercity bus and train. Some of the questions we still have are as follows:
What is the most economical method of obtaining and using a cell phone?
Are there places that have free wi fi? Here in the states we can always go to McDonalds or Starbucks.
Since we will be staying in apartments or studios and we plan not to eat every night in restaurants, suggestions for take away places and supermarkets would be appreciated.
However, if you do have any favorite restaurants in Christchurch,Hanmer Springs, Kaikoura, Blenhheim, Nelson,Moteuka, Nelson, Punakaiki, Wanaka, Queenstown, Te Anau, Dunedin, we will keep them in mind.
Our accommodations and transportation as well as some tours are taken care of. We are soliciting ideas on the best way to pay for incidental expenses.Which would be better, credit card or ATM machines, or is there another way?
Are there any tours or places not to be missed that are near the cities on our trip? We will be staying as long as a week in some of the places and we are not averse to renting a car for a day or two.

Again, we thank you for any suggestions you can give us.

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