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New Zealand Itinerary Questions

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My husband and I are in the early stages of planning a trip to New Zealand for the last two weeks of March of 2018. We plan to be there 14 days, excluding travel time. I have been looking at two suggested itineraries for this trip. We want to see both islands, but think we would spend most of our time in the South Island because we enjoy the outdoors and wilderness areas. First off, we will be flying in and out of Auckland.

Option one has us spending about six days on the North Island, concentrating on the Auckland, Taupo, Rotorua and Coromandel areas before flying down to the South Island for about eight days and traveling to the areas of Christchurch/Tekapo, Mount Cook National Park, Wanaka, Milford Sound, and Queenstown. From Queenstown, we would fly back to Auckland to return home.

Option two has us spending three days in the North Island. Over these three days, we would drive from Auckland down to Taupo and then Wellington. In Wellington, we would fly into Christchurch. For abut the next elevens days, we would go to Aoraki/Mt. Cook; Queenstown, Milford Sound through Fiordland; Wanaka, Fox Glacier, Hakitika, Arthur’s Pass, then back to Christchurch to catch a local flight back to Auckland.

My thought is that Option One is too ambitious, spending too much time on the North Island. On Option Two, is there any logical reason to return back to Christchurch? Would it be more reasonable to fly out of Queenstown to the North Island rather than driving all the way back up to Christchurch? My last question is how far in advance do we need to book our lodging for this trip in March 2018?

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