We are planning a 21 day visit to NZ. We have considered and discarded a bunch of different itineraries, partly due to the great advice we've gleaned from this site.
Our current plan is to land in Auckland Feb 25, spend 3 days in the Auckland area, then fly to the South Island. We plan 3 days in the Abel Tasman NP area, then a drive down the coast to arrive in Te Anau on March 7 for a March 8 start on the MIlford Track. We had planned on driving from Auckland to Te Anau, but realized that would be waaaay too many driving hours.
My questions: would you advise flying into Nelson or Blenheim? We plan to rent a car wherever we land. I have been told that the Queen Charlotte Sound drive from Picton to Nelson is beautiful and "not to be missed". Unfortunately, there are a lot of "not to be missed" sights in New Zealand, and we will need to miss some of them. Is landing in Blenheim and doing the extra driving worth it? We don't mind driving if the scenery is good.
Secondly- we are both avid mountain bikers and want to do one or two rides during our trip. Our preference is for singletrack (hiking-type trails) that take you somewhere scenic rather than the "downhill, adrenaline" experience or "rails-to-trails" type tracks. Rocks, roots and climbs are welcome, up to 15-20 miles. It is hard to sort out online what trails are the type we are looking for. Anyone on this forum able to recommend, or steer me to a good website? Abel Tasman/Nelson, Murchison, Wanaka, Queenstown? Would be a bonus if it is near the coast, in sight of water.
Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer. We are looking forward to our visit!