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3rd trip to NZ: Itinerary Help North and South Islands

Coastal northeast...
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3rd trip to NZ: Itinerary Help North and South Islands

My husband and I are planning our third trip to NZ. On this trip, the plan is to experience places we haven't been before as well as revisit some of our favorites more in-depth. We will be arriving in Auckland immediately soon after Waitangi Day in 2014, so that puts us there early February to early March. We like to be outside doing walks, etc. as much as possible, but nothing too strenuous. (I have learned that an "easy valley walk" in NZ is a different kettle of fish than in the US). We are "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" fans. On previous trips, we have gone from the Top of the North Island to the bottom of the South. We took a great excursion out of Queenstown to many LOTR sites. In previous trips, we did a lot of point-to-point driving to really see the country. For this trip, we are using a more "hub and spoke" approach. This is what we are thinking:

Arrive Auckland/Stay 3 nights - Day trip to an island, either Rangitoto or Waiheke. (Have been to Devonport). Pick up rental car from Apex. This will be the third time we have used them. They have been great.

See Hobbiton at Matamata - Where would be a good place to stop for a couple of nights to see Hobbiton and the surrounding area? We will be driving from Auckland. I was thinking the Papamoa Beach area as a base, but we live in a beach town in Florida in the US. We stayed in Tauranga on our first trip. Is there a better place?

Tongariro/Taupo area for 5 nights. Walks, kayaking

Napier 3 nights - yes, we will be there for Art Deco weekend. We were there 4 years ago for it and it is truly a great experience.

Craggy Range/Te Mata area 2 nights

Drive to Wellington/Stay 2 nights. (We have been to Martinborough and the Mt. Bruce Nature Center on previous trips, so we decided to drive straight through without stopping for the night.) Is the WETA mini-museum worth a look? We have been to Te Papa and the Botanical Gardens.

Ferry To Picton/Stay Nelson 2 nights. Explore surrounding area/artists (Stayed Abel Tasman last trip.)

Drive to Renwick/Blenheim area 3 nights. Wineries,walks, bike tour

Drive to Hamner Springs. Stay 2 nights in area. Any "not to be missed" experiences here?

Drive to Christchurch/Akaroa. Stay 4 nights in area. Excursion to Mt. Sunday

Return to US from Christchurch

Given this itinerary, are there any things you especially recommend we do or see in these areas? Also, any glaring flaws in this plan?

Thank you all so much. TripAdvisor has been an invaluable resource for us, both in the reviews and the forums.

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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1. Re: 3rd trip to NZ: Itinerary Help North and South Islands

What a fabulous trip you have planned. Two suggestions for your Hobbiton Visit. My first is the much maligned Hamilton - the closest city to Hobbiton, offering restaurants & cafes & a wide choice of accommodation plus the amazing Hamilton Gardens. Otherwise press on to Rotorua.

Melbourne,Aus
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2. Re: 3rd trip to NZ: Itinerary Help North and South Islands

Have you been to the Taranaki/New Plymouth area on your previous visits?

If not, you could consider heading west from Matamata to New Plymouth and then base yourself there for 1-2 nights.Explore Pukekura park , the ocean boardwalk and possibly Puketi rhodadendron garden.Mt Egmont/Taranaki has some simple walks.You can then cut back to Tongriro via the Forgotten World Hwy and continue your above itinerary.Not sure if areas were used in LOTR but they did film The Last Samurai around New Plymouth and Mt Egmont doubled for Mt Fuji.

I would recommend a day trip to Waiheke for a degustation lunch at one of their winery restaurants.We loved Mudbrick restaurant.

New Zealand
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3. Re: 3rd trip to NZ: Itinerary Help North and South Islands

You have a great trip planned Bobbie - enjoy :)

Coastal northeast...
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4. Re: 3rd trip to NZ: Itinerary Help North and South Islands

Hi WL. Good to see you still active on the forums. You were definitely our "go to" person on the first two trips and we really do appreciate all your help and insights in making the first two trips absolutely wonderful. A question for you about Nelson. We were there only one day on our first trip and it rained, if you can believe it, in the "sunniest spot in NZ." We got to the Farmer's Market, which was great, but this is one of the areas we would like to go back to and explore more thoroughly. What are some of the "must see's" in that area in your opinion?

Thanks.

New Zealand
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5. Re: 3rd trip to NZ: Itinerary Help North and South Islands

Nelson has great weather, great museums, art etc, great walking and biking tracks, plus it is the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park with its excellent beaches, coastal walks and kayaking.Some nice wines too!

Easy to fill a week, or even longer. You might want a day or two in Nelson, plus a few days in Kaiteriteri http://experiencekaiteriteri.co.nz/ or Golden Bay http://www.goldenbaynz.co.nz/

Coastal northeast...
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6. Re: 3rd trip to NZ: Itinerary Help North and South Islands

Thanks to all who responded. I think we have it nailed down.

7. Re: 3rd trip to NZ: Itinerary Help North and South Islands

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