We are a couple in our late 20s and we have a 2-week trip planned for late October this year. We have been to the South Island earlier this year and have done Christchurch, Mt Cook/Tekapo, Queenstown, Milford Sound and the West Coast Glaciers.
This time we would like to do an overnight cruise to Doubtful Sound plus couple of places that we have not been to before. Ideally we would prefer to be in South Island but since our international flight lands in Auckland, we thought why not just drop by a few places for a couple of days to get a feel of the Maori culture and stuff.
Understandably we are short of time so our plan is to take a domestic flight to Queenstown after the first couple of days in North Island. We still have't been to the Northern part of the Soutern area, Nelson, Picton and Kaikoura etc but guess we will have to do it another time.
Our current thoughts on itinerary is something like this - any advice and helpful tips on our itinerary are very much appreciated:
Day 1 - Flight in. Touch down Auckland, collect rental car and drive to Matamata for the Hobbiton tour, drive to Taupo to stay for the night
- Initially we were going to stay at National Park Village but read on the forum that there are more accommodation options at Taupo with more amenities, also it saves us an hour of driving and help us reach hotel earlier for rest after a long, 10 hour flight. Does that make sense or should we stick to our original plan?
Day 2 - Drive to Tangariro National Park and back to Rotarua to stay for the night
- The plan is to explore Lake Taupo along the way but probably not spent too much time there
Day 3 and 4 - Rotorua
Day 5 - Drive from Rotorua to Auckland to catch domestic flight to Queenstown, stay at Queenstown
- Ideally we would like to fly from Rotorua but when I checked for airfare it seems that there are a lot more flights from Auckland and some are direct while those from Rotorua require 1 or 2 connections so even though it takes 3 hours to drive from Rotorua to Auckland, some of it is compensated by the shorter flight time. Might be cheaper to also collect and return rental car at same location
Day 6 - Doubtful Sound overnight cruise depart from Queenstown
Day 7 - Doubtful Sound overnight cruise return to Queenstown
Day 8 - Collect rental car from Queenstown, spend the day at Glenorchy
Day 9 - Drive from Queenstown to the Catlins area, passing by Invercargill. Probably stay at Curio Bay
Day 10 - The Catlins
- Should we be staying at Curio Bay or Kaka Point or somewhere in between for that night?
Day 11 - The Catlins
- Should we be staying at this area (Kaka Point?) or drive an additional 1.5 hours to Dunedin to stay there? IDunedin is our last destination
Day 12 - Dunedin/Otago Peninsula
Day 13 - Dunedin/Otago Peninsula
Day 14 - return rental car (any recommendations for car rental that lets you pick up from Queenstown and drop off at Dunedin?) and catch domestic flight from Dunedin to Auckland.
Day 15 - Flight out from Auckland