My wife and I are visiting NZ in October/November 2013 for 25 days (stop-over 4 nights before in Sydney inbound & 3 nights in Singapore outbound from/to UK). We've been before and seen quite a few highlights which are often mentioned on the NZ Forums although my wife has not seen North Island other than Auckland. We're reasonably active, like spectacular scenery, good food & wine and are looking for something a bit off the beaten track but not 2 to 5 day hikes! We usually stay in hotels/motels and guesthouses. Any suggestions on my proposed itinerary put together via guidebooks and TA would be very welcome.
Day 1 Arrive early p.m. Queenstown from Sydney, collect hire car (hotel booked).
Day 2 Queenstown (looking to visit Wanaka, Arrowtown and do paraglide during stay)
Day 3 Queenstown
Day 4 Drive to Milford Sound (wife hasn't cruised although we've had scenic flight). Overnight in Te Anau.
Day 5 Drive to Invercargill on Hwy 99 and stay overnight.
Day 6 Fly to Stewart Island (boat trip seems a bit rough!), stay over in Oban (see kiwi?!)
Day 7 Trip to Ulva before return flight to Invercargill for another overnight stay.
Day 8 Drive to Owaka (see the Catlins attractions)
Day 9 Drive to Dunedin and stay o/night
Day 10 Drop hire car mid-day and fly to Nelson. Pick up hire car and drive to Takaka.
Day 11 Takaka (visit Marahau for water taxi/hike during stay)
Day 12 Drive Takaka to Picton via Queen Charlotte Drive. Ferry to Wellington.
Day 13 Wellington
Day 14 Drive to Napier
Day 15 Napier (wine tour/ art deco sights)
Day 16 Drive to Gisborne
Day 17 Drive to Whakatane via East Cape roads
Day 18 Drive to Whitianga
Day 19 Drive to Whangarei
Day 20 Drive to Kerikeri or Paihai
Day 21 Kerikeri or Paihai
Day 22 Drive to Dargaville via Waipoua Forest
Day 23 Drive to Auckland (hotel booked)
Day 24 Auckland
Day 25 Depart NZ late morning
Probably not enough 2 or 3 night stops for my wife but so much to see and do and so little time! We both drive and will likely use Apex for hire. Neither of us have seen south coast of SI or much outside Blenheim in north of SI hence proposed route. We've previously enjoyed FJ helihike, flight around Mt Cook, seen Christchurch (before disaster), wine tour on bikes in Blenheim, jetboats/4wd up Shotover Canyon, Glenorchy drive, Doubtful Sound cruise. I've been whalewatching at Kaikoura, blackwater rafting at Waitomo, done Rotorua sights and even had a bungy jump at Kawarau Bridge. My wife isn't enticed by my solo pursuits! If the plan is unrealistic or savings can be suggested please let us know and any tips on things not to miss!