Hello, You have all been so helpful in suggestions that you gave for my initial 35 day tour, that I've researched books and read thousands of posts on T.A. since then. We've changed our mind to NOT hire a campervan, and instead will rent a car. We're in our 60's, love driving on natural scenic roads, staring at mountains, forests, waters, taking scenic walks (up to an hour each) and avoid helicopters and caves ! Also, as some of you recommended we return the car in Christchurch and Fly back to Auckland, this option was investigated, and my hubby decided to return car to Auckland and drive a different route going back. So, please no need to offer that we fly to Christchurch. Here is how the revised rough draft looks now, taking the entire month of November and a week into December, 2014. I'm aware there are many one night stops, and plenty of driving....but...I do want to see as much as possible. We've done other driving trips throughout Alaska, Canada and USA and this frequent 1 nite stops routine works well for us. I do appreciate your expertise, patience, and valuable advice.
1. Land airport early morning, rest, get car, sleep First night Auckland
2. Drive to Matamama, see Hobbiton, continue drive to Rotorua and sleep.
3. Explore Rotorua
4. Drive to Lake Taopo, hike Huka Falls, sleep near Lake Taopo area
5. Drive to Whakapapa Village, 3 short walks in Tongario Nat'l Park. Sleep Whakapapa Village area.
6. Drive to Wellington. Sleep
7. Explore, museum, botanical garden, sleep Wellington
8. Morning Ferry to Picton. . off Ferry, drive to either Blenheim or Kaikoura and sleep
9. Drive to Christchurch
10. Drive 1/2 of Arthurs Pass and explore, and sleep
11. Drive rest of Arthurs Pass, go to Pancake Rocks, Drive to Hokitika and sleep.
12. Drive to Bruce Bay, stopping at Fox Glacier briefly (been to Alaska, Switzerland glaciers)
and sleep at Bruce Bay
13. Drive to Wanaka and sleep. (stop near Haast, explore ...)
14. explore Wanaka
15. explore Wanaka
16. Drive to Queenstown area....explore, and sleep
17. Explore Arrowtown and/or Glenorchy, and sleep
18. Drive to Te Anau
19 Milford Sound bus and tour
20. Drive through Catlins area..Explore on way, then sleep near Waikawa or Papatowai
21. Drive to Nugget Point area, explore and sleep near this area ? ? ?
22. Drive through Milton to Roxburgh, Alexandra or Clyde to sleep ? (yes skip Dunedin)
23. Drive to Mt. Cook....sleep (maybe in Twizel ?)
24. Explore Mt. Cook sleep maybe in Twizel ?
25 Drive to Geraldine, (exploring Lake Pukaka & Lake Tekapo on way) Sleep Geraldine
26. Drive to Hanmer Springs sleep
27. Drive to Saint Armond in Nelson Lakes National Park (this is weird drive?) sleep Saint Armond
28. Explore Nelson Lakes Nat'l Park with sandflies ! sleep Saint Armond
29. Drive to Nelson, explore and sleep in Nelson
30. Drive to Picton, take Ferry, Sleep in Wellington
31. Drive to Wanganui and sleep
32. Drive to New Plymouth and sleep
33. Explore and sleep New Plymouth
34. Drive to Auckland and airport for late flight.
Whew....I'm exhausted just writing this out ! ! You must think we're crazy to do all this in 34 days ! If anyone can offer sleeping in any motels, B & B, or other acomodations in any of the places where I wrote "sleep".....please offer your suggestions.
Grateful for your help in this route, as I know many of you have seen thousands of itineraries, and no 2 are ever alike !