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The lady friend and I have decided to go to New Zealand for our honeymoon in December / January for approximately two weeks. While I have been reading through Lonely Planet - there's so much information it's tough to identify what we really want to do. At this time we plan on visiting both islands and spending a lot of time seeing NZ's natural wonders.

We are also considering a several day excursion afterwards to Tasmania as well. Anyone recommend must-dos and don'ts?
 

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Hi John. Dec/Jan is peak holiday season in both NZ and Tas/Australia as that is summer school holiday season. Make sure you get your booking in well in advance.

I don't know if there are any direct flights between NZ and Tasmania. You may have to go via Sydney or Melbourne.

Because of their latitudes both NZ South Island and Tas will have very long days, sunset probably around 10pm. Even in summer you may catch light snow, especially in the mountains so take some warm clothes. Even hot days are unlikely to be much above 25celsius

Normally I would recommend hiring a sports car, especially in Tassie as it has some of the best driving roads in the world but if you aren't used to right hand drive it can be scary, especially if there are timber trucks around.
 

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You will love New Zealand. It is incredibly beautiful and the people are as friendly as you will meet anywhere. Other than one day in Auckland, I am not familiar with the north island, but I can give you some things of interest on the south island.

Dec/Jan is pretty much an ideal time (IMHO because I don't do cold :no:). It will be at/near the end of the rainy season so many of the waterfalls should still be flowing nicely.

My suggestions:

Fly into Christchurch (or get there from the north island if you start there) and drive to Queenstown on the road that goes by Lake Tekapo. As you drive through that area, the road is a gray ribbon winding through acres and acres and acres of wild Lupin. It feels like you are in a story book scene. http://www.hickerphoto.com/russell-lupin-flowers-15946-pictures.htm

Then the lakes you will encounter are unlike anything you have likely seen before. The glaciers grind away at the granite mountains and deposit very fine powdered granite into the streams as the glacier melts. When you see it in the streams, it is a putty color, but when that flows into the lakes they take on a light pale blue hue.

Queenstown is a nice small town with plenty of activities in and nearby. In the winter (our summer) it is a ski town. In the summer, when you are there, it is a beautiful place to visit, do some hiking, if that's your thing, and some of the most beautiful scenery and roads. I recommend renting a 4-wheel drive SUV (Ford Explorer or similar). Right in the town there is a ski lift that offers some summer entertainment. You take a tram up the mountain to an area where you can bungee jump or take the ski lift up further and ride little wheeled sleds (sort of a wheeled toboggan) down a winding concrete chute...great fun!

Right across the north end of Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown is the area where much of the second Lord of the Rings movie was shot. Kind of interesting to see.

Behind that area are the Remarkables, a mountain range that is also a ski field in the winter. In the summer it is a gorgeous, if a little scary, drive up to a ski area where you can easily hike up to the mountain peak and look out across much of the south island. You look right down on Queenstown and across to the Southern Alps to the far west. There will likely still be some remaining snow there at that time of year.

Nearby Queenstown, you have to ride the Shotover Jet Boats. It is a little touristy, but the boats are pretty amazing in their maneuverability. They are powered by two supercharged Buick V6 engines driving water jets. They operate in very shallow water and can (and will!) turn on a dime at high speed.

Not to be missed at some point in your trip is a drive to Milford Sound on the west coast of the south island. Most of the drive is only mildly interesting (thousands and thousands of sheep and some reindeer), but the last hour picks up a bit. When you get to Milford Sound take one of the sightseeing boats that go out to the ocean and back (take some warm clothes).

If you are interested, PM me your e-mail address and I will send you some pictures of the above. They're not dial-up friendly though.
 

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I'd recommend not trying to see too many places, since two weeks isn't a lot of time to cover so much area. Also, you'll probably be a lot more relaxed being able to spend time in specific areas instead of being on the move all the time. Think quality over quantity for your experiences.
The volcanoes on the North Island are fine and taking an inner tube ride thru the glow worm caves near Waitomo is a fantastic experience - but given time constraints, I'd concentrate on the South Island. For natural beauty, it's tough to beat the Southern Alps.
 

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http://tipiwhenua.com/NewZealand06/index.html

I should be moving there in September of this year if all goes well.

Everything there is awesome.

Must See's

Bay of Islands (Beaches and Scenery)

Franz Josef's Glacier (Glacier hiking / Ice Climbing)
Queenstown (Everything from Skydiving to Jet Boating)

Milford Sound (Scenic)

Mt. Cook (Awesome hikes / Scenery)
Cities are rather blah. I liked Wellington but it's windy as hell.
GO ZORBING (You and your lady get in a clear bubble with warm water and they toss you down a hill)

KareKare Beach (Black Sand Beaches)

Abel Tasman National Park (Kayaking, awesome walks)

There should be pics of all this stuff. Let me know if you need anymore info.
 

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If you watch Lord Of The Ring and like it, then you should take LOTR tour. I am planning to do it when I visit NZ
 
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