@Chunkyswifey143: FH and I went to NZ South Island for 10 days total in December 2012; we had an amazing time!!!!! We rented a campervan and freedom camped most of the time (as it’s legal in so many places); I’m not super adventurous but it made the trip so much more fun to be mobile and not worry about hotels.
Originally we were going to start north towards Abel Tasman but bc the roads ended up being closed, we went south instead. Here’s a short version of our itinerary:
Day 1: Flew into Christchurch, picked up van, drove to Lake Tekapo. If you google pictures, the water in New Zealand is actually that color. We slept amongst lupins next to the lake.
Day 2: Twizle, Mt. Cook, Queenstown
Day 3: Bungee!!!! Hung in Queenstown, rode the gondola in town, luged (super touristy but fun), booked Milford Sound cruise, drove south
Day 4: Milford Sound cruise, Mirror Lakes, many little stops along the road at pools, waterfalls, chasms, etc
Day 5: Driving and Fox Glacier
Day 6: Franz Josef Glacier, along the West Coast, Pancake Rocks
Day 7: Split Apple Rock, beach day, drove to Abel Tasman area, booked kayak trip
Day 8: Kayaked at Abel Tasman, went to Nelson (stopped at Founder Park… super kitschy but fun, delicious fresh fish).
Day 9: Marlborough Sounds, Picton (I put a sad face here but not sure why, I think bc we wanted to do part of the Queen Charlotte trail or do a boat tour but wasn’t able to), short hike, beach, saw some seals up close, parked the campervan on the beach in Kaikoura (which was amazing as we live on the other side of the Pacific!)
Day 10: Back to Christchurch, walked around downtown, observed the damage (so sad), and tried to support local business.
People don’t tell you about the sandflies!!! They are SO annoying by Milford Sound so bring some bug spray.
We mostly relied on the Lonely Planet New Zealand book and from talking to people. Our kayak company at Abel Tasman and it was so lovely. If we could do it again, we would have spent more time at Abel Tasman and done part of the Queen Charlotte. Also, it takes lots of TIME to drive from place to place! Even though the island is relatively small, the roads tend to be 2 lane and you occasionally get stuck behind a slow driver. So, definitely put in extra time for that.
I won’t lie, the trip was expensive. The activities are all pricey (kayaking, bungee, etc) but the experience was absolutely worth it. NZ feels less touristy to me than many places and is just gorgeous all around.
Anyway, HAVE AN AMAZING TIME! And PM me or reply if you want more info!!