When planning your trip to New Zealand you must be realistic. It is a small country but if you try and cram too much in you will spend half your time looking out of a coach window.
There is heaps to see, more than Australia even! Lots of people spend months in Australia and only weeks in New Zealand! Do not make this mistake for gawds sake!
If you are spending less than two weeks try and stay on one island – you can spend you next holiday on the other! Spend time investigating one area in detail. Many people just run from place to place and never really discover the real New Zealand. Each island is quite distinct in what it offers:
The North Island is generally warmer and has the majority of cultural attractions and cheaper activities. Both Auckland and Wellington are on this island and so you can taste the city life.
The south island is what you will have seen on the photographs and Lord of the Rings. Towering mountains, endless plains and amazing beauty.
The population is much less on this island and so there are many unpopulated areas to explore. The alps line the centre of this island where many of the ski resorts can be found. The fijords and famous tracks are situated at the bottom of the island with the sun kissed Abel Tasman and warm wine growing regions to the North.
For three weeks onwards you can fit in the South Island. The price drop in internal flights has become an attractive option for people short of time. People say you should spend twice as long in the South island but have a look whats on offer and decide for yourself.
Around 6-8 weeks is an optimum time to explore New Zealand properly although many travellers spend a year doing a Working Holiday and almost become and honourary Kiwi!
In terms of transport for the longer periods it can be worth purchasing a hop on hop off pass which gives you the flexibility to change your plans as you move around.