It can't have been a bright idea to enlist some help to answer those questions; cause it certainly didn't work. I feel quite let down as I wasn't asking for myself I was asking for someone who genuinely wanted some information. Oh well. I'm sorry Georganna you will only get a little advice from me and some from Meggie ( who never fails in her support - thanks Meggie )
So South Island.
Meggie likes Christchurch, so do I. Also Queenstown and most of the places I went on holiday too ( refer previous blogs ). If you like isolated very natural beaches the Catlins area ( very southern South Island ) is like that.( see 3 photos here ) Be aware that the West Coast beaches are all black ironsand in both islands. The white sand occurs more on the northern facing beaches. ( that's a generalisation ) On the West Coast South Island the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakiki are quite different and spectacular. Most of the Southern Lakes are truly beautiful. As are the mountains and glaciers. ( oh so much to see ).
North Island. My favourite city is Wellington despite its reputation for windy weather. It has many faces and on a sunny day is hard to beat. It has lots to do and see and is a good walking city with beautiful harbour views.
For beaches I would have to pick our own Bay of Plenty beaches and those on the Coromandel Peninsula especially Hahei. ( Hot Water beach is also different but dangerously rough )The red Pohutukawa or New Zealand Christmas Trees should be flowering when you are here ) Also Northland has some lovely beaches and the area around Pahia is lovely.
Rotorua is interesting but rather commercial, so be careful to get the best deal. I love the sulphur smell there (not everyone does ) and the geysers, mudpools and springs are worth seeing.
Waitomo Caves are amazing so try and see them. They have boat trips in the caves so you may view the glow worms and the limestone( stalactites and stalagmites ) formations are spectacular.
My only other advice would be to spend time in fewer areas and have a good look. Too many visitors rush to see it all - which isn't possible - and spend too much of their time travelling. ( Hope that is a bit of a quide. )
( quilt shops etc next post ).