Well, I made it back!! Thanks for all your help. The trip went off pretty seamlessly to schedule. I now believe that you can control the weather! The weather was totally clear when I was on the West Coast. The only bad weather was the first day in Christchurch, which was cold and rainy (but that was okay because the Chateau on the Park is such a great hotel!). Interestingly, once we passed through the long tunnel at Arthur’s Pass on the Trans Alpine train, the weather was clear and sunny, and basically stayed that way for the rest of the trip.
The Franz-Josef all-day hike was awesome (not sure why anyone would do the half-day). The Milford Sound Flightseeing was fantastic (I understand it doesn’t go 70% of the time due to weather!). Wannaka was very nice. We did the Dart River Excursion to Glenorchy and Mt. Aspring National Park, which included a 4WD excursion, forest hike, and return on jet boats. That was also great fun I would recommend the Dart River excursion for the scenery, Kiwi history (we had a great guide for the whole day), and LOTR filmsites.
Thanks again for a great itinerary!
Traveled to New Zealand July 2007