I guess I’m the only one who went the year NZ was cold?!?!? Almost everywhere I went tended to be either cold/windy/rainy and everyone seemed to say, “It’s not usually like this” or “This is not a brochure day”. But since the person asking is from LA, I will mention this: take note of the population difference! If you want quaint places w/o people (and lots of sheep) then NZ is for you. Remember that NZ is primarily agricultural (and if you leave the cities, so is CA). It’s roughly the size of CA but with 1/9th the population—that’s a lot of leg room! I’d say going there is like CA/OR about 150 years ago. Not much development and hence not much pollution and such. Some parts of the south island especially reminded me of the old American west. Also, don’t be fooled by tourist ads that air on tv. A lot of it looks better in pictures than in person. That’s just my opinion though, (at least friends are jealous of my pictures). Unspoiled/rugged terrain of the same colors can be seen in Oregon through Alaska. A lot of people I have talked to who have been there or who emmigrated there love NZ but there were those I met who were of the flip side. I’d be sure to hear from both parties to get a sense of where you would like to visit and what it is possible given your length of visit and budget.