Layers, layers, layers!!! We took this trip in late June of 2010 and encountered tempertures ranging from subfreezing in Queenstown to high 90s and very humid in Fiji. Warm gloves and hats are a must for the South Island with good fleeces and widbreakers. We actually took a jet boat tour in Queensstown, with ice freezing on the dock. In addition to life jackets they supplied parkas. Nylon convertable pants are invaluable as they are very light, relatively water shedding and wind resistant, have high UV ratings, convert to shorts, rinse out and dry easily and have plenty of pockets. They served us under all conditions. A light wieght hiking type hooded raincoat is also a good idea, as, with a trip of this duration, you will probably get some rain. It can also double as a second windbreaker or provide another layer over your windbreaker.
June 21 is the start of the winter carnival and ski season in Queenstown. It can also get chilly in the outback at night. Despite being winter downunder, the sun can be very strong so a hat with sun protection is also a good idea.
The fifty pound limit on luggage was not a big problem after having done Ultimate Africa with a thirty pound limit including carryon. Wear or carry your heaviest shoes and jackets on the plane, Quantas was quite strict on weighing luggage, including carryons, so, read their regs and comply with them, distribute the weight between carry on and checked baggage.
Our program director was Maree, who was quite the taskmaster, keeping everything on schedule and supplying us with a great deal of additional printed information. She is a native New Zealander living in Sydney, Australia. Her parents actually joined us for the Fiji part of the trip
Definitely consider doing both the pretrip and the posttrip. Both are well worth it. We would be glad to answer further questions either in this forum, via email or phone.
As you have not traveled with Grand Circle before, get a referal from a friend or relative and you'll save !00 per person. The person that refers you will also get a credit toward future travel
Jack and Ann Donoghue