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Two and a half weeks in North Island (NZ)

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Two and a half weeks in North Island (NZ)

1. Posted by hmclehto (Full Member 142 posts) 6y

Hi guys,

I would appreciate help with my itinerary for a trip to New Zealand. Me and the hubby are coming over next week and planning on hiring a car. I guess that is the easiest way to get around!? We are flying to Auckland from Sydney. We would like to see the island (as much as possible), but not just spend the time driving either. We want to be back in Auckland 24/12 as we are spending Christmas there with some family. Afterwards still have a few days to do stuff around Auckland before flying back home 30/12. It's a first time in North Island for both of us, been to South and that was amazing. We are in our thirties and love good food, bush walking, swimming, a few drinks etc.

Some itinerary suggestions would be fantastic. I have read some previous post, but would like some more.

Thanks, Hanna

2. Posted by fussy (Inactive 208 posts) 6y

The ususal spots: Wellington for the amazing Te Papa national museum, Hastings and Napier for art deco, Rotorua - obviously, Bay of Islands -sheer beauty.

3. Posted by hmclehto (Full Member 142 posts) 6y

Some people say Orakei Korako is better than Rotorua any thoughts???

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 6y

I'd say Tongariro National Park is a must for hiking. Maybe the east of the Coromandel Peninsula for swimming, or perhaps Mount Maunganui, which also offers some lovely hikes all around and over the Mount. Ooh, or Gisborne; though Gisborne itself is pretty boring, so I wouldn't spend too long there. (The problem with all of these is that this time of December, it's still pretty hit or miss if the weather's nice and if you actually can go swimming in the sea.) Napier's always worth a visit, too. So that suggests a loop like the following (the numbers being the days of the month):

10: Drive Auckland to Hahei. (~2.5 hours) Visit hot water beach and Cathedral Cove (look up tide times before, as Cathedral Cove is only accessible fo a couple of hours around low tide).
11: Spend a second day here. Maybe go hiking in Coromandel Forest Park.
12: Drive to Mount Maunganui. (~2.5 hours). Lie on the beach or hike the mount. Eat out in one of the countless restaurants. (I seem to recall a statistic about Mount Maunganui having more restaurants per person living there than anywhere else in New Zealand.)
13: Drive to Gisborne (~4 hours). Maybe stop around Oponae to see if you can find some hiking there.
14: Spend a day in Gisborne / on the beach. If it's not a beach day, the coastline to the north makes for some fascinating hiking, all molded into shape by the sea.
15: Make a beeline for Te Urewera National Park (~2 hours). I've never had the please of visiting there myself, but I've heard really good things about it. There's supposed to be wonderful hiking around Lake Waikaremoana. Accommodation here is scarce, but there's some homestays and lodges (plus lots of camping and DOC huts). Do your research and book in advance.
16: Spend a day hiking here. (I believe the full hike around the lake takes three or four days, and the huts needs to be booked ahead through DOC; if that sounds really appealing, cut Gisborne from the itinerary and just head straight here.) Also, if you end up going here, I'd really appreciate if you report back with how it was; I'm considering visiting this area the next time I'm over.
17: Drive to Napier (~2.5 hours). Spend the day exploring.
18: (If you're really into wine, maybe spend a day visiting the vinyards, but if not) Drive on to Whakapapa village (~3.5 hours), in the midst of Tongariro National Park. Marvel at the scenery. Stop for lunch at Taupo and spend a couple of hours there, maybe - but don't bother making it an entire day; it's not worth it.
19: Do short hikes in Tongariro National Park. I can recommend the Taranaki Falls track, and have heard that the sillicon rapids are very nice, too.
20: Do the Tongariro Crossing, the greatest 1 day walk in the world (if you like volcanic scenery). Look at weather predictions in advance and shuffle dates around if it looks like you'd have bad weather otherwise.
21: Drive to Rotorua (~2.5 hours) via SH-32 (west of Lake Taupo) for the gorgeous scenery there. Make a detour to Wai-o-tapu (probably the most prettily colored thermal pools around) before arriving at Rotorua.
22: Spend a day around Rotorua.
23: Drive back to Auckland (~3.5 hours). If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, stop in Matamata and do the Hobbiton tour; the hills really are that green.

Then during the days you have left after Christmas, go up north to the Bay of Islands and spend a couple of days here. (Warning: it'll be very busy here, as all the locals are now travelling, too. Book your accommodation well in advance.)

This itinerary is leaving out Wellington; it's a very nice city to be sure, but imo not worth travelling all the way down south for.

Hope that all helps. Enjoy your trip!

5. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 6y

Quoting hmclehto

Some people say Orakei Korako is better than Rotorua any thoughts???

Rotorua itself is a very boring city with a boring grid layout, very little of interest, city-wise, and a horrible smell. It just makes for a convenient base of explorations from where to see this area, including Orakei Korako, Wai-o-tapu, etc. It's definitely true that the most spectacular areas are not in Rotorua itself.

6. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3711 posts) 6y

I like Sander's itinerary. The Tongariro crossing is definitely a must- it's a stunning walk and one of the best things I have done in New Zealand. I agree that it's not worth going all the way down to Wellington; I personally prefer Auckland but I know lots of people would disagree! In Napier I'd recommend doing a guided Art Deco walk around the city centre; it's really interesting. Go to the Art Deco centre to book this. If you do fancy doing a wine tour, I'd recommend Vince's wine tours.

[ Edit: Edited on 03-Dec-2009, at 11:43 by bex76 ]

Post 7 was removed by a moderator
8. Posted by hmclehto (Full Member 142 posts) 6y

Thanks guys especially Sander for all your time and effort! Now just have to put my thinking cap on ;)