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Please Help with Northland Itinerary

Peace River, AB
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Please Help with Northland Itinerary

Hello,

I've got the rest of a 7-week tour of New Zealand planned, but need a little guidance for our 5-night trip through Northland. We are a family of two adults and two kids (ages 10 and 8). We plan to stay in holiday parks, self-cater breakfasts and dinners, and will have a rental car.

We can do Northland at the beginning or end of our trip. The first choice would put the Northland portion of our trip in late November, the second choice in early January. The second choice would mean we will likely have to hire a second rental car, as we would be flying from the SI back to Auckland and will have to leave our first rental car in the SI. Any recommendations for which would be the better choice?

Here's what I'm thinking (assuming we do Northland first):

Day 1: Arrive Auckland at ~05:30. Pick up rental car. Grocery and other necessary shopping. Maybe One Tree Hill or Mount Eden? Overnight Auckland area.

Day 2: Drive to Whangarei. Explore. Overnight Whangarei.

Day 3: Drive to Tutukaka. Perfect Day Cruise. Drive to Russell. Overnight Russell.

Day 4: R. Tucker Thompson cruise. Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Drive to Doubtless Bay. Overnight Doubtless Bay.

Day 5: Drive to Kaitaia. Cape Reinga tour. Drive to Apihara. Overnight Apihara.

Day 6: Drive to Hokianga. Sand dunes tour. Waipoua Footprints twilight tour. Overnight Omapere / Opononi.

Day 7: Drive to Matakohe via Kai Iwi Lakes or Baylys Beach. Kauri Museum. Drive to Auckland. Overnight Auckland area.

Questions:

1. Little nervous about driving in Auckland proper on our first day, since this will be our first time driving on the left. Recommendations for traveling through Auckland to Northland? Recommendations for a holiday park near / around Auckland for our first and last nights?

2. Recommendations for must-do activities in Whangarei with kids? Recommended short walks and/or beaches?

3. Lots of one night stays in this plan, but can't see another way to fit everything in? Is it worth going to Doubtless Bay for one night, given we won't have much time there due to the BOI cruise on our arrival day and the Cape Reinga tour the next day? Maybe we should just drive straight to Apihara from Russell and spend 2 nights there instead?

4. I've seen several recommendations for touring Northland in the reverse order i.e. west coast first, then east coast. Not sure what the advantages might be for a clockwise tour vs counter-clockwise tour?

Thanks very much in advance!

Blenheim, New...
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1. Re: Please Help with Northland Itinerary

I find the west coast of Northland more interesting then the east.

Doubtless Bay and the KeriKeri Peninsula is nice and scenic, but without a boat or fishing rods these not a lot to do there. Could be worth a drive out there just for a look, would only be a hour or so detour from SH6 to have a look.

The highlight of Whangarei is the waterfall, takes about 20 minutes to see. I like the drive around the Whangarei heads around to Ocean Beach. Out on the heads is a old volcano which can be climbed and a few WWII ruins which can be looked at. It takes about two hours to climb the volcano and it gives nice views over the Harbour.

http://discoverwhangareiheads.co.nz

Edited: 21 June 2014, 08:57
Salisbury, United...
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2. Re: Please Help with Northland Itinerary

Make sure you save plenty of time for the Kauri Museum. We had 2 hours there but needed much more. To do it justice I would say you need 4 hours, more if you are stopping for lunch. It closes at 5 I think so make sure you arrive early in the day.

California
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3. Re: Please Help with Northland Itinerary

Thmswalsh, Just wanted to fine-tune the link you provided to a page that describes several walks:

discoverwhangareiheads.co.nz/category/…land (you have to scroll past the commercial stuff and descriptions are at the bottom of page)

Which one specifically, were you referring to with regards to WWII ruins and view?

Rarotonga, Cook...
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4. Re: Please Help with Northland Itinerary

Hi Dance Smartly,

If your arrival flight is long-distance, I suggest you don't drive on your first day in NZ. Book an apartment-hotel in the CBD for your first night, and collect your rental car on day 2. You'll find apartment-hotels near the Beach Road area which is also where a number of rental companies are based. Countdown is located near several of the Waldorf chain of apartment-hotels in this vicinity.

Explore the CBD and harbour area on foot, by ferry, or Explorer HOHO bus. Wait until you reach Whangarei to do a larger grocery shop. Whangarei city has a good number of supermarkets for a smaller city. The drive from CBD using harbour bridge and motorway/SH1 to Whangarei is very straight forward.

There is a holiday park located near Whangarei Falls. Handy for attractions in the city, and both the Tutukaka and Whangarei Heads areas. Suggest you stay for 2 nights in the same location. Drive to the Bay of Islands on day 4.

Forgo an overnight in Doubtless Bay after your sailing adventure. Spend the night in Russell. Days 5 & 6 look fine.

Accommodation for final night, in Auckland area? Look at Orewa beach holiday park, or Takapuna if it's still operating during your visit

Peace River, AB
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5. Re: Please Help with Northland Itinerary

Thanks for the advice, all!

Frangipani, just want to make sure I understand your recommendation:

Day 1: Arrive Auckland at ~05:30. Transfer to CBD. Explore. Overnight Auckland CBD.

Day 2: Pick up rental vehicle. Drive to Whangarei. Explore and shop. Overnight Whangarei.

Day 3: Day trip to Tutukaka. Perfect Day Cruise. Overnight Whangarei.

Day 4: Drive to Russell. R. Tucker Thompson cruise. Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Overnight Russell.

Day 5: Drive to Kaitaia. Cape Reinga tour. Drive to Ahipara. Overnight Ahipara.

Day 6: Drive to Hokianga. Sand dunes tour. Waipoua Footprints twilight tour. Overnight Omapere / Opononi.

Day 7: Drive to Matakohe via Kai Iwi Lakes or Baylys Beach. Kauri Museum. Drive to Auckland. Overnight Auckland area.

My only concern about the above is that we would some very early mornings on Days 4 and 5 in order to make our tour pick-up times, as the AA Distance Calculator indicates Russell is 1h, 15m from Whangarei and Kaitaia is 2h from Russell? Is that right?

Thanks again!

Rarotonga, Cook...
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6. Re: Please Help with Northland Itinerary

Hi,

I think you may have over-estimated the length of time to undertake the Perfect Day cruise then be on the road to Russell following your boat trip.

I find that day's end after being at sea/on the water is more about relaxing, rather than hopping into a vehicle and driving on a distance. You may not feel up to driving, if the boat trip isn't smooth sailing between Poor Knights and Tutukaka harbour.

Similarly with day 4 - after a sailing adventure and trying to fit in a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds later.

If you are hooking in with the Harrison's Cape runner tour, you should have sufficient time to drive north to meet their tour in the morning. If you prefer a more relaxed pace, then by all means drive to Doubtless Bay the afternoon before. Pleasant road to drive, and awesome little coastal settlements once you reach Doubtless Bay. Alternatives for accommodation would be Kerikeri, Matauri Bay or Kaeo area.

What time does the R Tucker Thompson depart? If you are staying in Tutukaka itself, there is a loop road via Matapouri that joins SH1 in Hikurangi township.

Peace River, AB
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7. Re: Please Help with Northland Itinerary

Hmmm, hadn't considered the possibility of trying to drive on a queasy stomach! I don't get seasick (at least, I never have) but DH definitely does so worth considering for sure!

The R Tucker Thompson cruise leaves Russell at 10:00, so not too early a morning would be required to make it from Whangarei (should have lots of time if we left by 08:00?).

The Harrisons Cape Runner tour leaves Kaitaia at 09:00, so would probably need to leave Russell by 06:30?

Thanks again for all your help!

Rarotonga, Cook...
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8. Re: Please Help with Northland Itinerary

I find the AA maps driving distances and time guide to be an accurate resource for NZ routes -

aatravel.co.nz/main/time-distance-calculator…

Instead of driving to Kaitaia to board your Cape tour, request that the coach stops at Awanui - north of Kaitaia - much more convenient for you.

9. Re: Please Help with Northland Itinerary

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