My wife and I, both fit and in our fifties, are visiting North Island for 3 weeks next March, this being our second trip to NZ. Whilst we will visit, or revisit, the obvious highlights (Rotorua, Taupo, Coromandel), I'd like some guidance on the following :
1. Is it worth driving from Opotiki to Gisborne via the coastal route (Te Araroa). We like rugged coastal scenery. Are there any particula must-see sights along that route or as detours from it?
2. We will be going up to Northland for the first time, staying a couple of nights at Paihia. Is there anything on the way from Auckland to Paihia that we ought not to miss? What about north of Paihia - is 90 mile beach worth the trip, or is there anything else that is better?
3. We want to visit Mt Taranaki for the first time. Is New Plymouth the best place to base ourselves? Is the coastal drive via Mt Egmont good to do?
4. We visited Wellington on our last visit, and whilst we would not be averse to visiting it again, is there anything between Napier and Wellington, via Masterton that would make the journey particularly worth doing?
5. Last time we drove from Turangi, via National Park to Wanganui over a couple of days, visiting Whakapapa. Do you recommend the route South from National Park via Ohakune and Highway 1 to Bulls instead, or even from Turangi via Hway 1 to the East of Mt Ruapehu?
6. If we did make it from Auckland to Wellington, I see that we could catch the train back to Auckland. Is the route a scenic one and worth travelling?
This may well be our last trip to North Island, so we want to make sure that we don't come away with regrets that we missed anything that was really special