We're travelling to New Zealand in December and would like to check that our plan for driving around the NI looks reasonable and fairly relaxed (although we do only have 9 days!).
Just for a bit of background - this is our 2nd trip to NZ - we visited in 2006 and stayed in Auckland, Wellington, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Franz Josef, Queenstown (incl. day trip to Milford Sound) and Dunedin. We did this independantly travelling by train from Auckland to Greymouth and then by coach. This time around we wanted to do one of the great walks and explore the NI more. We are both active and enjoy walking and exploring places on foot. I'll also be at the start of marathon training so I'll need to be doing at least 2-3 runs (minimum) each week.
The South Island is all booked but all we've done in the NI is book car hire. This is the plan so far:
Day 1 - Arrive Queenstown mid afternoon - overnight (Crowne Plaza)
Day 2 - Day free but plan to hire a car and drive to Wanaka (also need to buy/rent some essentials for hiking) - overnight Queenstown
Day 3 - midday transfer to start Routeburn track (hut booked)
Day 4 - Routeburn (hut booked)
Day 5 - Back to Queenstown - overnight (Crowne Plaza)
Day 6 - Fly Queenstown to Auckland, arriving early afternoon.- Pick up car at 2pm at airport (Apex - booked) - drive to Whitianga (3hrs) - overnight in Whitianga (Sovereign Pier on the Waterways?)
Day 7 - drive to Coromandel Town (45 mins) - coastal walkway tour (10hrs). Overnight in Whitianga (45 mins back)
Day 8 - Cathedral Cove walk + Hahei Explorer (boat around Cathedral Cove). Leave for Tauranga late afternoon (2.5hrs) overnight
Day 9 - Mount Maunganui - walk up mountain and stroll around area. Mid afternoon leave for Rotorua (1.5 hrs). Overnight Rotorua (possibly Novotel?)
Day 10 - Travel to Whakatane (1.5hrs) for White Island. Overnight Rotorua.
Day 11 - Waiotapu thermal area / Huka falls. Overnight Taupo (1.25hrs)
Day 12 - Explore Taupo and travel to National Park (1.5hrs) (possibly Discovery Lodge?)
Day 13 - Tongariro Crossing - overnight National Park
Day 14 - Drive to Auckland via Waitomo Caves (2.5 hrs / further 3 hrs to Auckland)
Day 15 - Drop car off in Auckland City at 8:30 and then travel to Waiheke Island for the day - overnight flight to Singapore
So can I just check.....
Are the travel times in NI between places (without stops) reasonable? Does our plan feel rushed or should it be reasonably relaxed?
What is the road like between Coromandel Town and Whitianga - is it safe (in terms of road conditions) to drive after dark?
Does anyone have recommendations for running routes (6-10 miles) in Queenstown, Tauranga, Rotorua or Taupo?
Are there any activities (short walks in particular)/attractions that we must do/see whilst in the places we're visiting?
Thanks for your help in advance.