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North Island plan

London, United...
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North Island plan

Hi all,

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.

Mentioned in this post
North Island, New Zealand
Greater Wellington, New Zealand
South Island
South Island
New Zealand
Te Pare Historic Reserve
National Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas
Coromandel Forest Park
National Parks, Nature & Wildlife Areas
Te Porere Redoubt
Historic Sites, National Parks, Hiking Trails
Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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1. Re: North Island plan

Since you have allowed no time for sightseeing IN Rotorua, I question the sense of spending 2 nights there! I would drive straight from Tauranga to Whakatane on the 9th day. It is only about 20 minutes further than going to Rotorua, but will save you 30 min or so on day 10.

I definitely don't recommend driving after dark, esp on the Coromandel Penisula. These are narrow, winding roads with no lights & very little traffic. Plus you will miss the fabulous scenery you have come to see!

London, United...
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2. Re: North Island plan

Hi - thanks for the advice.

I thought that travelling to Rotorua would give us a base for 2 nights as I was hoping to keep the 1 night stays to a minimum. I was hoping that 2 evenings would give us time to relax and walk around Rotorua (and maybe do a bit of running nr the lake). I will give your advice some thought.

In a bit of a predicament about exploring the Coromandel Peninsula. Wanted to stay in Whitianga for 2 nights but really keen to do the coastal walkway hike but this is a 10 hour tour to/from Coromandel Town (so although we'll be travelling across the Peninsula in daylight, there is a high chance that it will be dark on the way back). One option is to stay in Coromandel Town for 2 nights - I've not really looked at places here so will give this some thought. I'm still very keen to explore Mercury Bay / Cathedral Cove area so I need to think about that too.

Thanks again.

3. Re: North Island plan

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