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Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

Melbourne, Australia
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Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

Hi NZ TAs!

We are planning a trip to NZ in January. We are two adults and two children who will be aged 9 and 6. We have 10-14 days (I am pushing for 14 days) so we know we can only really do one island, but we can't decide which one. We will hire a car and stay in hotels/apartments. We prefer not to be changing locale every day, but use a few different places as a base for 2 or 3 nights each and day trip from there.

We are interested in scenery and landscapes, good food & wine, learning about Maori culture, walking/easy hikes and dolphin/whale watching. We would also like to fit in a spot of fishing but have no experience with fishing at all. I am also a big Neil Finn fan so if we do north island I would have to stop at a few Finn-portant places, however if the south island is best for us as a family I am willing to forego Finn things.

If we do the north island we would want to see these things:

Bay of Islands

Piha/Karekare beaches

Te Awamutu

Rotorua

Lake Taupo (fishing?)

Napier

Wellington (we have friends here)

South Island interests:

Christchurch (we have friends here)

Kaikoura (whale watching)

Marlborough region

Fox or Franz Josef Glacier

Milford Sound

Queenstown

Dunedin

I have been to Auckland and my partner has done the south island but both were 20 years ago. We also have the kids to consider - which island do you think they would enjoy more? Any advice regarding which island to visit and a rough suggested itinerary would be much appreciated.

Thank you in advance!

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland
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1. Re: Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

Hi donuts,

The North Island would work well for coastal landscapes and beaches (January visit), Maori culture and history, Neil Finn, fishing (both ocean and trout), easy walks into native bush and exotic, eco-tours to see dolphins and possibly orcas. Wellington and its surrounds have activities for families, as well as having your friends there.

Suggest you base yourselves in Auckland for several nights, followed by Rotorua and Wellington. Do day-trips from these bases (e.g. Whakatane for eco-tours and fishing charters). Visit Waitomo Caves on the way to Rotorua and pass through Te Awamutu (Finn brothers hometown). See the display at Te Awamutu Museum. Hobbiton at Matamata can be visited as a day-trip from Rotorua.

Potentially you could hire a car and drive one way to Christchurch, doing an eco-tour at Kaikoura, before flying home from Christchurch. 14 nights would provide a good length of time to do so.

australia
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for New South Wales, Noosa
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2. Re: Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

North Island would work for me. And the above plan with modification, and going against you several nights one location wish. Rather than several nights Auckland based, do a 5 day, four night Northland circuit including short Bay Of Islands stop. So many small attractions, many child friendy/interesting. Not too many km to cover each day. No attacking And ppotentially some good fishing opportunities.

Edited: 12 February 2014, 17:02
australia
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for New South Wales, Noosa
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3. Re: Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

Attacking should be backtracking. Dumb smart phone (or operator).

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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4. Re: Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

You don't have a wrong choice and could always come back to do the other island! Given that you are coming in January, the NI will offer more beach activities and probably be cheaper.

While the SI offers hundreds of family- friendly adventure activities, they are not very budget- friendly (kayaking, rafting, heli-hikes, whale-watching etc); distances are greater & the kids might get bored with scenery. OTH there are loads of great short walks to waterfalls, seal colonies, penguin hides etc that are all free, so perhaps come back when the kids are a bit older....

Rotorua New Zealand
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for Rotorua
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5. Re: Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

Rotorua offers plenty for kids and adults. Fishing (trout); Maori cultural evenings; Rotorua museum for a great history & culture learning experience; luging; zorbing; bike riding; thermal valleys; bush walking and drives. For further info www.rotoruaNZ.com.

Dolphin watching & swim with dolphin tours from Tauranga (less than 60mins drive). Good beaches. Hobbiton, Waitomo caves, Taupo all within an easy drive from Rotorua.

Wellington, NZ
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for Wellington
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6. Re: Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

I agree with the above posts recommending the North Island given your interests. Rotorua is fantastic for families, and there are also loads of free or cheap activities in Wellington (e.g. Te Papa = free).

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

Thanks so much for all your replies and advice, it has really helped to make up our minds so we think we will be doing the north island. Hooray!

I should point out that I am not averse to doing a couple of one-nighters, particularly if it helps to avoid backtracking (and attacking ;)), so I am thinking we might do at least a night in bay of islands as I think there is so much to see here. Great to know we have time to tack on a trip to CHC as well to see our friends there.

Is Whakatane closer/preferable to lake Taupo for fishing? (Should we do both if there are other things to see in these places?)

We will definitely come back and do the South Island another time, it does seem more of a grown ups destination. I had not heard of te papa before but have just googled, it definitely will be added to our list, thank you :)

I will probably be back with more questions after we work out it itinerary for tweaking and fine tuning. Just need to wait for the airlines to release their January seats!

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland
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8. Re: Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

Hi again,

Pleased to read that you are weighing up your options, and looking at the North Island favourably.

Whakatane has deep sea fishing charters, while Lake Taupo has trout fishing. Both are within easy reach, with Taupo being closer to Rotorua. Whakatane has its lovely Ohope beach and harbour if you are considering an ocean day outing. There are dolphin tours from Whakatane, likewise from Tauranga harbour.

Melbourne, Australia
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9. Re: Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

Gosh it sounds lovely. I think we will have to do both! Thanks :)

10. Re: Can't decide! North or South Island with kids

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