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North Island

Denver, Colorado
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North Island

I'm traveling to NZ and will arrive in Auckland on 1/24 and will board a cruise on the 29th. Based on research I'm thilnking I could stay in Auckland enjoying some of the sites locally and then rent a car (we are use to the right side of the road) which is a little scary to drive to the Bay of Island for one day and then return to the hotel in Auckland. On the 27th I'm thinking we could drive to the Waitomo caves and spend the night close to the cave and enjoy some of the scenary returning to Auckland on the evening of the 28th. Is that doable or am I not thinking clearly. We will have suitcases that I thought we could leave at the hotel and just take an overnight bag rather than dragging around large bags.

Another option would be to check out of the hotel on the 26th and stay north of Auckland one night and then driving to Waitomo and spend a couple of nights there.

Also we are stopping in the ports of Taurango, Napier, Wellington, Picton, Christchurch and Dunedin so if anyone has suggestions on hiring a guide/tour group or what to do on our own that would be great. Typically, we like to avoid the cruise excursion...pricey and crowded.

Thanks

New Zealand
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1. Re: North Island

If you google search Napier tourist information you will get websites that will direct you to local tour operators. Most tour operators list what tours they offer etc and all are well used to servicing the cruise ship visitors to Hawkes Bay.

I will leave Frangipani to advise on your time in Auckland etc.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
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2. Re: North Island

Kia Ora lolabrin,

The key to exploring NZ is not to take on too much by trying to fit in as many places over a short duration. Take your time and drive to the prevailing road conditions.

2 nights stopover in Auckland city followed by a short journey either north or south of the city is my recommendation until the 28th. This will allow for 2 nights only exploring an area of interest.

The motorways heading both north and south of Auckland CBD are well sign-posted. One night in the Bay of Islands, followed by the second night visiting Waitomo Caves is too ambitious. Best to choose one region or the other. For Waitomo Caves you could spend one night in this locality, followed by a second night in Taupo or Rotorua. You may end up by visiting Rotorua during your cruise-stop in Tauranga though? Alternatively from Waitomo Caves, enjoy something of rural NZ around Kawhia and Raglan harbours.

Should you decide upon the Bay of Islands, January is popular with holiday-makers so you'd need to be considering accommodation options early. There are a wealth of attractions and general interests in this area being the "birthplace of the nation" for early European settlement history. Not to mention the stunning marine area. Kawiti glow-worm caves in the BOI (near Kawakawa) offer guided tours on their private cave-site including glow-worms and rock formations. This attraction is sign-posted off the main road towards Paihia.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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3. Re: North Island

For an Auckland 2 nights stay, suggest you explore the inner city/harbour area on your arrival day (24/1). The Viaduct and Wynyard areas adjacent to downtown are easy to reach if you are staying in the CBD. Transport options around the city include the 'free-bus', taxis, the Hop on-off Explorer bus circuit(departs downtown), the harbour ferry services, the city's Link buses, and commuter passenger trains.

Devonport seaside suburb is a 7 - 10 minutes ferry ride across harbour. Charming Victorian architecture, Naval Museum, North Head lookout and tunnels, naval base and Mt Victoria. Waiheke Island is 35 minutes by passenger ferry with tranport options including public bus services, tours and taxis, and rental cars. Known as the 'island of wines' there are some stunning vineyards and nice winery cafes located around the bays and hills. Another wonderful island to explore is Tiritiri-Matangi which is a native-bird sanctuary island accessed by the 360 Discovery ferry cruises which depart from downtown, near Princes wharf cruise-ship terminal.

I can highly recommend the Waitakere Ranges and west coast surf beaches, and to access these places requires either a day-tour, or rental car. The Waitakere rainforest forms the backbone of Auckland city and retains an area of regenerating native forest. Arataki visitors centre explains the history of the reserve and it's important source as freshwater reservoirs for Auckland city. If you enjoyed The Piano movie scenery, Karekare beach is a spectacular part of greater Auckland. Our west coast beaches with their black sand and rolling surf are wild and rugged.

There are lots of options from Auckland as a base! And you'll have the benefit of daylight saving and long hours of daytime which is a real bonus.

Happy planning.

Denver, Colorado
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4. Re: North Island

Thanks. If anyone has used any particular tour I would appreciate their insights.

Denver, Colorado
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49 posts
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5. Re: North Island

Thanks so much for the information. If you had a choice which way would you go. We are from Colorado and would be interested in the scenery including waterfalls, forest, hot springs and the cave (which we could get from both north/south).

If south where would you spend the night...

Edited: 31 July 2012, 02:02
Rarotonga, Cook...
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6. Re: North Island

If it's a one night stay, overnight in the Waitomo area; or possibly Hamilton city.

For a 2 night stay, spend one night around Waitomo area to visit the caves and waterfall and native bush scenery. The following night stay in Taupo and visit Orakei Korako or Craters of the Moon (both near Taupo), or one of the thermal valleys situated between Taupo and Rotorua. There are thermal bathing pools in Taupo.

Helensburgh, United...
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7. Re: North Island

Re your original post and the driving question, we stayed with friends last Janualry who loaned us their car for touring the North Island. Apart from the novelty for you of driving on the left, the roads are very good and I found the Kiwis to be some of the most considerate and sensible drivers I have come across on my travels. Go for it!

Denver, Colorado
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8. Re: North Island

Your suggestions were great and have helped me. Reading all the books don't always provide you with the reality of the actual travel. We are planning on arriving around 6 p.m. on the 24th so on the 25th we are planning on doing the Devonport and Waiheki (if that is possible in one day). Also we can do that without a car.

On the 26th I'm thinking about doing the Waitakere but need to know if it is best to rent a car or the day tour?

On the 27th we are planning on renting a car (any suggestions would be great) and traveling to Waitomo and Taupo returning on the 29th. I believe the drive is about 2-2.5 hours to Auckland so we can get to the caves around 10:30 - 11 and spend the day and evening and then the 28th traveling to Taupo and spend the day/evening and then traveling back to Auckland on the 29th. We check into the ship I believe mid-day on the 29th but don't depart until 6 p.m on the 30th. So I'm thinking we can get back mid-day and check into the ship. Not sure if the rental car is close enough so we could drop off the car and then check in. On the 30th I'm thinking the explorer bus.

I would like everyone to comment if that makes sense and any comments on renting a car. I believe as long as you have a driver license in the state there shouldn't be any problem. Also any insurance options we should take. We also would be open to a tour in this area (south) but most are very pricey and very large groups. Thanks so much.

Also any hotels in those areas. We are on our 40th anniversary so a special celebration

9. Re: North Island

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