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North island Itinerary suggestions

Houston, Texas
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64 posts
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North island Itinerary suggestions

Hello experts!!

We are a young couple with a 3 year old visiting NZ. With the help of TA experts, we have finalized our 2 week south island itinerary. Now we are on to North island planning and would love to hear some inputs.

We are flying into Rotorua from CHC early March (arriving around 1pm). Here is our plan:

Day 1: Taupo (will have only 1/2 a day here given the flying time & driving time).

Day 2: Rotorua (day trip from Taupo or overnight stay?)

Day 3: Auckland; stay overnight (to break up the long drive)

Day 4: Drive to BOI/Paihia

Day 5: Explore Kerikeri/Russell; nearby places

Day 6: Drive back to Auckland - Rest

Day 7: Morning flight to USA


Day 3: Drive to BOP; Stay in Coromandel,

Day 4: Explore BOP

Day 5: Extra day for Rotorua, BOP or Waiheke island

Day 6: Drive back to Auckland - Rest

Day 7: Morning flight to USA

Here are our questions/concerns:

1. If we stay in Rotorua that night, is it possible to catch couple of geo thermal activities on the same day? Not sure if there is a closing time of the park & such.

2. If not, is driving to Taupo to stay for that night a good idea? That way, we could catch good views of Taupo, relax after our flight. Day 2: Drive to Rotorua to do activities & stay.

3. Some have suggested to stay either in Taupo or Rotorua & do a day trip of the other Since it is only an hour or so drive. Not sure which is the best way to optimize our time. Considering packing/re-packing with the baby...

4. BOP seems to be closer from Rotorua..but we have heard the roads are winding & the driving times are longer. BOI is far off but roads not as winding & the drive is relatively easy. Which one is better to visit?

Thank you all for your help!!

Auckland, New...
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1. Re: North island Itinerary suggestions


Given that you will be traveling with a 3 year old and are somewhat pushed for time, I would recommend staying in Rotorua on Day 1. Again due to time I would suggest that you only visit one thermal area. Hells Gate and Te Puia/Whakarewarewa are the closest to the airport. My personal favourite is Hells Gate. Have a look at:




On Day 2 you would have time to fit in a day trip to Taupo and return to Rotorua - possibly to relax in a hot pool after the days sight seeing. You could possibly also fit in a visit to the Agrodome which your 3 year old might enjoy

Have a look at:




I would always recommend the Bay of Islands over the Coromandel but again taking into consideration time and the 3 year old you may be better to stay in Bay of Plenty/Coromandel. This could easily take up days 3, 4 and 5 and would avoid back tracking over ground already covered or you could set off on day 4 which would give you more time in Rotorua and Taupo i.e. stay 3 nights in Rotorua

If you decide to go north Day 3 will be taken up with drive to Auckland - you could get to the Bay of Islands in one day but it is a long drive particularly with a young child.

I think it all comes down to your interests and how much driving you are happy to do.

Christchurch, New...
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for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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2. Re: North island Itinerary suggestions

I would skip Taupo and spend more time around Rotorua. Rotorua is IN the BOP so I'm not sure why you plan to go to Coromandel and then back to Rotorua in option 2. Given drive times etc I'm with LKL that Rotorua & Coromandel would be a more relaxing holiday, with the possibility of Waiheke Island or Kelly Tarleton's aquarium once you get to Auckland.

Houston, Texas
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3. Re: North island Itinerary suggestions

Thanks for the suggestions! I think it will be better to spend time in Coromandel area after we finish up with Rotorua/Taupo. Btw, in option 2, I meant if there is an extra day, we could extend our time in either Rotorua/Taupo. After Coromandel, we will be driving towards Auckland..definitely not backtracking to Rotorua.

Lonekaurilodge - Will check your suggestions for the geothermal areas.

Appreciate your help! Happy New year!!

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4. Re: North island Itinerary suggestions

do you have a better/free hotel stay in Taupo? if not, i'd stay in Rotorua

google maps tells me it's a 1 hour drive to Taupo Rotorua so doable as a day trip either way

way more to do in Rotorua

on the way from Rotorua to Auckland, consider stopping at Waitomo to see caves and glowworms

consider going for a Zorb ride in Rotorua

5. Re: North island Itinerary suggestions

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