Having posted our North Island Itinerary on the same forum earlier (dated 6 Aug), I would like to take a closer look at the last leg of our trip and ask some questions.
After spending 3 nights in Paihia, we plan to drive from there straight to Auckland airport on the last day via the west coast. We have practically the whole day & half the night to do so, as our flight is not until 1.35am early next morning. This is going to be a very leisurely drive but even so, there seems to be too much time on our hands to stretch a 5-hour drive to cover the whole day!
a) start late from Paihia, perhaps after lunch, or
b) start early, complete the route and spend a few hours in the city before heading to the airport, or
c) start early, check into an airport hotel for a few hours rest before flight?
Bearing in mind that the sun sets around 8.30pm in February, we do have quite a bit of daylight for our drive. We certainly would not want to attempt driving on unfamiliar roads after the sun sets.
Also, I notice on the Northland map that, from Wellsford going south, there is actually an SH16 running along the western coast to Auckland. What is the state of the road? Is that a good alternative to SH1? Are there interesting sights along the road?
Would appreciate your replies. Thanks.