Folks, we are planning a 2 week trip to North Island in December - from 15th to 31st. We are four of us - 18m old kid, 4yr old kid and missus and me. Am trying to limit to 3 places, max 4 places so that I can reduce the number of check-ins and check-outs. Flying in and out of Auckland. Ideally would love to drive but open to take an overnight train, if that makes sense for any leg.
Here's what my questions are and need your expert guidance:
1. What 3 places would you recommend that will allow us a mix of kid friendly activities and good scenery/nature?
2. Which 3 places in your view are best to base our selves so we can cover interesting places within 2 hr drives and almost cover 6 out of 10 must dos in North Island?
3. While I prefer bigger resorts/hotels when traveling with kids, I have heard rave reviews about some independent cottages/villas/B&Bs in NZ (my friend does not remember the name:( ). Will love to get some recommendations on these hidden gems as well.
Thanks much for taking time out to help me plan the trip.