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North Island this July: Two Adventure-related Questions

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North Island this July: Two Adventure-related Questions

We are doing an 8 day campervan tour through the North Island at the very beginning of July with our 3 kids - ages 13, 11 and 7. We would like to choose 2-3 "adventures" sprinkled across the many awesome free/low cost activities in NZ like their beautiful playgrounds, regional parks, hikes, etc. I'd love advice on whether or not the following 3 activities are "worth it" and have some additional logistical questions as well.

1) I have read about swimming with the dolphins and it seems that the company "Explore Group" has a tour of the bay and swim with dolphin tour that is active over the winter. Does anyone have any experience with this over the winter? Is it too cold to be enjoyable? I know it's highly weather dependent, so is it necessary to book in advance?

2) JetBoat at Huka Falls. This looks like fun and puts us closer to something so beautiful. Is this a good idea in the winter (early July) and is it necessary to book in advance?

3) Glow Worms at Waitomo Caves: I know there's a regular tour, but was also curious about the blackwater rafting with Kiwi Cave Rafting. I've read great reviews here, but wondered if anyone had any thoughts about whether or not this would be appropriate or too scary or difficult for a 7 year old? And is it too cold in July to be enjoyable?

Thanks in advance for any help you could offer!

Auckland Region...
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1. Re: North Island this July: Two Adventure-related Questions

I don't have experience with your specific choice of activities but I would generally say that swimming anywhere in NZ in July would not be a pleasant experience, the water will be freezing!

New Zealand
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2. Re: North Island this July: Two Adventure-related Questions

8 days in the middle of winter in a campervan with kids?! Good luck!

You will experience slower driving in a campervan on single carriageway roads with limited day light and driving hours being winter time. It will also be NZ school holidays starting 04 July.

(1) - this tour is based in the Bay of Island (north of Auckland) and only operates October through to April. July way too cold for swimming.

(2) - yes if possible book in advance (you may also get early bird deal by booking in advance?). Stop off at $2 shop (they call them 1,2,3 shops? or maybe service (gas) station may sell them) to buy plastic poncho style raincoats for everyone and rug up! Taupo will be very cold!

3) - another water experience in the middle of winter? Can't comment on this one but would assume similar conditions to Huka Jet boat.

In case any of you need additional clothing or rugs, there is a chain of shops called The Warehouse (big red stores) and you will be able to buy cheap merino underclothing, blankets, hot water bottles etc. Upon leaving NZ consider donating your winter warmers to the Red Cross or Salvation Army or St Vincent de Paul (ie charities).

California
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3. Re: North Island this July: Two Adventure-related Questions

Regarding the Jetboat, they do state they supply spray jackets in the cooler months. I recommend you pack a waterproof jacket anytime you visit New Zealand. But if it's a clear day, the spray jacket provided will be sufficient for getting splashed while on the boat. Also for the boat trip, do wear sunglasses so you aren't continually squinting while the boat is moving. A pair of gloves is good too as the bar you hang onto gets really cold.

Being cold and wet isn't my idea of fun. But the jetboat is probably the least uncomfortable experience of the ones you listed.

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4. Re: North Island this July: Two Adventure-related Questions

Thank you so much for your comments and advice! That is so helpful! We will stay away from water activities in general. As this is our only chance to get to know the beauties of New Zealand, are there other "adventures' or special highlights you would recommend for a family with 3 kids -ages 7-13?

California
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5. Re: North Island this July: Two Adventure-related Questions

Random thoughts as they came to me:

You might want to aim to be at Aratiatia Rapids when they release the water. In winter, that would be at 10am, noon, and 2pm.

In Northland, we enjoyed Waipu Caves. Have some good watershoes, the water is ankle deep, and a torch. Go in and find a rock to sit on and turn your lights off, after a few minutes, you'll start noticing glowworms. You can explore deeper into the cave too.

Would they like hot pools? You can camp overnight at a powered site at Waikite Valley Thermal Pools and the price includes admission into their pools there. There's a really neat eco-trail along the boiling stream too.

If they'd enjoy kayaking, Waimarino in Tauranga has a kayak-glowworm tour on a lake.

If you really want to splurge, Green Glow Adventures in Te Kuiti would be enjoyed by all! It's abseiling, rock climbing, and caving and Paul is your personal guide. All of this is located practically in his back yard. I think he's got a couple of daughters, so he's very used to doing the activities with kids and has gear for them. http://www.greenglow.co.nz [Aw bummer! Closed until further notice due to illness :( ]

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6. Re: North Island this July: Two Adventure-related Questions

Hi Deschenke! Your suggestions are amazing. I have added them to our itinerary. I am so sad about the Green Glow Adventures. Any thoughts on somewhere else we could do something similar that's younger kid-friendly? Sounds so fun!

California
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7. Re: North Island this July: Two Adventure-related Questions

I wish I did. We're both in our 50's and did our campervan North Island trip in December of 2011. The only paid activities we did were Green Glow and the Kayak-Glowworm tour. Many of the things we did were a bit too ambitious to do with a 7yr old and places that wowed us would probably do nothing for kids.

Perhaps keep an eye on the Green Glow site and maybe he'll be back in time for your trip.

8. Re: North Island this July: Two Adventure-related Questions

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