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Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

Pensacola, Florida
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Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

Thanks to inputs on our South Island itinerary, I've made some tweaks and set that portion of our trip aside. Now for two weeks on the North Island before we fly back to the US from Auckland on 25 March.

I've plotted potential sights of interest, and have come up with a couple of possibilities for our drive. I haven't decided on overnights yet; figure I will do that after I finalize the route.

We've been to Yellowstone NP numerous times, and were in Iceland last year. With that in mind, I am leaning towards Option 1 more heavily, but if I am doing us a disservice by skipping Taupo/Rotorua/Tauranga ... I am willing to reconsider options 2, 3, or 4, or any variant of either.

(I haven't listed all of the Hwy info for the routes, but I think there's enough here to give you all a sense of the options.)

Option 1:

After crossing to Wellington from Picton, and spending a day or two in Wellington, drive north via the west coast, through Wanganui, continuing on Hwy 45 and onto New Plymouth, sticking to coastal roads all the way up to Raglan, before picking up Hwy 1 via Hamilton, and continuing to the Northland (all the way to Cape Reinga), and then back to the Auckland area.

Option 2:

After crossing to Wellington from Picton, and spending a day or two in Wellington, drive north via the west coast, through Wanganui, continuing on Hwy 45 and onto New Plymouth, cutting across to Tongariro, and picking up Hwy 1 through Taupo, Rotorua, detouring to Tauranga, and continuing to the Northland (all the way to Cape Reinga), and then back to the Auckland area.

Option 3:

From Wellington to Tongariro, Taupo, Rotorua via Hwy 1, detouring toTauranga, and continuing to the Northland (all the way to Cape Reinga), and then back to the Auckland area.

Option 4:

From Wellington to Hastings/Napier (but honestly, my only reason for going there would be for the gannets at Cape Kidnappers, and it looks like I could see the gannets at Muriwai Beach near Auckland), and then picking up Hwy 5 to Taupo, Rotorua, Tauranga, and continuing to the Northland (all the way to Cape Reinga), and then back to the Auckland area.

Thoughts and alternatives would be welcome.

Auckland, New...
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1. Re: Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

Another suggestion for you-wellington a couple of days.-Follow the east coast up as far as Thames stopping napier,tauranga, then auckland then bay of islands.

--Not saying its a better option but might be one to concider.

Im a bit biased and personally find the west coast of the lower north island kinda boring.

-But if we were all alike life woulfd be really boring

Christchurch, New...
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2. Re: Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

I don't even think there is such a thing as a "west coast" route. The road twists inland quite a bit. Option 1 is certainly "different" - but we don't know your interests. What will you do in Wanganui & New Plymouth? Often there is very little for a visitor to do in small rural service towns.

New Plymouth
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3. Re: Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

I am very biased, as New Plymouth is my home city.

But I must agree, if you visit Wanganui and New Plymouth, neither city can come close to competing with the large amount of attractions available in the more touristy spots. Are you, perhaps, looking for the New Zealand that is well off the tourist map?

By late March, things will start to be getting rather wet, and a lot of activities - whether here or in the more popular destinations, are outdoors. New Plymouth will be getting busy then I think - if I remember right Sting and Paul Simon are coming to town around that time, so if you want to head our way, email the accommodation and check how far in advance you need to book.

The sights of each city could be done in a day. Wanganui has a nice art gallery, a wacky tower on the summit of Durie Hill, and an lift that goes INSIDE the hill, which is truly wacky... It has some lovely parks, the river winds through the city, and I think a paddle steamer trip leaves there from time to time.

Further north, New Plymouth has the oldest stone church in the country, yet it is also the country's newest Cathedral. During the New Zealand wars, the British, impressed by the bravery of their Maori enemies, laid several chiefs to rest in the church's graveyard. There are one or two very small historic houses around New Plymouth. We also have a museum, a walkway along the coast (New Plymouth forgot it was a coastal city for decades), the Bowl of Brooklands where international stars perform once in a while (a natural amphitheatre in the side of a hill), a pretty lake just south of the city at Mangamahoe, and - perhaps the main reason to come here - Mount Taranaki is about twenty minutes drive from New Plymouth, and has a wide selection of tracks.

As others have said, the coast route does not, actually, follow the coast, it's usually about 5km inland. Even Surf Highway 45 does not really follow the coast, if you want to see the ocean, you have to go down the side roads. If you like surfing, Stent Road and Kina Road tend to be the most popular spots.

It is a bit late for beaches, but be aware the West Coast ones are black sand.

I like it when people want to go a less ordinary route. If you like scenic drives, you might like exploring the back roads to the north and east of New Plymouth, and look through the pioneer tunnels you can still drive through. You would not be in for a time for wild excitement, but you might be interested to head this way, and see what makes the country tick. We earn a lot from tourism, but we earn a lot more from dairying and other agriculture, and New Plymouth is the West's only proper port, HQ of a very small oil industry, and of a regional bank, and the service town for an area of very productive farmland.

Cannot recommend places to stay - never needed to stay overnight in Wanganui, and I LIVE in New Plymouth (!), but have heard the Dawson Motel and the Waterfront Hotel well spoken of.

To the north, there are cute little villages at Onaero and Urenui, and the pub at Urenui is a strange mix of down-to-earth very conservative farmers, rich people from the lifestyle blocks at Pukearuhe (as a result, the pub now has a wine selection), shearers, travellers, and occasionally, a certain trio of gay men from town gatecrash the place, make-up and all, and make everyone's hair stand on end. It's quite a sight; but unlikely you will get to see that one, they only turn up every now and then.

Pensacola, Florida
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4. Re: Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

Thanks for the thoughts. Not necessarily saying that we will overnight or even stop in Wanganui or New Plymouth (although cdn-npl mentions some options) ... I gave those as more or less route pointers. I'll read the inputs more thoroughly. I was looking to do something a less touristy than the usual stops. We enjoy beautiful scenery, quiet walks ... aren't really into surfing or similar activities.

As to things starting to become wetter ... would it be better to just take the inland route then?

New Plymouth
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5. Re: Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

The weather is most unpredictable throughout the country, but both the west coast AND the central plateau get significant amounts of rain - e.g. New Plymouth gets about 1.4 metres of rain each year!

You could well get fine days - especially as March CAN have dry spells for a week on end - or at least periods of fine weather in between the rain showers.

Other people will have different opinions, but I think your choice of route should be more on what you want to DO, rather than the weather - there is no guarantee on the weather, ANYWHERE, in this country!!! That said, it would probably be better to head up the east coast if you want drier days - the mountains block much of the rain that side.

You may like to stay on Mount Taranaki - it has a couple of places to stay, and the Dawson Falls Lodge on the south side - and inside the Egmont National Park - is nice and cosy. Or, if you head inland, to Tongariro National Park, you could stay at the Chateau, a Canadian Railway style hotel, on Mount Ruapehu at Whakapapa.

Both the Egmont and Tongariro National Parks will give you beautiful scenery and quiet walks, but if you prefer rainforest to tussock, I'd recommend Egmont. There is some tussock like scenery further up Mount Taranaki once you break out of the bushline.

If you are hoping to go hiking - or tramping - as New Zealanders call it, whether it is in the mountains, or along the coast, you MUST be well prepared for anything. I always tell overseas visitors to pack a selection of everything, as four seasons in one day is quite common here - but it is even more so, once you are up in the mountain areas. There may be some snow by that time of year, but the Visitors Centres at either park will be able to give you up to date guidance on where it is safest to walk.

My parents are very experienced trampers, and in the winter they have to carry ice axes. They also find themselves having to get other people off the mountain from time to time...

For more info around that one, I'd need to know if you are experienced trampers, or whether you do short day walks (up to four hours or so) as I do, or less than that.

Pensacola, Florida
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6. Re: Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

Thank you cdn-npl. Seems you can't base travel decisions anywhere around the world on bast weather trends ;-) While we enjoy hiking ... it's what I would consider light-hiking, not tramping. I like the idea at staying at a place inside one of the two parks you mentioned, so I'm going to take that into account as we try and wrap up our itinerary this weekend so we can start plugging in overnight stays and booking accommodations.

New Plymouth
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7. Re: Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

Then I'd recommend that eenusa - at the accommodation in each park, there are a selection of tracks nearby - usually short half hour strolls to half - full day trips. I'd wait until on the ground to decide exactly which walk to do. No reservations are required if you are not staying overnight in the huts, but you can still use the water supply and pit toilets at each one, and sit on the benches inside to have your lunch. The accommodation can usually do a packed lunch for you of some kind. In NZ we call ALL hiking tramping, but you have day-tramps, and week-tramps! Good luck, and hope you have a good time here.

Pensacola, Florida
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8. Re: Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

Thanks, we're looking forward to NZ ... and I will do so even more when the initial research and logistics planning is done.

9. Re: Along the West Coast or through Raupo/Rotorua to Auckland

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