We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

North island itinerary - help needed!

Ashdod, HaDarom...
7 posts
1 review
Save Topic
North island itinerary - help needed!


I'm currently planning my itinerary for the north island.

Some background - I'm planning to arrive to north island on December 15th after a 6 week trip on the south island.

I will be leaving Auckland on Jan 5th on an early morning flight, which leaves 21 days for the north island, starting from Wellington ( I can add a day or two, if needed). I will have a car.

My current plan is (not by order):

Wellington - 1N

Tongariro and Taupo - 3N

Rotorua - 1N

Bay of Islands - 3N

Coromandel - 3N

Auckland - 1N (my last night..)

This plan leaves me another 9 nights. So a few questions about it:

- while I'm staying in BOI I plan one day of dives in poor knight, one day exploring BOI and one day traveling to cape reigna. I was thinking of basing myself in one place,

maybe paihia, so I would have the option to choose on which day to dive (depends on weather of course). Is this a good idea (drive time wise)?

The second one, and the big one is what should I do with the remaining days? I prefer going to Mt Taranaki than Napier area.

I would like to drive the forgotten highway and also maybe the river road in Whanganui. I don't want to do the 5 days river journey, maybe just a day of paddling.

Is it worth the trip to Whanganui if I'm not planning on doing the journey?

I tried to find sensible route which will include all the places mentioned above, plus the forgotten highway and river road, but didn't manage to do it.

I was also thinking of having a day trip to white island (maybe diving there, if it's worth it). I was also thinking of maybe adding an overnight stop somewhere on the west coast of northland, so I wouldn't have a very long drive from and to cape reinga at the same day, but I'm not sure it's really necessary.

Also, is waitomo really worth the trip more than other caves (like Te anau or abby caves)?

Since my stay at NI will be mostly during holidays I would like to book accommodation really soon, so I would appreciate any help with my itinerary.


New Plymouth
Level Contributor
1,495 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: North island itinerary - help needed!

I am always pleased when people want to get off the beaten track.

This post will jump about a bit I'm afraid, but it is late at night and I just got home from work.

I am afraid that doing the Forgotten World Highway AND the River Road would be difficult - but not impossible, as you could do the River Road, then head out to the main highway at Raetihi, follow SH4 up to Taumarunui, and head through to Taranaki on the Forgotten World Highway/SH43. It would be wise to stop overnight en route, perhaps at the Chateau Tongariro in the Tongariro National Park, not far from Raetihi, but if cost is an issue, there are cheaper options at National Park village, on SH4.

Google Pipiriki jetboat - there used to be a jetboat operator who whizzes up and down the Whanganui River, my parents used his service when they did the Matemateonga Track which is a dead-end, you get picked up at the end by jetboat and taken down to the road at Pipiriki. Then they got a pre-booked van to Raetihi which is on a bus route. You might be able to go along for the ride on that.

Try this website - http://www.whanganuiriveradventures.com/

It is of course, a long, and roundabout route - 370km or more, vs the 160km trip straight from Wanganui to New Plymouth, but it's the only way I can think of to do it.

Parts of the journey will be on gravel roads, and although most of it is sealed, the roads are narrow and the driving is slow going. Of course, it's very scenic.

On the Forgotten World Highway, stop off at the ghost town of Whangamomona - about 50 people live there - and have a drink at the pub. I usually have a shandy (half beer, half lemonade), when I am driving.

It sounds odd, but it's quite refreshing.

It is a long drive from Paihia to Cape Reinga - I'd recommend you stop overnight somewhere along Doubtless Bay (daft name, I know). There's accommodation at Mangonui, Cooper's Beach, and Taipa, as well as at Karikari Peninsula, but I can't recommend a thing as I haven't been there since I was 3!

Back to Taranaki - as New Plymouth is my home town, what do you like to see and do?

We have a museum, and an art gallery, a coastal walkway after the city remembered - after decades - it happens to be beside the sea, some lovely parks and gardens, St Mary's is simultaneously the country's oldest stone church and its newest cathedral, and you can climb Paritutu Rock - not technically difficult, but you have to come down backwards! And of course, there is a certain large mountain 20km south... There are lots of tracks to choose from, from half hour strolls, to half day jaunts, to multi-day treks. Please be careful up there - the weather can change very rapidly. I've turned from a clear valley to talk to tramping companions, and when we turned around again five minutes later, the valley has filled with cloud...

I've been to both Waitomo and Te Anau, and Waitomo is both more "comfortable" and far more commercialised, but you could ask to go blackwater rafting at the Aranui Cave a short distance from Waitomo, and in any case, it's only 15 minutes drive, maybe less, off the main road between New Plymouth and Auckland, so if you find you don't like the look of it - and you might not if half a dozen coaches have pulled in! - you can easily be on your way.

I can try to make a few recommendations on where to stay, but need to know what the budget is and what you like. No good sending you to a five star hotel if its unaffordable, or sending you to a motor camp if you need more comfort!

Ashdod, HaDarom...
7 posts
1 review
Save Reply
2. Re: North island itinerary - help needed!


Thanks for your reply.

I see that maybe I need to make some things clear. First of all, as I'm traveling solo I am planning on staying at hostels. I'm not planning currently on staying at campsites, but might consider it in some places.

I'm not planning on doing the forgotten highway and the river road on the same day of course. I was thinking at first going from wellington to Whanganui and staying there overnight, then river road, then heading to stratford, staying there so I could explore Mt taranaki. Afterwords, going through the forgotten highway en route to tongariro.

But then I saw that if I do this route I have no choice but doing the river road back and forth.

So is there a more logical route to do this? maybe go wellington -> tongariro and from there towards river road?

Is the river road worth the trouble? I could go only to the forgotten highway (doing it from Stratford to Taumarunui)

I really prefer to build a route which doesn't include going back and forth, and if I do the forgotten highway from Taumarunui to Stratford I don't know how to continue from there..

And thanks for the pub tip :)

I'm less interested in museums and galleries in this trip, more into the scenery and wildlife, although I will probably visit a gallery or two if they are very recommended.

Thanks again!

New Plymouth
Level Contributor
1,495 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: North island itinerary - help needed!

You are welcome! I should have been clearer too - the river road is not a dead end, you turn off State Highway Four a little north of Wanganui, and you return to State Highway Four, at Raetihi, a little south of Mount Ruapehu. If you wish to do the Forgotten World Highway as well, continue up State Highway Four to Taumarunui, where you turn left onto said highway to Stratford. So it is less of a U turn, more of a zig-zag. I think you would need somewhere to stay the night BETWEEN the river road and the forgotten world highway.

At Raetihi, you can head straight for Mount Tongariro before heading down the forgotten world highway, which is why I suggested staying either there in said posh hotel, or at cheaper accommodation in National Park village.

But if there isn't enough time to do all that, I'd recommend doing the forgotten world highway over the river road, but that is only my personal preference.

I suggest walking some of the coastal walkway, if you are in New Plymouth - they've even won an award for it, and there are several pa sites a few miles from the city, but I am not sure what condition Pukerangiora is in these days - there was an argument over who was supposed to be maintaining the site, so I am not sure if it has been maintained much. Otherwise, just head straight for the mountain via State Highway Three and Egmont Road.

I travel solo myself, but stay at hotels and lodges etc Currently paying off the large debts those entail, after tearing around Africa.. If I can track down my AA guide, I will get you some ideas for hostels. Most towns and tourist areas have one - or several.

Ashdod, HaDarom...
7 posts
1 review
Save Reply
4. Re: North island itinerary - help needed!


It was clear in your first answer what you suggested about the river road and forgotten highway. If I do it that way I still have to go up north again, since I finish my trip in Auckland and most of my stays are norther than that area, which means I have to go back the same way, right? that's why I was thinking of doing the forgotten highway on the opposite way.. but correct me if I'm wrong

New Zealand
Level Contributor
2,134 posts
101 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: North island itinerary - help needed!

Suggest you check with car rental company that you can take rental car on the Forgotten Highway and River Road. There may be no problem however forewarned is forearmed.

Most towns will have at least one backpackers and or B&B for hostel style accommodation.

6. Re: North island itinerary - help needed!

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 03 September 2015, 05:16