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Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

San Francisco
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Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

Hello TA experts!

I need your help in looking over my itinerary and suggestions as to where I should overnight.

I am arriving at Auckland at 10 pm on 2/14 and like to visit Hamilton Gardens, Raglan, Hobbiton, Rotorua before heading back to Auckland for a city tour on 2/17 and then embark on cruise on 2/18. Is that too much too much for 3 days 2 nights? How much time to allocate for the Hamilton Garden tour, Hobbiton, and Agrodome? Will I have time to visit Waitomo and Tauranga? Which Maori Village is better - Whakarewarewa or Tamaki Maori Village?

My dilemma is picking up car rental at Thrifty at airport and dropping off at Auckland downtown. Since I arrive at 10 pm, I cannot drop off the car at downtown Auckland that late since they are open till 6:00 only. That is why I am staying overnight at AKL until I can pick up the car the next morning. Anyone knows if the downtown location have after hours return and have a drop box for the key?

Here is my draft itinerary:

2/14 Arrive AKL at 10 pm. Stay near airport

2/15 Pick up rental car at AKL and drive to Hamilton Gardens then to Raglan and then to Hobbiton in the afternoon. Overnight here or Rotorua?

2/16 Drive to Rotorua and visit Agrodome and Lake and stay one night.

2/17 Drive back to Auckland city. Drop off car at Thrifty downtown.

Thank you in advance for your help and any suggestions are most welcome.

28 replies to this topic
Christchurch, New...
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1. Re: Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

I don't understand the bit about the drop off. If you are joining a cruise, why would you want to drop off after 6pm?

This is quite a rushed itinerary . What do you want to do at Raglan? If it is to go surfing, you need more than one or two hours. The last tours at Hobbiton on that date are between 5 & 5:30pm so you'd go:

9 am Leave AKL after early rush; Arrive Hamilton Gardens approx 10:30-11 am; allow 2 hr to explore + lunch; so leave Hamilton Gardens at 1pm- 2pm; arrive Raglan 2-3pm - but oops; you have to get to Matamata by 5pm...

Rarotonga, Cook...
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2. Re: Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

Wise decision not to collect your rental car until the following morning at least.

14th - arrive Auckland, airport accommodation.

15th - collect Thrifty rental car from airport, drive to Raglan then Hamilton Gardens. Overnight Hamilton.

16th - Hobbiton morning tour, drive to Rotorua. Maori cultural evening. Overnight Rotorua.

17th - return to Auckland, drop car before closing time at Thrifty city location.

18th- cruise departs.

San Francisco
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3. Re: Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

Thank you both for your reply. I just read that Raglan is a cute fishing village and thought it might be worth a trip to see the countryside. The car drop off is on the 17th night and then I cruise on the 18th. I might just try to rush back to Auckland on the 16th night so that I can have a full day in Auckland city.

Palmerston North...
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4. Re: Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

There are 2 ships due in Auckland on Feb 18

Diamond Princess due to leave @ 1800 for Tauranga

Noordam due to leave @ 1600 for Gisborne.

If you "drop car off on the 17th night" what are you going

to do in Auckland before embarkation time ?

IMO you would be better to stay in down town nights of

14/2 & 15/2 (note how things are dated "down under") &

pick the car up on 16/2 and drop it off on 18/2. Thus

more time to get over jet lag before driving.

Also note that if you are going to be on the Diamond Princess

you can do day tours to Hobbiton or Rotorua from Tauranga

(actually Mount Maunganui)

San Francisco
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5. Re: Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

Thanks for the advice. Hubby and I decided to cancel the cruise and do a self drive tour instead based on TA reviews and advice here. We agree that we can see more of both islands and not be tied down to Princess expensive excursions.

How is the drive at night from Auckland to Hamilton or Rotorua? Are the roads ok and not narrow/windy? Is it better to drive daytime for the scenery?

Thank you so much for all your suggestions.

Christchurch, New...
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6. Re: Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

We never advise driving at night in NZ - in general the roads are narrow and twisty (Auckland to Hamilton is a notable exception being motorway part of the way & expressway the rest). The main point is missing the scenery you've come here to see!!

Palmerston North...
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7. Re: Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

Concur with uc828's decision. I do not like ships tours

for the reason given plus I hate waiting for 50 people

to get on or off the tender or bus.

However there are numerous "small / local" tour

operators available (try googling "ships tours from

???") but then you may to wait to get off the ship

as Princess will disembark their excursions first.

Outside of urban places NZ is very dark at night !

San Francisco
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8. Re: Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

Ok, great. Now I know we should avoid driving at night! Yes, plus we can enjoy the scenery in the daytime. Now I think I will spend 4 days each in both North and South Island. Any must see in South Island? The other 9 days, we plan to visit Melbourne, Gold Coast and Sydney since we have friends there.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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9. Re: Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

The Expressway into Hamilton from the end of the Southern Motorway is of good standard. The roading crews have been working hard to complete various sections of this road over the past few years. It is safer to drive in the daytime, and it's a pleasant 1.5 hours (less when you know the route) from airport to Hamilton Gardens.

Others may advise you to turn off at Ngaruawahia for Raglan. However, this side route isn't readily apparent now that the Expressway detours away from Ngaruawahia township. Probably easier for you to drive into Hamilton along SH1, then turnoff for Raglan through Dinsdale then Whatawhata. Return into the city along the same route and follow the signs for Hamilton Gardens on SH1/Cobham Drive.

The Waikato Expressway south of Hamilton is progressing well. The Expressway avoids Cambridge entirely and it snakes its way almost as far as Lake Karapiro on the Waikato River. Very nice road condition. The remainder of SH1 to Tirau and then SH5 to Rotorua is great for an open road.

Will you return to Auckland for the South Island, or fly from Rotorua to the south?

San Francisco
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10. Re: Help on Itinerary, first time to NZ

I have not booked ticket my ticket and any advice is greatly appreciated. Flying from AKL seems to be the best as I do see that if flying from Rotorua, it sometimes connect through AKL anyway. Should I fly to Christchurch and drive to Queenstown or is the reverse a better trip in terms of scenery? How long is the drive and how are the roads? Hope they are not too windy and narrow. Where should I stay overnight? I only know I should see Milford Sound. Can I rent a one way car rental? I will then fly to Melbourne or Gold Coast before going to Sydney.

Thank you so much for all your precious replies.

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