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.

Auckland and North Island in May 2010

Hartford...
Level Contributor
26 posts
83 reviews
Save Topic
Auckland and North Island in May 2010

Hello,

My wife and I are planning a trip to New Zealand and Australia in May 2010. We will arrive to and depart from Auckland. We have not set any specific dates yet, but we plan to be in NZ during the second half of May. I have scanned this forum for suggested itineraries, but everybody seems to be planning their trips in the warmer months. Since the weather in May will likely be a factor, I would tremendously appreciate any advice on what to include in a week-long itinerary. We love the outdoors as much as urban sights. From what I gathered on this forum, places like Rotorua and the glow worm caves (a boat trip - not sure I will enjoy black water rafting) would definitely fit our interests. But what else would you recommend? How about a rain forest walk or a trip to the gannet colony - is that a good idea in May?

Many thanks in advance!

Stan

McLean, Virginia
Level Contributor
523 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Auckland and North Island in May 2010

I did the North Island during the winter and you can pretty much do whatever you would do in summer then--with the exception of water sports. I had some rain each day but it was just sprinkles. Some places were closed or had reduced hours due to it being winter but basically that really did not stop me. The main problem I had--which I will have again this year--is that in winter the sun sets early. I have a car as part of the exchange, but I do not like to be on dark unlit roads in a area where I am not familiar with everything. So, I had to time my drives to take that into consideration. I did have a jacket with an interior layer that could be removed.

I recommend the Lady Knox geyser as a side trip from Rotorura. Folks from NZ can advise on day hikes in that area. My perspective is simply that of an American who had 2 nights there and basically did the geysers and not much else (sad to say).

I did several walks in different places on my trip. The one that immediately comes to mind is the walk through the kauri forest on the west side of Northland. I went to the kauri museum there as well--which was fantastic. A friend of my home exchangers also took me on a walk through a rain forest near Whangerai. She knew the names of all the plants, which I did not--so that was an education. None of these were overly strenuous. I am no spring chicken and am not up for backpacking or mountain climbing. I just walk to see the scenery. 10km would be the absolute maximum I would think about doing in a day.

I am a little concerned about the temperatures on the South Island in winter (bound to be cooler than the North Island) because that is where I am going next. I will just bring layers again--maybe an additional sweater, gloves and a hat as well.

Most of the tours that my fellow countrymen take seem to cover Auckland, Rotorura, Christchurch, the Franz Josef glacier, Queensland and Milford Sound.

Because I home exchange, I try to restrict the number of nights out to reduce the price of the trip. So I do relatively unusual itineraries for people from the US. On the North Island, while I did go to Rotorura, I really enjoyed my time in Northland--especially Bay of Islands and going along the sand to Cape Reiga (called 90 mile beach even though it is 60 miles). The home exchange was in Whangerai, so that was my base. I did spend more nights out than I usually do to cover the itinerary I set for myself.

NZ has a reputation in the US of being a country that can be "done" in two weeks. Huh? Impossible. It is much larger than Americans think it is. The tours just hit the sites that people have been told (usually by tour companies) that they must see.

I didn't have time for a hike at Rotorura, but I did do some of that (short hikes, no adventure travel!) in and around Whangerai, as well as the one in the kauri forest. I also enjoyed the gloworm caves at Waitomo, but then found a gloworm cave in Northland. While each cave is different, if you have limited time, one gloworm experience is all you need. If you have more time, of course, as I said, each cave is different. I think Waitomo gets all the publicity because there are so many gloworm caves there and it has become a center for adventure caving (which I did not do). I think the company I went with there was Spellbound and we went to two caves; neither involved getting in a boat or getting wet. One had gloworms and one did not. I liked the experience because I was away from the maddening hordes (although, in winter, that is relative). I stayed in the Top 10 Holiday Park in Waitomo.

The North Island is great! I wished I had had more time at Lake Taupo (I did it as a "drive by") and the volcanoes (gorgeous photos because I had a clear day--which I was told was unusual). I really hadn't anticipated those two places. Basically Americans, for the most part, do NZ in a giant rush to tick things off lists and that leaves no time to savor the experience, but, then, that is tourism all over. I do tourism on the East coast US and it is the same thing--run from site to site. I sometimes wonder when the clients get out of it, but the all seem to enjoy it, so it must be OK.

I am on facebook. If you would like to see my photo albums from the trip, just send me a private message and I can send you the public link if you are not on facebook. The photos might give you some idea of what you would like to see. In 17 days I saw less than half of the North Island. This year I am going to have an exchange in Christchurch and that will be my base. I probably will just see the middle of the SI because that is where I am going to be. I guess I will need two more exchanges in NZ at some point: Wellington and Queenstown to see the things I missed.

I did think NZ was just fantastic. The beautiful scenery does really give you the push to get involved with the outdoors.

Edited: 28 November 2009, 06:04
Wanaka, New Zealand
Level Contributor
1,492 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Auckland and North Island in May 2010

Hi there,

While a week is not much time to see our country, don't be put off by the fact that you are coming in May as there is still plenty to do.

While I can think of at least 3 possible itineraries, a few questions might help narrow this down.

Will you be flying into NZ from Australia or further afield? If you're coming straight from the U.S. you'll need to allow at least a night or two in Auckland at the start to get over the jet lag.

Will you be driving or relying on public transport?

Which of the following interests you the most and the least? Museums, Wineries, beaches (even on cold days), boat trips to go fishing or sight whales and dolphins, Maori Cultural experiences, Vibrant cities, bush walks, mountains, wildlife (in NZ's case this is mostly birds e.g the kiwi) and/or beautiful lakes.

Lastly, would you be prepared to take an internal flight back up to Auckland?

As for the gannets, sorry I can't comment as I have no idea where they are. It's not a bird that a huge number of NZers flock to see. However there's bound to be someone on this forum who can give you some knowledgable advice.

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
1,531 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Auckland and North Island in May 2010

Hi Stan

Welcome to the Auckland Forum.

I would not let the weather concern you too much. It will be cool but not freezing cold and you can expect some rain.

Flying in and out of Auckland and with only a week you will have time to enjoy the Auckland Region and also visit either the region to the north (Northland/Bay of islands) or the region to the south (Rotorua/Taupo) but not both.

You may wish to consider the following:

Auckland and Northwards

Day 1

Arrive Auckland

Overnight Auckland

Day 2 Auckland

Overnight Auckland

Day 3

Auckland to Hokianga via Kauri Museum at Matakohe (well worth a visit) and the Waipoua Forest to see NZ's largest remaining Kauri tree

Day 4

Hokianga to Bay of Islands

Overnight Bay of Islands

Day 5 Bay of Islands

Overnight Bay of Islands

Day 6

Bay of Islands

Overnight Bay of Islands

Day 7

Bay of Islands to Auckland

Auckland and Southwards

Day 1

Arrive Auckland

Overnight Auckland

Day 2 Auckland

Overnight Auckland

Day 3

Auckland to Rotorua via Waitomo Caves

Overnight Rotorua

Day 4

Rotorua

Overnight Rotorua

Day 5

Rotorua to Taupo

Overnight Taupo

Day 6

Taupo Region

Overnight Taupo

Day 7

Taupo to Auckland

Both the above would need to be fine tuned to take into account your exact arrival and departure times.

For Rotorua have a look at:

www.rotoruanz.com

and for Taupo

www.laketauponz.com

The Taupo region is wonderful – lovely views across the lake and plenty of nice places to stay and eat. You may wish to make a note of in particular Huka Falls, Aratiatia Rapids, Craters of the Moon (thermal area and walk) and the Prawn Farm (nice place for a light lunch by the side of the Waikato river.

In the case of Auckland the best is to be found in the surrounding area and in particular the Waitakere Ranges to the west of the city, under an hour from the airport and city, where you will find black sand beaches, notably (Piha and Karekare) regenerating forest, waterfalls, stunning coastal and bush views, some 250kms of walking tracks and not too many people, and the Kumeu area to the north west. This is a largely rural area where you will find may of Auckland’s very good wineries.

The gannet colony is at Murawai – another black sand beach just to the north of the ranges. However the time to view the gannets is between October and February/March.

Black water rafting is a bit of misnomer as it involves floating in tubes rather than rafting as such. However there is no need to get wet to see the glow worm caves and at Waitomo the boating part is a very leisurely and gentle part of the visit.

Whether to go north or south – personally in May I would go south to Rotorua and Taupo. In my view they are more all year round places whereas Northland and the Bay of Islands in my view are more seasonal and at their best in the summer months.

Hope this helps

Hartford...
Level Contributor
26 posts
83 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Auckland and North Island in May 2010

Dear LSKahn, thanks so much for your insight. I am definitely planning to include Rotorua in m intinerary. You mentioned that some places were closed in winter - do you remember what exactly was closed?

Hartford...
Level Contributor
26 posts
83 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Auckland and North Island in May 2010

Dear OskarNZ,

We are planning to fly into Auckland from New York and then continue to Sydney. I am planning this trip around an event in the second week of June in Sydney that I am attending. So, we could first go to AU and then to NZ, but that wold mean arriving to Auckland in mid June, which I figured must be colder than mid/late May. To limit the expenses, we are not planning to take any local flights in NZ. I would imagine spending 2-3 days in Auckland and then renting a car to get farther afield.

From the list of thing to do that you mentioned, I would probably skip fishing because my wife gets seasick relatively easy and because we usually get a lot of whale watching done in Hawaii and off California coast. Because it may be colder that time of year, I probably give beaches a lower priority. But sightseeing around lakes and mountains is somewhere at the top of the list, as well as birding (my wife is a fanatic). Maori Cultural experience also sounds like a "must do" item.

Can't wait for your suggestions!

Hartford...
Level Contributor
26 posts
83 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Auckland and North Island in May 2010

Dear Lonekaurilodge,

Thanks so much for your suggested itineraries, which are very helpful! Although both of them are very interesting, the southbound itinerary sounds a bit more feasible. Lake Taupo looks like a must see area.

You mentioned Waitakere Ranges near Auckland. I am guessing... A rental car or an organized day tour will be the best options to explore that area?

Since there will be no birds in Murawai - would you recommend a trip to Tititiri Matangi? And, in articular, a company that takes you there - 360discovery.co.nz/discovery-experiences/abo…

Thank you!

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
1,531 posts
47 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Auckland and North Island in May 2010

Hi again

There is no public transport out to the Waitakere Ranges so a rental car or day trip are the options. A car would of course give you more flexibility and enable you to get to locations the tours do not go to. There are plenty of accommodation options if you wanted to base yourselves there rather than in the city.

With regard to day trips I suggest you have a look at:

www.coast2coastnz.com

www.bushandbeach.co.nz

www.potikiadventures.com

The Arataki Visitor Centre on Scenic Drive is well worth stopping off at:

…govt.nz/parks/our-parks/arataki-visitor-cen…

Visiting Tiritiri Matangi is one of those things on my yet to do list, so whilst I don’t have first hand experience I would certainly suggest you seriously consider the day trip given your interest in birds.

Wanaka, New Zealand
Level Contributor
1,492 posts
18 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Auckland and North Island in May 2010

Hi Stanberg,

Based on your preferences, here's a rough itinerary that may be of some help. Drive times each day are about 3 hours or less to keep the journey manageable and to help combat any prevailing jet lag.

Day 1. Arrive in Auckland, get a motel near the airport and just rest. There's no point in planning anything on that first day as it'll ruin you for the rest of the trip. If you need to get out for a breath of fresh air, Butterfly Creek and Treasure Island Mini Golf are a couple of places near the airport that you can visit in just an hour or two.

Day 2. Drive in the morning to Waitomo. (3hrs) Just before Waitomo there is a small town called Otorohanga that has a good Kiwi House (www.kiwihouse.org.nz). Do a Glow Worms Tour in the afternoon and rest for the night in Waitomo

Day 3. Drive to Whakapapa Village in Tongaririo National Park (approx 2 1/2 hrs). Go for some leisurely walks and enjoy the rugged mountain scenery. Stay the night.

Day 4. Drive to Rotorua. This drive is easily less than 3 hrs, however make a day of it and stop for scenic breaks in Turangi, Taupo and some of the Geo thermal sites between Taupo and Rotorua on State Highway 5.

Day 5. Sightseeing in Rotorua. Take in a Maori concert and perhaps take a Gondola ride for a great view of Rotorua and visit Rainbow Springs (www.rainbowsprings.co.nz) at night for a lovely walk and to see the kiwi when he's most active.

Day 6. Drive to Tauranga (under 90 mins). Or you could go the marginally longer route and stop at Te Puke to visit Kiwi360 (www.kiwi360.com). This time though I'm talking about the fruit not the bird. Stay for the night at Mount Tutu Eco Sanctuary where you'll hopefully be able to see a whole range of our native birds.

(mount-tutu.co.nz/Mount_Tutu_Eco_Sanctuary_NZ…)

Day 7. Drive back to Auckland airport (approx 3 hrs) and fly out late avo. Or better yet, if you can strectch your trip to include another day or two, go stay in central Auckland and do the main sights.

If this seems all a bit to much, you could skip out Tongariro National Park. or Tauranga. But I included both since you mentioned your interest in both Mountains and Birds.

Hope this helps.

McLean, Virginia
Level Contributor
523 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Auckland and North Island in May 2010

The tours at the Bay of Islands were reduced during the winter. As I recall some of the restaurants and shops were closed as well. From your photo, I think you will want to see the Waitangi Treaty Site there--very interesting.

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
1,080 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Auckland and North Island in May 2010

Hi Stanberg

Muriwai beach is a black sand beach where the gannet colony is found.

Last year the birds had all disappeared for the winter but the year before many wintered over here. They depart some time from May but you may be lucky and find them around. They are very weather dependent and visitors last week said there are many balls of fluff out there so maybe they will still be around in May. This west coast is very spectacular and to drive North via the Kauri Forrest and the Matakohe Museum is a great day. You will see Tane Mahuta, one of the biggest trees still standing in New Zealand.

In my opinion do not stay anywhere near the airport, it is like all airports around the world and maybe worse than some. If you arrive on an early morning flight find some where that you can check in early, hopefully without having to pay any extra, catch up and see some of your surrounding area. With a very short time in New Zealand unless you like cities I would not stay in Auckland at all. There is so much else to see.

Kay

Get answers to your questions about Auckland Central