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Day 1 - 2 -Auckland (2 days)
Arrival at airport. Don’t pick up rental van until tomorrow. Take bus/taxi to central city. Recommended hotels downtown:
1. Crowne Plaza - www.crowneplaza.co.nz
2. Heritage Hotel - www.heritagehotels.co.nz
3. Scenic Circle Airdale Hotel - www.scenic-circle.co.nz
4. Quest on Nelson - www.questonnelson.co.nz
Spend the day getting it together after your flight. You are in the heart of Auckland. There is a free Red Bus you can catch in Post Office Square to take to see what the city is all about. Recommend Sky City, America’s Cup Village visit and definitely go to Kelly Tarlton. Free bus at bottom of Queen Street. Magic place. Have allowed you two days to get acclimated and see the sights. Next head back to the airport and pick up the camper van and off up north. Easy drive to get out of the city and across the Harbour Bridge if not at peak traffic
times. Best to get going in mid-morning.
Day 2/3 - to - Bay of Islands/Northland (3)
This is a great introduction to New Zealand. Still remember the first time visited in 1989. Take Route One north to Warkworth - good place to take a break and perhaps lunch (1hr drive). Along the way places of interest are the Waiwera Hot Pools, small town of Puhoi on the left has a Dutch influence and a Cheese factory cafe. A really nice side trip is to take the road to Leigh and Matakana (fabulous Patisserie at Matakana - wineries)) - continue on the side road back to Route#1 to Wellsford and on north (1 1/2 hour drive to Whangarei).
Recommended Holiday Parks along the way:
Pakiri Holiday Park (past Leigh on the side road back to Wellsford) www.pakiriholidaypark.co.nz
Waipu Cove - south of Waipu www.campwaipucove.com
Whangarei Falls Holiday Park - northeast of Whangarei www.whangareifalls.co.nz
Whangarei to Paihia (1 hours drive) Turn off Rt#1 onto Rt#11. Stop here for the night if you didn’t already stop. Visit the town of Kawakawa to see the toilets (don’t laugh an international famous artist did them!) Check out Pahia, Russel across the bay, the Treaty Grounds.
Recommended Parks -
Bay of Islands Holiday park - www.bayofislandholidaypark.co.nz
Twin Pines Tourist Park - www.holidayparks.co.nz/twinpine
Beachside Holiday Park - www.beachsideholiday.co.nz
Day 4/5 - to Northland
from Pahia drive north returning back to Route#10 (14kms) turning north at Puketona off to Cape Reinga (3 hour drive). Got to see the Cape Lighthouse and see the Ninety Mile Beach and the Dunes. Long day and drive but worth it. Stay at Wagener Holiday Park at Houhou Heads. (www.northlandholiday.co.nz).
Drive south on Rt#12 and relax the day at the Bayleys Beach Holiday Park (www.holidayparks.co.nz).
Day 6 - on south to Hot Pool Heaven Te Aroha
(3-4 hours back to Auckland. Take SH1 South towards Hamilton, after 30 min, the Bombay Hills, turn left and take SH 2 towards Thames-Coromandel, then go on to SH 27 towards Matamata. In Tatuanui, take SH 26 towards Hot pool heaven of Te Aroha Aroha. Climb Mount Te Aroha and relax in the hot pools at - www.tearohaholidaypark.co.nz
Day 7- Waitoma Caves -
Now it begins to get exciting................. back south on Route SH26 visit Hamilton Gardens, the go on pastTe Awamutu and at Otorhanga take the road to the Waitoma Caves(www.waitomacaves.co.nz) (1 hr) Plenty of exciting things to do here..........perhaps caving? Be sure to stop by Billy Black’s Place and see the show...its pure New Zealand. Now go back to Otorhanga and take the road to Rotorua.
Day 8/9 -Rotorua -
Fabulous place to spend two days or more.....See and enjoy a Maori hangi, etc. Look on the Rotorua website. Stay at the Rotorua Thermal Park (www.rotoruathermal.co.nz) highly recommended.
Day 10/11 - Taupo and south -
South to Rt#5 and to Lake Taupo. (1 hr drive) Have a stroll. If anyone likes to fish this is the spot in the North Island. Two hour drive to Napier the Art Deco City. Stay at the Kennedy Park in the heart of Napier (www.kennedypark.co.nz). Enjoy the place! Heart of the North Island Wine Country.
Day 12 - south to Martinborough(3 hour drive)
Route 2 out of Napier all the way south. Towns: Dannevirke, Woodville, Masterton,Carterton, Greytown, Featherston and Rt 53 to Martinborough. An interesting drive to Castlepoint out of Masterton. Lots of wineries here! Top wines.
Recommended Holiday Parks:
Mawley Park, Masterton - www.holidayparks.co.nz/mawley
Castlepoint Holiday Park - www.castlepoint.co.nz
Martinborough Holiday Park - www.martinboroughcamping.com
Carterton Holiday Park - www.holidayparks.co.nz/carterton
Day 13/14 - to Wellington -
overnight park closest to the city is the Top Ten Hutt Park (www.huttpark.co.nz) From here drive into Wellington City.(Rt#2) Take the first road to the left off the highway (Jervois Quay) continue in the left hand lane(becomes Cable Street) to just past the Te Papa Museum and turn left to find a park. You are in the heart of the cafe/restaurant district(Courtney Place) one block over. See the Museum, go to Civic Center on Wakefield Street, see funky Cuba Street, shopping on Willis and Lambton Quay. Complete information at the I Center, Civic Centre. You might want to park the camper van while in the city and get a hotel room for a break. Leave it parked in the parking lot beside the Museum and go to the Museum Hotel.
So....have done the North Island. There is room and time to change whatever you like.........................make your booking on the Bluebridge Ferry(the only one to recommend).
Don’t have to book far ahead.
Two alternative routes through after Taupo visit-
(1)faster trip if in a hurry but at no loss to the trip. Go south on Route#1. You will pass the volcanic mountains of Tongariro and Whakapapa through the high country desert country and on to Wellington(5-6 hour trip).
(2)From TaupoRt#1 to Rt#41 to Rt#43 and the drive to New Plymouth. Lots to do as you circle Mt Egmont Park. Awesome mountain used for the Tom Cruise movie Samurai.
Stay at the Fitzroy Holiday Park (www.holidayparks.co.nz/fitzroy) when in the New Plymouth area. Take a couple of days to see everything here.
Cross to South Island on the Bluebridge Ferry