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North Island itinerary - does this work?

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We are traveling in NZ for 8 weeks mid October - early December. I posted earlier about our South Island itinerary - thanks to all who helped me make huge improvements! I'm now working on our North Island plans. Suggestions please! What works - what doesn't?

We're a retired couple. We love short hikes (4 hour hikes, at Moderate or easier level is our limit - we're slow hikers). Kayaking. No bungee jumping or extreme sports. Interesting cities, art museums, local culture, and gardens are also on our list. We do plan to rent a car for travel outside Auckland. Our preference is to spend a few days in one area exploring, not hopping too much with one night stays.

Our North Island explorations are split into two parts. At the beginning of the trip we plan to spend two full days in Auckland, then head to Northland for 3-4 days. At the end of the trip, we'll take the ferry from Picton to Wellington, and work our way north to Auckland for our flight home.

Our itinerary:
Beginning of trip in mid October -
Auckland 3n - Auckland Museum, Art Museum, walking tour, Rangitoto Island if the weather is good. We do not plan to rent a car until we're ready to leave Auckland.
Northland 3n - Paihia 3n or Paihia 2n Kaihu/Dargaville 1n. Waitangi, Russell, Bay of Islands, and Waipoua Kauri Forest, then back to Auckland. We will have 4 days, returning to Auckland at the end of the last day for flight the next AM to Christchurch.
Auckland 1n airport hotel and off to the South Island.

End of trip - last week of November and first week of December.
Wellington 3n. We should have 2 full days in Wellington. Te Papa museum. Botanic Gardens. Tongariro NP 3n. Short walks/hikes. I would love suggestions for best walks to do and which town makes a good base.
Taupo 2n. Lakeside walks, kayak or boat to Mine Bay rock carvings, Craters of the Moon walk. Lake Taupo Museum and Art Gallery.

Two of the following on the way back to Christchurch. We don't have time for all three. Rotorua will be a must IF we haven't included a lot of Maori cultural stuff earlier in the trip. We spent several days exploring Yellowstone a few years ago, so the thermal attractions sound like fun but are not a high priority:

Rototua 2n. Kuirau Park, Ohinemutu Village - Kia Ora guided walk, NZ Maori Arts & Crafts Institute,
Rotorua Museum, Maori cultural village including hangi if we haven't already done one. This list is too long for one day. We'll see what the weather is like and pick a few.
Waihi 2n. Karangahaka Gorge. Windows Walkway - Hauraki Rail Trail Crown tramway track to Dickey Flat. (these may be the same?)
Whitianga 2n. Hahei and cathedral cove.

Auckland 1 night. The following day to explore a bit more of Auckland - or do a lot of repacking to keep the airlines happy. Evening flight back to the US.

Suggestions please!

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