Driving to Wellington

Oct 1st, 2005, 09:42 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 105
Driving to Wellington

Planning a trip to Europe is a piece of cake compared to the choices one has in NZ! In reading these posts, I sense that many travelers are "stressed out" trying to plan a perfect trip, either feeling "guilty" for doing or seeing too much vs. sacrificing a gorgeous view or unusual town to drive through for the sake of time.
With that in mind, what are the advantages and disadvantages of taking the SH 1 Kapiti Coast quicker route vs. the more challenging SH 2 central route through the mountains and Wairarapa region? We are travelers from FL and don't want to tire of coastline, yet feel that we may be sacricing time in Wellington by taking the longer route.
Sibelius is offline  
Oct 1st, 2005, 10:44 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Hi, Sibelius,
From where are you driving to Wellington?
When I go to Hawke's Bay (as I am about to do in 3 hours' time!) I usually go up on SH1 through the Kapiti Coast to Levin, SH57 to Manawatu Gorge, SH3 to Woodville and finally onto SH2 to the Bay. I return to Wellington on SH2 turning off at Woodville to drive through the Wairarapa, which adds about half to three-quarters of an hour travelling time. Both are enjoyable trips scenery-wise, and do not involve mountains.
Whoops, just found your previous posting in which you say you are heading to Taupo. Right! From Taupo you could join the Napier-Taupo highway, and travel through Hawke's Bay to Woodville on SH2. From that point you could join SH1 to travel through Levin, etc (as outlined at the start) or travel through the Wairarapa on SH2 -either way a trip of around 6 - 7 hours, including a couple of coffee breaks. Alternatively, you can travel on SH1 through Taihape, Sanson, Foxton, Levin and onwards. Only part of this route is right on the coast - about 10 - 15 minutes! Travelling on SH1 is not much shorter in time, and again you are not really travelling through mountains.
Hope this helps clarify your decisions.
dotty is offline  
Oct 1st, 2005, 10:18 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 105
Dear Dotty:
Nice to have expert advice from a Kiwi! We will travelling specifically from Whakapapa Village in Tongariro. It seems that the Whanganui River Rd. is near there and several people have said not to miss driving through the charming town of Feilding as well, which consistently wins awards. We are prepared to travel the whole day if necessary because this trip is scenery-intensive and we will be back in the future to spend time in the cities such as Rotorua, Auckland, and such. Following a 2 day stay in Wellington, we will be embarking on an organized 2 week tour of the South Island that ends in Queenstown. But the immediate question is to determine the best, not necessarily the shortest, route to Wellington from the center of Middle Earth in Tongariro!
Sibelius is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2005, 12:42 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 468
Take SH1. It has some great scenery especially down Kapiti. Better roads and faster.

SH2 goes thorugh the Hutt (not all that great) you have to drive the Rimutakas (i still hate that drive scary). SH2 does go through the picturesque Wairarapa but to be honest much of a muchnest. You will find the volcanic plateau up near Taupo much more amazing!

Also if you are going in Winter they may shut the Rimutaka Road for snow then you'll have to go all the way road anyway.
wilees is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2005, 03:00 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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I don't know how scenic Feilding is, but it was a good place to stop and replace the flat tire on our rental car. We didn't take a lot of time to look around because we were trying to get to Wellington.

We also left from Tongariro after seeing some of the LotR sites (you can see pictures at community.webshots.com/user/ElendilPickle). Our plan was to eventually hook with SH 2 and stop at Kaitoke Regional Park on our way to Wellington.

However, after locking our keys in the car in Ohakune, and then having to change the flat tire, we realized we wouldn't get to Kaitoke until after dark, so we went through Feilding and Palmerston North and got on SH 1 instead.

Both routes are lovely, and there are additional LotR sites along both routes. If you don't have a copy of Ian Brodie's "Lord of the Rings Location Guide," do pick one up before you leave.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Oct 3rd, 2005, 05:08 PM
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Posts: 105
Ok, this is great advice. Lee Ann, your fiasco with locking your keys in the car and handling the flat tire led to a more intimate knowledge of the area and various routes. I am curious if you or anyone knows about the scenic Whanganui (Wanganui?) River road as a short detour as one approaches Wellington from Tongariro area? We have decided to take the coastal Kapiti route so we can have more time in Wellington so my son can get a tattoo at the Tattoo Museum (don't ask!).
Sibelius is offline  
Oct 4th, 2005, 01:44 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 49
The route down the Wanganui River through the Peka Peka's is a long long drive - well at least that is what it seems. IMO the faster route through the Mangawekas is much more scenic. Make sure you have enough time for some stops on the way.

Going down SH2 through the Wairarapa goes through some stunning rural scenery, but if you are doing the other LOR sites - you have probably seen enough. The big disadvantage of the SH2 route, other than the time difference, is the Rimataka Hill - not so scenic and long and windy.

If you are coming down SH1 to Wellington, consider pulling off to the right at Paekakariki and going up to the Paekakriki lookout - it takes about 7 mins to drive up and the view from way up there over the Tasman Sea is sensational. From the lookout, you can go back down and join up to SH1 or carry on a short distance to the top of the hill and drive down the valley to Pauatahanui and drive around the georgeous Pauatahanui inlet to rejoin SH1 at Paramata.

This road is not wide (like lots of NZ roads) so take care.

This side trip is fantastic if you do it the other way round - coming from the valley through the gap onto the coastal vista is unbelievable. Obviously the weather has to be OK.

Kiwis2 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2005, 04:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,897
I've driven the Wanganui River Road. It was about 10 years ago. It was one lane, unpaved, windy, seemed long, fair amount of fast traffic coming the opposite way. It is scenic but it was scary. The owners of the B&B I stayed at raised their eyebrows in surprise when I mentioned I had taken that route.

I don't think I would recommend it, especially if you are from FLA. I'm assuming it hasn't been upgraded or paved.
mlgb is offline  
Oct 5th, 2005, 09:58 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 49
If you dgo up to the Paekakariki Hill Road Lookout and go back down the hill, or if anyone goes down the hill, I strongly recommend that at the bottom of the hill where you join back on to SH1, you turn left and go south regardless of whether you want to go over to the Paekakariki Village or north. This intersection from the hill road is shocking and not for the faint hearted. If anyone is going north, I suggest you drive south for about 1/2 mile and turn right into the Fishermans Table Resteaurant carpark, turn around and then head north.
Kiwis2 is offline  
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