How long on North Island?

Mar 1st, 2009, 01:42 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 16
How long on North Island?

We have a home exchange lined up for next Jan-Feb north of Whangarei in Sandy Beach.

I am trying to figure how how long to stay there -- our exchange is for a maximum of 2 weeks.

After that we plan to take the train to Auckland, then on to Wellington, ferry to Picton, traih to Christchurch, Greymouth, spending a short time in each. (We like taking trains.) Then will fly to Sydney for a few days and come home to the US.

We love the beach, but are there lots of different day trips from there to see other things and get a feel for the culture in less than two weeks, or should we plan on spending the entire 2 weeks in Sandy Beach and then heading out?

Thanks for any help you may provide.
mandymo is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 02:55 PM
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There's quite a bit of New Zealand to go visiting, even just in the northland region, heading further north to Cape Reinga, Bay of Islands area, Hokianga Harbour and west coast, and back down around Whangerei and then further south around .

You'll be pushed to explore everywhere in just a week and it'll depend on if you have use of a vehicle for there are limitations to what you'll be able to see using buses.

You'll need to get a bus or flight back to Auckland as there's no train and will help with train travel and various passes available. is for the national bus network and could be handy
Bushranger is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 03:32 PM
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I just re-orientated myself with where Sandy Beach/Bay may be [lots of sandy beaches in NZ] for I was mistakenly thinking Cable Bay area.

But if in fact it is actually Sandy Bay over near Woolleys Beach/Matapouri/Poor Knights Island way on Tutukaka Coast you're even further in the sticks and use of a vehicle or a hire car will be an essential.

Lovely area though.
Bushranger is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 04:21 PM
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Yes, it's Sandy Bay near Poor Knights Island. We will have a car, so is it a good base for a couple of weeks or should be
cut it back a bit and go on to other areas?

mandymo is offline  
Mar 1st, 2009, 09:29 PM
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Seeing as you're tucked away a bit off the main SH1, about 35km. or so from Whangerei and though that may not seem very far, NZ back country roads are not anything like interstate freeways and nor is SH1 for that matter and so to get anywhere to other than the local coastal villages, do a trip to Poor Knights etc., you'll have a half hour or so drive to Whangerei and then back from there to add to driving time elsewhere.

There is a shorter route to SH1 showing on the map that cuts across to SH1 north of Whangerei but it is unsealed for about half or more and so probably not quicker - the exchange people ought to be able to advise.

Other than that, you're not too long a drive from Bay of Islands, or back down to Warkworth and you could even do a bit of an eastcoast loop.
Heading up to Cape Reinga [some unsealed road there for about 20-30 km. at end too] is a bit more of a day and you may want to look at scheduling a night away to do the coast north of Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga.

So it'll be easy enough to use up a week plus if you tackle having a look about as day/two day trips and giving yourself a days rest for the beach in between, plus Poor Knights but you'll just have to face becoming very familiar with the bit from/to Whangerei.
You'll still have longer days in Jan/Feb. and weather should be about the best you could ever hope for.

If you schedule one evening in Whangerei [Wh pronouced as an F in NZ btw and so hearing it pronounced on the radio for the very first time could sound surprisingly rude to an alien ear - no where as much as Whakatane - I bet the announcers have some fun!] check out the Glow Worms at Whangerei Falls, just a short walk from what is called the Basin in Whangerei [Marina area and some good eating houses there too], it's free access and if you want a guide, check with the local as they could be doing walks [take a torch too].

You'll likely find that between Whangerei, Poor Knights charters and Bay of Islands there'll be opportunity for some overnight cruising too if interested. - , are a couple of cruise sites and then may have package combos for a Bay cruise coupled with a Cape Reinga trip and so could be worth doing a night away in Paihia too.
There's quite a few different cruises in BofI and even seakayaking/island camping if interested -

When you exit NZ customs, if it is still in same place, turn left around cafe bar on corner and there's a small tourist info centre and you can free local area maps there and drop into an AA shop too for free more detailed maps, handy one in Orewa, first town on beach just on fringe of Auckland suburbia and AA is in main shopping square opposite beach - nice oastry shop actually facing beach.
Bushranger is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2009, 01:26 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions!
mandymo is offline  
Mar 13th, 2009, 10:34 PM
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Bushranger has given you some great suggestions.
We spent 2 weeks traveling in the region a couple of years ago. We did a great bus trip to Cape Reinga leaving from Kaitaia (day trip)depending on what the tides are like you travel one way via ninety mile beach and can go sand toboganing, we also were taken on a ferry to a place called silica sands on that trip. very very enjoyable.
We also love Russell (NZ's 1st capital)and the boat trip oout to "Hole in the rock" is another great day out leaving from Pahia. No doubt the people you are home exchanging with will have plenty of ideas.
The train from Auckland to Wellington is a good but lengthy trip (best part of a day)The Trans Alpine (Christchurch to Greymouth is very scenic)but not a lot to do in Greymouth.
You need to decide how much time you will allocate to the rest of NZ and go from there.
art_deco_kiwi is offline  

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