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Gabriella1 May 14th, 2009 08:06 AM

Itinerary help please! 3 days in New Zealand
Will be going to Aukland for 3 days, mid July with our 10yr. old. Any advice on what is not to be missed? We do not have to stay in Aukland but do not really know what to do with our time. (it was a very inexpensive add-on to our Australia airfare, so why not?) Any glow worm caves nearby? We are not opposed to light hiking etc. What kind of weather should we expect this time of year? Thank you!

longhorn55 May 14th, 2009 10:00 AM

I'd rent a car and drive around the North Island for those 3 days rather than spending them in the city. In that amount of time you could visit the famous Glow Worm cave at Waitomo and spend some time seeing the thermal springs and attractions at Rotorua. Those would probably appeal more to a 10-year-old than anything in Auckland. Driving time from Auckland to Waitomo would be around 2.5 hours, Waitomo to Rotorua would be around 2 hours and Rotorua to Auckland would be around 3.5 hours.

kiwi_rob May 14th, 2009 01:24 PM

Yes, Gabriella, certainly rent a car and get out of Auckland. In that time, you could do a reasonable trip north of Auckland through Bay of Islands, etc, but your youngster would probably enjoy a trip down through the Waitomo/Rotorua area more, as longhorn has suggested.

So far as the weather is concerned, you will have to be prepared for anything from morning frosts or possible snow (in the central North Island areas) through heavy rain to warm, sunny days. Because the NZ islands are quite small, the weather can change dramatically from one day to the next. Think layers, with a windproof and waterproof jacket.


kiwikeith May 14th, 2009 11:41 PM


With only three days, a young child, and the fact that you will be here in July when there is no guaranteeing the weather, I would stay in the Auckland region where you will be able to get a good taste of what New Zealand has to offer without having spend your 3 days driving.

Some suggestions:
The Explorer Bus is a good way to get an overview of the city:
Viaduct Basin or Mission Bay for cafes and restaurants. The Viaduct Basin is more lively than Mission Bay and the Maritime Museum is located there. Mission Bay is more relaxing and has nice views across the harbour towards the volcanic (extinct) island of Rangitoto.
If you would like to experience Maori Culture then I suggest that you visit the Auckland Museum where daily there is an excellent Maori concert/cultural performance which I imagine a 10 year old would enjoy
Sky Tower - there is revolving restaurant at the top but you go there for the views rather than the food.
Shopping – small boutique type shops in Parnell or for larger shops and Malls just up the road in Newmarket, arguably Auckland’s best shopping area.
Ferry - either across the harbour to Devonport 10 - 15 minutes or to Waiheke Island (40 minutes) The trip to Waiheke is a good way of seeing the harbour.

For scenery the Waitakere Ranges are not to be missed – these are the hills to the west which you can see from parts of the city - an area of exceptional natural beauty with black sand surf beaches, regenerating native forest, waterfalls, stunning views and lots of walks. The beaches notably Karekare and Piha can be very dramatic in winter.
To the northwest of Auckland in the Kumeu area is where you will find most of our local and very good vineyards/wineries.

Hope this helps.


Bushranger May 15th, 2009 04:32 AM

Yep, either a touring trip to the south or north and though difference in weather could be marginal, it could also be a good 5C or more warmer heading north.

Getting to the Bay of Islands area for water activities would be a good half days drive and you can actually see glow worms for free at Whangerei Falls, just adjacent to city centre and if you drop in to see the manager at the YHA there, he may not mind you tagging along if he is doing it the night you would be there if deciding to, otherwise you can do it yourself easily enough - just take torches and follow the path to the falls.

Alternately, if you feel like doing a days skiing, you could include that with a trip over to Rotorua and then moving on to Taupo or Turangi to stay overnight and picking up a day trip.

Driving in NZ can be easy enough but do not expect too much in the way of Interstate Highway standard roads and if NZ is on the way to Oz, you may be better off not driving at all with likely jetlag effect and so sticking with Auckland will not be such a bad move and another alternative id to book accommodation over on Waiheke Island, a 45 min ferry trip from Auckland.

Gabriella1 May 15th, 2009 10:33 AM

Thanks to all of you for your swift response! Now I can start planning. One more question: What are farm stays, and is that something worthwhile? It is the last leg of our visit, so we should be over any jet lag by then.

Gabriella1 May 15th, 2009 01:20 PM

If we arrive in Aukland at 3:00pm Friday & leave Aukland 2:30pm Monday, is this possible:

Friday - Drive to Waitomo
Saturday - Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, first thing in the morning
Drive to Rotorua, see thermal area, spend the night
Sunday - Drive to Bay of Islands, sight see, spend the night
Monday - Get to Aukland airport in time for 2:30pm flight h

Bushranger May 15th, 2009 05:42 PM

I'd consider stopping the friday night in Hamilton as you'll have more options for accommodation/dining and by the time you get out of the airport and into hire vehicle it'll be approaching darkness there in mid July.
It'll only be an hours drive in the morning to Waitomo Caves.

A couple of hours and you'll be from there to Rotorua.

It's a bit of a stretch of the imagination to do Rotorua to Bay of Islands in one day and have much of it left to sightsee.

You may also want to drive from Rotorua down to Tauranga to stay the Saturday night unless you want to go to a Maori Show/dinner for many more accomodation/dining options at Tauranga.

An alternative to the Bay of Islands and on way back to Auckland would be The Coromandel Peninsula and you have some black sand beaches where you can dig a hole and have warm thermal water to have a beach sauna in, stay at Cormandel the Sunday night and have a relatively easy drive back to the airport.

Coming back from the Bay of Islands, you would want to be getting away by about 7 or 8 am in the morning and hoping nothing goes wrong to make the airport by about noon.

shandy May 16th, 2009 03:55 AM

Bushranger is right. I would stay in Hamilton as well. That is what we did with our kids.

Including the Bay of Island is pushing it too far. I can distinctly recall that the driving time from Bay of Island down south took much longer than we had anticipated, despite having checked the mileage. I would either spend a second night at Rotorua where there are plenty of activities for the kids or, alternatively, spend the final night in Auckland. You don't actually have any time planned there at all and you won't need to worry about any problems that might eventuate with being so far from Auckland on your flight day. You will very easily fill in a day/night at Auckland. Our kids really enjoyed the penguins at Kelly Tarltons.

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