Need help with unusual New Zealand itinerary.

Old Aug 31st, 2010, 10:32 AM
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Need help with unusual New Zealand itinerary.

I am planning a 3 week trip to New Zealand in November. My problem is I would like to weave in and out of Auckland as my son is filming a TV show there. He only has 1 1/2 days off so I am hoping to spend time with him as well as go on set etc. We dont like to over plan, would rather really get to know a place than see everything a bit. Are there many day trips out of Auckland? There is so much to see on the North Island but seems everyone else is trying to see the South? Am I crazy for letting that go this time? If We did fly down to see Fiordland where is best to fly into? Thanks for your help.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 06:39 PM
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If you flew to the SI to see Milford, you'd want to fly into Queenstown.

Perhaps you could divide your three weeks between both islands.

You could fly to/from Queenstown, spend some time there and then head back to Auckland to spend time on the NI.

The SI is one of those places that's hard to see using one place as a base. One notable exception is Queenstown. You can actually see quite a bit by basing yourself in Queenstown...Milford and Doubtful Sounds, Glenorchy, Arrowtown, Wanaka, the lakes, the surrounding mountains, vineyards, etc. You could easily spend a week or longer in/around QT and not run out of things to do (well I could).

Another option would be to fly into Dunedin and out of Queenstown or vice versa, allowing you to see some of the countryside by driving between the two. Really depends on your interests and what you'd like to do.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 07:21 PM
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If you are here in November that would be the perfect time to visit Raglan for a day with your son. Home of the world famous left-hand surf break and generally a laid back beach town close to Auckland. Two hours south of Auckland on the rugged west coast. The perfect getaway for the limited time that you have. Contact the Raglan Information Centre - [email protected] for help with any bookings you need.
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 07:37 PM
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This is all great info, Thank you. I am trying to figure out a way to weave in and out of Auckland. If I split a week between Bay of Islands and The geo thermal region, how many days for each? How long is the drive between Lake Taupo and Rotorua? Thank you again
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 07:42 PM
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This site might help you with drive distances. I've found it to be pretty accurate:
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Old Aug 31st, 2010, 09:12 PM
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Thanks so much I will check that out. What are your feelings on going North from Auckland to Bay of Islands vs. South to geothermal area? How many days does it take to hit the highlights? Thank you so much again!!
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 12:05 AM
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If you have been to Yellowstone, Rotorura is disappointing. It is a town and there are a few geysers, but nothing like Yellowstone. Maori shows can be found all over. You do not have to go to Rotorura to see one. There is one, for example, at the Auckland Museum.

I would head for Northland and its spectacular scenery. You might want to check out the kauri trees (similar to redwoods).
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 10:04 AM
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If you are looking for quick excursions get familiar with the Air New Zealand Super Saver seats, and the low cost competitor Jet Star.

My last trip I went in and out of Auckland a few times as I was visiting friends in between touring.

Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown usually have cheap flights.

From Wellington you can see the Kapiti Coast (I did an overnight on Kapiti Island as well), and also visit the Martinborough area (wine tasting). If you want to drive back you could overnight near Tongariro and see "Mt. Doom". It is often easy to get good car rental deals on one-way northbound rentals (try Avis). You can also take the ferry crossing to the north coast of the S/T and train to Kaikoura/Christchurch.

November weather is variable...4 seasons in a day for sure.

In addition to Raglan on the west coast there are also black sand beaches (not much swimming) at Piha, Muriwai, and Bethell's Beach (especially pretty, where Xena was filmed). Muriwai has a gannet colony which is a fun watch.
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 12:20 PM
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Look at Jet Star for cheaper airfares in NZ. I used them recently to get from Christchurch to Queenstown. $29 NZ (The NZ dollar is worth approximately 70% of the American!) each way. Cheap. Jet Star is a discount off shoot of Qantas.
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 03:50 PM
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>>If you have been to Yellowstone, Rotorura is disappointing. It is a town and there are a few geysers, but nothing like Yellowstone.
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Old Sep 1st, 2010, 03:59 PM
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I've copied in a portion of my trip report. As you'll see, IMO Rotorua is a "must-see" -- but one must get out of the town itself to explore the spectacular volcanic parks.

I hope this helps. You might want to check out my trip report that focused on Auckland and Northland.

************************************************** ***********

(from the Rotorua airport)
We drove the ten minutes to our pre-booked Sudima Lakeview Hotel. At 11 am our room wasn’t ready, so we followed the “lake walk” path, for a wonderful forty minute walk, highlighted by lots of geo-thermal activity and lake views.

We picked up chicken, salads, scones, and fruit from the “Pak and Save” supermarket across the street and picnicked on a bench in front of the lake. It was the best roast chicken I’ve ever tasted—and we repeated this routine for several meals.

When we checked in, our room—with its view over the lake, far exceeded expectations. At only $95/nt (NZ), it seemed like a steal.

Our first stop was the “Sheep Show” at the Agrodome ($24 pp). The show was fun—but for me, the best part was getting to play with the sheep before and after the show. They were surprisingly affectionate—I guess from regularly being petted and photographed with tourists.

That evening, we attended the Tamaki Tours hangi ($95 pp). I feared it would feel like a fake, Disney-esque tourist rip-off—and there was an element of that, but we enjoyed the evening. Our bus driver was hilarious and thoroughly entertaining. Both the meal and the show were surprisingly good and I’m glad to have done it and gotten a taste of Maori culture.

The next day’s visit to Waimangu Volcanic Valley was a definite highlight of the trip. It would have only been about a twenty minute drive—if our GPS system had not “steered” us wrong. But that led to a fun experience. We got stuck in a Rotorua traffic jam: a herd of cows simply refusing to moo-ve off the road. We got out of the car and helped the farmer herd them to the side of the road—and took lots of good pictures. (For a city boy, cows and sheep are exciting.) The scenery was very pretty and we were in no rush, so we didn’t mind the detour.

When we arrived at Waimangu, our first stop was the café; we were very hungry. We ordered surprisingly delicious paninis. Once again, it seemed a little expensive to us—$36 with one dessert, one piece of fruit, and coffee. But the view from our outdoor table was priceless. It will surely be among the most beautiful locations where I’ll ever eat.

Our decision whether to take the boat ride in addition to the self-guided walking tour was solved when we learned that the boat was out of service. But after walking to the lake, my sense is that we didn’t miss much. It was lovely—but not as interesting or spectacular as the scenery we saw on our walk. But I will say that the lake would have been a bird watcher’s dream.

We paid the fee of $30 pp and spent the next several hours practically speechless from the views—and the extraordinary geothermal features. I’m sure the crystal clear blue skies and sunshine added to the experience. Parts of the landscape looked mystical, or as if we’d landed in a distant galaxy; other parts were pristine, primeval forest with brilliantly colored steaming, bubbling lakes. We were blown away and took picture after picture.

I spent the next morning soaking in the mineral pools at the Polynesian Spa. I enjoyed it and felt great afterwards—but it didn’t live up to my very high expectations. Conde Nast named it one of the top ten spas in the world—so I was expecting WOW! But it couldn’t compare with my favorite spa—Glen Ivy, in Corona, California. The problem for me was that except for the big swimming pool, all the pools are outdoors, overlooking the lake. Sounds great, but … it was too cold to stay outdoors, unless I was submerged in the water – and I was boiled after 10 – 15 minutes. Plus, without my glasses (that steamed up), I couldn’t see the lake!

FYI, the only difference between the “Adult Pools” ($20 entry) and the “Lake Spa” ($40) packages is that the more expensive one includes a locker, and use of toiletries and a towel. If you bring your own toiletries and towel, there’s no need to spend the extra money.

Our last Rotorua activity was to walk in the other direction on the lake path—past the Polynesian Spa. The views and geothermal activity in this direction were quite different—but also very enjoyable. Highly recommended.

From other trip reports, I’d gotten the impression that Rotorua wasn’t “pretty” or scenic –- but was “interesting” because of the geothermal activity. My sense was that the town itself is neither attractive, charming, nor interesting; just overpriced souvenir shops and restaurants. But walking around the lake afforded some beautiful views—and Waimangu Valley was one of the most beautiful –and fascinating --places I’ll ever see. So for me, Rotorua is a “must-see” experience. Next time, I’d visit some of the other geothermal sights—but it’ll be tough to beat Waimangu.

The drive to Auckland was a very pleasant, easy three hours. The scenery was pretty and at times seemed like a painted fairytale backdrop. FYI, compared to Ireland, I found the roads and the driving to be a pure pleasure.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2010, 12:15 PM
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Everyone is so great, I appreciate the help. Here is our tenative schedule. Feedback alwasys appreciated. I should also say I am starting my trip with my Mom whos mobility isnt great, my husband joins us after week one, then we all travel together, Mom leaves and Hus and I venture to the SI. I am trying to build in flex time as we are going to see my son who is filming a show there and we want to be open to any fun oppurtunity that might bring us.

Arrive Auckland around the 10-12th of November (havent booked flight yet)
Hang aroung Auckland until the 14th
14th-17th fly to Wellington and see that area
17th or 18th back to Auckland to greet husband
18th-20/21 Auckland again (My son doesnt film on Sat. so hoping to take day adventures with him.)
20-22 Bay of Islands and tour Northland
One night back in Auckland
24-26 Lake Taupo area?
Back to Auckland, Mom leaves
28-Dec 2 fly to Queenstown and do Milford Sound and surrounding area
Dec 3 back to Auckland and Home to Calif.

How does this sound??? Too ambitous? Cant wait to see this wonderful country
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Old Sep 2nd, 2010, 03:58 PM
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You might also look into Christchurch for you Moms excursion, it's very flat so easy walking, (plus there is a trolley that takes you around) and November would be nice for the botanic gardens.

I have enjoyed staying in this Bnb which has the feel of Hogwarts! Really great owners and a cute dachsund too.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 10:59 AM
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Hi, do a search o my sign in name and you will find our trip report from 2009, when my o/h and I toured NZ for 9 weeks. One of our favourite memories on the north Island was having breakfast at the Boatshed Cafe in Rowena, which is at Hokianga Harbour - a fantastic place which is forever changing. It is possible to tour up the west coast from Auckland as a day trip.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 12:01 PM
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Okay well scratch Christchurch I would not want to be there during the "aftershock" period!
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 09:54 PM
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After today thinking Christchurch might be out. Thanks, We can all only pray that the recovery goes well and the aftershocks minimal. My text messages were flying asking if my son in Auckland felt it. He was asleep but alarm went off when the quake happened. These events make us all stop and say thanks. I still look forward to our trip there. i am thinkinf maybe airfare will go on sale! Always a silver lining....
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Old Sep 15th, 2010, 11:12 PM
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Hire a car and drive down to the Coromandel from Auckland if you have time and love scenery- lots of scenic bush etc along he way -stay overnight at Whitianga and take Ferry across the bay and meander back via Raglan only if you love to surf.
Wellington Kapiti - not really a lot to see there!2 days would be ample.

24-26 Lake Taupo area? You should NOT miss the Rotorua Taupo area. Kiwis call it Roto-Vegas for a very good reason here is so much to see and enjoy there.

28-Dec 2 fly to Queenstown and do Milford Sound and surrounding area. I would add more time here if at all possible. Its way better than anything you will see in the North Islands - You wont be disappointed I promise.
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