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lyndarra

NZ North Island Pre-Cruise Suggestions?

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On 3/2/20 my companion and I will board Maarsdam in Auckland for a cruise to Sydney. We will be flying in to Auckland on 26/1 to do a week long, pre-cruise, road tour. As my friend has never been to the north island I am asking CCers for suggestions of what their 5 top destinations/must see/visit sites would be, not including ports to be visited - Tauranga, Napier & Wellington. One on our list is the Waitomo Caves for Blackwater rafting. Also, Rotorua, thermal springs and cultural village tour and hangi (although this could be a private tour from Tauranga).

Thanks in advance.

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If you really want to do Rotorua - do it on your pre-cruise week- its a big of a drag from Tauranga - and  there is a lot to see in the area - worth an overnight or two. You can easily do Hobbiton on the way from Auckland. I like the old spa town of Te Aroha too.  Taupo is the next logical stop if you like fishing,  or more geothermal stuff. 

 

If you want a spectacular drive - consider incorporating The Forgotten Rd highway south from Ohakune to New Plymouth 

 

I think New Plymouth is sadly overlooked - its a gorgeous location with the  Mt Taranaki - and town itself is pleasant -and of cause modern art - Len Lye, the art gallery - again worth an overnight. If you get there you can then drive north to Waitomo from there. 

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I suggest:

Matamata - for Hobbiton

Waitomo - consider staying at Woodlyn Park

Rotorua

Taupo

Mt Ruapehu

 

You can cover these all is a southerly loop from Auckland, and that would also allow for lissie's suggestion of New Plymouth (I haven't been there).

As lissie suggests doing these places on your land tour leaves you time In Tauranga to take a good look around there, even climb the Mt.

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Thank you lissie and Mr W. Re Waitomo - you have confirmed my thoughts with that one.

I'm thinking I would like to include the Bay of islands, Russell and Paihia. Would it be stretching things to check out Cape Reinga. Is there anything worth seeing that far up?

We are fairly flexible with the itinerary. How would we go checking into motels on the fly at that time of the year?

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7 minutes ago, lyndarra said:

Thank you lissie and Mr W. Re Waitomo - you have confirmed my thoughts with that one.

I'm thinking I would like to include the Bay of islands, Russell and Paihia. Would it be stretching things to check out Cape Reinga. Is there anything worth seeing that far up?

We are fairly flexible with the itinerary. How would we go checking into motels on the fly at that time of the year?


 

Yes , that’s your other option. My suggestion would be to do the circuit. Go up the west coast SH16, Dargaville and the Hokianga and the Kauri forests through to Paihia  Cape Reinga is a full day trip. Check out Waitangi Day .....gets very busy ... accom could be tight. Return down the East Coast .

Waitangi Day is 6 Feb .

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Also Chinese NY - sees a big influx of visitors - its early next year though 25 Jan - you maybe past the worst of it.  Unfortunately I'd be wary of not booking motels in advance that time of year - NZ accommodation has not kept up with demand.   Particularly in popular places like Northland.    

 

I personally thought Cape Reinga was a bit of tick the box location - but that may be partly because the weather was so bad I couildn't see the sea from the lighthouse

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4 hours ago, Kiwi Kruzer said:


 

Yes , that’s your other option. My suggestion would be to do the circuit. Go up the west coast SH16, Dargaville and the Hokianga and the Kauri forests through to Paihia  Cape Reinga is a full day trip. Check out Waitangi Day .....gets very busy ... accom could be tight. Return down the East Coast .

Waitangi Day is 6 Feb .

That sounds like the makings of a plan. Will be on board Maarsdam by 6/2 so Waitangi wont be a problem.

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Have finally got our itinerary planned, just need to book accommodation and a tour or two. Booked rental car (Corolla) from GoRental.

Arrive 26/1 drive to Paihia - 2 nights - Waitangi, Russell, maybe Hole in the Rock.

28/1 to Snell's Beach - 1 night

29/1 to Rotorua - 2 nights - Planning to book a hangi (cultural experience) and Hobbiton tour.

31/1 to Waitomo - 2 nights - Planning to book Blackwater rafting experience.

2/2 to Auckland - 1 night

3/2 Board Maarsdam

Discovered that Kruse GPS tours have temporarily closed their website. They are in the process of converting their GPS tour guide to an App. Bummer. 

Have yet to decide on port tours. Most likely look at what's available at each port, rather than ship tours, as I've done in the past.

 

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Does anyone have a favourite excursion or attraction you've done in Paihia? We'll arrive there next Sunday evening and have about 36hrs to fill in.

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On 1/12/2020 at 10:43 AM, lyndarra said:

Have finally got our itinerary planned, just need to book accommodation and a tour or two. Booked rental car (Corolla) from GoRental.

Arrive 26/1 drive to Paihia - 2 nights - Waitangi, Russell, maybe Hole in the Rock.

28/1 to Snell's Beach - 1 night

29/1 to Rotorua - 2 nights - Planning to book a hangi (cultural experience) and Hobbiton tour.

31/1 to Waitomo - 2 nights - Planning to book Blackwater rafting experience.

2/2 to Auckland - 1 night

3/2 Board Maarsdam

Discovered that Kruse GPS tours have temporarily closed their website. They are in the process of converting their GPS tour guide to an App. Bummer. 

Have yet to decide on port tours. Most likely look at what's available at each port, rather than ship tours, as I've done in the past.

 

Don't do Hobbiton while in Rororua, there are too many other things to do there. Do it on the day you go from Rotorua to Waitomo. If you leave Rotorua reasonably early you'll have plenty of time to do a Hobbiton tour in the late morning (it's less than an hour from Rotorua) then go on to Waitomo in the afternoon. If your staying in Waitomo for two nights you'll have a full day to see the main cave and do the black water rafting.

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2 hours ago, lyndarra said:

Does anyone have a favourite excursion or attraction you've done in Paihia? We'll arrive there next Sunday evening and have about 36hrs to fill in.


A day trip up to Cape Reinga.?

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2 hours ago, lyndarra said:

Does anyone have a favourite excursion or attraction you've done in Paihia? We'll arrive there next Sunday evening and have about 36hrs to fill in.

Definitely do the Hole in the Rock if you've never done it before. Hopefully conditions will be good so you can go through the hole.

 

Visit the Waitangi Treaty House and Museum. An absolute must do if you're interested in the early settlement of NZ. 

 

On your way to Paihia stop at KawaKawa to visit the Hundertwasser toilets. Hundertwasser was a famous Austrian artist who moved to NZ. The toilets are really worth visiting.

 

There is a lovely  bush walk from Waitangi to Haruru Falls http://www.paihia.co.nz/walk_waitangi2harurufalls.cfm. It's a 2.5 hours one way (although I recall doing it in much less time). You might be able to arrange a pick up at the falls back to Paihia, ask at the information centre.

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1 hour ago, OzKiwiJJ said:

Don't do Hobbiton while in Rororua, there are too many other things to do there. Do it on the day you go from Rotorua to Waitomo. If you leave Rotorua reasonably early you'll have plenty of time to do a Hobbiton tour in the late morning (it's less than an hour from Rotorua) then go on to Waitomo in the afternoon. If your staying in Waitomo for two nights you'll have a full day to see the main cave and do the black water rafting.

We initially intended to do Hobbiton a.m. on 30/1 as we have booked a Maori hangi for the evening but the times we wanted were booked out. Plan B, booked Hobbiton p.m. 29/1 after driving down from Snell's Beach. This will leave us time to explore Rotorua and environs on 30/1. We and another couple have a Rotorua Maori Experience booked 4/2 from Tauranga during the cruise (Viator).

Edited by lyndarra
typo

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19 minutes ago, mr walker said:

In Waitomo, suggest you consider staying at Woodlyn Park, just for something a little bit different.

Have already booked Glow Worm Motel. It does look different but did not have a twin single room. We're doing the Blackwater Rafting through the caves on 1/2.

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13 minutes ago, OzKiwiJJ said:

Definitely do the Hole in the Rock if you've never done it before. Hopefully conditions will be good so you can go through the hole.

 

Visit the Waitangi Treaty House and Museum. An absolute must do if you're interested in the early settlement of NZ. 

 

On your way to Paihia stop at KawaKawa to visit the Hundertwasser toilets. Hundertwasser was a famous Austrian artist who moved to NZ. The toilets are really worth visiting.

 

There is a lovely  bush walk from Waitangi to Haruru Falls http://www.paihia.co.nz/walk_waitangi2harurufalls.cfm. It's a 2.5 hours one way (although I recall doing it in much less time). You might be able to arrange a pick up at the falls back to Paihia, ask at the information centre.

I've done the Hole in the Rock before but my friend hasn't. I've made a note of the toilets. May be something to look at on the way to Snell's Beach. Depends on how quickly we can get away from Aukland airport after picking up our rental car.

Thanks everybody for all suggestions so far. I'm taking notes to show my friend to see what she prefers as I've been there  (and Russell) before. I haven't been to Waitangi Treaty House so that is on the list.

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You only need a 5-10 minute stop in KawaKawa and it's just a quick turn off the Paihia Rd, about 1 minute to the toilets. 

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