North Island--preliminary itinerary

Old Jun 11th, 2022, 07:10 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 28
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
North Island--preliminary itinerary

We’ve been to the South Island twice, so for our third trip to New Zealand this coming October, we thought we’d concentrate on the North Island. Main interests are enjoying the scenery, light hiking/walking, food/wine. And just being somewhere different than Southern California.

We have 10 nights…flying into Wellington and will likely spend a minimum of 2 nights there getting used to the time change. Hoping that gives us a reasonable time to visit two other North Island areas, in addition to 1-2 nights in Auckland for a flight home. Leading contender for the two NI areas are: Hawke’s Bay and the Northland, probably the Bay of Islands.

One other wrinkle: we’re getting older and driving on the left side is getting stressful, so hoping to minimize driving with domestic flights and maybe even the bus, although still know we'll need to rent a car. So here we go:

After 2 nights in Wellington getting used to the time change, we head to Hawke’s Bay, probably via air, although driving is a possibility. Maybe 3 nights there?

From there an air connection to the Bay of Islands areas for another 3 nights. And it looks like we could take a bus from there back to Auckland. So, a couple of potential places to sample the North Island in spring? Thoughts? Other places we should consider instead?
magritten is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 03:08 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 8,472
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Three visits to New Zealand and we have always gone the Campervan route. That said, we are from the UK so driving on the left hold no fears for us! Quite the opposite, it is pleasure to drive there without the traffic we have in the UK. I do know what you mean though, we were in California in January and I found driving through LA pretty stressful at times (though apparently not as stressful as my wife found it sitting in the passenger seat!)

We much preferred the South Island to the north but there were places we really enjoyed in the north like the Coromandel Peninsula , though I can't imagine doing that without a car. A bit too remote perhaps? The Bay of Islands is wonderful and there is a lot do do around there . Not too sure about Hawkes Bay. We did enjoy our time in the nearby Art Deco town of Napier.

One area which would be worth considering is around Lake Taupo. We holed up in Taupo town for a week and loved it there. Lots of thermal areas to explore and Rotorua is only a couple of hours away by bus. https://www.newzealand.com/uk/taupo/. https://www.newzealand.com/uk/rotorua/ Being situated on huge lake it is very easy to get buses around the lake. We visited many places around the lake , most of which I have forgotten the names. Kinloch, I recall was a very nice laid back lakeside village.

I don't recall be especially fond of Wellington so would likely just spend the night of arrival there.


crellston is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 05:20 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 28
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks crellston and the Lake Taupo/Rototura area certainly seems to be the part of the North Island tourist area that we're leaving out and it could certainly replace either Napier or Bay of Islands. (When I mentioned Hawke Bay, the thinking was to stay in Napier.) As to Wellington, we arrive there solely because a wrinkle in the FF universe could get us there and to no other city in New Zealand! That said, I recall on our first visit renting a car and going to some nice wineries near there.

I also appreciate your comment about preferring the South Island to the North. We have loved our two trips to the South Island, but just hoping to poke our heads up north and see what it is all about. (Well, other than quick stops in Auckland and Wellington.) Also thinking the weather might be a touch better up there in October. But I suppose if the goal is to just hit two areas in NZ on this trip, we could pick one place on each island and just hang out in each one for several days to minimize driving--if just one night in Wellington and Auckland, we could do four nights in each place. We're particularly fond of Wanaka on the South Island.
magritten is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 05:33 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,428
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
I too, much prefer the South Island to the North. We've visited the South over a dozen times, but only ventured up North twice, and felt the same way about it each time.

Expect more people, more traffic, more logging, and well, more city trappings in general.

Our main purpose for visiting the North Island the second time was to spend time in Martinborough in the Wairarapa wine region, home to the best Pinot Noir my spouse claims to have ever put his lips to. And Wellington, because it was easy to combine with Martinborough.

Don't know if it will help or not, but here's the link to a trip report I wrote following that second visit. The North Island is at the top of the page.

No Snakes, No Worries: A Summer Trip to New Zealand


Melnq8 is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 05:51 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 28
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Melnq8--yes, your trip report is helpful and I recall reading it several years ago when preparing for our last South Island trip. And I suppose we could easily copy it in an abbreviated form: wine region near Wellington and fly down to Wanaka for the rest of our trip. I guess we're experiencing the age-old travel dilemma of deciding if it's better to return to a place you really like, or to go to someplace new!
magritten is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 06:11 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,428
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
I get that magritten. We've visited a few new places in the past couple of years, but our old favorites still call us back. I look forward to re-visiting the South Island one of these days - we were last there in 2018 and it seems like eons ago.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 11:40 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 22,241
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Since you're flying in to Wellington, I'd recommend looking into the overnight Kiwi Spotting Tour to Kapiti Island. There is bus service from Wellington to Paraparaumu. I stayed in Paraparaumu before the visit and in the Kapiti Island cabins. (The town is worth a quick visit as well as having a spectacular golf course) More info here:

https://www.kapitiisland.com/tours-a...-spotting-tour.

Also I agree about going to Wairarapa (Martinborough) if you are into the wine tasting. (Was that Ata Rangi, Melnq8?) There are several ways to get there, including train/bus, shuttle and tour from Wellington. You don't need a car while there, you can stumble or bike between wineries as the town is level flat. Lots of info on the NZ tourism website.

Napier was okay but it would be lower down on my list than the central area of North Island (Rotorua/Taupo/Turangi/National Park). It isn't that far from Taupo (by main highway) if you are up for driving from there (or fly from Wellington one way and then one way back to Auckland).

I'm kind of lukewarm on Bay of Islands, personally. It has some history and the coastal attractions but the best coastal scenery is up in Northland.

Tip: Log in to airnz.co.nz to get the interisland flights.

PS if the flight wasn't so awfully long I would go back in a minute.

mlgb is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 12:08 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,428
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
mlgb - just checked my notes and it was Martinborough Vineyard - unfortunately 2006 was an exceptional year, and subsequent vintages couldn't compete.

I loved the dry Riesling at Ata Rangi though
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 01:32 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 22,241
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ah, I was there in 2010 and bought something in that time frame, but no notes although it was something from the 00's? I recall them bragging on one particular year but I preferred a different one. We drank it in 2019 and it was still wonderful.
mlgb is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 01:38 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 28
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
Since you're flying in to Wellington, I'd recommend looking into the overnight Kiwi Spotting Tour to Kapiti Island. There is bus service from Wellington to Paraparaumu. I stayed in Paraparaumu before the visit and in the Kapiti Island cabins. (The town is worth a quick visit as well as having a spectacular golf course) More info here:

https://www.kapitiisland.com/tours-a...-spotting-tour.

Also I agree about going to Wairarapa (Martinborough) if you are into the wine tasting. (Was that Ata Rangi, Melnq8?) There are several ways to get there, including train/bus, shuttle and tour from Wellington. You don't need a car while there, you can stumble or bike between wineries as the town is level flat. Lots of info on the NZ tourism website.

Napier was okay but it would be lower down on my list than the central area of North Island (Rotorua/Taupo/Turangi/National Park). It isn't that far from Taupo (by main highway) if you are up for driving from there (or fly from Wellington one way and then one way back to Auckland).

I'm kind of lukewarm on Bay of Islands, personally. It has some history and the coastal attractions but the best coastal scenery is up in Northland.
I appreciate the ideas here and looks like another vote for the Taupo/Rotorua area over the two areas where we're currently leaning. Re Northland, while I mentioned Bay of Islands, if we did head there I'm not fully sure which part we'd go to. But after re-reading Melnq8's trip report, I'm also wondering if we hit one spot on each island. Lots to figure out!
magritten is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 02:24 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 22,241
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
10 nights is an awfully short time for a NZ trip. Even when I worked they'd allow me 3 weeks. The misconception is that because it looks tiny on the world map, it is like a trip to Hawaii. But it's really closer to the size of California ( bit longer but narrower). And often "you can't get there from here".

Last edited by mlgb; Jun 12th, 2022 at 03:06 PM.
mlgb is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2022, 03:17 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 28
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
10 nights is an awfully short time for a NZ trip. Even when I worked they'd allow me 3 weeks. The misconception is that because it looks tiny on the world map, it can treated like a trip to Hawaii. But it's really closer to the size of California ( bit longer but narrower). And often "you can't get there from here".
Well, it will be our third trip and the others were about 10 nights as well, so I'd like to think we're spending a month in New Zealand--just spread out over multiple years.
magritten is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2022, 04:33 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,052
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you will be arriving in Wellington on a weekend (Thursday through Sunday) during the first half of October, it would best to reserve accommodation well in advance because of a special event, World of Wearable Art. Among my top picks for Wellington city are Te Papa Museum, Zealandia Ecosanctuary, and the Cable Car, which takes you from the CBD to the near the top of Wellington's Botanic Garden, followed by, weather permitting, a walk down through the Botanic Garden back to the CBD. As it will be spring, the gardens will be beautiful.

Martinborough is about a 90-minute drive from downtown Wellington. Part of this drive takes you along Rimutaka Hill, which is steep and winding and in October it might be wet and windy, too. Wellington is known for being windy and October is generally the windiest month. You can also take a train from Wellington to Featherston and arrange for a Martinborough wine tour to pick you up from the station, (I've not taken this train, but here's a link https://wairarapanz.com/about-wairar...-martinborough)

If you decide to drive to Martinborough and would like to do more than wine and dine while there, consider a drive out to Cape Palliser on the South Wairarapa Coast.
https://wairarapanz.com/cape-palliser

While in Auckland, you might want to take a ferry trip on Hauraki Gulf. Consider going to Waiheke Island, where you can then travel to many wineries on foot or by bus. The Waiheke ferries run frequently. The wineries are lovely and so is the wine. Or you might enjoy a ferry ride to volcanic Rangitoto Island. Several days a week, it's also possible to travel to Tiritiri Matangi Island, which, like Rangitoto Island, is a predator-free ecosanctuary run by the Dept. of Conservation. In fine weather, you could spend hours walking its tracks and viewing an abundance of native birds. However, the ferry trip takes far longer and costs more than those to Waiheke or Rangitoto.
Diamantina is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2022, 07:02 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 28
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Looks like we'll miss the Wearable Art event (?) and I just realized we'll also miss New Zealand's Labor Day, as we'll arrive on October 25 and it's the previous day. My wife is a landscape designer, so Botanical Gardens are always on the list--and it looks like there are hotel options in Wellington that's walking distance to their gardens. And thank you for the wine tasting link!

I am curious about what people think of the ferry to Waiheke Island--assuming we have a day in Auckland prior to our flight out, I think we'd enjoy that and it's something we hadn't done in our two other (brief) times in Auckland.
magritten is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2022, 04:45 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,052
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Spring is the perfect time for a landscape designer to visit! And by late October, the weather will have also improved.

That's good that you'll be visiting after WOW. Though it's a great show--I've been three times. It's kind of cross between Cirque du Soleil and a surreal version of Project Runway with South Pacific influences and liberal use of upcycled and sustainable materials. It started in Nelson but, as the event grew, was moved to Wellington. Maybe you've visited their museum in Nelson during one of your South Island trips?

Here's a link to NZ's Cuisine Wine magazine:
https://cuisinewine.co.nz/region/new...aiheke-island/

The ferry from Auckland would take you to Waiheke's Matiatia Ferry Terminal, which is currently being upgraded. From the ferry dock you can walk up to Cable Bay Vineyards then Mudbrick Winery. It would probably take you 15 to 20 minutes (through Te Atawhai Whenua Reserve) to get to Cable Bay Vineyards and then another 10 minutes to walk along the road to Mudbrick. There are directions for this walking path at the bottom of this page:https://cablebay.nz/contact-us-careers/
Both wineries are gorgeous and have restaurants with views(most Waiheke wineries have restaurants and great views). OR you can jump on the 50A bus in the direction of Onetangi, jump off at the Vineyards stop to visit Wild on Waiheke, Stonyridge, Te Motu and Tantalus; they're all within about 5- to 10-minutes walk of one another.. There's a map at the bottom of this bus schedule that will show you where the wineries are: w01_waiheke_oct-2019-web-v2_1.pdf
Then you can hop on the bus returning in the direction of the ferry terminal, and if it's early enough, get off at the stop closest to Cable Bay Vineyards (as I recall it's only about a 5 minute uphill walk), then walk down to the ferry terminal when you're done (much easier going down than up). Alternatively, after visiting Wild on Waiheke, Stonyridge, Te Motu and Tantalus, you can jump back on the bus and continue to Onetangi to look at, or walk on, what I think is the best beach on Waiheke. It's also possible to rent a car near the ferry terminal, which would allow you to explore farther afield to wineries such as Man O'War and Passage Rock. There are too many wineries to mention them all!

I advise you to email or call the wineries ahead of your visit as we've had a lot of disruptions due to Covid. But, with any luck, Covid cases will have greatly declined by then.

It's nice to jump on the ferry back to Auckland around sunset. I think some of the ferries also stop in Devonport, if you'd like to have look around there.

Have you yet visited Villa Maria Winery near Auckland Airport?
Diamantina is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2022, 05:16 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 28
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the detail on Waiheke. Our flight leaves AKL at 8:25 pm and--assuming we spend our final night in Auckland--it seems like we could potentially spend the day on the island before heading to the airport. (At least if we got an early start and we clearly couldn't catch the sunset on the fairy.) And I very much appreciate the winery information! Our winery experience in New Zealand has been limited to the area around Wellington on our first trip, so there's lot for us still to explore.

I'm curious...are New Zealanders expecting an onslaught of tourists now that it's re-opening? We were quite shocked at how many more tourists we saw on our second trip compared to our first. Clearly, the beauty of NZ isn't much of a secret anymore...
magritten is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2022, 06:46 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 18,428
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
I can't speak for New Zealanders, but I can tell you that as visitors to NZ since the 90's we've seen a steady increase in tourism. There was a time we felt like the only visitors, but that is long gone.

Back in the day most of the visitors we encountered seemed to be from Japan, and we'd often see NZ shops advertising in Japanese in an attempt to draw them in.

These days it's more Chinese - NZ now hosts Chinese New Year celebrations, etc.

On our last trip in 2018, we questioned whether or not we'd be returning - even though we've almost always visited in the off season, there seems to be no off season anymore. NZ has had many campaigns aimed at Asian visitors in an attempt to fill those slow months. They now sponsor Amway conferences, etc in the slower seasons, so places like Queenstown and Wanaka seem busy all the time - at least to me. There are places in NZ we give a wide berth to given the influx of tourists.

Diamantina lives in Dunedin and can offer a local's perspective.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2022, 07:23 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 22,241
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My first visit to NZ was in 1988 (it was on PanAm after Lockerbie when no one wanted to fly anywhere).

The last was in 2010 and like Melnq8 I questioned whether I would ever go back. And that was 12 years ago! I can't even imagine what it was like just before everything shut down.

Certainly glad I was able to go then, haven't added up all of the visits but it was a lot! Easy to do from Los Angeles.

There were very few parts of NZ that I didn't get to, mostly the farthest ends such as the spit beyond Doubtless Bay, the north end of Coromandel beyond Kuaotuno, and Golden Bay/Takaka.

One of the best visits was to Dunedin when I joined in at the Rhododendron Festival Golf tournament and I was paired with an older gent who was a gardener at the club at Balmacewen and had grown up in the remote "Pig Route" region.

Last edited by mlgb; Jun 14th, 2022 at 07:34 AM.
mlgb is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2022, 07:26 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 28
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm starting to think of the old Yogi Berra quote: "No one goes there anymore. It's too crowded." It certainly was a night and day difference between our first visit in 2008 and our second in 2018.
magritten is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2022, 05:25 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,568
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
As a 1990 visitor and a 2019 visitor it was easy to think of NZ as ruined. Queenstown was a little village, in 2019 it’s like Vail and choked with traffic. I had the Tongoriro Crossing to myself before, in 2019 it was like Times Square.

Anyway, Wellington is the most beautiful NZ city and the museums and gardens are worth a look. There’s the Peter Jackson studio and nice walks in Mt Victoria Reserve.

The highlight of the central plateau is less Taupo and Rotorua and more Tongoriro NP. Try to start your crossing about noon if you are reasonably fit to avoid morning crowds, and north to south is less busy.

Also liked Coromandel but scary driving. Take the inland detour to the huge kauri trees.

Last edited by tom_mn; Jun 14th, 2022 at 05:28 PM.
tom_mn is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information