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New Zealand's North Island:
Motorhome Tour Itinerary

Last update: February 4, 2008

Looking for the roads less travelled....

    This itinerary for our 29-day February-March 2008 journey around the North Island has been posted in the hope that it will help others planning trips to New Zealand. Although New Zealand is small compared to the region we're used to exploring (the Yukon, Alaska, British Columbia and Alberta), there is so much to see and do that fitting in even a fraction of what we'd like to experience is not just a challenge but an impossibility. Once we accepted that fact, planning became much easier.

    This itinerary, with a few exceptions, was primarily a guide that changed a lot as new ideas arose on the road. The journey, though, is divided into 4 quadrants, as we thought that the need to move on at the end of each week would be important.

    Our focus when travelling, and particularly on this journey, is to see what's different about the country and to meet locals - to see what we can't see at home, and do what we can't do at home. Among many other things, that means that the coast is high priority, as is native wildlife, particularly penguins. We have little interest in cities, and will be passing through most of them quite quickly.

    For our primary printed planning resources, we are using Lonely Planet New Zealand and the Globetrotter New Zealand Travel Map, both of which we recommend highly for their ease of use.

Current NZ/CDN/US exchange rate (February 2/08) - NZ$100 = CDN$76.66 = US$77.07

Whenever you see the webcam image click on it to see the current view at that location.

Day 1 - Friday, Feb. 15, 2008: fly out of Whitehorse, Yukon
* board Air Canada Jazz at 13:40, arrive Vancouver at 16:05
* at 18:30, board one of Air New Zealand's new Boeing 777-200s and head southwest.

Day 2 - Feb. 16: due to the oddities of crossing many times zones at high speed, this day just disappears out over the Pacific Ocean somewhere (on the way home, however, we get home 2 hours before leaving Auckland).

Day 3 & 4 - Feb. 17, 18: Auckland
* arriving at 06:00, we'll spend 2 days at the Hyatt Regency, acclimatizing, resting, and seeing a bit of the city (there is a lot to do in Auckland!):
* Auckland Superpass
* Fuller's Ferries
* Auckland Bridge Climb (while Cathy goes to a spa!) (link 2) Our 2-berth S/T motorhome from Tasman Motorhomes

Day 5 - Tuesday, Feb. 19: in the morning, we'll pick up our little motorhome from Tasman Motorhomes, and then head out for a circumnavigation of New Zealand's North Island over the course of the next 25 days.
* Auckland to Hahei - ca. 180 km
* Reserved a "super sea view campervan site" at the Hahei Holiday Resort, located right on the beach, for 3 nights.

Day 6 - Wednesday, Feb. 20: drive and walk to north end of Coromandel - also diving, snorkeling, hiking...

Day 7 - Thursday, Feb. 21: getting married at Cathedral Cove, one of the most spectacular remote beaches in New Zealand.
* Low tide (-0.73m) is at 14:00

Day 8 - Friday, Feb. 22: Hahei to Karangahake Gorge: hiking, mining history
* Goldfields Railway:

Day 9 - Saturday, Feb. 23: Waihi to Mount Maunganui

Day 10 - Sunday, Feb. 24: Mount Maunganui to Rotorua (78 km, 1 hr)
* Top 10 Holiday Park
* 10: 30am: Wairoa River rafting (Class 5)
    * to all 26 tours/activities in Rotorua
    * Top Rotorua Activities (TripAdvisor)

Day 11 - Monday, Feb 25: in Rotorua
* 10:00am: Kaituna River rafting (Class 5) - the world's highest commercially rafted waterfall!
* A decadent afternoon/evening at the Polynesian Spa

Day 12 - Tuesday, Feb 26: day in Rotorua, to Whakatane late (85 km, 1.25 hr)
* Waimangu Volcanic Valley
* Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland - ($27.50 pp admission)

Day 13 - Wednesday, Feb 27: in Whakatane
* 09:15: tour to White Island, a live volcano - 6 hours, $160 pp (more White Island info)

Day 14 - Thursday, Feb 28: Whakatane to East Cape (Hicks Bay) (205 km, 3 hr)

Day 15 - Friday, Feb 29: East Cape to Gisborne (180 km, 2.6 hr)
* it's been suggested that Mahia Beach is a great alternative to Gisborne (1½ hrs south)

Day 16 - Saturday March 1: Gisborne to Napier (363 km, 5.2 hr)
* Te Urewera National Park (DoC link; NZ.com link):

Day 17 - Sunday, March 2: Napier to Wellington (319 km, 4.5 hr)

Day 18 - Monday, March 3: in Wellington

Day 19 - Tuesday, March 4: Wellington to Waikanae Beach (ca. 80 km, 1.1 hr)
* day trip to Kapiti Island Nature Reserve (DoC link) (9:00am-4:00pm, $54 pp)

Day 20 - Wednesday, March 5: Waikanae Beach to Wanganui (ca. 115 km, 1.6 hr)

Day 21 - Thursday, March 6: Wanganui to New Plymouth (160 km, 2.2 hr)
* New Plymouth to Hawera (105 km) is the "Surf Highway" - rural NZ with dairy farms and rugged coastline

Day 22 - Friday, March 7: New Plymouth to Hamilton (231 km, 3.3 hr)
* Waitomo Glow-worm Caves
* Marokopa Falls New Zealand backroad

Day 23 - Saturday, March 8: Hamilton to Goat Island

Day 24 - Sunday, March 9: Goat Island to Tutukaka
* scuba at Poor Knights Islands (Dive! Tutukaka)

Day 25 - Monday, March 10: to Bay of Islands area

Day 26 - Tuesday, March 11: in Bay of Islands area
* possible overnight boat trip

Day 27 - Wednesday, March 12: explore north end
* Cape Reinga

Day 28 - Thursday, March 13: to Waiheke Island

Day 29 - Friday, Mar. 14: return to Auckland, drop motorhome, fly home...
* leave Auckland on an Air New Zealand 777-200 at 19:15
* arrive Vancouver same day at 13:00, board Air Canada Jazz at 14:55
* arrive Whitehorse at 17:25