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8 day solo trip to North Island in Mid Februrary

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8 day solo trip to North Island in Mid Februrary

Hi everyone. I am going on an 8 day, solo trip to the North Island in mid-February and am seeking help with my itinerary. I love nature and hiking, and I also definitely want to experience some hot springs/thermal activity, mountain biking, and some wine. I came up with the below itinerary as a starting point. Any suggestions in terms of ordering the proposed destinations or suggested changes to activities would be much appreciated. I am open to other "must sees" that I may have overlooked. Thank you.

17 Feb: Arrive mid-afternoon in Auckland. Drive to Rotorua. Overnight in Rotorua.

18 Feb: Mountain biking in Whakarewarewa Forest. Hot springs. Drive to Taupo. Overnight in Taupo.

19 Feb: Relax in Taupo. Hot springs, thermal activity, hula falls. Stay in Taupo or place closer to Tongariro crossing finish.

20 Feb: Early morning drive to Ketetahi car park. Do Tongariro one day crossing. Not sure where I should stay this night.

21 Feb: Drive toward Mt Taranaki. Overnight in Taranaki/New Plymouth region. What are the noteworthy sites/attractions on the drive between Tongariro and Mt Taranaki?

22 Feb: Climb Mt Taranaki summit early AM, stay overnight in Taranaki/New Plymouth region

23: Feb: Drive to Auckland, day activity somewhere along the way, Overnight in Auckland

24 Feb: Waiheke wine tastings Lunch/Afternoon. Overnight in Auckland

25 Feb: Rangitoto Island Morning, explore Auckland city area, fly home to Sydney late evening

8 replies to this topic
Rarotonga, Cook...
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1. Re: 8 day solo trip to North Island in Mid Februrary

Hi Michael,

I'm nervous when I see people arriving Auckland and hopping into a rental car to drive some distance. Even when it is from Sydney. If you slow your journey down, you will have a more relaxing and enjoyable visit.

day 1 - arrive Auckland, CBD stay for 2 nights, explore Viaduct harbour or Devonport.

day 2 - Waiheke wineries or Rangitoto island.

In the thermal region stay 2 nights in the same place - either Rotorua or Taupo. For the Tongariro Crossing book 2 nights accommodation nearer to the start or end of the hike. If you are planning your trip this February/next month you need to book accommodation asap.

Which route are you driving to Taranaki along - Forgotten Highway or SH3? SH3 is the easier route, but that would require driving to/from New Plymouth and Taranaki on the same highway.

Look at Waitomo or Raglan for a final night in NZ. Activities in both locations. Caving and black water rafting in Waitomo, learn to surf at Raglan. Alternatively you could catch up on your other planned activities in Auckland on your final day.

London, United...
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2. Re: 8 day solo trip to North Island in Mid Februrary

The Department of Conservation have put in parking restrictions for the road ends of the Tongariro Crossing to stop people self-driving there. Consider driving to National Park the night before and getting a shuttle (you can shuttle from Taupo too but if you're planning to continue on to NP that would involve a lot of toing and froing).

Check out the DOC website:

www.doc.govt.nz/tongariroalpinecrossing

New Plymouth itself is lovely. I climbed Taranaki a few years ago and frankly didn't enjoy it very much - it's a tough climb and there's a whole long scree section which is nasty to go up and down! If clear the views back towards the Central Plateau would be amazing though.

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3. Re: 8 day solo trip to North Island in Mid Februrary

Thanks for the helpful replies so far. I have re-ordered the itinerary to cut down on amount of driving. I know its a lot of activities and doesnt sound relaxing. How is this version? Alternatively, I could cut out Taranaki all together, but it looks like its a really nice park.

Sat 17 Feb: Arrive afternoon in Auckland. Relax. Overnight Auckland

Sun 18 Feb: Morning at Rangitoto, Lunch/afternoon at Waiheke wineries. Overnight in Auckland

Mon 19 Feb: Pick up rental car late morning (does this avoid traffic on Mondays?), Drive to New Plymouth, Overnight in New Plymouth.

Tues 20 Feb: Drive to Egmont visitor centre. climb Mt Taranaki summit AM. Overnight in Stratford.

Weds 21 Feb: Drive the Forgotten highway with a few stops. Stay in National Park.

Thurs 22 Feb: Do Tongariro one day crossing. Shuttle back to national park. Overnight in National Park.

Friday 23 Feb: Drive to Taupo. Hot springs, thermal activity, hula falls. Overnight Taupo.

Sat 24 Feb: Either Mountain biking on section of the Great Lake Trail (outside Taupo) or in Whakarewarewa Forest (near Rotorua). I guess which one I pick will influence where I stay overnight.

Sun 25: Drive to airport, find 1 place to stop along the way, fly home to Sydney late evening.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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4. Re: 8 day solo trip to North Island in Mid Februrary

Doing your itinerary in the reverse order gives you more wiggle room. Which you needed anyway. Check the Rangitoto ferry services, as I'm sure it returns early afternoon, back to Auckland, and you would then need another ferry service if you plan to visit Waiheke after. Rangitoto ferry may stop at Devonport, in which case some of the Waiheke ferries pick up from Devonport also.

I'd be inclined to stay 2 nights in Stratford, rather than 1 night in New Plymouth and 1 night in Stratford. You need an early start for the summit hike. But there are other walks around the base of Mt Taranaki if the weather doesn't look suitable.

Same with staying 2 nights in Taupo or 2 nights in Rotorua, with Rotorua being 1 hour less to drive to Auckland airport.

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5. Re: 8 day solo trip to North Island in Mid Februrary

Very helpful. Another question that comes to mind is whether I can take a rental car on the Forgotten Highway given the 16km stretch of unsealed road? My research doesn't seem to provide a definitive answer. The drive looks amazing to me but one to take slowly and cautiously.

One more thought is the impact of weather. Mt Taranaki summit should probably only be done in good weather, so if the forecast looks bad, I may have to have a contingency plan. Perhaps a smaller hike like you suggested.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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6. Re: 8 day solo trip to North Island in Mid Februrary

Like all metal roads in NZ, you really do need to take the drive carefully. It is a backwater/rural road, better suited to cow-cockies (common regional slang for farmers) who drive 4wd vehicles and know every inch of the road.

Check with your vehicle hirer if they are agreeable to you driving that stretch. If you need to drive back along SH3, you will notice things on the return leg that you didn't see before. And returning on the same stretch of road always seems easier/quicker. Tides permitting and if you are interested, pop down to view the Three Sisters in the Mokau-Tongaporutu locality.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Revie…

London, United...
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7. Re: 8 day solo trip to North Island in Mid Februrary

I used Ace Rental Cars for my trip in January and the only roads I couldn't drive on were beaches. If your rental car company doesn't let you do unsealed roads, find an alternative - there are loads of unsealed roads in NZ!

Chelsea, Michigan
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8. Re: 8 day solo trip to North Island in Mid Februrary

Pay for the tour of Rangitoto Island you see much more then walking around and the tour is very good.

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