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Bay of Islands base?

Marlow
Level Contributor
303 posts
191 reviews
Bay of Islands base?

Hi everyone,

We did a trip to New Zealand earlier this year and loved it so much we plan to return to see some of the parts we missed.

We'll be starting in Auckland where we'll take some time to recover from our journey and either go to Coromandel or Waikiki. We then will have 4 nights in Bay of Islands and I'm looking for advice on where to go and what to see. Is it best to have a base for those 4 nights (if so, where?) or should we divide it into 2 lots of 2.

We like to snorkel and/or dive but my husband likes the water like a bath so won't go if too cold! We also love walking, whale watching and boat trips as well as just driving around with beautiful views.after BOI, we plan to take the train to Wellington, ferry to South Island then, after an overnight in Picton, walk the Queen Charlotte Track. We'll then pick up a car, drive to Blenheim, do a wine tour, whale watching in Kaikoura, Arthur's Pass and finally fly back from Christchurch. All in all, we have 3 weeks in New Zealand. Last time we saw other major highlights so we're filling in the gaps this time.

Any advice welcomed. Thank you for your help.

Morag

Nelson-Tasman...
Level Contributor
9,335 posts
478 reviews
1. Re: Bay of Islands base?

for snorkelling and diving definitely go to poor knights islands. dive tutukaka does a fantastic trip. the water isnt like a bath any of the year in nz, but wet suits are great. i like paihia as a base too - can do ferry trip across to russell, boat trips to the lovely islands, swimming with dolphins etc. so maybe a night in tutukaka and then in paihia.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for Zhuhai, Christchurch, South Island
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40,210 posts
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2. Re: Bay of Islands base?

What time of year are you coming? The only place in NZ you are likely to find "water like a bath"is at Hot Water beach at low tide!!

Where in NZ is Waikiki - I thought it was in Hawaii?

I love Russell as a base for the BoI but you might find it a bit restrictive for 4 nights if you want to visit Waitangi or even the kauri forests, with having to take your car on the ferry each time.

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
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18,190 posts
130 reviews
3. Re: Bay of Islands base?

Hi Morag,

I think you are referring to Waiheke Island, which is a Hauraki Gulf island to the north east of Auckland. Waiheke has warmer temps than Auckland and is drier too. The island is a walkers paradise with a series of coastal trails leading around the headlands and beaches between the villages. Go snorkelling from Enclosure Bay or around the rocks from Palm Beach.

Russell as mentioned is a good base in the Bay of Islands for 2 nights. Boat trips leave from the paihia wharf, and with pick-ups from Russell wharf also. Good snorkelling from Urupukapuka island, or drive north to Matauri Bay. Kerikeri would be my second choice for a 2 night stay.

Drive north to Doubtless Bay and stay in the Mangonui-Coopers Beach-Taipa area to visit Cape Reinga, Karikari Peninsula and Ahipara which is at the southern end of 90 Mile Beach. Spend another 2 nights exploring this area.

An alternative is to drive from the BOI over to the Hokianga Harbour then use the 2 nights making your way south through Waipoua Forest, Kai Iwi Lakes, Bayleys Beach and Matakohe Museum, then return to Auckland on SH16 from Wellsford to Kumeu and on the NW motorway into Auckland.

Marlow
Level Contributor
303 posts
191 reviews
4. Re: Bay of Islands base?

Thank you all so much for the tips and advice. It's much appreciated. And sorry about my rather garbled rushed query. It was written late last night after a rather drunken evening in which we got the ball rolling for our planned trip - which we're just beginning to flesh out!! I was so excited and benefited so much from advice here for our previous very successful trip so I was keen to get some advice so I could get more work done on planning today!! The trip will be in April next year so Easter is bang in the middle of it so we probably need to get on and make bookings for accommodation etc. As I'm guessing Easter is a popular time for holidays?

As some of you guessed, a combination of a typo and an over- enthusiastic spell checker turned Waiheke into Waikiki!!

So, our plan for 3 nights in Auckland is to spend the first day just relaxing after our long trip then take a ferry to somewhere on the next day. Probably Waiheke as I think we can maybe hire bikes there. I'm also attracted to Coromandel but that's much further so I think we may have to miss that out. One of the valuable lessons we learned last time is that you can't do everything - though it's tempting to try!!

So we then have probably only 3 nights to go up to Bay of Islands because I'm trying to fit with the timings of the Northern Explorer and we'll need to be back in Auckland the night before departure as it leaves so early. Is the Northern Explorer worth it? We drove from Wellington to Auckland last time so don't want to drive again. And loved the sound of the train ride. But we could just fly to South Island.

We're aware that the sea temperature in NZ isn't like a bath! - which is why my husband may not dive or snorkel! He doesn't dive or snorkel in the UK either! But I'd like to tempt him to at least try!! We both love snorkelling - though it has to be pretty special to tempt me to dive!

I'm going to absorb all your tips and hopefully sort out the North Island side of things today.

I'll let you know how I go.

South Island tomorrow!

Thanks again!

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
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18,190 posts
130 reviews
5. Re: Bay of Islands base?

The Northern Explorer is worth it, and the north-south journey is more scenic than the other way around. But see how you go with your itinerary and if the train won't work then fly south.

Waiheke is a lovely base to relax after the flights into NZ. You can hire push bikes on the island, with one hirer being located at Matiatia harbour where the passenger ferries berth.

For an April visit, it's advisable to book accommodation as soon as you can. Eater is a popular time of year for travel, from both domestic and overseas markets. In warmer locations, the seas should still be warm enough to go snorkelling. Another neat spot to snorkel, and where you can hire gear including wetsuits, is Goat Island at Leigh on the Matakana Coast. See if you can fit in a side-visit to Leigh marine reserve on the way south to Auckland after the BOI. Turn off at Wellsford town on SH1 for Leigh, then drive through Matakana village to Warkworth to rejoin SH1.

Edited: 27 August 2016, 14:50
Marlow
Level Contributor
303 posts
191 reviews
6. Re: Bay of Islands base?

OK - so a few days on and we have some flesh on the bones of our trip - but I'm still overwhelmed by the choices in Bay of Islands. May even have to come back to New Zealand for a 3rd visit!! I just wish we'd emigrated there years ago when we weren't too old!

My plans so far are as follows......

Day 1 Arrive in Auckland early. Chill out then nightstop

Day 2 Day trip to Waiheke. Hire bikes and do a bit of touring

Day 3 Pick up hire car and head north

Day 4 & 5 Possibly Whangerei?

Day 5 & 6 Paihia or Kerikeri?

Day 7 Back to Auckland to return hire car and night-stop

Day 8 Northern Explorer to Wellington

Day 9 Ferry to Picton. Night-stop Picton

Day 10 Boat to start of Queen Charlotte Track

Day 11-14 Walking QCT, staying in various lodges

Day 15 Return Picton, pick up hire car and drive to Blenheim. Night-stop 2 nights

Day 16 Cycling on wine trail

Day 17 Drive to Kaihoura. Night-stop 2 nights

Day 18 Whale watching

Day 19-22 - still working on but want to see Arthurs Pass and then end up in Christchurch where we catch a flight back to Auckland and onwards home to UK via Sydney and Singapore.

Any comments and advice warmly welcomed.

Thank you again

Marlow
Level Contributor
303 posts
191 reviews
7. Re: Bay of Islands base?

Hi folks,

Have now got an outline plan for our time in North Island and would welcome your advice to fine-tune it.

Day 1 Arrive in Auckland early. Chill out then nightstop

Day 2 Day trip to Waiheke. Hire bikes and do a bit of touring

Day 3 Pick up hire car and head north. 2 nights Tutukaka. I need somewhere to stop for walking either when we get there or on the way as we're in training for the Queen Charlotte track. Any ideas?

Day 4 Dive/Snorkel Poor Knights

Day 5 Drive to tip of island and walk. Return to Kerikeri. Stay 2 nights there

Day 6 Drive to Paihia for boat trip/dolphin swimming in Bay of Islands. Return to Kerikeri

Day 7 . Walk somewhere near Kerikeri then drive back to Auckland to return hire car and night-stop

Day 8 Northern Explorer to Wellington

How does that sound? Is it all feasible? Any tips welcome, especially for good walks or boat trips.

Many thanks. I couldn't even begin to organise a trip like this without Trip Adviser!!

Rarotonga, Cook...
Destination Expert
for Rarotonga, Waiheke Island, Southern Cook Islands, Auckland Central
Level Contributor
18,190 posts
130 reviews
8. Re: Bay of Islands base?

There is a neat walk to the lighthouse, at Tutukaka. One of the tracks starts at the marina, and goes uphill to join the main track, and the other starts from a no-exit road above the marina. Ask your accommodator, or people at the shops below Oceanz Resort how to access the tracks.

There are also walks from Wellington's Bay beach that take you over the hill to Ngunguru, as well as in a loop above the lifestyle block subdivision at Wellington's Bay. There are short walks around the headland as well, with signposts identifying where they are located.

The drive from Auckland city to Whangarei should take you a little over 2 hours of driving, plus allow an extra 40 minutes to drive to Tutukaka Coast. Hopefully once you settle into your accommodation, this will give you sufficient day-time to undertake some of the walks.

Marlow
Level Contributor
303 posts
191 reviews
9. Re: Bay of Islands base?

One of those sounds perfect!! Thank you so much.

So that's Tutukaka sorted - once I've decided on a diving/snorkeling trip.

Now I need something for the morning in Kerikeri!

And I'm thinking of Carino for our boat trip in Bay of Islands. I think someone recommended them to me last time but I can't remember who. I think it was someone we contacted when we were planning a day in Rotorua and I seem to recall she said her sister ran Carino. She was really helpful so I'm thinking it might run in the family!! I'm just hoping I'm remembering the right company because I can't find the e-mail.

California
Level Contributor
11,228 posts
73 reviews
10. Re: Bay of Islands base?

Carino is correct: http://www.sailingdolphins.co.nz

You may like the Mangawhai Clifftop walk on your way to Tutukaka. It can be done as a loop at low tide.

>>>Day 5 Drive to tip of island and walk. Return to Kerikeri. Stay 2 nights there<<<

Starting at Tutukaka, driving to Cape Reinga, and then to Kerikeri will make for a lot of driving and little time for walking. I would suggest driving to Kerikeri on Day 4 after the dive (3 nights Kerikeri) and doing a tour from there. The buses can drive on 90-mile beach, something you probably won't be allowed to do in a rental car.

Or, if you skip Cape Reinga, there are several fantastic walks at Whangarei Heads. The climb of Mount Manaia will get your heartrate up! whangareiheads.com/walking_and_tracks.html

If you want to stay close to Kerikeri, the River Track to Rainbow Falls is an option. …govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/… Or drive out and explore the many tracks at Ake Ake Point. …govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/…