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Auckland/NZ North Island: Options, Ideas for Early 2020??!!

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Getting ready in mid-February 2020 to do an Oceania Regatta sailing from Auckland to Tahiti.  Planning for a week before this 18-day cruise to do some exploring in and around New Zealand's North Island by rental car.  During our first Australia-NZ adventure in 2014, we had wonderful cruise ship stops in Wellington, Napier/Cape Kidnappers, Tauranga/Rotorua and Bay of Islands.  After finishing that cruise, we had a couple of excellent days in Auckland, including going to scenic/fun Waiheke Island.  For early 2020, we are looking to fly into Auckland, get our car on Feb. 11 and head south.  Many options consider??!!  What's best, new, interesting, scenic, etc., etc.?  We want to head south in the direction of Wellington, maybe sample a little wine action, etc.  Then, drop the car and fly back to Auckland for the boarding of our cruise ship on Feb. 17.  Insights and ideas?

 

From NBC television, they have a weekend travel series titled: “THE VOYAGER WITH JOSH GARCIA” with many interesting visuals, highlights and details.  Their early May video segment covered and related to Auckland.  It was titled "Awesome Auckland".  Josh tours Auckland, the "City of Sails," climbing to the top of Harbour Bridge; visits a local farm that's famous for its sheep; takes a lesson in sailboat racing onboard New Zealand's most famous racing yacht.  This series is very well produced and brings back many nice memories.  Reactions? 

 

Full Auckland video profile at:

https://www.nbc.com/the-voyager-with-josh-garcia/video/awesome-auckland/3947906

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

Sydney to NZ/Auckland Adventure, live/blog 2014 sampling/details with many exciting visuals and key highlights.  On page 23, post #571, see a complete index for all of the pictures, postings.  Now at 221,706 views.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139

 

Here are just four sample screen shots from this NBC-TV, 20-minute video that focuses on profiling Auckland and nearby New Zealand options. Fun, exciting reporting.:

(Open your screen/viewer wider to see these pictures larger/better!)

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2027217999_ScreenShot2019-06-23at6_04_46PM.thumb.png.83e6b0bd544e3541b3d6609189c96be4.png

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I suggest heading straight down State Highway 1 to Wairakei, which is very close to Taupo. There you can do the Craters of the Moon geothermal walk https://www.cratersofthemoon.co.nz/, visit the Prawn Park https://hukaprawnpark.co.nz/, visit Huka Falls https://www.newzealand.com/int/feature/huka-falls/ - even better do a jet boat ride to the base of the falls https://www.hukafallsjet.com/nz/. It's probably best to stay in Taupo, there is more choice of accommodation there. Auckland to Wairakei takes about 3.5 hours without stops so if you leave early in the morning you could get to the Prawn Park for lunch, assuming you like prawns.

 

Next day you might like to take a boat trip out on the lake in the morning to see some Maori rock carvings, then carry on heading south. At Turangi turn right, then left a bit further down the road, to go over the hill to the Tongariro National Park. This is a lovely drive through some beautiful NZ bush. Stay the night at the Chateau Tongariro on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu. There are some lovely walks you can do here if you feel energetic. It will only take about 80 minutes to get to the Chateau.

 

Next day carry on around Mt Ruapehu, through Ohakune to Waiouru, then carry on down State Highway 1. After Mangaweka look out for the Mangarere Rangitikei Rest Area where you can get great views over the Rangitikei River. It's just a small area when you can pull off the road. After Ohingaiti look for the turn-off to Highway 54 which will take you through some interesting countryside, then take Colyton Rd to Ashhurst. Go through the Manawatu Gorge to Woodville, and take State Highway 2 south. If you have time the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre is worth a visit. Travel through Masterton and Greymouth and turn off to Martinborough. Spend two nights here and do some wine tasting. This is one of New Zealand's top wine regions, and they make some wonderful Pinot Noirs. It will take around 5 hours driving to Martinborough, without including stops.

 

Then head back to State Highway 2 and cross the Rimutakas to Wellington, which should only take about 75 minutes. 

 

This is only four nights so would get you to Wellington on the 15th. You could break the trip up a bit more by exploring some of the towns on the way to Taupo then staying in Taupo two nights and going back to some of the Wairakei sites next day.

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Another option would be to go to Whanganui from the Chateau ie go straight ahead on State Highway 4  instead of turning left to Ohakune. It's a lovely drive to Whanganui. Spend a bit of time exploring there, including going up Durie Hill in the elevator and climbing the tower. Then go on to Palmerston North on State Highway 3. Perhaps stay a night there, then go on to Martinborough through the Manawatu Gorge.

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6 hours ago, OzKiwiJJ said:

Another option would be to go to Whanganui from the Chateau ie go straight ahead on State Highway 4  instead of turning left to Ohakune. It's a lovely drive to Whanganui. Spend a bit of time exploring there, including going up Durie Hill in the elevator and climbing the tower. Then go on to Palmerston North on State Highway 3. Perhaps stay a night there, then go on to Martinborough through the Manawatu Gorge.

 

Appreciate these great suggestions  comments and follow-up.  Am getting ready now for departing in mid-July to be seeing, for our first time, Jasper/Banff, doing the Western Canada Rocky Mountaineer rail adventure, having three days in Vancouver, then sailing up to Alaska, doing a post-cruise excursion to Denali, etc.  After getting back from this "adventure", then I will turn the page and start to focus 100% in preparing for this exploring of NZ's North Island, plus planning for these various islands in the South Pacific. 

 

Keep it coming!!  This is very helpful as we research and plan for early 2020. 

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

SE Asia/Mekong River, Etc.!  Live/blog from early 2018, first adventure through SE Asia, stops in Hong Kong and Bangkok, before exploring all over Vietnam and Cambodia, seven days sailing on the Mekong River. Now at 47,518 views.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2591474

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From the Washington Post yesterday, they had this headline: “Americans will need a travel document to enter New Zealand, starting Oct. 1”with these highlights: “Previously, Americans visiting New Zealand could simply show up, passport in hand, and enter the country. However, starting this fall — or spring, for Southern Hemisphere dwellers — the island nation will require some extra minutes of pre-departure planning.Though the United States is one of 60 visa-waiver countries, Americans and other nationals from this group will need to apply for a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) for travel starting Oct. 1.”  

 

For many of us doing the South Pacific, we will start out or end our trip in Auckland.  Hence, this information might be "need-to-know news."  This story also details: "The form will become available in July on the New Zealand Immigration’s website and mobile phone app. The cost: 9 New Zealand dollars (about $6) for the app submission and 12 New Zealand dollars (about $8) for the online form. Visitors must also pay the new International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy, which is earmarked for tourism infrastructure and environmental protection. The fee costs 35 New Zealand dollars, or $23."

 

Full story at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/americans-will-need-a-travel-document-to-enter-new-zealand-starting-oct-1/2019/06/26/a4f23482-977a-11e9-8d0a-5edd7e2025b1_story.html?utm_term=.5ac9156964c0

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

AFRICA?!!?: Fun, interesting visuals, plus travel details from this early 2016 live/blog. At 46,046 views. Featuring Cape Town, South Africa’s coast, Mozambique, Victoria Falls/Zambia and Botswana's famed Okavango Delta.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2310337

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