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Drive times and questions about tourist sites

Oxford, United...
posts: 112
reviews: 1
Drive times and questions about tourist sites


We're spending some time on honeymoon in NZ. I was born & grew up in Hawke's Bay but now live in the UK with my English hubby who has never been to Godzone before. We only have a week or so to spend in NZ, I was hoping someone wouldn't mind taking a look at our rough itinerary and give us some feedback?

Would especially like feedback on driving distances/times

Day 1 - Fly Brisbane>Auckland>New Plymouth, stay at my sister's house

Day 2 - NP coastal walk. Stay with sister

Day 3 - visit Mt Taranaki. Stay with sister

Day 4 - collect hire car. Drive NP to Waitomo (180km/3.5 hours). Visit Waitomo Glow Worm caves. Drive to Rotorua (160km/2.5 hours). Go on a Cultural Evening/Hangi. Stay ???

Day 5 - Drive to Wai-O-Tapu (27km/30 mins) and explore. Drive to Taupo (55km/40 mins) for lunch. Possibly double back to Huka Falls to view them or go Jet Boating. Drive Taupo to Waipawa (150km/2 hours). Stay with aunt.

Day 6 - Visit Napier, Hastings, lunch with friends & relos etc. Stay with aunt.

Day 7 - Drive Waipawa - Wellington (320km/4 hours). Check out Te Papa. Stay ???

Day 8 - Drive to airport, hand hire car back, fly out of NZ.

I would dearly love to show my new husband more, but on limited time I'd prefer we stuck to just a few areas and spent time on doing things to give him a wonderful memory of my home country. Would have loved to have gotten up to Coromandel, but with our flight out of WLG instead of AKL we don't really have time to get there. Also not too bothered about showing him beaches as we will have just spent 2 weeks in our family beach house on an island in Queensland :)


1) Are my drive times New Plymouth to Waitomo to Rotorua correct? If so, we won't have time to do the 3 hour Black Labyrinth tour which I really wanted to do :( Could this possibly be done as a daytrip from New Plymouth with my nieces & nephews in tow?

2) would like feedback on Tamaki Tours vs Matai - are they the same thing? same price? same food? same drinks prices? Any reason to pick one above another?

3) At Rotorua would like to do a mudbath or thermal bath or both. Would you recommend Polynesian Spa/Hells Gate/Waikite?

4) Would like some recommendations for free thermal springs in Rotorua/Taupo area - I have heard of a place near Wai-O-Tapu which is a creek which has natural springs?

4) Running a little short on time to do Waitomo & cultural evening & thermal bath visit.... if we were to go on the Matai trip there are glowworms there, are they in any way comparable to those at Waitomo? I suppose we could skip Waitomo completely and see glowworms in Rotorua, and stay at a motel with thermal baths, that'd combine a lot and save us some time??

4) can you visit/look at Huka Falls via a short walk from a carpark? Huka Falls website seems to indicate you can only get to them via a Jet Boat or via a 2 hour walk from the carpark, is this correct?

5) Are Marineland and Kiwi House both still operating in Napier? My grandmother used to take me to both. I understand FantasyLand in Hastings is now a water park :( so we won't be going there!

6) Free day in Hawke's Bay will be a Sunday. Can anyone suggest fabulous things to do which might only take an hour or two away from our time with family? EG markets? Winery tour? etc?

7) Rotorua accomodation - we're not sure if we'd stay in a cheap motel, in a moderate motel, or if we'd like to stay in a motel with mineral baths. Will prob just see how the mood takes us on the day. Are they pretty easy to just drive up and get a room or do we need to book ahead? night in Roto would be a Saturday in late Feb.

8) Wellington accomodation - is the city easy to navigate by car or would we be better saying in a hotel close to the airport? Our flight out isn't until lunchtime so we were planning on having a bit of a sleep in and then going straight to the airport, no sightseeing this day.

9) What are petrol prices like over there at the moment? BY my calcs we'll be doing about 1100km in 4 days, we're hiring a small car (auto) - what would it cost to fill the tank? And I'm guessing we'll have about 5 tank fills?

Many thanks for any replies!



Northland, New...
posts: 701
reviews: 1
1. Re: Drive times and questions about tourist sites

Just to answer a couple of things:

4) YES - you can see the falls via a 5 minute walk from the carpark. At least you could last time I was there.

9) Approx $1.42 at the moment for 91 octane petrol

6) Loads of great wineries to see and have lunch at. Mission is probably one of the best for tours and has great food.

7) Generally speaking there are hundreds of motels in Rotorua, so I wouldn't think you would have too much trouble just turning up and finding a room.

Wellington, New...
posts: 721
reviews: 43
2. Re: Drive times and questions about tourist sites

Re Wellington accommodation; yes, anywhere within the city is easy to get to the airport. A car trip from the centre of the city would take approximately 15 - 20 minutes at the most on an average day. and the route to the airport is easy to navigate.

Why are you going to spend the morning sleeping when you could be experiencing the sights and pleasures of our city? There is too much to do and see to sleep! We don't!!!

Oxford, United...
posts: 112
reviews: 1
3. Re: Drive times and questions about tourist sites

I've just realised I have a lot of question 4's!! hehehe oops

Lupton Lodge and KiwiCrawler, thanks so much for your replies, they are certainly much appreciated!

Will research Mission winery in HB.

Kiwi - it will be the last day of our holiday and I don't want to be rushing anywhere. Plus, even though our flight is at lunchtime it is international so we'll need to be at the airport about 10am so even if we were staying in the city we'd only have time for breakfast by the water then off to the airport anyway... We have the day before to have a look around.

Cheers for the replies so far, can anyone help with anything else? Especially the driving times?


The Netherlands
Destination Expert
for Lisse
posts: 773
reviews: 9
4. Re: Drive times and questions about tourist sites

On www.aatravel.co.nz/main/index.php you can find a times and distance calculator (on the left side of the page).

Bainbridge Island...
posts: 240
reviews: 29
5. Re: Drive times and questions about tourist sites

That aatravel website is a great one, but make sure to allow some extra time for stops/photos/side hikes, etc.....they are not always factored into their driving calculations.

PS - in Hawkes Bay, the drive up to Te Mata peak offers a stunning vista of the area, but you've probably been up there and have that on your list already. It only takes about 20 minutes to get up there from Havelock North.

Oxford, United...
posts: 112
reviews: 1
6. Re: Drive times and questions about tourist sites

I2I thanks for the tip RE Te Mata, I'll definately be taking hubby there. I went to swimming lessons every Saturday at Havelock North so already had it on the list, great way to show hubby an aerial shot og HB (I'm hoping he loves it enough to let us move from UK to HB!)



North Yorkshire
posts: 912
reviews: 11
7. Re: Drive times and questions about tourist sites

You can view Huka Falls really easily from the nearest car park, but I would recommend doing Huka Jet if you get the chance! It is a fanastic trip up river and down and a brill way to get right close up to the bottom of the falls.

Oxford, United...
posts: 112
reviews: 1
8. Re: Drive times and questions about tourist sites

WACT thanks for the tip RE Jet Boating.

Do you need to book it in advance like the website says or can you pretty much just turn up & ride?

We would like to leave the decision about whether or not we'll go Jet Boating to both time and available funds on the day :)

If we've overspent earlier then we might skip it, we're only on a $100/day/person budget.



New Zealand
posts: 8,366
reviews: 8
9. Re: Drive times and questions about tourist sites

Q1- You could do it as a day trip, it would be a long day though especially as you'll be exhausted from all the strenuous activities involved with the Black Labyrinth. Start out very early so you have plenty of time to get there and share the driving.

Q3- The Polynesian will be the handiest, Hells Gate would be my choice but it's 30 minutes north east of Rotorua and Waikite is 30 south towards Taupo.

Q4a- Kerosene Creek is the place you are referring to, check my inside page for directions;


Q4b- Matai have been getting rave reviews and giving Tamaki tours a run for their money. More "authentic"

Q4c- there is also a look-out just before you get to the Huka Falls carpark heading south on the HF road. Gives you a good view of the falls before you get there and cross the bridge. Check out my Taupo photos on here;


Q5- Marineland is still operating but they lost one of their remaining 2 dolphins recently and aren't allowed to replace her, there are still seals, penguins and birds- It looks rather small & non-descript now, it was also a highlight of my childhood too! You would be best to visit the National Aquarium just along the parade. The Kiwi House is still there although it has moved from it's location by the parade paddling pool.

Q6- Check out my Napier inside page for more ideas of things to do on your spare day. Check out Church Road Winery for lunch, just along the road from the Mission- we always meet here with rellies and frinds when ever we return to the Bay.


Q7- You will be fine winging it for Rotorua, there are dozens of motels (most located along Fenton St) There is only one remaining motel with thermal pools (and you wouldn't want to stay there) best go to the Polynesian Spa for a soak. The bores for the other motels were all shut down during the 80s & 90s to protect the thermal activities in the parks and also they were having trouble keeping them clean and hygienic.

Oxford, United...
posts: 112
reviews: 1
10. Re: Drive times and questions about tourist sites

OMG Zappers what a phenomenal post!!!

Thank you sooooooooo much for taking the time to write it out, that's so amazingly helpful, much appreciated!

Three weeks from now, to the minute, we'll be taking off from Heathrow, we're so excited, I can't wait to show my hubby around Godzone!