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Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

southern california
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Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

Hi,

I want to hit the Glowworm caves in Waitomo and do the Blackwater Cave rafting. I also want to make it to Rotorua to zorb, have maori hangi.

I find it is difficult to do many things when using the bus as transportation.

I can get a flight into Hamilton at 8 AM. From there, I figure I can rent a car, head to Waitomo. Cave raft (10:30-13:30), and visit the Glowworm cave (1 hr) and then head to Rotorua (3 hour drive?). I may have time to zorb before hitting the hangi dinner.

I will stay the night in Rotorua. I can zorb, tour Rotorua, and/or hit spa the next day. The following morning, I can drive back to Hamilton to return my car and take the InterCity bus to Auckland.

I think this should be doable--am I overly optimistic? Also, will it be difficult for an American to drive in that area?

Thanks for your help!

Orange County, CA
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1. Re: Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

Hi,

I think it's definitely doable, and it isn't difficult to drive in that area. The roads are well marked, and the maps are good. You do have to pay attention all the time, but it's not overly hard.

Since you will be rafting in the cave, you could probably skip the glowworm cave tour. The Black Water Rafting tours include admission to the Museum of Caves, so you could do that instead. It is a good museum.

Here was my itinerary, which I did last May, when it got dark earlier:

Day 1-Arrived in Auckland, drove to Waitomo, did black water rafting tour (much harder and scarier than I thought it'd be, especially because it was raining and the water was high and swift in the caves), stayed in Waitomo.

Day 2-Visited the Museum of Caves, hiked around Waitomo a little, then drove to Rotorua via Tongariro. Hiked a little in Tongariro, visited Huka Falls north of Taupo, arrived mid-evening in Rotorua, ate dinner in town & went to bed early.

Day 3-Went to Wai-o-tapu, did some geocaching in a park in Rotorua, walked around the main street in Rotorua, spent some time and got a massage & facial at the Polynesian Spa, stayed in Rotorua.

Day 4-Drove to Auckland, shopped in Cambridge on the way. Dropped car off at airport and took the shuttle into downtown. I wasn't that confident with my driving to drive in the city.

Day 5-Flew to Melbourne, Australia

Even though I did and saw a lot, I never felt rushed. You can do so much in that small area. You'll definitely be able to do everything on your list if you are staying 2 nights in Rotorua.

I loved the country so much that I'm going back next month for 2 weeks.

Have a great trip!

Auckland Central...
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2. Re: Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

Sounds like a great plan to me Dave. Very easy driving through that way.

New Zealand
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3. Re: Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

Dave- sounds good to me as well but can you not drive to Hamilton (1.5hrs) or Waitomo (2.5hrs) the night before? Not sure when you're here but at the moment it doesn't get dark until 9:30ish. Or in fact get up early to leave Auckland, daylight is a round 5:30am.

The drive from Waitomo to Rotorua is 2.5hrs (it can be shortened by 1/2 hr by taking some back roads and cutting through Putaruru) The Zorb is on SH5 just before you get to Rotorua city so you can do this on the way in.

southern california
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4. Re: Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

Zappers,

I'd like to get into the area the night before, but I'm finishing up a two day kayak in Abel Tasman. They don't get you back to Nelson until around 5:00 PM and the last flight out of the area is earlier than 6 PM, so figure I don't want to push it too much. Not to mention the fact that it adds another $125 US to our trip and another day of car rental...

I can get a flight that arrives in Hamilton the next day at 8 AM. It just seemed easier...

Thanks for the timing and directions. BTW, is this your shortcut:

3 north (Otorohanga Rd) to Arapuni rd to 1 north (tirau st) to the 28 north east (whites rd) to the 5 west? I assume the back roads are no more dangerous than the main roads?

What website do you use for directions? I use google maps, but it doesn't provide directions for me in NZ. It's hard to tell what roads are major roads and what you want to stay away from...

I'm headed to New Zealand in February, just around the corner!

Auckland Central...
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5. Re: Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

The secondary roads and highways are often safer in my opinion than the likes of the main highway state highway 1. We find we use them were we can simply as there is less traffic and hence less idiots on the road. Plus you get to find some magic little corners of the country that tourists on the main beats often wouldn't.

Pretty much all the roads are great for driving (unsealed are usually the only really hairy ones, and even those are fine if you take your time, but you wont find any of those on that route). Our secondary roads are of a similar quality to the state roads in the US that you would take if you are not using the freeways. Just maybe a bit bendier, somewhat similar to the hill roads around Santa Fe or San Diego.

New Zealand
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6. Re: Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

Dave, use this website for directions

http://www.aamaps.co.nz/

Look under Map & Guides then under SmartMap. The directions are rather long when you do it for Waitomo to Rotorua and look complicated but it is correct and the shortest route. I'vefound in the past (using similar map planners overseas) that it is sometimes best to get an actual road map of the area and mark it out on that to follow, it's hard with so many twists and turns to follow written instructions. The iSite (information centres) which are located everywhere including the airport will have a wide range of good maps. AA Travel centres are also good sources for travel maps.

On the little short road that cuts through from SH1 to SH5 at Putaruru there are some lovely springs and walk Te Waihou if you have time.

…govt.nz/district/district_info/tewaihou.asp

PS- I assumed you were coming from Auckland but flying in from Nelson would be the best option.

southern california
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7. Re: Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

daisynz and Zappers,

Thanks for all of the driving info. I was a little unsure about driving, but I think I'll be ok. I think the most important part will just be staying on the correct side of the road!

New Zealand
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8. Re: Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

Have a read of this thread it gives you some good tips;

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g255106-i404-k5428…

Sydney Australia
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9. Re: Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

Hi everyone,

just doing a bit of lurking - thankyou so much I've got lots of great advice already...

..how far in along the walking track are the blue pools on the te waihou walking track? They say 3 hrs return for the whole deal, is it worthwhile just going a little way in and turning back?

New Zealand
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10. Re: Good idea? Hamilton to Waitomo to Rotorua to Hamilton?

Snodge, oh yes they are well worth visiting but I'll give you a tip, if you don't have the time to walk the walk(and it is a beautiful walk) continue on past the carpark and the beginning of the track (heading east towards Rotorua) and take the next road on the right. Follow that for maybe 4-5kms and you'll come to the another parking area & sign post and the "back end" of the track. From here it's about 20-30 minutes- across a paddock, round the edge of a hill (you'll see a large pool on the left, this isn't it, continue on) across a bridge and then follow the stream around to a grassed area where the spring is. You can also climb up some stairs here to get a good view of the pool too. Look out for lots of trout- even though it's crystal clear they are great at camouflage.