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Rotorua/NI Itinerary

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Rotorua/NI Itinerary

My husband & I are flying into Auckland and will be on the NI for 3 full days before flying to Queenstown. Our original plan was as follows:

Day 1: arrive at 5am - recover from flight, explore a bit of Auckland

Day 2 - drive to Rotorua, see thermal area, stay overnight

Day 3 - drive to Waitomo, go blackwater rafting & explore caves, return to Auckland in evening

After researching more, now we're starting to have second thoughts if its worth the trip to Rotorua. I've been to Yellowstone (DH has not yet) and not to compare, but I'm wondering since I've already seen thermal areas if we should pass Rotorua? Also, I've heard it's an extremely touristy place. I would just like some insight as to whether it's worth our time since our days are very limited. We could instead explore more of Auckland such as black sand beaches, etc. Thanks!

Whangarei, Northland
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1. Re: Rotorua/NI Itinerary

Hi there

Yes some parts of the Rotorua area, and Waitomo, are extremely touristy - but that just means a lot of people go there because they are good places to go...

However, if you wanted to get a little more off the beaten tourist track, you could easily spend your 3 days in the Auckland and Northland area....

A few options would be:

Waitakere Ranges

Piha and west coast beaches

Kumeu wineries

Waiheke Island


Matakana wineries and arts & crafts

Leigh & Goat Island

Waipu/ Mangawhai coast

Whangarei Heads

Tutukaka Coast

Waipoua Forest

It depends on what you are interested in seeing, and how set you are on going to Waitomo aswell...

Auckland, New...
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2. Re: Rotorua/NI Itinerary


It all depends on how you want to spend your time. It is possible to spend a full but relaxing 3 days in the greater Auckland Region without travelling too far. The best of Auckland is in the surrounding area and in particular the Waitakere Ranges, an area of exceptional natural beauty just 50 minutes from the city centre and the airport. Here you will find black sand beaches (notably Piha and Karekare , plus others close by which are only accessible on foot), regenerating forest, waterfalls, walking tracks, stunning views and not too many people.

The the northwest of the city and not far from the Ranges you will find many of our local and very good vineyards and wineries.

A bit further afield to the north east is the Matakana area across to the coast, a beautiful rural area with again many fine vineyards.

If you wanted to go further north to some of the (all great) places mentioned by the previous poster then you would be looking at doing a trip and staying overnight.

You could do a day trip from Auckland to Waitomo. I have done both the caves and blackwater rafting and can recommend both.

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3. Re: Rotorua/NI Itinerary

I appreciate all the advice! I've been talking to several friends who've been to Rotorua and Yellowstone & they have suggested skipping it also. The area north of Auckland sounds really beautiful. I would love to go to some wineries & perhaps stay overnight in this area. I'm more focused on being outdoors, hiking, etc. than typical 'tourist' stuff. However, the Waitomo caves are a must-do on our list & we are planning on doing a day trip there as it seems it's not that far from Auckland. The caves look amazing.

London, United...
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4. Re: Rotorua/NI Itinerary

Just be aware if you arrive at 5am, you may well not be able to book into your hotel until lunch time. Its worth checking with them to see if you can get an early check in.

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5. Re: Rotorua/NI Itinerary

Wanderer - thanks for the thought. We've already considered this & spoke with the hotel.

We're not sure which company we'll be renting a car from, but I'm hoping they will be available that early in the a.m.....

Auckland, New...
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6. Re: Rotorua/NI Itinerary

Your rental car company should have the car ready for you.

If the hotel is a problem early morning look at B n Bs as they are, in most cases, more accommodating and would probably be quieter. Also check out the parking situation if your hotel is central Auckland.

Please remember Auckland is a large business centre and driving into and out of the CBD may at times be very busy.

7. Re: Rotorua/NI Itinerary

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