New Zealand - North Island

Reads 560 • Replies 6 • Started Wednesday, September 13, 2017 9:24:38 AM CT

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beers 599 º places 39 º 09:24 Wed 9/13/2017

I'll be visiting for a week in May 2018 - the plan is to road trip around the island, and would like input on favorite destinations (beer and otherwise). Of course flying into Auckland, and one big question is whether the drive down to Wellington is worth the time? Rotorua, Taupo, and Tongariro are definitely on the list, but there doesn't seem to be much south of that (save Wellington). I'd love to see the city (and beer destinations), but a week isn't much time, and there are lots of other sights to see (we'd prefer to not be on the road all day, every day).

On the definite list: Bay of Islands, Coromandel, Rotorua. Probably not much time in Auckland unless someone advises otherwise.

Of interest are food, beer, natural sights, dive locations, and other suggestions.


beers 982 º places 1887 º 09:36 Wed 9/13/2017

You can get the train down to Wellington which is a nice trip, pretty scenic and has an observation car.
Wellington is small and excellent for beer and has lots of good things to do (Te Papa the National Musuem is excellent)

Auckland is decent for beer, plenty of places to go at last time I was there.

If you are planning to do the South Island then the boat trip to Picton is awesome too!

beers 5859 º places 302 º 17:59 Wed 9/13/2017

Wellington is cool, with some good beer destinations, but it's also a good 4 hour drive from Tongariro (more if you're not used to narrow winding roads). You can always fly back up to Auckland pretty cheap though to avoid driving both ways. Probably worth it if your priorities are food / beer, but maybe less so if you want to maximise your time seeing cool stuff. I personally wouldn't recommend the train, it takes longer than driving and only runs three days a week.

Probably best to leave Auckland pretty quickly. Good beer scene, but nothing much for tourists. Which bars you would want to go to depends on what you're after. I can let you know if anywhere has got a good tap takeover around when you're there. Just PM me nearer the time.

If you're after a day trip or two, then the islands off Auckland are cool. Rangitoto is a very recently extinct volcano, with a very unique atmosphere and good views back over the city. Waiheke has a lot of very good wineries and beaches. The west coast beaches (Piha, Bethells, Karekare etc.) are also good.

Rotorua is fun. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, mid way between Rotorua and Taupo, is by far the best of the geothermal places, and is definitely worth the entrance fee. Brew is the only real craft beer place in town, and it's good.

Taupo is a cool place, definitely do a boat trip on the lake if the weather is good. Not sure about beer places there. Tongariro is mostly about great hiking, though be careful at that time of year if you want to do any of the summits / the Alpine crossing. It's getting into winter by then so there could well be snow / ice on the tops. You get amazing views of the mountains (on a clear day) from the Desert Road (State Highway 1 south of Turangi).

Bay of Islands is beautiful. Boat trips are highly recommended, especially out to the Hole in the Rock or dolphin spotting. Stop into McLeod's Pizza Barn in Waipu on the way there / back (just off SH1). They make some of the best beer in New Zealand, and the pizzas are fantastic too.

Coromandel also very good. Would recommend the hike to New Chums Beach. Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach are good, probably won't be as busy in May as when I've been there. Coromandel Brewing Co in Hahei and Hot Water Brewing Co in Whenuakite both make decent beer.

If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, Hobbiton is 100% worth it, and you won't get to see many other filming locations on the North Island. Waitomo glow worm caves is great, though if you want to see glow worms then there's a place near the Bay of Islands where you can see them for free if you take your own torch.

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

beers 13395 º places 856 º 21:51 Wed 9/13/2017

Coming from North America I found the driving north from Auckland a bit stressful - driving on the left we got used to fairly quickly but some of the roads are much more narrow than I am used to in Canada. (Similar to driving in rural Scotland for me).Allow extra time even if it seems no that far - lots of times we were going much slower than the posted speed limit. Be prepared for it to get dark a bit earlier (if I have my seasons correct in May?)

Rotorua geothermals were super cool. Our BOIslands boat cruise was also great. We had booked one of the smaller charters but they cancelled and we ended up on the big tour company boat instead. Still great!

I loved wellington but for the amount of time you have I'd consider flying or skipping it. Booking in advance we got great deals on domestic flights from Air New Zealand. (We flew Rotorua to Dunedin then made our way back to Wellington via the south island the flew back to Auckland) We had three weeks for both islands. I also picked up a bunch of bottles in auckland at Glengarry (?) and took them north with us.

beers 599 º places 39 º 14:48 Thu 9/14/2017

Thanks for the great info everyone, this is very helpful.

beers 70 º places 92 º 06:27 Fri 9/15/2017

I'm visiting in February so will be following this thread with interest. Haven't been to NZ for a decade so particularly interested in beer stuff.

I know from my previous visit that Wellington is amazing - if I were you I'd probably grab a load of beers and get on the train down, then hire a car and work my way back up to Auckland. I don't plan to spend any time in Auckland myself, so I think you've got that right.

beers 7540 º places 736 º 06:48 Fri 9/15/2017

Originally posted by alovelydrop
if I were you I'd probably grab a load of beers and get on the train down

I believe drinking your own booze on the train is prohibited - I seem to recall seeing that when I was idly browsing round some NZ touring options a while back. As ever with these things the rigour with which that is enforced may not be in line with the strict letter of the terms & conditions.