North Island of New Zealand with Stops in Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington and on to Honolulu

Barbara and I were thinking about India, Columbia or maybe Venezuela but so far in 2013 we hadn't taken a trip.  I was getting restless and suddenly I got a phone call from Seattle.  Barbara left a message, she said she have a good price on a trip and it is something we talked about once and it is not the usual Europe or South American trip.

I wondered where that could be and she called me later in the evening and said she had found a fantastic price for a trip to New Zealand.  Air fare from San Francisco or Seattle to Hawaii and on to New Zealand.  All for around $2,000.00 including airfare, four star hotels and car rental! 

That is almost the usual airfare to New Zealand from the West Coast at times Eight days in New Zealand and three in Hawaii on the return trip.  We also are looking at extending the trip for three more days to see more of the western side of the North Island.

In 2004 we met on a trip to Turkey and here we are having coffee in Vietnam and then we continued on to Cambodia in 2007.  We also visited Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  So you can see, we like to visit out of the way and interesting places.

Check out the following link to view a short history and maps of New Zealand.

This is the itinerary and cost of the trip and can be used to determine the best price for a trip like this one.   Barbara just informed me the total mileage round trip to New Zealand is 13,580 miles!   I had to initiate my United Frequent Flyer Mileage as I hadn't flown United in years.   Barbara told me Hawaiian Airlines is a partner with United so I can use my FF # on my Hawaiian Airline ticketing.


Click on the New Zealand photos link to access some of the photos taken on our trip!


The following is a day by day diary detailing highlights of our trip!


North Island of New Zealand

September 23

Monday - Day 1

Day 1 : Flight to Hawaii and on to New Zealand on Monday. 

Round-trip airfare on Hawaiian Airlines, from San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle (SEA).   Land Tuesday evening in Aukland. 

Hawaiian Airlines' long term future is wrapped in the Airbus Industries A330 and A350 jets. The first A330s started service in 2010 and to date Hawaiian has about 5 of them flying between Hawaii, Asia and the U.S. mainland.

September 24

Tuesday - Day 1

Arrival Tuesday in Auckland | On arrival at Auckland airport, you will be transferred to Copthorne Auckland City hotel.
September 25

Wednesday - Day 2

Day 2 : Visit Auckland | You'll find the cosmopolitan vibrancy of New Zealand's largest city where, on the one hand, you have sophisticated shopping, restaurants and entertainment and, on the other, a harbor full of still-pristine islands and spectacular natural beauty.

We went to the top of the Sky Tower 328 meters high.  There are 1,029 steps if you don't want to take the elevator.

As we looked out, there were tower divers who were hooked up to cables and jumped off the building and somehow were slowed down near the ground.  It had been raining so the weather wasn't as clear as we had hoped but did get some good photos and even the jumpers!

We had coffee and a nice dinner to top off the first day in New Zealand.

September 26

Thursday - Day 3

Day 3 : Rotorua | Pick-up your rental car at the downtown depo (just a short walk from your hotel) and drive to Rotorua for a 2–night stay. On your way you can make a detour to see the famous Waitomo caves and take a guided boat tour along underground rivers and caves that are illuminated by thousands of tiny glowworms. In Rotorua you will witness turbulent geothermal activity - geysers, mud pools and thermal springs, have the opportunity to experience fascinating Maori culture firsthand, and, if you're up to it, try some high-adrenaline fun, such as Zorb globe riding or Bungee jumping.

Two nights at 4-star Copthorne Hotel Rotorua in a Standard Room - First night stay in Rotorua

Today we went to the famous Waitomo Caves and Glow Worms living on the roofs of the caves.  They light up and in the dark, catch insects that get blown into the caves.  We were told they actually were a maggot type worm, change into an insect and breed and die in two days or so.

September 27

Friday - Day 4

Day 4 : Rotorua | Second over night stay in Rotorua.

Today we drove to the famous Wai-o-Tapu Thermals.  We had to laugh, the famous geyser is smaller than I thought it would be.  The guide said there used to be over 300 geysers but due to electric generation from steam, the pressure has dropped all over the north island.

In the late 1890s or so, a group of prisoners used to come and wash their clothes in the hot water.  One day a man throw a bucket of soap into the geyser and shortly there after, it erupted!   So now around 10:30 a.m. a man dumps a bag of soap substitute into the mouth and within a few minutes it blows.  This happens once a day, the chamber below needs the time to replenish and heat the water!

September 28

Saturday - Day 5

Day 5 : Auckland | Drive back from Rotorua for an overnight stay in Auckland. Consider stopping by the Hobbiton movie set to see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle Earth.
September 29

Sunday - Day 6

Day 6 : Bay of Islands | You will be traveling 150 miles north to Paihia, a coastal town on the Bay of Islands. You can kick back on an outdoor deck at the Kingsgate Autolodge hotel and get a lovely view of the Pahlia Wharf, a turquoise inlet situated just 100 meters away. To fully experience the Bay of Islands, known for its stunning natural beauty, it's worth to take a boat tour. You can also explore the surrounding area. Visit Russell, a charming historic town in the Bay of Islands or head to the northernmost tip, Cape Reinga.

Two nights at 4-star Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands.

Tonight we looked for a place to eat and found Shippey's restaurant on a ship that is dry docked on land.  We had fish and chips and loved the atmosphere!

September 30

Monday - Day 7

Day 7 : Bay of Islands | Overnight at Bay of Islands.

We drove to the tip of the north island. It poured down rain as I drove to the cape, heavy and hard to see the road.  We got to the cap and suddenly the rain stopped and it cleared up. 

But the wind was so strong it almost blew one over.

I loved seeing the Tasman Sea, another body of water to put on my bucket list!  We then had a nice drive back to Pahia.

October 01

Tuesday - Day 8

Day 8 :  | On our own.

Today we visited Russell, a beautiful small town across from Pahia.   It is very expensive, houses for sale were around $600,000.00.  I don't know how people there could afford the prices.

We took the ferry over and spent a few hours there and then decided to start driving south.  I drove for over six hours and was worn out.  Finally Barbara drove and we found a chalet type hotel in Thames!  It was expensive but we were worn out, driving all day and having troubles at time finding the numbers for the roads, very hard to know on what road one was on!

October 02

Wednesday - Day 9

Day 9 : | On our own.

To day we took the small gauge railroad - Driving Creek Railroad and Potteries - to the top of the mountain. 

Barry Brickell started this project in 1973.  He is a potter and founded the pottery works and is still living and working there.  He has donated the land to the government so it can be turned back into the native trees.

Farmers move into the are in the early 1900s and cut down all the trees and raised cattle. When the gold prices and stock market crashed, they lost everything and left.  One thing they left behind were scrubby California pine trees.  Now they are cutting them down and replanting native plants.


October 03

Thursday - Day 10

Day 10 : | On our own.

We drove all along the Coromandel Peninsula and saw a lot of great views of the sea.  We found a great hotel and spent time on the beach and in the distance was a volcanic island spewing smoke!

The owner of the Aquarius Motel told us we could go to the private club down the road and tell them she sent us.  So off we went to a private club for a great dinner and some wine.

Then time to get some sleep and we had a long drive back to the airport and then a nine hour flight back to Hawaii for four days to rest up before flying back to the Mainland! 

October 04

Friday - Day 11

Day 11: | Drive back to Auckland and drop off car & fly to Honolulu at 11:55 P.M. - Arrival time - 9:45 A.M.

Spend 3 nights in Honolulu, just a few blocks from the famous Waikiki beach, world-class shopping, fine dining, music and entertainment. Kick back and relax on the beach or explore the surrounding area at either the Shoreline Waikiki Hotel or a similar hotel in Honolulu.


Honolulu Stop Over

October 04 - 07

Friday to Monday

Day 15

Day 14 : |  Honolulu – LAX/SFO/SEA/PDF/PHX/SMF/LAS/SAN: Catch an early afternoon flight from Honolulu back to the mainland. Please note that you arrive home on the same date.

I have the Hawaii trip on a separate web page!

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   Created by Charles W. Buntjer                                                                                                                                                                                    Published on:  2013.07.01


    San Francisco, California                                                                                                                                                                                             Updated on:  2013.10.12