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Which route to take to get to Rotorua

Melbourne, Australia
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Which route to take to get to Rotorua

We plan on spending two nights in Rotorua in October and will be coming from Bay of Islands (Paihia) via Mount Maunganui. We have noted that it is a 7 hour drive so we want to stay somewhere overnight to break up the drive. Should we drive straight through to Thames and stay there one night and then onto Mount Maunganui. What are the roads like from Thames to Tauranga. Is it very mountainous and therefore slow us down somewhat or is there another stop along the way that is worth staying in besides Auckland itself.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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1. Re: Which route to take to get to Rotorua

Some options before you reach Auckland.

1) Matakana coast, or Orewa-Waiwera (Hibiscus coast).

OR

2) use SH16 from Wellsford and drive via the Kaipara harbour. There is accommodation in the Helensville-Parakai area, or a little further south in Muriwai, or the Huapai-Kumeu area.

Thames is a nice township, but see how you feel about driving through Auckland and the windy roads that lead from the end of the Southern Motorway across to Thames if possible. It's quite a distance from Paihia to drive there in one day.

Karangahake Gorge from Paeroa to Waihi is beautiful. Parking places to pull over to visit some of the historical attractions remaining from the past gold-rush era. From Waihi to Tauranga is very straight forward and SH2 is well used. It's not very hilly because driving along to Waihi follows the river, while driving from Waihi to Tauranga hugs the nearby coastline with flattish farming country and kiwifruit groves along both sides of the road.

Edited: 03 July 2015, 09:11
New Plymouth
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2. Re: Which route to take to get to Rotorua

If you want to stay somewhere south of Auckland, I would suggest http://www.mirandacottage.co.nz/ which is 80km from downtown Auckland, and looks over the Firth of Thames to the Coromandel. I know you will be well looked after there.

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Which route to take to get to Rotorua

I see we have some decisions to make and you have given us some good alternatives. Thank you for the information on the conditions of the roads.

Queenstown, New...
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4. Re: Which route to take to get to Rotorua

Great ideas for you from the experts above!

A couple of considerations - will you be travelling mid-week? and/ or anywhere near our Labour Day Holiday (Mon 26th Oct).

Try to avoid driving through Auckland before 9.30am or between 4-6pm during the week. You'll meet rush hour traffic at those times. Also try to avoid heading into Auckland on Sunday afternoons, or on the Monday of Labour Weekend - the roads will be packed with Aucklanders coming home from a weekend at their baches. Also note that over Labour Weekend the Police will be out in force, strictly enforcing speed limits.

Otherwise - Paihia - Warkworth or Orewa should be about a three - four hour drive, then Orewa to Tauranga/ Mt. Maunganui is a further three hours. So I vote that Warkworth/ Orewa is a good place to stop over (not that I'm biased or anything, living in Orewa area myself!).

The Mount is a good place to overnight, with many great cafes to visit for brekkie the next morning. Rotorua is a mere 40-60mins drive away. It's absolutely feasible to stay at The Mount then do a whole day in Rotorua (I have actually used The Mount as a base for two days in Rotorua previously - no worries).

I second Frangipani on the route through Karangahake Gorge - beautiful... I've grown up driving from Auckland, left at the bottom of the Bombay's, along SH2, following road signs to turn left (sign says to Tauranga/ Ngatea), across the Hauraki Plains through Ngatea, Paeroa (stopping for L&P and a mince pie), stopping in K-Gorge to eat lunch and have a wander, continuing through Waihi (old gold mining town), Athenree Gorge, Katikati (mural town), Bethlehem, Tauranga and over the bridge into The Mount.

enjoy!

Rarotonga, Cook...
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5. Re: Which route to take to get to Rotorua

I've also posted to the OP's other thread, suggesting they reverse their tour of the central North Island starting from Waitomo Caves, then Taupo - Rotorua - Mt Maunganui - Karangahake Gorge (SH2) - Auckland departure.

I think this alternative itinerary will make better use of time, with a stop over in Hamilton before visiting the caves. The route from Paihia to Hamilton is very straight-forward using SH1 which has motorway all through Auckland before continuing onto the dual carriageway into Hamilton city. Total drive is probably 5 hours (with a lunchstop), depending on traffic conditions leading into Auckland from Northland beaches, and commuter traffic on the city motorways.

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: Which route to take to get to Rotorua

We have received great advice from everyone and some very important points for us to remember. We will certainly try to avoid driving through peak hours as you have suggested when we are travelling into or out of Auckland. Thank you to everyone.

7. Re: Which route to take to get to Rotorua

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