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.