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Rat and Dragon explore Waitomo

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Avid travellers Nicola and Saxon had ten amazing days exploring the North Island of New Zealand.

Travel

7 days


Route

Auckland to Auckland

830km


Best Time of the Year

all year round

Highlights

  • Black Water Rafting
  • Hobbiton
  • Hot Water Beach
  • Skytower Skywalk

The Journey

Days

1 2 3 4

Day 1
Auckland to Waitomo

Distance 200km - Driving Time 2 hours 30 mins

We left Auckland in the morning, stopped in Hamilton for lunch (at the botanical gardens, very nice) and arrived in the evening just in time for curly fries at Curly’s! We Spent a day and a half with The Legendary Blackwater Rafting Company, exploring magnificent glowworm caves and mysterious underground rivers.

Day 2
Waitomo to Raglan

Distance 100km - Driving Time 2 hours 30 mins

We started with a beautiful drive through idyllic green hills and dales. Hit the coast at Raglan and it is beautiful, long, perfect off-shore left-hand point breaks. Stayed at Solscape – a beautiful eco campground perfectly built to the surrounds with exceptional sea views. We also drove the camper to a nearby bluff and cooked local mussels in white wine with a billion dollar view of the sunset. Detour to Bridal Veil Waterfall for epic selfies – pole and all.

Day 3
Raglan to Hotwater Beach

Distance 280km - Driving Time all day mission!

We left at dawn and arrived at night. Make sure to arrange a late check-in at your campsite beforehand if arriving after hours. Hobbiton is beautiful, an absolute MUST (get a private guided tour for total access if possible). Karangahake gorge is worth a refresher stop for sure. Cross ancient iron suspension bridges and dip your toes in the cold, clear creek. Hot Water beach is beautiful. Rent a shovel at low tide and dig your own steamy jacuzzi – especially magical by the light of a full moon. Cathedral Cove and Islands by kayak tour had a fantastic encore after our guide recommended the Purangi Winery a close 5-minute drive away. Rustic feel, great presentation and any spirit you can imagine, all grown on site.

Day 4
Hot Water Beach to Auckland

Distance 250km - Driving Time 5 hours

Take the scenic route back to the capital via Coromandel town for some hilltop roads and amazing views. Stop off just north of Whitianga for fresh Oysters in a fisherman's garden by the roadside. In Auckland, stay at the Takapuna Beach Holiday Park, right on the beach next to a great café. In & around Auckland, drive along Mission Bay for a lovely view of the city, check out Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park, the view from Mount Eden (a volcano with a large green grass covered crater!) and don’t miss the Skytower in town. The maritime museum run sailing trips around the bay, and wineries on beautiful Waiheke Island are well worth a day trip.

Road trip highlights:

Where the best view was? Sunset at Shakespeare Cliff near Whitianga was wonderful.

Where did you stop for a picnic? Michael Hope Lookout in Raglan – great views of the ocean, surf & cliffs.

Where was your favourite place/town visited and why? Hobbiton, so much effort is put into it, the gardens are a joy and a permanently maintained film set is a real rarity .

What was your favourite experience/activity & why? Waitomo. Cause caving is just awesome.

Top highlights? Hobbiton, Black Water Rafting, Kayaking, Hot Water Beach, the Purangi Winery, Skytower Skywalk

Favourite pub/restaurant? The Purangi Winery

Did you have a favourite Holiday Park you stayed in and why? Solscape for the chilled out vibe and views.

What would be your top tip for other campervan travellers? Plan in an extra hour when driving, there are so many lovely little places to stop off at along the way. Can you share a recipe from something you cooked in the campervan? Oh, You MUST try Kiwi dairy products, they are amazing. Non-homogenized milk, yoghurt and coconut yoghurt are amazing. Fresh seafood along the way is a must, as well as L&P (you’ll know why).

What is your greatest memory of the whole campervan holiday? How approachable and friendly everyone was – tourist sites can get a bit hectic and formulaic, but pretty much everywhere we went, people took time to make us feel welcome. And being among the crowds in central Auckland at 4am watching the All Blacks win the world cup was incredible.