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a VirtualTourist member asked on Aug 13, 2016

New Zealand

1 month in the Northland Feb 2017

My husband and I are planning to spend 1 month in New Zealand to get a break from the Canadian winter. This will replace our balmy winter holidays in warm places such as Costa Rica, Aruba etc. As New Zealand is so big, we are thinking to spend time in the warmer parts of New Zealand - the Northland- where we will also have some opportunity for beach time and swimming. We are on a budget and are hoping to find perhaps two one week assignments as house sitters in different locations, and spend the rest of the time travelling. Ideally I would like to arrange for two to three different home bases in nice areas ( one near a beach for swimming) were we can just hang out and can do local sightseeing as well as do day trips etc. Driving in a foreign country can be stressful, we don't want to do it on a daily basis. Perhaps rent a car for a week, stay put for the rest or do bus excursions.

Can some people please suggest nice areas that are either just enjoyable in themselves, or would lend themselves as a base from which to tour a bit? We are not interested in big city adventures ( we live in a big city). We are interested in nature, natural wonders, local culture and cuisine.

If by chance someone has experience with a particular house sitting website, please let me know.

Many thanks in advance!

7 Answers

answered on 8/13/16 by
a VT member from London

Hi i think youll eventually find that driving in NZ and once youre used to driving on the other side of the road, is fairly easy going.
Id recommend Rawene as a really nice base for at least a week, easily 2 weeks - the holiday park/motorcamp is in a really nice spot on a hill with sea views and is low priced and run by a pair of very hospitable Swiss women. When i stayed 2 years ago travelling with my mother up to where my fathers family come from, for a catchup and spend time seeing more of the sights in the area, had a cabin for a week with kitchenette with fridge, sink and microwave for 2 of us for 60 dollars a night(and just a few metres to a fully equipped communal kitchen and the shower and wc amenities.) for NZ prices thats pretty cheap/good value.
Its only half an hour to Kaikohe where you can shop at supermarkets to stock up on supplies.
and then on to Kerikeri for historic sites, and also Waitangi and Paihia and the other locations of historic mission houses/stations around the area.
Theres quite a lot in the area to visit, its a historic area and one of the earliest settlements in NZ. There is also a ferry over to Kohukohu and you can get a pass of 5 trips or something for the same price as a return. and its a good shortcut to drive up to |Cape Reinga that way.
also a nice drive to MItimiti. and then ....its all my favourite area in NZ

answered on 8/14/16 by
a VT member

Thanks for your suggestions angiebabe, I will research these places further.

Actually, I wanted to say we want to visit the North Island and not just the Northland- just realized that these terms are not interchangeable.

Since we will be landing in Auckland, we definitely want to check out Rotorua for its culture, places around Hawkes Bay, Waihehe Island, possibly Tauranga.

We are now wondering if we should either work our way north to Bay of Islands and Cape Reina, or else go the other way towards Welland and after that cross over to see Nelson and Blenheim area ? I doubt we could do the northern parts of both the North Island and also the South Island in a relaxed fashion. Which parts would give us more lasting impressions and still offer summery kind of weather, let's say in the 70's for daytime?

answered on 8/14/16 by
a VT member from London

thanks now for clarifying, but travelling around both islands now is different story to basing for a week here and there. you could see a lot of each island with 2 weeks in each. eg ive driven around the must see places all over the south island in 7 days but i know the place so it was easier for me to decide on routes and what to see quickly. but having said that , 2 weeks in each island would be good.
If youre on a budget though and youre wanting to rent a car then you need to look at where and what to rent - i found and used a good rental company that uses older cars and had one for 3 months with no breakdowns and 2 years later, ie last year, the same company and i think it was the same car!, for 7 weeks with no problems whatsoever. it would have been fine to take on the inter island ferry but you need to book early to get the cheaper prices as the ferry tickets for cars go up and up. or you could work out renting a car from Picton to continue on around the south island. or if you were only going to do the top half of the south island uses buses....more time consuming but there is a hop on hop off type bus service around , 2 companies i think actually.
there are many good motorcamps around with cabins and caravans for rent or motels but theyre so much pricier these days than when i used to drive around a lot 15 years ago.

February is stlll warm in the north island with long days of light still not getting dark til about 9pm or just before, will be getting a bit chilly, more so at night in the southern parts and in the south island. though weather of course can be very changeable in NZ with its mountains in the middle of the north island and the alps in the south island and vast lee areas.

i would suggest getting a good guide book in addition to reading around other VTers travel pages that theyve made for various locations around NZ. also the AA website has good information, as well as good maps and accommodation books for travellers on the ground.
...they look after the good sign posting around NZ too!

Matamata with its Hobbiton/Shire/Lord of the rings movie set tour is not far from Rotorua. Also look out for are the Maori haka competitions at Rotorua in Feb/March. and the Waitomo Glow worm caves near Otorohanga along with the Kiwi house.
DRiving around Northland is still a big recommendation from me - lovely up there and you can see a lot in a few days. There is a car ferry from near Russell over to Opua which is not far from Paihia also good to know about to help get to interesting and historic places.

answered on 8/14/16 by
a VT member

It is not very likely that you will get short term house sitting jobs for a week - usually they are longer than that - the best budget option is likely to be cabins in camp grounds, but Feb is high season. Schools go back the first week in Feb and those who aren't restricted by children's timetables yet want beach or summer holidays go in Feb when the weather is usually more settled so some planning for stopovers will be required.
Perhaps you could look for house sitting opportunities then come back to the locals here for comments on the areas.

answered on 8/14/16 by
a VT member from Wellington Region

Hi [VT member 1a7245], [VT member abf7b] Wellington (southern tip of the North Island).

If you are prepared to do some wwoofing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) type work in exchange for accommodation/housesitting, have a look at the website [original link]. My wife and I have an orchard an hour north of Wellington, and have identified some lovely people from all around the world who have been happy to do a couple of hours work a day, in exchange for free accommodation. Nothing too strenuous!

As my wife has cousins in Canada (in B.C.), we are prepared to offer you such a "deal". Let me know if you are interested. February is still pretty summery, and as schools are back, places are generally a little quieter.


answered on 8/15/16 by
a VT member

How nice of you to extend this offer to us, RogerW1nz ! As someone suggested, I just got some guidebooks in order to learn about different areas and figure out places we want to visit, and in which order. Once we have done that, I may come back to you. I should mention that we are both in our senior years, thankfully still fit.
We are also now considering to extend our stay by a week and spend some time in both the North Island and the South Island.

answered on 8/15/16 by
a VT member

Thank you [VT member 8540a] for suggesting the Northland and the Maori competitions around Rotorua, both are now on my must see list, as is the Hawkes Bay area!

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