New Zealand Honeymoon logistics + Easter
April 3, 2017 12:30 AM   Subscribe

Is the Coromandel too busy at Easter time? Should we head to Matamata instead?

We're going to New Zealand's north Island for our honeymoon! We're also really bad at booking things in advance and we fly out on Monday (arrive Tuesday morning, fly out Tuesday following in the evening.)

We've got one night in Auckland booked, then we want to go and see the North Island. We don't have too many 'must sees' on our list- just
Glow worm caves at Waitomo, Hobbiton, Hot-water beach and the Coromandel peninsula.

Our questions: do we do Hamilton/Waitomo/Matamata/Hobbiton first and then hit up the Coromandel on the weekend (also, Easter Weekend.)
Will it be impossible to get accommodation, seeing as it is the Easter weekend?
Will there be heaps of holiday makers around, making it crowded?
Would it be better to do Hobbiton over the Easter weekend?
Will everything close down over Easter?
Will the traffic be atrocious? Should we budget extra time?

Is there anything 'unmissable' that we aren't listing here? (Rotorua?)

Bonus question- we are observant Christians and would like to go to church on Easter- any recommendations?

Useful information about us:
We're Australian so it's a 'puddle jump' for us, not a once-in-a-lifetime must-see-everything trip (but obviously we'd like to enjoy our trip!)
We are hiring a car.

(Previous questions I've found helpful are:
posted by freethefeet to Travel & Transportation around New Zealand (9 answers total)
Traffic is going to be heavy on Thursday night/Friday morning, and again on Monday, as people head away for a long weekend. Yes, budget extra time. This goes double for heading from Auckland to Coromandel peninsula. Accommodation is going to be tight, sorry.

Cheesey and tourist trappy as it can be, I think Rotorua is worth visiting.

Places you can go/things you can see from Auckland without hours and hours of driving: marine reserve at Goat Island, trip out to Rangitoto Island, trip to Kawau Island, go for a short bush walk in the Waitakeres.

Congratulations on getting married!
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:55 AM on April 3, 2017

Things close down on holidays in NZ. Like, everything, gas stations, everything. Matamata isn't that cool in my humble opinion, you should go to the Coromandel if you want to despite any traffic, or Mount Maunganui. Also Hamilton is no place to be on your honeymoon (sorry Hamiltroners!). It's not at all charming. Go past it to Raglan.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:30 AM on April 3, 2017

In terms of other stuff aside from what you listed, I fully agree with i_am_joe's_spleen about going to the Waitakeres... I love Piha and Karekare but I do think that probably gets quite busy on a holiday too. If I were going to take only one day to go to an island from Auckland I would take the day trip to Tiritiri Matangi, because there are so many special rare birds, especially my favorite the takahe. Or Waiheke if you love wine is pretty amazing.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:35 AM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Specifically, Good Friday is a serious public holiday and virtually everything will be shut -- but you should still find petrol stations open, among other things. Easter Sunday, depending on area, many businesses will be shut. Easter Monday is a public holiday but no trading restrictions, although some hospo businesses will charge extra or be shut. Here are the rules. Basically, buy your booze and other supplies on Thursday, Saturday is normal, plan for a subdued Sunday and Monday.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:39 AM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yep, the public holiday surcharge (usually 15%) can be a surprise at cafes/bars/restaurants!
posted by teststrip at 3:31 AM on April 3, 2017

Best answer: We did ten days on the North Island last year and our schedule was

- arrive Auckland, drive to Raglan
- three nights Raglan, drive to Rotorua
- four nights Rotorua, drive to Auckland
- two nights Auckland, ferry to Waiheke Island
- two nights Waiheke Island, back to Auckland and leave

We loved everything, because New Zealand is easy to love. Notes:

- Raglan is not terribly touristy (especially during the week), is beautiful, has good restaurants and lots of fun activities (it's especially great if you've never surfed and want to learn) and gives you good access to Waitomo (about an hour's drive) and the Bridal Veil Falls, which are a good half-day trip. Out of everything we probably liked it best.

- Rotorua has a lot of very good things to recommend it - it's a good place to visit Hobbiton from since they have a bus service to it, which saves you drive time. The hot springs and mud springs are well worth visiting, and the Maori tourist villages are excellent (we visited Te Puia and loved it). There's also good access to a bunch of NZ adventure sports in the Rotorua area, including Zorbing/Ogo (which is a must-do).

- Auckland is pleasant but ultimately skippable. It's a city. You can tell it's a city that works well and is good to live in, but there are lots of cities like those that are skippable and Auckland is one of them.

- Waiheke Island is beautiful, has good activities (not as varied as Rotorua but a lot of fun things) and most importantly there are all the wineries, which are a fine experience if you love wine. And, because it's so close to Auckland, it's a great value-add to the vacation that doesn't add a lot of travel time.

We didn't do the Coromandel on our visit, mostly because it is surprisingly out of the way compared to most of the other major North Island attractions we wanted to visit; two to three hours' drive away from everything else. Bearing that in mind, you might want to consider doing your Coromandel leg via the ferry from Auckland - ferry in, spend your couple days there, then ferry back out again.
posted by mightygodking at 11:32 AM on April 3, 2017

Things close down on holidays in NZ. Like, everything, gas stations, everything.

As a rule, gas stations do not close on holidays in NZ.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 7:09 PM on April 3, 2017

Response by poster: Thank you all, after a bit of heart stopping "EVERYWHERE IS BOOKED OUT" we have booked accommodation. Yay!
posted by freethefeet at 8:08 PM on April 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi all, thanks for the tips.
We found that all major tourist attractions were open on Good Friday- which was handy as our Thursday tour of Hobbiton was cancelled due to the cyclone. Rotorua was great. Definitely recommend the Coromandel peninsula.
posted by freethefeet at 5:36 AM on May 9, 2017

« Older Help us play together   |   I now pronounce you Iron Man and WiFE Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.