Australia and New Zealand Itinerary
Australia and New Zealand Itinerary
It was a rush for us to put together our plans. We spent hours pouring over websites to try to find the best deals and things to do. But it doesn’t have to be the same for you. I hint at what our itinerary was in our highlight video, but want to share it here for your use. Below you will find a general outline of where we stayed, traveled, and experienced while abroad. Take note, some of the things we did may not be available every day. Links to their websites have been provided for your ease.
Day 1 – Travel Day
- Make all of your final preparations; take out the trash, plug in timed lights, and turn off water to sinks and toilets, lock your doors, and hit the road!
- Leave for airport so that you can arrive two hours before your flight is scheduled to take off.
- Board flight(s) and enjoy the 15+ hours of travel. This varies from where you begin. We had 22 hours of travel between our domestic flight (4 1/2 hours), layover (2 1/2 hours), and international flight (15 hours).
Day 2 – Travel Day continued
- When traveling from the U.S.A., because you are crossing over the international date line, you will lose a day and arrive two days after the day you took off. Congratulations! You just traveled through time!
Day 3 – Arrive and Explore
- Arrive in Sydney, Australia! Grab a quick bite to eat before getting your bags and going through customs. It may be a while before you can get something else.
- Take a cab downtown. There will most likely be some waiting just outside of the airport. It will be about a 40 minute ride and cost approximately 40 AUD (Australian Dollars).
- Drop off bags at Glasgow Arms Hotel
- Meet at Town Hall Square for Sydney Walking Tour. This is a great way to quickly get the lay of the land, with interesting insights into the city, for a low price. If you see anywhere interesting on the tour, go back and check it out after. We loved The Rocks Market!
- Eat dinner at Glasgow Arms Hotel or another eatery around the city.
- Settle in for a good night’s sleep. It’s probably been a while since you slept.
Day 4 – Tour and Soar
- Eat breakfast at Glasgow Arms Hotel. Make sure to try Vegemite and remember it’s part of the experience.
- Walk to Hyde Park to check out the Veterans Memorial, the beautiful walkways, and then meet for a bus tour, with Free Tours Sydney, at Archibald Fountain. This three hour tour will take you to the outskirts of Sydney for a different perspective of the city.
- Pick up lunch at one of the many places downtown. We had limited time, so we tried Lord of the Fries. Sooo good.
- Return to hotel, pick up luggage, and catch taxi back to airport. Give yourself an hour to get to the airport, and another 40 AUD.
- Board flight from Sydney to Auckland. Enjoy a short (comparatively) three hour flight.
- Make sure to eat all of your food before going through customs. New Zealand doesn’t allow any food or plant items into the country, and they are understandably thorough with their search.
- Catch shuttle to Airport Travel Air Motor Inn (provided with the room) and collapse into bed!
Day 5 – Let the Campervan Road Trip Begin
- Catch same Inn shuttle to Britz Campervan Hire Auckland to pick up campervan! Sign paperwork, watch campervan tutorial and driving instruction videos, download Britz Roadtrip app, and hit the road.
- Pick up groceries and something for brunch at Countdown’s Auckland Airport location or another market.
- Drive from Auckland to Wairere Falls Trailhead (2 hours).
- Hike the Wairere Falls Track. a 5K round trip to a beautiful waterfall.
- Make dinner in Trailhead parking lot because you can! And that is the beauty of a campervan.
- Drive to Hora Hora Domain freedom camping site (30 minutes).
Day 6 – A Visit to Hobbiton
- Make and eat breakfast while checking out the black swans on the lake next to your campsite
- Drive to The Shire’s Rest (20 minutes) to start your tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set. Make sure to be there 15 minutes early. On the tour, pick up a snack and drink at the Green Dragon and enjoy being in Middle Earth.
- Drive to Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort (2 hours) and enjoy a long soak in their many hot pools. They range in temperature from a warm swimming pool (perfect for kids) to a toasty hot tub. Each group also gets to spend a half an hour in a private pool.
- Taupo DeBretts also has a laundry facility. If you need to do a load, or three, take time to get that done as you prepare and eat dinner.
Day 7 – Climb Some Mountains
- Make and eat breakfast from the comfort of your camper.
- Drive to Tongariro National Park‘s Whakapapa Visitor Centre (1 hour).
- Hike nearby trails: Ridge Track, Taranaki Falls, Waitonga Falls Track, or in our case, just the Whakapapa Nature Walk because it was snowing and too cold to do any longer trails with a baby. Instead we drove up the road to the ski resort in hopes for a better view. We mostly saw clouds. It is a great view on a clear day.
- Eat lunch in the Chateau Tongariro Hotel.
- Drive to Fielding Holiday Park (2 1/4 hours). It’s a great halfway point to the bottom of the North Island.
- Make dinner and settle in.
Day 8 – The Pinnacles
- Make and eat breakfast quickly so you can get on the road.
- Drive to Putangirua Pinnacles parking lot (3 1/2 hours). Enjoy the beautiful farmland and rolling hills.
- Eat a quick lunch, then hike the trails around the Putangirua Pinnacles. The rock formations make look interesting in pictures, but up close they are even more intriguing. There is a variety of trails to suit many abilities.
- Go search for penguins! We weren’t able to, because it got dark too soon. But Kyle says he saw a penguin crossing sign on the way in. For reference, you can see the ocean from the parking lot.
- Make dinner and enjoy staying in the parking lot as a freedom campsite. And maybe watch this scene from Lord of the Rings.
Day 9 – Nerd Out
- Take the day to embrace your inner Lord of the Rings nerd. Perhaps eating lembas bread for breakfast would be a good start. Cheese scones could also work in a pinch.
- Drive from Putangirua Pinnacles to Kaitoke Regional Park (1 1/4 hours). Take some time to explore the trails through the park. It is also appropriate to pretend to be a member of the fellowship as you walk through a gate of Rivendell.
- Cook some lunch in your camper and make all of the people nearby jealous from the smell.
- Drive to the Weta Workshop in Wellington (1 hour) for a tour and behind the scenes look of the production of sets, costumes, characters, and creatures. This was a highlight of the trip for us! The amount of creativity there was exhilarating!
- Drive to Himatangi Beach Holiday Park (2 hours), make and eat dinner, then nerd out with a movie. I think you can guess which one we chose.
Day 10 – Tramp on a Volcano
- Enjoy a nice walk or run on the beach just down the street from the holiday park. It has beautiful black sand beaches and plenty of driftwood, which makes for fun exploring.
- Refuel with breakfast then hit the road. Drive to Mount Taranaki in Egmont National Park (3 hours).
- Tramp up to Wilkes Pools and Dawson Falls (both under a mile, which was necessary with a baby in the cold), or one of the other hikes.
- Drive to New Plymouth and go out to eat at a local restaurant. We chose Marinovich’s Seafood Restaurant and Cafe. Our stomachs were quite happy with their seafood.
- Take some time to walk around New Plymouth. There is a good variety of things to eat, cute shops, and a laid back vibe. Also, if you are running low on groceries, stock up at the Countdown New Plymouth Central location.
- Drive to campsite (1-2 hours depending on where you would like to stay). This night we ended up sleeping on a pull off near the Mount Messenger Tunnel. At the time it was listed as a freedom camping location, but has since then been removed. Alternative options include Onaero Bay Holiday Park, Whitebait Inn, or a number of others that you can find in the Britz Roadtrip app mentioned above.
Day 11: Tongariro Again
- If the tide is low, check out Elephant Rock and the Three Sisters (not to be confused with the ones in Australia). If it is high tide, you won’t be able to see much, so plan accordingly with a tide predictor. Eat your breakfast to work around seeing those rock formations.
- Once again, this is where you may want to alter your plan from what we did. At this point, because we had such poor conditions during our first visit, we decided to head to Tongariro National Park again (3 hour drive). Another option would be to visit Rotorua, with a Maori village visit, a walk in the redwoods, or see one of the thermal pools parks.
- After arrival, eat some lunch, then head out to explore. We were able to do several of the hikes mentioned on day 7, as well as taking ski lift and a short hike to Meads Wall and a great view of Mount Nugaruhoe. Rosalie walked a good portion of the hikes this day, with a little assistance. It was slow, but I was a proud momma!
- Drive to Taupo DeBrett’s for a second visit, use of their kitchen, and a nice, long, hot shower. But, returning wasn’t just because of the convenience of their facilities, it was so we could explore Taupo a bit more, enjoy the hot pools again, and to take a break from so much driving and exploring. We were worn out by this point, and needed to press pause.
Day 12: Recuperate and Refresh
- Sleep in. Or at least until your baby makes you wake up.
- Make and eat breakfast, then stroll along the Lake Taupo walkway. Keep your eyes peeled for places to eat for lunch.
- Take a nap when your child naps. Laundry is also a possibility, but that’s not quite as relaxing.
- Enjoy another dip in the hot pools and then a delicious dinner.
- Go to bed early and prepare for more adventures the next day.
Day 13: Finding a Beach
- Wake up early, and eat as you pack. You’ll want to get on the road.
- Drive to the Cathedral Cove carpark and freedom camping location (3 1/2 hours). The road starts to wind as you near the end of the drive, so prepare for a little motion sickness. In our case it was Rosalie. Poor thing
- Settle stomachs with some lunch and then from the carpark, hike to Cathedral Cove (1 1/2 round trip). If the tide is low, you will be able to walk through the Cathedral an play along the sandy beach. It won’t be quite as easy with high tide. Hike back up with stops at Gemstone Bay or Stingray Bay along the way.
- Make dinner and relax to the sound of ocean waves breaking nearby.
Day 14: A Sunny Day
- Make sure to track when the sun will rise and wake up 30 minutes to an hour earlier to watch the horizon awaken. It’s well worth it.
- Eat breakfast then go on a walk from the carpark to Hahei beach (20 minute walk). If it’s a warm enough day, play in the sand or ocean, eat a picnic lunch, and make sure to enjoy some boysenberry ice cream from the corner store near the beach.
- When hunger strikes again, or your child is soaking wet, hike back up to your campervan, make some dinner, and enjoy a relaxing evening. Or in our case, a cold evening. Our propane ran out as we were cooking dinner and our power was low, so we had to bundle up to keep warm and lower all of the lights that evening.
Day 15: Say Goodbye to Middle Earth
- If one sunrise isn’t enough, then watch another one this morning. Get a move on as quickly after breakfast as possible. If the day is warm, stop by Hot Water Beach (15 minutes) to dig your own hot tub.
- Clean yourself off, grab some lunch, hopefully clearing out your food supply, and hit the road. Return to Britz Campervan Hire Auckland (2 1/4 hours), say goodbye to your campervan home, then head to the Auckland Airport.
- Board and fly from Auckland to Sydney, Australia (3 hours). Upon return, pick up rental car and drive to Katoomba Mountain Lodge in the Blue Mountains (1 hour).
Day 16: Rocky Paths
- Hit up a grocery store to pick up breakfast and some essentials for the next couple of days. Then, drive to the Wentworth Falls Picnic Area.
- The short 3o minute hike to the top of Wentworth Falls offers a view, but the real experience comes from continuing on the National Pass trail (3 hours). It was definitely a highlight of our trip and I recommend making it a part of your visit.
- That evening, meet new friends while out in Katoomba. There are many eateries that looked great. We actually went out to dinner with a group we had met on the trail. It was such fun!
Day 17: Feathered Friends
- Make and eat breakfast, check out, then head out the door to see The Three Sisters. There are trails that go along the edges of the cliff with stunning views of the mountains.
- Drive to Featherdale Wildlife Park (1 hour). This park contains animals that are mostly found in the Land Down Under, so it offers an insight into their wildlife.
- End the day by trying out a restaurant and staying the night at the bed and breakfast, Cutmore Cottage.
Day 18: Sydney One Last Time
- Enjoy a hearty meal at the bed and breakfast and then head into downtown Sydney (30 minutes).
- As this is the last day, take the time to do anything you want. Walk along the pier, visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, or stop to get some fresh seafood. And, last, but not least, take a tour of the incredible Sydney Opera House.
- Stay your last night (which also happened to be my birthday) in the luxurious Sofitel Resort and Spa. Take advantage of being able to lay down to sleep, because the next time you sleep, it will most likely be on a plane.
Day 19: Take Off
- Leave for the airport an hour before you need to arrive. Cushion your time if you need to drop of a rental car.
- Board your flight and prepare for a long journey home, as well as getting back on a normal sleep schedule (that post will be coming soon).
- Most likely, you will arrive home on the same day you left. Once again, you have become a time traveler. Well done!
- We did this all with our one year old daughter. And it was totally manageable! Don’t let having a small child stop you from exploring. Especially when they are free for almost everything. She did slow us down from what we would usually do, but it made it more enjoyable in the long run.
- Many of our campsites in New Zealand required that you have a self contained vehicle. You will not be able to stay in the same locations with a car, tent, or campervan without a toilet. You can see specifics for this on the Britz Roadtrip App.
- What we learned from this vacation is that if we made the effort to do the research and search for deals with everything we were doing, it wasn’t as expensive as we thought it would be. In the end, it was completely worth it! It was a dream trip and we can’t wait to go back.