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North Island Itinerary Help

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My husband and I are in our early 30's and will be traveling to the North Island from Monday, 8/14 through Saturday, 8/19. We'll be visiting Sydney beforehand, but I was hoping you'd be able to review and provide any feedback on our NZ itinerary. We're from the USA so we're trying to minimize the driving.

Fly from Sydney to Auckland. Explore Auckland for half day.
Overnight Auckland.

Pick up rental car in Auckland Central and drive towards Rotorua.
Visit Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves.
Overnight in Rotorua.

Morning to Early afternoon: Drive to Wai-o-Tapu and see the geyser erupt at 10:15am, and visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley.
Mid afternoon to evening: Drive to Taupo (1 hour away) and see Huka Falls, Aratiatia Rapids, and Taupo Lake.
Overnight Rotorua.

Return rental car in Rotorua Airport. I checked with Hertz and I think they allow a one-way rental. Take a flight from Rotorua to Kerikeri and arrive midday.
We are thinking of staying overnight in Kerikeri because we don't have a car. But we could potentially take a cab to Paihia if that's a better idea?

Tour of Cape Reigna.
Overnight in Kerikeri or Paihia.

Take a plane from Kerikeri to Auckland.
We have the option of flying back to the USA either at 4pm or 7pm.

So my questions are:
1. Does this itinerary make sense?
2. If our main attraction is really Cape Reigna for Thursday/Friday, does staying at Kerikeri make sense to make our lives easier since we don't have a car? I know a lot of people head to Paihia for the Bay of Islands, which I think we can do by taking a taxi. And I think I've read other people saying to base themselves in Ahipara or Kaitaia for Cape Reigna tours, but we don't have a rental car, so I think it'd be hard for us to get there.
3. I see that New Zealand Air have 4 flights from Kerikeri to Auckland on Saturday getting us into Auckland as early as 9:30am. Our flight goes back to the USA from Auckland in the evening, and it's important not to miss this. I'm not sure if we really have a backup plan should something go wrong with the Kerikeri to Auckland flight. Rental car companies in Kerikeri don't look open on weekends. There's Intercity buses, but the schedule might not work. It seems like we'd have plenty of time to get ourselves back to Auckland, but wondering if this is risky... Thoughts?

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