Complete Road Trip Guide for North Island New Zealand!


If you have a love for travelling, you must visit New Zealand at some point in your adventure!

I’m sure you’ve seen Instagram being flooded with photos of beautiful mountains, lush greenery and unbelievably blue water bodies. While it may seem enticing, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed when planning a trip to NZ. I have spent a total of about 2 months roaming around NZ - both North and South Island. However, from my experience, I realised that it is easier to cover one part at a time. Not only is it an easier drive, the North is quite different from the South in terms of scenery and culture. Experiencing them separately is more fulfilling and allows you to fully immerse yourself. Therefore, I have created a 2 week itinerary consisting of what I thought was some of the best parts of my adventure in North Island!

One of the best times to travel to NZ is in the start of December - not only is it a nice mix of hot and cold weather, it is also not as crowded as later on in the month. This itinerary requires you to fly to- and return from Auckland.

The places this itinerary requires you to overnight at are Auckland, Paihia, Hahei, Waitomo, Rotorua, Napier and Wellington.

Days 1 & 2 (Overnight: Auckland)
Explore Auckland - Auckland Zoo, The Sky Tower, Queen Street, Harbour cruise, Viaduct Harbour

On the Harbour Cruise in Auckland

On the Harbour Cruise in Auckland

Drive from: Auckland to Paihia
Time: 3 hours

Days 3 & 4 (Overnight: Paihia)
Explore on the way - Whangerei Falls, Hundertwassertoilette Kawakawa
Explore Paihia - Waiting Treaty Grounds, Haruru Falls, Paihia Beach, Russell

View of Paihia Beach from my Apartment

View of Paihia Beach from my Apartment

Drive from: Paihia to Hahei
Time: 5 hours

Days 5 & 6 (Overnight: Hahei)
Explore Hahei - Hahei Beach, Pa Hill, Cooks Beach, Shakespeare Cliff, Hot Water Beach

View from Shakespeare Cliff in Hahei

View from Shakespeare Cliff in Hahei

Drive from: Hahei to Matamata to Waitomo
Time: 2 hours and 1.5 hours

Day 7 (Overnight: Waitomo)
Explore on the way - Matamata (Hobbitton)
Explore Waitomo - Glowworm tours

Inside Hobbitton in Matamata

Inside Hobbitton in Matamata

Drive from: Waitomo - Rotorua
Time: 2 hours

Days 8 & 9 (Overnight: Rotorua)
Explore Rotorua - Kuirau Park, Lake Rotorua, Te Puia, Sulphur Point, Lake Taupo, Huka Falls, Waiotapu Geothermal Park

Rotorua (Sulphur City) Geothermal Park

Rotorua (Sulphur City) Geothermal Park

Drive from: Rotorua - Napier
Time: 2 hours, 40 mins

Days 10 & 11 (Overnight: Napier)
Explore Napier - Marine Parade, National Aquarium, Art Deco on walls, Vintage car tours, Wine Tours

Exploring Napier in a Vintage Car Tour

Exploring Napier in a Vintage Car Tour

Drive from: Napier - Wellington
Time: 4 hours

Days 12 & 13 (Overnight: Wellington)
Explore on the way - Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre
Explore Wellington - Cable Car, Botanical Gardens, Rose Gardens, Te Papa museum

View of Wellington City from the Botanical Gardens

View of Wellington City from the Botanical Gardens

Fly from Wellington to Auckland. From from Auckland to Home.

Some general tips are:

* Rent your car at the airport itself - I recommend EuroCar for their customer service and reasonable prices.
* If you are to travel in December, bring a cardigan for the hotter days and a slightly thick coat for the cooler days. It can get very windy in NZ when you least expect it.
* A raincoat style coat that keeps you warm is recommended as it also tends to rain in the North Island.
* Boots or sports shoes would be the ideal footwear for the whole duration of the trip.
* Restaurants and cafes are not bothered at all about your outfit, so wear what you feel comfortable in. Unless, it is very specifically a fancy restaurant, but these are quite rare.
* Apart from their delightful seafood, North Island has cuisines that cater to most people - Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Italian, British, Mexican, and so on.
* And finally, do not forget to look out for signs that show the various lookout points where you can pullover and enjoy the breathtaking views!

Have fun on your journey!

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Written by travelociro
Hi, I’m travelociro and, well, I love travelling!

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