Auckland to Bay of Islands: North Island New Zealand self-drive

Trip ideas
Duration (in days): 5

From: Auckland

To: Auckland



Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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Head to the Bay of Islands, a stunning region situated in the heart of the Northland, at the northern tip of New Zealand. This Auckland to Bay of Islands road trip is the perfect add-on to an extended New Zealand self-drive or as a standalone short break. Uncover Northland New Zealand: head north through the Waipoua Forest to Ahipara for a one-night stay before you reach Paihia, the gateway to the Bay of Islands, an enclave encompassing more than 140 sub-tropical islands, known for its Maori artefacts and beautiful untouched beaches.

Take a dolphin cruise, stroll through the local galleries and cafes and visit the historic Treaty House in Russell, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in this quiet, yet beautiful region of New Zealand.

This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements, please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.


  • People watch from a local café in Whangarei
  • Sample a delicious seafood dinner in Russell
  • Discover the local wildlife including penguins, gannets, marlin, whales and dolphins
  • Cruise to the ‘Hole in the Rock’ on Piercy Island
  • Visit New Zealands’ most historic site, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
  • Stop to see the magnificent Tane Mahuta, the biggest Kauri tree on the wild west coast



Itinerary in brief:

  • 1 night Auckland
  • 1 night Hokianga
  • 1 night Russell
  • 1 night Whangarei


Day 1: Arrive Auckland

On arrival into Auckland collect your rental vehicle and head to your accommodation to check in for a 1-night stay.

The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the city.

Day 2: Auckland to Hokianga      

After breakfast, depart Auckland and make your way north via the Waipoua Forest to the Hokianga Harbour. Located at the mouth of the harbour Omapere and its twin settlement Opononi offer steep farmland and bush whereas the northern shore has great drifts of golden sand dunes to explore.

Use the rest of the day to explore the area.   

Day 3: Hokianga to Russell

After breakfast at the hotel, you will head north to Russell today. Travel via Ahipara, Cape Reinga and Doubtless Bay and make a full days adventure out of your journey, travelling back down the east coast to the historic town of Russell.

Russell was the country's first seaport, it's first European settlement and New Zealand's first capital. These days the town is a great place to base yourself to explore the Bay of Islands, with plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes Russell is a popular spot for visitors to the north of New Zealand.

Day 4: Russell to Whangarei        

Before leaving Russell today you will join a ‘Hole in the Rock’ Dolphin cruise, pass Cape Brett Lighthouse spotting whales and dolphins as you go, before reaching the Hole in the Rock. Hold your breath as the skipper navigates the small space and you can admire the rock walls soaring above. On your way back stop at Urupukapuka Island before reaching the wharf at 1pm.

Head off this afternoon to Whangarei – make sure you stop at Kawakawa to view the remarkable public toilets by the late Austrian artist and architect (and resident) Frederick Hundertwasser.            

Day 5: Whangarei to Auckland   

Enjoy a wander quayside and explore the local farmers' markets before heading back towards Auckland via Goat Island Marine Reserve. Swim, snorkel, dive or even take a glass-bottomed boat to discover the abundant marine life just off the beach. Picnic at a beautiful spot at the end of the coastal walk before heading back to Auckland where your Northland adventure comes to a close and you drop your car hire off at the airport.      




New Zealand is a year-round destination and there is always something to see and enjoy whatever time you decide to travel. High season runs from December to February (summer), prices will be at a premium at these times and availability limited so it is advisable to book in advance. March to April and September to November can be a great time to travel as the weather is fine and the crowds fewer. Low season is May to August (winter) for most of New Zealand, this is, however, the best time for skiing and so ski towns such as Queenstown will be at their busiest.

Are you looking for more New Zealand ideas?

We’re experts in planning tailor-made holidays, so whether you’re looking for a luxury New Zealand holiday, ideas for a road trip or multi-stop flights to New Zealand with stopovers – let us help you with the planning. Our experts can tailor-make precisely the trip you’re looking for – this itinerary is purely a suggestion, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.

What's included: 

  • 4 nights accommodation
  • 5 days car hire including inclusive insurance
  • Breakfast on days 2 & 4
  • Hole in the Rock cruise
  • Fly/Drive documentation pack

Not included: 

  • Flights
  • Fuel
  • Any meals not mentioned
  • Any excursions not mentioned
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips & gratuities


4 nights in 3-4* standard accommodation.

Hotels in this category include:

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