Explore the stunning North Island with this 9-day New Zealand road trip itinerary. Stay in locally run boutique style B&Bs and experience the iconic Kiwi hospitality as you travel! Taking in the key highlights of this island you will get to hit the open road in your own vehicle, at your own pace.
Starting in Auckland, this itinerary takes you through the Coromandel Peninsula, arguably one of the most beautiful areas of North Island and home to Hot Water Beach where you can dig your very own bath in the sand! Moving onto the culturally significant Rotorua, this town is a must-see for visitors to New Zealand to learn more about the Maori culture and experience your very own Hangi feast first-hand. Then it’s on to Taupo, a great spot for anyone wanting to skydive, and home to the spectacular Lake Taupo. Finally, you will visit Napier and Wellington, to end your trip in the renowned ‘windy city’ capital of the North Island.
Collect your car on arrival at the airport and make your way to your accommodation (9 days rental car hire included).
Spend the remainder of the day at leisure in Auckland City. The vast harbour, urban cityscape and nearby islands mean Auckland has plenty to offer!
Depart Auckland this morning and make your way to Cooks Beach, Coromandel Peninsula. Cooks Beach is situated just south of Whitianga and is a 3 km crescent of fine golden sand with safe waters flanked by Shakespeare Cliff to the west and the picnic spot of Purangi River to the east.
The nearby town of Whitianga can be accessed via a short ferry ride from Ferry Landing. Also nearby are the well-known tourist spots of Hahei and Hot Water Beach.
Hahei is home to Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and the Cathedral Cove walkway – an excellent interpreted coastal walk (2 hours return) with spectacular scenery.
At Hot Water Beach you can dig out your own natural spa on the beach either side of low tide. Shovels can be hired at the dairy situated at the end car park.
Depart the Coromandel and make your way to Rotorua. New Zealand’s tourism icon, Rotorua is spiritual home to the Maori of Te Arawa and is set amongst a myriad of crystal clear crater lakes. Here you will experience nature’s awesome earth forces – bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and hot water beaches.
This evening a Mitai coach will pick you up from your accommodation to commence an evening tour that provides an authentic introduction to Maori culture. Upon arrival at the village enjoy a Hangi meal, cultural performance and guided bush walk and see warriors paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream, plus the opportunity to see glow worms in their natural habitat.
Make your way to Taupo today. The Lake Taupo region in New Zealand's volcanic heartland is rich in Maori tradition. It also has some of the country’s finest untouched, uncrowded and unique landscapes.
The lake itself is the size of Singapore! Spend your time cruising or kayaking around the secluded coves, fish for Rainbow Trout, explore the geothermal mud pools or walk through ancient rainforest. You won't be short of activities!
Today is open for you to join one of the many activities in the area, here are 3 of our favourite (not included in the tour price, but can be added):
Tongariro Full Day Guided Walk ex Taupo: This trek covers much - but not all - of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and allows you to enjoy spectacular views of the National Park. The track leads up to the saddle between Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro and then diverts over Mt Tongariro. Total walking time is 7-8 hours, with approximately 1 hour of scheduled stops and photo opportunities. Tour concludes at approximately 5.00pm, back at Taupo.
Hukafalls Jet: This half hour of thrills, fun and excitement takes you along a beautiful river environment, lined with native bush, sheer rock cliff face and natural hot springs. It combines 360° spins and passing nature at disorientating speeds before reaching the awe-inspiring Huka Falls. From the unique vantage point on the boat, you have the best water level view of New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction.
Chris Jolly Lake Taupo Scenic Cruise: Cruise to the Maori Rock Carvings and around the picturesque bays of Lake Taupo. The scenery is simply stunning. A full commentary is given on the volcanic history and Maori mythology surrounding the Lake as you take in the fabulous views of secluded bays and the spectacular mountain peaks of the distant World Heritage Tongariro National Park: on a clear day the majestic volcanoes of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro can be seen at the Southern end of the lake. This scenic cruise is the smoothest, fastest and most comfortable way to see the Maori Rock Carvings and all the fabulous sites.
Depart Taupo today and make your way to Napier. The major entertainment today is the scenery – from rugged hills and beautiful valleys to gentle plains and huge vistas. It’s stunning, New Zealand in all its glory!
On the way, you can stop at Tarawera and walk to the hot springs, or at Waiarua Falls lookout, to view the twin waterfalls.
Napier is one of New Zealand's most attractive cities now, although it had to be re-built completely after a devastating earthquake in 1931. It took almost two years and the style of the time is prominent – beautiful Art Deco buildings given Maori motifs to offer unique NZ character!
Located at the south of the Hawkes Bay, the area is famous for its vineyards so be sure to stop and sample some of their produce!
Palm trees line the inner-city streets and the wonderfully sculpted Marine Parade, as the name suggests, runs along the shore of the city. Along Marine Parade various parks, gardens and memorials give the water’s edge its distinct character.
Today, make your way to Wellington. New Zealand’s capital city offers an unforgettable urban experience in a stunning natural setting.
Set between a sparkling harbour and rolling green hills, this compact city has great shopping, professional theatre, memorable arts, culture and heritage and great cafés and restaurants all close to untouched nature spots.
Spend a day at leisure in the Wellington region. Wellington is the cultural capital of New Zealand, full of cafes, restaurants and galleries, and it's nestled amongst rolling hills and a sparkling harbour.
It is also home to Te Papa, the country’s national museum. Te Papa has been described by the Washington Post as "one of the most ambitiously eclectic museums in the world" and is certainly a place not to be missed.
Today make your way to Wellington Airport and return your rental car prior to checking-in for your departing flight (or if you're really lucky, you can head to the ferry terminal and cross to the South Island for more exploring, activities and breath-taking scenery!)
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.
Our itineraries are tailor-made to give you an idea of some of the possibilities. For you, this means there are no date or time restraints as you are travelling independently. We have the flexibility to tailor your trip around exactly what you enjoy so let us know your dates, what you like doing and where you like staying, and we will do the rest!
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.