8 Road Trips in North Island New Zealand

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8 Road Trips in North Island New Zealand

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New Zealand offers travellers some of the best road trips in the world, with stunning scenery, fascinating volcanoes and hot springs, unspoiled beaches, cosmopolitan towns, and food and wine trails that will please even the most discerning palates. Read on to discover 8 of the best road trips in the North Island.

Thermal Highway

Te Puia, Rotorua, North Island - Image: Robert Linsdell / Flickr

New Zealand’s famous “Thermal Explorer Highway” winds south from Auckland to Napier, including some of the island’s best hot springs on the way. The trip takes about 6 hours to drive in total and is best enjoyed over 4-5 days.

Spend the first day driving to the picturesque town of Hamilton and the nearby surf beaches of Raglan. The Cambridge TOP 10 Holiday Park makes an ideal breakpoint before heading to the geothermal mud pools and geysers of Rotorua. If you’re wanting to stay at Rotorua we’ve also got Holiday Parks in the region that has everything you need. Stay at Blue Lake TOP 10 Holiday Park to make your holiday adventure worthwhile. 

Continue heading south to Taupo where you’ll find the largest freshwater lake in Australasia. Then end your journey in the winery town of Napier, with its stunning scenery and some of the best tipple in the country. Here' you'll find Napier Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park along the beach front and Hastings TOP 10 Holiday Park, conveniently located just 20 minutes outside of town. 

Auckland to Bay of Islands

Whangarei Falls, Northland - Image: John Willoughby / Flickr

Driving north from Auckland takes you through some of the best that New Zealand has to offer. From stunning beaches, friendly towns, and many points of historical and cultural significance, this must-do trip has a scenic gem in every turn.

Start by taking the coastal road to Whangarei, with plenty of beaches to take breaks at on the way. Here you can stay at the beautiful Whangarei TOP 10 Holiday Parklocated less than two kilometres away from the heart of Whangarei city, Quayside Town Basin and Marina. Continue on the picturesque drive and consider a detour to the stunning Tutukaka coastline. For a hassle-free holiday stay at the TOP 10 Holiday Park at Paihia close to town, or at Russell TOP 10 Holiday Park across the bay, only a short ferry ride away.

Coromandel Peninsula to Whakatane

Whakatane, Bay of Plenty - Image: Chris Thompson / Flickr

If you have at least a week to explore and want to see everything from beaches to wineries, and even an active volcano, the Pacific Coast Highway offers an adventure you’re sure to remember.

Drive south from Auckland towards the Coromandel Peninsula. Some of the North Island’s most spectacular beaches are located here, and you can stop off at one of our parks in Coromandel to enjoy them. Continue following the road around the peninsula through the town of Whitianga and Whangamata, making sure to stop at the famous Hot Water Beach (there’s a TOP 10 Holiday Park here too). Heading south to Whakatane, you can encounter one of the world’s most active marine volcanos at White Island. Discover the best of the region while staying at our TOP 10 Holiday Parks in Waihi Beach and Beachaven, and Ohope Beach.

East Cape Explorer

Wainui Beach, Okitu, Gisborne - Image: Tyler Lastovich / Flickr

You can continue your travels along the Pacific Coast Highway by following the coastal road from Whakatane to Gisborne. There are lots of pretty coastal towns along this route, so take your time and enjoy the ride.

Spend a night or two in Gisborne to explore the gorgeous region and its exceptional wineries. There are also some interesting historical museums and places of interest close to Gisborne, including an original Maori meeting house. Stay at the TOP 10 Park at Waikanae Beach to make the most out of your trip.

Wellington to New Plymouth

Whanganui River, Manawatu - Image Jason Pratt / Flickr

The 400 km drive from Wellington to New Plymouth can be done in less than 5 hours, but you’ll want to allow at least a couple of days to take in the sites.

Starting from the Wellington TOP 10 Holiday Park, head north on the coastal road toward Whanganui. The picturesque town of Otaki makes for a pleasant stop and is a great place to pick up some locally-grown produce. Situated by the beach is Foxton Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park,  the perfect base to explore the wonderful region of Otaki.

Continue your way to the town of Whanganui has some great cafes to grab some grub, and the Duri Hill Elevator is a must-see tourist destination, offering great views of Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu. Then, make your way to the Whanganui National Park where you’ll find many opportunities for hiking and wildlife spotting at Whanganui River TOP 10 Holiday Park

Whanganui to Rotorua

Globelet, Lake Taupo - Image: Ryan Everton / Unsplash

This trip  includes some of the most impressive natural sites and hiking trails in the country. Start at the charismatic town of Ohakune, where you’ll find Ohakune TOP 10 Holiday Park, an ideal base for exploring the majestic Mt Ruapehu nearby. Continue your journey onto Lake Taupo and stay a night or two at Motutere Bay TOP 10 Holiday Park before heading onto the lakes and geothermal attractions of Rotorua. 

If you're looking for a truly unique adventure, take the Desert Road for a scenic detour where you'll find amazing landscapes and incredible scenery featuring the majestic peaks of the region's active volcanic mountains – Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. 

Auckland to Whatuwhiwhi

Tokerau Beach, Northland - Image: Mark Whatmough / Flickr

This trip takes in New Zealand’s rugged northeast coast with some of the most beautiful and peaceful beaches on the island. Start by heading for the small town of Dargaville, with the Kauri Coast TOP 10 Holiday Park closeby – a perfect base for exploring the Kauri forests, including the giant Tane Mahuta tree. After following the road north to Omapere, you’ll find the charming town of Kaikohe with a plethora of beautiful sunny beaches closeby.

Wellington to Hastings

Toast Martinborough, Wellington - Image: Rob Marson/ Flickr

Wellington to Hastings is around a 4-hour drive inland past Tararua and Kaweka Forest Parks and with plenty to see on the way. Be sure to stop by Hastings, a beautiful city, with a bustling café culture and an excellent spot for a food and wine tour of the area.

The TOP 10 Holiday Park at Martinborough makes for a pleasant stop for those who want to explore the wineries of the region.