Five Best Road Trips on New Zealand’s North Island


When in New Zealand, don’t get too comfortable in one spot. There are so many unbelievable things to see and do, it’s crucial to hit the ground running…or better yet driving. Choosing to explore this beautiful island by car will give you the means to explore New Zealand to the fullest, allowing you to discover beauty and thrills off of the beaten path. If you’re thinking about renting a car on the North Island, here are five road trips you should consider taking.

1. Auckland to Cape Reinga

If you want to feel like you are traveling to the ends of the earth, take a journey from New Zealand’s most popular city to the very North Western tip of the Aupouri Peninsula. You will be mesmerized and fascinated when you witness the great tidal race or the clash of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. If you are interested in mythology, you can visit the very place where Maori spirits are said to have begun their final journey to their ancestral homeland. No matter what your interests are, you will fall in love the stunning sunsets and raw natural landscapes of Cape Reinga.

2. Waikato

If spectacular hiking adventures are what you seek, take a trip to the Waikato region. This region includes numerous scenic areas such as Hauraki, Coromandel Peninsula and more. Whether you’d like to visit the themed gardens of Hamilton or climb the ancient volcanos on the Karioi Summit Track, Waikato is filled with fun outdoorsy opportunities for everyone. If you end up near Port Waikato be sure to check out some of the locations where the Lord of the Rings was filmed.

3. Western Bays

The Western Bay of Plenty District is the place to go when you want to vacation like a Kiwi. This bay is known as one of the most popular holiday destinations for New Zealanders themselves as it hosts infinite opportunities for thrill seekers. In this relatively small section of New Zealand’s North Island, you can go white water rafting, swim with dolphins, kayak amongst glow-worms, and try your hand at blokart sailing.

4. Lake Taupo

No matter what time of year it is you’ll find yourself having a great time at Lake Taupo. In the fall you can participate in a cycling challenge around the lake and in the winter you can go all out for a weekend on the ski slopes. In the warmer months of the year, you can engage in watersports and boat trips past the famous Maori tribal cave carvings. Skydiving is also a popular sport for locals and tourists alike, all year round.

5. Forgotten World Highway

If you’re looking for the perfect weekend road trip, take a cruise down the Forgotten World Highway. This road, also known as New Zealand State Highway 43, runs from Stratford to Taumarunui and hits some pretty interesting towns along the way. Taumarunui is a great spot for aquatic activities, from fishing to canoeing, as it is situated on two major rivers. Whangamomona, in the middle of the route, is surrounded by picturesque natural areas perfect for hiking. From there you can also take a detour to see the famous Mount Damper Falls as well as the historic Moki tunnel. On the way to your final destination, take a detour to see Whanganui National Park’s “Bridge to Somewhere”.


What say you?
Thoughts on these Road Trips on New Zealand’s North Island?
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  • Justine Jobelle M. Kimoden

    how long was the drive from auckland to cape reinga? I’m going to Auckland in August!

  • Wow you really have evoked a need to go to NZ soon. Often it is smell that takes me back to a place, something about food markets I suspect. Great post.