Oceania Wanderings

Road Tripping New Zealand – North Island

September 23, 2017

I’ve travelled round New Zealand a few times now, and I even lived there for 9 months (Waihi Beach)  in 2015.  Marrying a kiwi has given me a reason to go back there again and again!

The best way to get around New Zealand is to either hire a car, or hire a campervan.  We’ve done both, and they were both great in their own way.  Hiring a campervan is really good fun, but it does get quite expensive and I like the luxury of shower and proper beds, so I only like to do it for short trips!

If travelling by car, New Zealand has some great motels, and AirBNB is amazing there.  You can find all sorts of awesome little cabins in the middle of nowhere, and, in our experience, the hosts have always been super friendly and helpful, suggesting things to do in the local area.  By far our favourite AirBNB so far was just outside of Akaroa in the South Island.  We stayed in the tiniest little wooden cabin on some farm land, and made friends with lots of cute little piglets!  It didn’t have any electricity, and had a bath in the backyard that you could heat by lighting a fire underneath.

AirBNB Cottage

AirBNB Cottage

If you’re planning a road trip to NZ, then here are some of my personal favourite spots –

North Island


  • Go up the Sky Tower
  • Have a wander around the viaduct
  • Check out an All Blacks game
  • Take the ferry over to the North Shore
  • Spend a night or two out at Piha

Sky Tower


This is where you want a campervan!  An awesome route for a road trip would be

  • Orewa – touristy little beach-side town
  • Snell Beach/Sandspit – stop for a coffee before taking the scenic route up the coast to Whangarei
  • Russell – from Whangarei, head back to the coast before travelling up to Russell
  • Take the vehicle ferry up across to Paihia
  • It’s a big drive from there all the way up to Cape Reinga, where you’ll get some great photos
  • Chill out for a night Ahipara before heading back down towards Auckland

The Open Road


  • From Auckland, stop at Thames before heading up the West Coast.  Be prepared for an awesome drive!
  • Stop at Coromandel to decide whether to go all the way to the north of the peninsula or around to Whitianga.  I’ve never gone all the way up to the top I’m afraid, either because of time or weather.
  • Spend a night at Whitianga
  • Leave time for a walk at Cathedral Cove
  • Dig a hole in the sand at Hot Water Beach and wallow in the super hot water!
  • Go for a walk around the gold mine at Waihi
  • Spend a night or two at Waihi Beach, making sure to climb the hill at Bowentown



  • No need to spend a night, but make sure to stop and check out Hobbiton if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan!


  • Climb up The Mount for some great views, then have a big breakfast at one of the great cafes along the strip at Mt Maunganui

The Mount


  • The smell of sulphur will hit you as you arrive, but don’t worry, you’ll stop noticing it pretty quickly!
  • Make sure to check out Hell’s Gate – you can walk around the park and sit in the hot springs afterwards
  • Spend a few hours playing on the luge


  • Go out on a boat trip on this HUGE lake
  • Go for a walk around the Craters of the Moon thermal park


  • Enjoy the architecture
  • Try some wine!


  • Go for a surf….or if you’re me….just watch them 🙂


  • Go caving
  • Check out the glow worms!

Mt Taranaki:

  • New Plymouth isn’t the prettiest of towns, but we got a great little bach on AirBNB just around the coast near Oakura
  • Go for a walk along the black sand beaches

Sandy Toes


  • Make sure to check out the Te Papa museum
  • Find a cool little bar and try some local brews!

This has ended up being WAAAAY longer than I thought…so I’ll have to write another post for the South Island!


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