North Island ItineraryItinerary North Island
Itinerary for one weekend
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Whilst one weekend on the North Island is not nearly enough to see everything it has to show, it is enough with a little hectic and a lot of fun to see the highpoints. Assuming you will arrive by vehicle or motorhome, we have put together a week-long itinerary that includes some of the best North Island travel sites, wines, adventures and roadside breaks from Auckland to Wellington.
New Zealand is home to Auckland and Wellington, two of the simplest and cheapest destinations in New Zealand. This itinerary could take you to either case, but we expect you to be in Auckland. For those coming to Wellington, you can take the route backwards. New Zealand's most populous town.
There are plenty of hire cars to rent in the town and several shops to collect last-minute rides such as marquees or postcards. There is a lot to do in terms of activity here as in any other town. Along the Westhaven Marina you can see the most spectacular sailing ships and yacht of the "City of Sails".
Get to know the Kiwi art in the Auckland Art Gallery. With a bungee dive from the Auckland Harbour Bridge or a dive from the Auckland Sky Tower you can even get directly into New Zealand's extremes. It' a lovely seaside town, but North Island has a whole host more to explore, so see what you can do from Auckland in a single afternoon and then get up early the next mornings.
Next morning we left Rotorua, New Zealand's most populous town. Auckland to Rotorua takes about three hour and we recommend departing from Auckland between 7 and 8 a.m. There are two very common destinations on the North Island, one is the Pacific Coast Highway and the other is the Thermal Explorer Highway.
With the SH1 and SH5 from Auckland to Rotorua this journey leads over lively urban streets, thundering farmlands and even steamy waters. Rotorua is the culmination of the Thermal Explorer Highway with its explosive gyssers, cooking puddles of sludge and rotting sulfur stench. It is a vast traveler' s paradise with something for everyone.
If you arrive in Rotorua by noon, you will have enough free afternoon to take part in three different sports on that particular afternoon and one more in the following mornings. It is recommended that you start your stay in Rotorua with something poaching. Of course you can skydiving, but let's keep these things off for Taupo.
During your stay in Rotorua, you can try one of the more ridiculous adventures in the land, such as ZORB, a cushioned rubber balls that you walk on and roll down the hills. The Polynesian Spa is a good place to relax with a stunning townview. Don't forget to remove the jewellery before you visit one of these spa, sulfur and water cloudy the jewellery.
You will have learnt a great deal after half a morning and one evening in the town, but a last trip the next will be the most important thing to understand Rotorua. Stop at the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland before you leave Rotorua. Don't be in a rush in Rotorua on your second morning, but make sure you leave by lunchtime as our next stop, Taupo, is just an hours southbound on the Thermal Explorer Highway.
Queenstown for the South Island is Taupo for the North. It is a city of many death-defying activity and is home to New Zealand's biggest sea, Lakes Taupo. Like Queenstown, Taupo has wonderful countryside, great outside adventures and a lively city outing. The Taupo is one of the most evident sites, which is difficult to ignore anyway, but visitors to the area should also make it to the Tongariro National Park.
There are three Tongariro and Ruapehu volcanos in this area. This area is very lively during the winters, as Mount Ruapehu is the best (and only!) ski and snowboard on the North Island. The North Island has only one full days to explore, so we recommend the Tongariro Crossing - often rated as one of the best daily hikes in the whole year.
It is recommended to spend two days in Taupo, the first half of the week to explore the town and the next half to the Tongariro National Park. To Tongariro is about 80 min from Taupo and can be accessed via SH47. In order to get to the next stop on the route, travellers travelling to Tongariro must return through Taupo, so we suggest that they spend only two-night there.
Although we strongly suggest the Tongariro Crossing, this difficult trail is not suitable for everyone. Maybe some just travel around to catch a view of the volcanos and maybe go to a water fall. In that case, you only need one overnight in Taupo.
From Tongariro you can drive for half a full afternoon to our next stop, Hawkes Bay. Hawkes Bay is known for its wines, art-deco architectural design and lovely sandy beach and is the most relaxing stop on our route. On the SH5 we continue southwards, on this two-hour drive the riders change from the Thermal Explorer Highway of the North Island to the Pacific Coast Highway (SH2).
It is recommended to stay in Napier while you visit Hawkes Bay, as it focuses more on agribusiness. For those who have departed Taupo one night early, there are two days in Napier and one and a half days or more to spend relaxing on the beaches, taking a historic walk around the city, getting to know its archi ¬tecture and, above all, tasting the wines.
If you stay a longer overnight stay in Taupo, you should leave at 8 a.m. The most important thing in Hawkes Bay is the wines and you need at least a whole full working days to visit the area' s vines and cellars. Stay one or two days in the North Island's winecapital and then get yourself prepared to discover the real wellington.
The last part of the trip is the longest on our route (over four hours), but also the most relaxed and beautiful. We' re in no hurry to get to Wellington. If you arrive on the same date, you have two days and two days to discover the town. It is recommended to follow the SH2 to Wellington.
While enjoying the drive and stopping to take pictures, try to get to Wellington by the end of the afternoons. Wellnessington is quite small, so people don't get too rushing to visit it in two short outings. Wellington is best explored with your mouths, not your orbs.
While in Wellington you should definitely check out some of the city's many cafés and inns. Those who follow this route have two overnight stays in Wellington, which means two good food and two good night's sleep. Ride or hike to Mount Victoria according to the amount of free space and power you have to enjoy a great view of the town.
Then leave the vehicle, as all these places in the centre of the town are within easy walk distance. All you have to do is walk back to the centre of town. Get in shape for one last astonishing breakfeast in town. A last leg of the trip leaves just enough round-trip to take a brief trip from Wellington to Auckland or Christchurch or take a boat to South Island, where you can start our seven-day South Island trip.