NEW ZEALAND NORTH

Picture-perfect volcanoes, boiling geysers, pristine beaches, magical caves and much more awaits you in New Zealand’s awesome North Island. Click for Luxury, Mid-range or Budget. Here’s your New Zealand North travel plan:

Luxury
1 ✈To Auckland (Book >) Dep: Evening 🏨 In flight!
2-3 Arr: Morning 🏨Hotel DeBrett (Book >) See all hotels >
Once you’ve left your luggage at the hotel, head to the docks and take the ferry to Waiheke Island for a vineyard visit, or Rangitoto island for some excellent hiking or sea kayaking. When you get back head up the Sky Tower. If you’re from a visa waiver country you don’t need to apply until you arrive in New Zealand
4 🚗Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula (Hire car >) Dep: 09:30 Arr: 12:00 🏨Driving Creek Villas (Book >) See all hotels >
Set off after rush hour and, once you arrive in Coromandel, continue on to Hot Water Beach where you can dig a pool in the sand and luxuriate in the hot water. Nearby is the picturesque Cathedral Cove. Back at the villa, leave the car and walk up the road to embark on the Driving Creek Railway. You must park in the direction of the traffic flow in New Zealand, otherwise you’ll get a fine.
5 🚗Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua
🚗Rotorua to Taupo
Dep: 09:00
Dep: 17:30
Arr: 12:00
Arr: 19:30
🏨Tauhara Sunrise Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Head south to steaming, sulphurous Rotorua. Here you can see geysers and hot mud pools, as well as start getting to know Māori culture. On the drive down to Taupo, stop off at Kerosene Creek where you can bathe in a naturally-heated stream. Get changed into swimming things in one of the Rotorua bathrooms – there aren’t any facilities at Kerosene Creek (which is free to enter).
6 🚗Taupo to Napier Dep: 10:00 Arr: 12:15 🏨Mangapapa (Book >) See all hotels >
In the morning visit dramatic Huka Falls, then journey to the wine-producing region of Hawke’s Bay. You’ll arrive in time to enjoy a tour of the vineyards. Give yourself plenty of time to get between destinations – you’ll want to stop frequently for beautiful views.
7 🚗Napier to Wellington Dep: 09:00 Arr: 13:30 🏨Edgewater Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Te Papa is worth the drive to Wellington alone. Once you’ve enjoyed a couple of hours at this museum, you have plenty more to see, including a walk along the charming waterfront to Oriental Bay, a Weta Studios tour, a ride on the cable from Lambton Quay up to Kelburn. Cuba Street comes alive at night and is a good place to hunt down a restaurant. Fuel stations are few between towns and cities – fill up before setting off.
8 🚗Wellington to New Plymouth Dep: 14:00 Arr: 19:00 🏨Ahu Ahu Beach Villas (Book >) See all hotels >
No doubt you ran out of time to see the sights yesterday, so there’s more time to see more of Wellington today before the long drive to the Ahu Ahu Beach Villas near New Plymouth. The Department of Conversation provides a wealth of info on hiking.
9 🚗New Plymouth to Tongariro Dep: 15:00 Arr: 19:00 🏨Chateau Tongariro (Book >) See all hotels >
Get up early and head for the hiking trails around the breathtaking Mt Taranaki volcano. In the afternoon take Highway 3 to Midhirst, then the Highway 43 through the gorgeous scenery to Tongariro. The Tongariro Visitor Centre can store your luggage for a small fee.
10 Book your shuttle bus from Whakapapa Village to and from the Tongariro Crossing in advance. Considered one of the best hikes in the world, the Tongariro Crossing requires a full day and a decent level of fitness. Keep an eye on the weather before setting out and time your walk accordingly.
11 🚗Tongariro to Waitomo Dep: 09:00 Arr: 11:30 🏨Waitomo Boutique Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
You are in for a real treat today. Black Water Rafting isn’t as scary as it sounds, in fact it involves a sedate float on tubes through caves adorned with constellations of glow worms. Invest in a dry bag or waterproof camera to try and capture images of the incredible glow worm caves.
12 🚗Waitomo to Piha
🚗Piha to Paihia
Dep: 09:00
Dep: 14:00
Arr: 12:30
Arr: 18:00
🏨Chalet Romantica (Book >) See all hotels >
Break up the long drive to Kerikeri with a stop at amazing Piha Beach, setting of the film The Piano and a favourite for surfers. You’re likely to encounter some Māori language. Learn a few basic words here.
13 Take to the water in the magnificent Bay of Islands on a kayak tour (where you also have the option of staying overnight, camping by the beach). Make sure that your insurance covers you for the various adventures sports on offer here.
14 🚗Paihia to Cape Reinga
🚗Cape Reinga to Waipoua Lodge
Dep: 09:00
Dep: 14:00
Arr: 12:00
Arr: 18:00
🏨Waipoua Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua is at the northernmost tip of New Zealand and is where Maori spirits begin their final journey. It offers incredible views of the crashing sea from the lighthouse. On your way to/from here you may want to have a go at sandboarding at the Te Paki dunes. You can hire boards at the Te Paki dunes, but be sure to shop around for the best price and best condition equipment.
15 🚗Waipoua Lodge to Auckland Dep: 10:00 Arr: 13:30 🏨Hotel DeBrett (Book >) See all hotels >
Back to where your adventure began and plenty of time today to see anything you missed on days 2-3. The red city circuit bus offers a free hop on hop off service around Auckland city centre every 10 minutes.
16-17 ✈Auckland to home (Book >) Dep: Evening Arr: Morning (next day) What did you think of this New Zealand North itinerary? Leave your feedback below
Book your shuttle to the airport.
Mid-range
1 ✈To Auckland (Book >) Dep: Evening 🏨 In flight!
2-3 Arr: Morning 🏨Haka Hotel Suites (Book >) See all hotels >
Once you’ve left your luggage at the hotel, head to the docks and take the ferry to Waiheke Island for a vineyard visit, or Rangitoto island for some excellent hiking or sea kayaking. When you get back head up the Sky Tower. If you’re from a visa waiver country you don’t need to apply until you arrive in New Zealand
4 🚗Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula (Hire car >) Dep: 09:30 Arr: 12:00 🏨Andrea’s (Book >) See all hotels >
Set off after rush hour and, once you arrive in Coromandel, continue on to Hot Water Beach where you can dig a pool in the sand and luxuriate in the hot water. Nearby is the picturesque Cathedral Cove. Drive on to Driving Creek for the Driving Creek Railway. You must park in the direction of the traffic flow in New Zealand, otherwise you’ll get a fine.
5 🚗Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua
🚗Rotorua to Taupo
Dep: 09:00
Dep: 17:30
Arr: 12:00
Arr: 19:30
🏨The Reef Resort (Book >) See all hotels >
Head south to steaming, sulphurous Rotorua. Here you can see geysers and hot mud pools, as well as start getting to know Māori culture. On the drive down to Taupo, stop off at Kerosene Creek where you can bathe in a naturally-heated stream. Get changed into swimming things in one of the Rotorua bathrooms – there aren’t any facilities at Kerosene Creek (which is free to enter).
6 🚗Taupo to Napier Dep: 10:00 Arr: 12:15 🏨The Crown Hotel (Book >) See all hotels >
In the morning visit dramatic Huka Falls, then journey to the wine-producing region of Hawke’s Bay. You’ll arrive in time to enjoy a tour of the vineyards. Give yourself plenty of time to get between destinations – you’ll want to stop frequently for beautiful views.
7 🚗Napier to Wellington Dep: 09:00 Arr: 13:30 🏨U Residence Hotel Wellington (Book >) See all hotels >
Te Papa is worth the drive to Wellington alone. Once you’ve enjoyed a couple of hours at this museum, you have plenty more to see, including a walk along the charming waterfront to Oriental Bay, a Weta Studios tour, a ride on the cable from Lambton Quay up to Kelburn. Cuba Street comes alive at night and is a good place to hunt down a restaurant. Fuel stations are few between towns and cities – fill up before setting off.
8 🚗Wellington to New Plymouth Dep: 14:00 Arr: 19:00 🏨One Burgess Hill  (Book >) See all hotels >
No doubt you ran out of time to see the sights yesterday, so there’s more time to see more of Wellington today before the long drive to the Ahu Ahu Beach Villas near New Plymouth. The Department of Conversation provides a wealth of info on hiking.
9 🚗New Plymouth to Tongariro Dep: 15:00 Arr: 18:30 🏨Chateau Tongariro (Book >) See all hotels >
Get up early and head for the hiking trails around the breathtaking Mt Taranaki volcano. In the afternoon take Highway 3 to Midhirst, then the Highway 43 through the gorgeous scenery to Tongariro. The Tongariro Visitor Centre can store your luggage for a small fee.
10 Book your shuttle bus from Whakapapa Village to and from the Tongariro Crossing in advance. Considered one of the best hikes in the world, the Tongariro Crossing requires a full day and a decent level of fitness. Keep an eye on the weather before setting out and time your walk accordingly.
11 🚗Tongariro to Waitomo Dep: 09:00 Arr: 11:30 🏨Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
You are in for a real treat today. Black Water Rafting isn’t as scary as it sounds, in fact it involves a sedate float on tubes through caves adorned with constellations of glow worms. Invest in a dry bag or waterproof camera to try and capture images of the incredible glow worm caves.
12 🚗Waitomo to Piha
🚗Piha to Paihia
Dep: 09:00
Dep: 14:00
Arr: 12:30
Arr: 18:00
🏨Abri Apartments (Book >) See all hotels >
Break up the long drive to Kerikeri with a stop at amazing Piha Beach, setting of the film The Piano and a favourite for surfers. You’re likely to encounter some Māori language. Learn a few basic words here.
13 Take to the water in the magnificent Bay of Islands on a kayak tour (where you also have the option of staying overnight, camping by the beach). Make sure that your insurance covers you for the various adventures sports on offer here.
14 🚗Paihia to Cape Reinga
🚗Cape Reinga to Whangarei
Dep: 09:00
Dep: 14:00
Arr: 12:00
Arr: 18:00
🏨Lupton Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua is at the northernmost tip of New Zealand and is where Maori spirits begin their final journey. It offers incredible views of the crashing sea from the lighthouse. On your way to/from here you may want to have a go at sandboarding at the Te Paki dunes. You can hire boards at the Te Paki dunes, but be sure to shop around for the best price and best condition equipment.
15 🚗Waipoua Lodge to Auckland Dep: 10:00 Arr: 13:30 🏨Haka Hotel Suites (Book >) See all hotels >
Back to where your adventure began and plenty of time today to see anything you missed on days 2-3. The red city circuit bus offers a free hop on hop off service around Auckland city centre every 10 minutes.
16-17 ✈Auckland to home (Book >) Dep: Evening Arr: Morning (next day) What did you think of this New Zealand North itinerary? Leave your feedback below
Book your shuttle to the airport.
Budget
1 ✈To Auckland (Book >) Dep: Evening 🏨 In flight!
2-3 Arr: Morning 🏨Haka Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Once you’ve left your luggage at the hotel, head to the docks and take the ferry to Waiheke Island for a vineyard visit, or Rangitoto island for some excellent hiking or sea kayaking. When you get back head up the Sky Tower. If you’re from a visa waiver country you don’t need to apply until you arrive in New Zealand
4 🚌Auckland to Thames
🚌Thames to Whitianga (Book >)
Dep: 07:50
Dep: 09:55
Arr: 09:40
Arr: 12:10
🏨Turtle Cove (Book >) See all hotels >
Once you arrive in Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula, take the shuttle to Hot Water Beach where you can dig a pool in the sand and luxuriate in the hot water. Continue on to the picturesque Cathedral Cove. The shuttle service is a small company, so be sure to book in advance (it’s also cheaper when you travel with more people).
5 🚌Whitianga to Thames
🚌Thames to Tauranga (Book >)
Dep: 12:25
Dep: 14:20
Arr: 14:00
Arr: 16:10
🏨ArtHouse Accommodation(Book >) See all hotels >
Journey to the lovely seaside town of Tauranga. There is a bus to Rotorua today at 17:10 if you don’t fancy an early start tomorrow.
6 🚌Tauranga to Rotorua (Book >)
🚌Rotorua to Taupo (Book >)
Dep: 07:10
Dep: 13:00
Arr: 08:35
Arr: 14:00
🏨Finlay Jacks Backpackers (Book >) See all hotels >
Head south to steaming, sulphurous Rotorua. Here you can see geysers and hot mud pools, as well as start getting to know Māori culture. In the afternoon visit dramatic Huka Falls near Taupo. If you don’t want to pay to see the Te Puia hot springs and geysers, there are plenty to see around town for free.
7 🚌Taupo to Napier (Book >) Dep: 13:05 Arr: 15:10 🏨Toad Hall Backpackers (Book >) See all hotels >
On arrival into Napier hire a bicycle and visit some Hawke’s Bay vineyards. Church Road and Mission Estate wineries are just 16km away.
8 🚌Napier to Wellington (Book >) Dep: 07:45 Arr: 13:30 🏨YHA Wellington City (Book >) See all hotels >
Te Papa is worth the journey to Wellington alone. Once you’ve enjoyed a couple of hours at this museum, you have plenty more to see, including a walk along the charming waterfront to Oriental Bay, a Weta Studios tour, a ride on the cable from Lambton Quay up to Kelburn. Cuba Street comes alive at night and is a good place to hunt down a restaurant. If you’re in Wellington at the weekend then the food market off of Cuba Street offers great food on a budget.
9 🚌Wellington to National Park (Book >)
🚐National Park to Whakapapa Village (Book >)
Dep: 07:45
Dep: 14:00
Arr: 13:19
Arr: 14:15
🏨Mangatepopo Hut (Book >)
Once you arrive into National Park leave the bulk of your luggage with your hostel for night 11, then take the shuttle to Whakapapa Village and begin the Tongrariro Crossing, starting with a walk to Mangatepopo. The Tongariro Visitor Centre can store your luggage for a small fee.
11 🚐Ketetahi to National Park (Book >) Dep: 14:30 Arr: 15:00 🏨Plateau Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Today you’ll continue on the famous Tongariro Crossing. Book your return shuttle in advance. Wear plenty of sunscreen – the sun is strong in NZ.
12 🚌National Park to Waitomo Township (Book >) Dep: 13:20 Arr: 15:50 🏨YHA Waitomo Juno Hall (Book >) See all hotels >
You are in for a real treat today. Black Water Rafting isn’t as scary as it sounds, in fact it involves a sedate float on tubes through caves adorned with constellations of glow worms. The last tour leaves at 16:00. Consider becoming a YHA member to save 10% on each YHA stay.
13 🚌Waitomo to Auckland (Book >)
🚌Auckland to Paihia (Book >)
Dep: 11:47
Dep: 17:30
Arr: 14:45
Arr: 21:29
🏨Haka Lodge (Book >) See all hotels >
Leave your luggage at the bus station and take in another of Auckland’s sights. You’re likely to encounter some Māori language. Learn a few basic words here.
14 Take to the water in the magnificent Bay of Islands on a kayak tour (where you also have the option of staying overnight, camping by the beach). Make sure that your insurance covers you for the various adventures sports on offer here.
15 Book a day trip to Cape Reinga/Te Rerenga Wairua at the northernmost tip of New Zealand and where Maori spirits begin their final journey. On the way you’ll stop off at Ninety Mile Beach. You can hire boards at the Te Paki dunes, but be sure to shop around for the best price and best condition equipment.
16-17 🚌Paihia to Auckland (Book >)
✈Auckland to home (Book >)
Dep: 10:15
Dep: Evening
Arr: 14:40
Arr: Morning (next day)
What did you think of this New Zealand North itinerary? Leave your feedback below
Book your shuttle to the airport.
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