The Perfect 2 Week North Island Road Trip Itinerary
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18th Jul | 13 min read

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    Just the mere thought of New Zealand brings to mind beautiful beaches and mountains, volcanoes, and scenic drives. New Zealand’s North Island is an incredible place with its endless natural beauty. In this 16 day itinerary, you will get to visit some of the most beautiful and popular destinations and attractions the North Island is famous for. 

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    Day 1: Auckland

    Arrive in Auckland:

    Once you arrive in Auckland, get a sim card from one of the booths at the airport so that you can have access to the internet and maps, and you’re set to go! But if that’s not possible by any chance, you can always get it from outside in the city. There are a few options for you to get downtown such as taking a taxi, Uber, and the SkyBus. The best way to get to the city is by taking the SkyBus, which is cheaper than taxis and you pay a cheaper price when you buy it online. You can also rent a car from the airport if you want to drive around, yourself. There is a lot to see and do in Auckland, so it's best if you can spend a day or two here. 

    Things to Do: 

    • The Sky Tower is a significant part of the skyline and you definitely want to see it. You can pay and go up in the tower to get a view of the city from 220 meters high above the street level. Not only that, but you can also get panoramic 360˚ views up to 80 kilometers in every direction and spot key landmarks, volcanoes, and other historical locations within the greater Auckland area. There are also other things to do near SkyTower and Auckland central if you have some spare time to spend. 

    • Head to the Auckland Waterfront to experience some mind-blowing design and architecture, recreational opportunities, facilities, and events. It is made up of three main areas- Wynyard Quarter, Viaduct, and Queens Wharf. You can stroll along the waterfront from Queens Wharf, past Viaduct Harbor, and into the Wynyard Quarter.

    • Explore the pretty streets in Downtown

    • Visit Albert Park

    Where to Stay in Auckland:

    • Haka Lodge Auckland

    • Oaklands Lodge

    • Bamber House

    • YHA Auckland City Backpackers

    Where to Eat in Auckland:

    • Blue Breeze Inn

    • Harbourside

    • Cotto

    • Vivace

    • The Grove Restaurant

    Day 2: Waiheke Island 

    Go to Waiheke Island during the day time. You can either spend the night there or take a day trip. Waiheke Island is one of the most popular day or weekend trip destinations from the city. It is only a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland, which starts running early in the morning so that you can get a head start to your day, and is located around 10 miles away from the downtown. You can catch a glimpse of all the other islands in the harbor on your way there. Waiheke Island is known to be a little more expensive compared to mainland New Zealand. You can rent bikes and scooters and roam around the island or book tours, which includes ferry tickets for a round trip to and from the island, olive tasting, winery tours, food, and sightseeing. 

    Ferry Costs: Waiheke Return - Adult $42.00

    Waiheke One Way - Adult $31.00

    Things to Do: 

    • Wine tasting

    • Visit Oneroa Beach

    • Kayak on the Coast

    • Zipline Over the Vineyards

    Where to Stay in Waiheke Island:

    • Te Whau Lodge

    • Onetangi Beach Apartments

    • Watermark Holiday Studios

    • Koi Roc Waiheke Island Accommodation

    Where to Eat in Waiheke Island:

    • Too Fat Buns

    • Ostend Pizzeria

    • Casita Miro

    • The Local - Waiheke's Fish n Chips

    Day 3-4: Piha

    Take the ferry from Waiheke Island back to Auckland and then to the Piha region. Piha is just a 45-minute drive from Auckland if you rent a car. If you can spend some time here, there is a lot to do.

    Things to Do in Piha:

    • Piha is a seaside village located West of Auckland that offers so many different personalities of beach and nature that is impossible to overlook.

    • Piha beach is the most famous beach for its black sand and a reputable surfing spot. While you are at the Piha beach you cannot miss one of their iconic landmarks, the Lion Rock that sits right between Piha and North Piha beach. 

    • Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is an ideal place for picturesque walks while you are in Piha. This park is over 40,000 acres and offers a great mix of black sandy beaches and a bustling forest life . You will be able to walk through beautiful trails of natural bushes, streams, and waterfalls all within a short period of time.

    • Kitekite Falls is an amazing 3 tier waterfall that you can hike up to and swim in. The hike to Kitekite falls is about 1-2 hours of easy trail. Once you reach the waterfall you will be able to swim in the water. It is deep enough for you to swim with your head under the water. If you want more of a secluded experience, head to the top of the fall and dip into testing your nerves, and swim by the edge of the pool.

    • After you are done enjoying all the scenic natural experience of Piha, New Zealand, head over to the Museum of Transport and Technology for an interactive and educating experience. This museum offers a  large collection of civilian and military aircraft.

    Where to Stay in Piha:

    • Piha Beachstay Accommodation

    • Fat Cat Backpackers

    • Piha Beachstay Accommodation

    • Kiwi Heritage Homestay

    Where to Eat in Piha:

    • The Piha Cafe

    • Piha Store

    • Piha RSA

    • Murray

    Day 5: Waitomo

    From Piha go to the Waitomo region

    Things to Do in Waitomo:

    Waitomo Glowworm Caves is one of the best natural attractions New Zealand can offer. This cave has been the most popular and world-renown tourist attraction spot for over 100 years for glowworm’s starry night illusions within the cave. Waitomo Glowworm Caves offer different ways of experiencing by boat, water rafting, or just simply by walking the trail within the cave. 

    Ruakuri Cave is one of the longest caves in the Waitomo area. It is also well known for the glow worm experience. Not only that, but this cave is also home to beautiful limestone formations and crystal tapestries. 

    Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park offer a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the native bird of New Zealand, a kiwi bird. Not only will you get to see the kiwi birds, but you’ll also get the full zoo experience with other creatures like reptiles and different kinds of birds.

    Where to Stay in Waitomo:

    • Kiwi Paka Waitomo

    • Juno Hall - BBH

    • Waitomo Lodge Motel

    • Glow Worm Motel

    Where to Eat in Waitomo:

    • Huhu Cafe

    • Waitomo General Store

    • Waitomo Homestead

    • Curly's Bar

    Day 6-7: Taranaki

    From Waitomo go to the Taranaki region which should be around 3 hours drive.

    Things to Do in Taranaki:

    • Egmont National Park, also known as Mount Taranaki, is one of the most perfectly formed mountains in New Zealand that formed around 120,000 years ago and last erupted in 1775. This park offers various hiking options from 15-minute hikes to a 3-day hiking experience. 

    • Pukekura Park is near the heart of New Plymouth that offers a great range of gardens and other entertainment facilities. Pukekura Park is especially mostly known for hosting its ‘Spectacular Festival of Lights’ from December to February. 

    • Te Rewa Rewa Bridge is one of the most popular landmarks due to its unique shape. It is a pedestrian and a cycleway bridge. On a clear day, you will be able to get an amazing view of Mount Taranaki.

    Where to Stay in Taranaki:

    • Masonic Hotel

    • Ariki Backpackers

    • Opunake Beach Holiday Park

    • Ducks & Drakes Hotel

    Where to Eat in Taranaki:

    • Three Pillars Cafe

    • Cafe Turquoise

    • The Arizona

    • Ruby cafe

    Day 8: Whanganui

     From Taranaki, go to the Whanganui region. It should be around 1 h 45 mins.

    Things to Do in Whanganui:

    • Whanganui River Traders Market is an amazing way to pick up hand-made souvenirs to end off your amazing trip. There are great stalls with a variety of crafts and food for you to experience! Keep in mind they are only open on Saturdays from 8 AM to 1 PM!

    • Whanganui Regional Museum has an extensive collection of Maori paints and artifacts. Here you will be able to learn a lot about the local history as well as some international history. 

    • Bason Botanic Gardens is a botanic and architectural conservatory in a rural area. There are unique gardens, sculptures, and other fun activities like free barbecues and picnics. 

    Where to Stay in the Whanganui region:

    • Braemar House - B&B and YHA Hostel Whanganui

    • Hikurangi Stay Place

    • College House Backpackers - BBH

    • Whanganui Seaside Holiday Park

    Where to Eat in the Whanganui region:

    • Georges Fisheries

    • Thai House Express 2

    • Kebabholik

    • 141 Bakery & Coffee Shop

    Day 9-10: Wellington

    From Wanganui, go to Wellington and spend 2 days here. The drive should be around 4 h 15 min.

    Things to Do in Wellington:

    • The Museum of New Zealand also known as Te Papa Tongarewa, is  New Zealand’s national museum that you MUST visit when you are in Wellington. Admissions are free for everyone but charges may apply to interactive activities within the museum.

    • Wellington Cable Car is a railway in Wellington that will take you from the busy business district of Wellington to the suburbs of Kelburn in just about 5-10 minutes. This train ride is a great opportunity to get the full experience of both sides. The train runs every 10 minutes.

    • If you are a Lord of the Ring fan or the Hobbit, you need to stop by The Weta Cave. Here, you will be able to see the replica of props of the film the Weta team has worked on and an exclusive behind the scene documentary. They are also known for their amazing gift shop. Admission is free.

    Where to Stay in Wellington:

    • YHA Wellington

    • Hotel Waterloo

    • Cambridge Hotel

    • Nomads Capital

    Where to Eat in Wellington:

    • Kaffee Eis

    • Little Penang

    • Crepes a Go-Go

    • Best Ugly Bagels

    Day 11: Tongariro National Park

    From Wellington to Tongariro National Park. You can drive (3.5 hours) there or take the train and bus (5 hours).

    Things to Do in Tongariro National Park:

    • Tongariro National Park offers a great number of adventures with places to stay so you can enjoy the iconic mountain tours, river rafting, and many more without rushing within a day trip.

    • The Mountain Air is a scenic flight operation that will take you around Tongariro and Ngauruhoe with the most beautiful view of “Sacred Peaks” of the mountains all in 15 minutes. If you are up for a longer adventure in flight they also offer a 35-minute tour of all the volcanoes and the wonders of the Tongariro National Park which is their most high demand flight. 

    • My Kiwi Adventure is an essential tour of many adventures that Tongariro National Park offers. It is a bike and shuttle package that takes you around the trails of the parks that include: Fishers Track, Bridges to Nowhere and etc. This tour is one of the most popular demands of tourists.

    • Tongariro National Park also has places to stay like lodges and hotels. 

    •  Macrocarpa Cafe is located on the outskirts of the Tongariro National Park, operates every day from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM. They offer fresh baked goods to all-day breakfast, and lunch, and dinner.  

    Where to Stay in Tongariro National Park:

    • Adventure Lodge & Motel

    • Chateau Tongariro Hotel

    • Skotel Alpine Resort

    • The Crossing Backpackers

    • Pipers Lodge

    Where to Eat in Tongariro National Park:

    • The Station Cafe

    • The Park Hotel Ruapehu

    • Schnapps Bar

    Day 12: Taupo

    From Tongariro National Park, head to Taupo. The easiest way to get there is to drive, which is around 1h 10mins. 

    Things to Do in Taupo:

    • For all the seafood lovers, Huka Prawn Park offers some fun activities along with some various selection of prawn dishes (or none if you prefer) at a restaurant located within the park. They recommend your first stop to be at a Hatchery/Aquarium to get a closer look at prawns and learning about them. After that, you can hop on the fishing boat and catch your very own prawns! The admission ticket prices are very generous ranging from adults: $29.50 to children: $16.00.

    • If you are up for some scenic view of waterfalls after Huka Prawn Park, head over to Huka Falls, just a 6-minute drive away. You will be greeted with a crystal blue river waterfall that will take your breath away!

    • Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings is a sculpture carved into the rock on the edge of Lake Taupo. It has a beautiful eye capturing scenic view you cannot miss while you are enjoying your time in Taupo. You can reach the destination by cruise, kayak, or by sailing. Whichever floats your boat!

    Where to Stay in Taupo:

    • Chevron Motel

    • Utopian Motel Taupo

    • Barrington Motel Taupo

    • Dunrovin Motel

    • Mountain View Motel

    Where to Eat in Taupo:

    • Paulys Diner

    • BurgerFuel Taupo

    • Suncourt Sushi

    • The Fish Box

    • Kebab Turka

    Day 13-14: Rotorua

    From Taupo, drive an hour to Rotorua.

     Things to Do in Rotorua:

    • Wai-O-Tapu, also called a “Thermal Wonderland” awaits you in Rotorua just 37 minutes away from Taupo, New Zealand. There are well-defined trails here that you can follow to enjoy and take in the beauty of the geothermal activity of Wai-O-Tapu. Just keep in mind to use the toilet before entering the park since there will be no bathroom within the vicinity. 

    • Te Puia allows you to take a deeper dive into learning about the Maori Arts and Crafts after dipping your toe in from “Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings” located in Taupo. Te Puia offers a day trip that allows you to see the biggest, active geyser in the southern hemisphere, and kiwi birds' (the national bird of New Zealand) house for viewing. You will also be able to see the masters carving and weaving Maori’s traditional arts live, and to wrap everything up, you will be lead to a gift shop for keepsake. 

    • For the ultimate relaxation, hit the Polynesian Spa after all the wild adventures you’ve been busy with. They offer an original and iconic geothermal bathing experience you definitely want to experience. 

    Where to Stay in Rotorua:

    • Rock Solid Backpackers - TBG

    • Rotorua Downtown Backpackers - BBH

    • Cosy Cottage Thermal Holiday Park

    • Funky Green Voyager - BBH

    • Holiday Inn Rotorua

    Where to Eat in Rotorua:

    • Gelato Mio Ice Cream

    • Ali Baba's Tunisian Takeaways

    • Fresh Noodles

    • Great Spice Indian Takeaway

    • Oppie's Fish & Chips

    Day 15-16: Coromandel Peninsula

    From Rotorua, drive 3 hours and 15 mins and go to the Coromandel Peninsula, The Pinnacles.

    Things to Do in Coromandel:

    • Driving Creek is an all in one tourist spot that offers railway tours, zipline tours, pottery classes, and conservation tours. During the railway tour, your train driver will give you fun facts about Driving Creek and Barry Brickell (the founder of Diving Creek)

    • Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve is an ideal place to snorkel because of its extraordinary aquatic inhabitants. 

    • Karangahake Gorge offers a scenic Hauraki Rail Trail that will take you under old gold mining tunnels and bridges that hold rich history. The historic and archeological personality of Karangahake makes it the most significant place to visit.

    • Owharoa Falls is an easy walk that leads you to the most beautiful waterfall that nature can offer. 

    • The Pinnacle offers a more advanced hiking trail that requires you to climb ladders and stairs that lead to the peak of the steep mountain top. Once you reach the top you will be awarded a 360-degree view with a beautiful ocean in the distance that’ll make the hike worth the hard work. This hike is possible to be done in a day but remember to keep track of the time so you don’t miss out on the breathtaking sunset or sunrise.

      Where to Stay in the Coromandel Peninsula:

      • On the Beach Backpackers Lodge

      • Tidewater Motel and Tourist Park

      • Tui Lodge - BBH

      • Anchor Lodge

      Where to Eat in the Coromandel Peninsula:

      • Central Seafoods Fish and Chips

      • The Wharf Coffee House and Bar

      • Snapper Jack’s

      • Kebab Express

      • Sugar Cafe

      • Buffalo Beach Takeaway

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