The journey from Auckland to Hawkes Bay takes you across New Zealand’s north island and weaves through stunning landscapes and cultural treasures.

Below, you’ll find a selection of ten of the best sightseeing spots to visit as you make your way along the road. From rolling hills to lush vineyards and pristine coastlines, there’s something for every intrepid explorer to discover!

How Long is the Drive from Auckland to Hawkes Bay?

The drive from Auckland to Hawkes Bay takes around 5 hours and 30 minutes to complete and covers 451km. While this drive can be done in a day, it’s a good idea to take a long weekend to discover everything the road has to offer, allowing you to spend less time behind the wheel and more time exploring!

Where Should I Stop Between Auckland and Hawkes Bay?

As you make your way from Auckland to Hawkes Bay, you’ll be offered a variety of places to stop and things to experience, and below, we’ve put together a collection of our favourites.

Quick stats

451km trip distance

day roadtrip

Campervan recommended

road trip map

Sightseeing 1: Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

More than your standard thermal pool, the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a series of pools and geysers that have been thousands of years in the making. Particular highlights here include the Lady Knox Geyser, which can reach as high as 20 metres into the air, and the Mud Pools, which were originally the site of a large mud volcano.

There are tours and talks available throughout the day, where you’ll get the opportunity to learn more about this geothermal wonderland and the science behind nature. You can also pick up a souvenir from the gift shop and grab something to eat at the onsite cafe before heading out on the road again.

Sightseeing 2: Te Puia

Te Puia

Set within the historic Te Whakarewarewa Valley, Te Puia is home to the famous Pohutu geyser, mud pools, and a series of hot springs. More than that, it also contains the National Weaving School, National Stone and Bone Carving School, and the National Wood Carving School, making it a fantastic place for any arts and crafts lover to visit.

But that’s not all. Within Te Puia, you’ll also find the Kiwi Conservation Centre, which doesn’t only work towards preserving this iconic bird but offers you the opportunity to see them foraging in their nocturnal enclosures. Perfect for animal lovers!

Sightseeing 3: Whakarewarewa - The Living Maori Village

Whakarewarewa - The Living Maori Village

The ideal stop for anyone who wants to learn more about Maori culture, Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village, is home to the Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao people and offers a unique insight into their day-to-day lives.

You’re able to take guided tours through the village and walk or cycle the Whaka Geothermal Trails, and there are also cultural performances taking place throughout the week.

Sightseeing 4: Huka Falls Track

Huka Falls Track

Perfect if you’re looking to step out of your campervan and stretch your legs, the Huka Falls Track takes you on a fairly easy 7km walking trail towards this famous waterfall. Once you reach the peak, you’ll be met by the sound of crashing water as the Huka Falls tumbles 11 metres into the Waikato River.

There are lookout points placed around the falls, offering different views and giving you the opportunity to snap that perfect photograph. You can also experience Huka Falls close up by taking a river cruise if you’re feeling particularly adventurous!

Sightseeing 5: Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon

Another geothermal wonderland, the Craters of the Moon is one of New Zealand’s newest natural wonders, dating back to the 1950s when the ground suddenly heated up and began steaming. Soon, bubbling mud pools appeared, creating a crater-like surface, giving this attraction its name.

You can explore the Craters of the Moon from the wooden boardwalks that keep you at a safe distance but still offer an incredible view.

Sightseeing 6: Lava Glass

Lava Glass

An excellent stop for art lovers, Lava Glass is home to some incredible handblown glass works of art. There are different series and themes running throughout the year, each with its own artistic interpretation, and most of the artwork is listed for sale.

This is a great place to visit if you’ve been looking for that perfect piece of art to add to your collection, want to pick up a souvenir of your trip, or simply want to appreciate the artistic talent of New Zealand’s glassmakers.

Sightseeing 7: Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak

Located on the western boundary of the Heretaunga Plains, Te Mata Peak takes you 400 metres above sea level and offers you unparalleled views of the Maungaharuru, Ruahine, and Kaweka ranges. There’s also a mythological story associated with Te Mata Peak involving a love story, adding some romance to its undeniable beauty.

Te Mata Peak is a great place for anybody who loves hiking and exploring to visit along the road from Auckland to Hawkes Bay, and while it isn’t the easiest walking trail, it’s worth it if you’re able for the incredible views.

Sightseeing 8: Mission Estate Winery

Mission Estate Winery

Established in 1851, Mission Estate is New Zealand’s oldest winery and is the perfect place for wine lovers and foodies to visit. There are a couple of different tours available here, including guided walks around the cellar door and a wine tour of the underground cellar, each of which ends with a wine tasting.

You can enjoy a meal at Mission Estate’s onsite restaurant too, and sample some of the finest local produce lovingly crafted into delicious meals by some of New Zealand’s finest chefs.

Sightseeing 9: Birdwoods Gallery

Birdwoods Gallery

Another great stop for art lovers, Birdwoods Gallery is home to a range of New Zealand and African arts and crafts. Here, you’ll be able to see how artists have used a range of materials to make their pieces, including stone, textiles, metal, and ceramics. There are also indoor and outdoor exhibits, offering the opportunity to really explore the entire space and see the art in the best possible position.

Should hunger hit you, you’ll also be able to grab something to eat in Birdwood Gallery’s Garden Cafe, which doesn’t only serve delicious drinks and treats but offers some of the most picturesque views you could ever wish to dine surrounded by.

Sightseeing 10: Marine Parade

Marine Parade

A vibrant hub in Napier, Hawkes Bay, Marine Parade stretches across 3km of the Pacific Ocean seafront and contains activities for all of the family to enjoy, including gardens, a junior bike track, Par2 Mini Golf, and an ocean viewing platform.

Marine Parade is also home to The National Aquarium of New Zealand, where you’ll be able to get up close and personal with loads of marine life species and penguins! There are encounters to be enjoyed throughout the day too, making it a great place for animal lovers of all ages to visit.

Final Thoughts

There you have it – 10 fantastic places to stop along the road from Auckland to Hawkes Bay. As you can see, there’s something for everyone to enjoy, and with so much to do, it’s definitely worth making a proper road trip out of your journey.

The best way of doing this is by campervan, and you can speak to the team of experts at Travellers Autobarn about hiring a campervan in Auckland today. You’ll receive a free online quote, and soon, you’ll be on your way to these amazing destinations!

Or, if you’d like to learn more about North Island road trips, look here.

Share this page

Find Your Nearest Travellers Autobarn Location