Road trip: 10 Day Auckland to Rotorua to Auckland Road Trip Itinerary
The best way to truly experience the extent of New Zealand’s unique landscapes is via road trip. The New Zealand North Island has plenty to offer – beaches, mountains, lakes, most amazing food – you will not be disappointed with our Auckland to Auckland road trip itinerary.
This road trip itinerary will show you some of our favourite spots to include when you begin planning your road trip adventure.
Once you have collected your campervan from Travellers Autobarn, your first leg of the journey is to the northern most point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. It is just under 6 hours drive and you will travel through lots of small townships on your way, each offering something different along the way. Stop in for a morning pick-me-up coffee and the BEST almond croissant in Ruakaka or an afternoon snack of the classic New Zealand mince pie. Have you really been to New Zealand if you haven’t gotten a bakery made mince pie? Kawakawa is home to the kwirky Hundertwasser toilets where you must stop for a photo. We don’t normally recommend toilets as a pit stop; however, these ones are worth the look! Continue your journey north and you will reach Paihia which is the main town in the bay of islands.
Day 3-4Bay of Islands
A short drive from Paihia is Waitangi, also known as the birthplace of New Zealand, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, sealing the partnership between the Indigenous Maori and the British government. Waitangi is a rich source of New Zealand culture and you can check out a museum that does a brilliant job of telling the story of New Zealand colonisation with interactive exhibits. There are countless boat cruisers you can take, the most classic being the hole in the rock cruise that takes about half a day through the bay and out to the famous hole in the rock. If you’re lucky enough you will get to see wild dolphin and whales, or even an island stopover!
Day 5Coromandel to Mount Maunganui
Traveling further South for just under 3 hours will take you to Mount Maunganui. The journey takes you through windy roads heading in and out from the coastline. Referred to by locals as the mount,
this coastal town has the ocean on one side and the bay on the other, meeting in the middle where you can see gorgeous 360-degree views from the top of the hill, known as Mauao. Around a 232m ascent up endless steps is worth the views! There is a main strip running through the centre of the township with lots of different eateries and cafés. Traditionally, we recommend heading onto Shellrock Takeaways where you can grab fresh fish and chips to eat along the shore
Day 6Mount Maunganui to Gisborne
Now its time to head to the first city in the world to greet the sun and New Zealand’s Easternmost point. Gisborne is a 3.5-hour drive from Mount Maunganui and has a reputation for the surf beaches. Gisborne has a comprehensive wine trail leading to boutique wineries for all the wine lovers, there is also a shuttle service so you can enjoy the wineries without the hassle of driving. We recommend before you leave to stop in to Rere Falls, a picturesque surrounding where you can stop in for a swim in the river or slide down the natural waterslide, followed by a picnic in the sunshine.
Day 7Gisborne to Napier
As hard as it may be leaving the surf city, your next leg of the journey will take you further down the coast. Either travel inland or via the coastal route, which will provide access to Morere Hot Springs and fabulous beaches of the Mahia Peninsula. Both routes will take you around 3 hours and bring you to Napier. This city has been rebuilt after a devastating earthquake back in 1931, almost levelling the city entirely! As a result, this city has a unique concentration of Art deco architecture and home to one of the most photographed tourist attractions in New Zealand, a statue on Marine Parade called Pania of the Reef.
Day 8Napier to Taupo
Time to jump back in your campervan and head up to Taupo. No road trip around the north island is complete without visiting Lake Taupo, a town distinguished by its lakefront setting and outdoor sports ranging from fishing to jetboating. Did we mention the lake used to be a Volcano? Erupting a very long time ago, it has left clear, fresh water in its place, perfect for water sports! There are so many things you can do in Taupo, giving summertime its population will triple as it is highly desired travel location. We recommend heading to the Huka Honey Hive, famous for its purity and healing properties. Make sure to grab an ice cream on the way out! After the honey hive, a short drive down the road will take you to Huka Falls. The thundering falls are mind-blowing, we cannot talk them up enough! You can get right up close to her the rumble of the Fall, where New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato, is squeezed through a ravine of hard volcanic rock. You can view the falls from the footbridge above or get up close and personal with a jet boat ride!
Day 9Taupo to Rotorua
A short drive North from Taupo will take you to Rotorua, a town you will smell before you even get to see it. Well known for its bubbling hot pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs, Rotorua is rich in culture and has something for everyone. This geothermal wonderland has lots of geothermal activity, perfect for bathing and relaxing in at one of the many spas in the city. Head over to the Red Wood forest and spend a day amongst the ginormous trees with hiking trails and walks. Hungry? Head down to Eat street, along the main street in the city where you can grab a meal with a view!
Day 10Rotorua to Auckland
Your final leg of your road trip holiday will take you back up to Auckland. If you’re not in a hurry, take a pit stop in Hamilton and wonder through the Hamilton Gardens. Hamilton is known for its night life where you can wine, dine and dance the night away. Once you’ve explored Hamilton, continue North to your destination, Auckland. Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand with endless things to do, climb to the top of the iconic sky tower, if you’re a thrill seeker you can bungee from the top. Head over to the North shore for bougee stores and secluded beaches.
Travellers Autobarn is only a few minutes’ drive from the airport, making it easy to simply pick-up & return your campervan. When you hire your campervan with us, be sure to add on a porta potti which means your campervan will be self-contained and you have access to free camping grounds, also known as freedom camping – something that is becoming increasingly popular throughout New Zealand and for good reason, as who doesn’t love a good saving.
For other amazing road trip ideas on the New Zealand North Island please visit our North Island Road Trip section…
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