Auckland to Wellington is one of New Zealand’s most popular road trips, with a breathtaking landscape and plenty of activities to keep you entertained along the way. Driving from Auckland, you can witness the stunning scenery around Hahei, as well as take exciting side trips to Rotorua and Taupō. Finally, you’ll reach Hawke’s Bay, where you can explore beautiful wineries and coastal cafes and not forget – some of the best ice creams in the country. All these fantastic experiences culminate at the final destination of Wellington, which offers an array of culture and entertainment. Auckland to Wellington is an unforgettable experience with plenty of lifelong memories waiting to be made.

Auckland to Wellington Distance

A journey from Auckland to Wellington, two of New Zealand’s largest and most vibrant cities, covers an impressive 971 km. Although it can take up to 13 and a half hours by owned/rental car, the experience is often worth the effort. You can expect spectacular views of rolling green hills, crystal-clear lakes, and tranquil beaches – a visual feast as you traverse through stunning landscapes on your way across the country. So why not make a stop or two along this incredible route? Your share of memories is certainly guaranteed.

Quick stats

971km trip distance

10 day roadtrip

Campervan recommended

road trip map

Day 1-2: Auckland to Hahei

Travel Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Auckland cityscape, New Zealand

Make a start of your ten-day Wellington road trip itinerary from Auckland by journeying down to Hahei. This popular holiday destination is known for its gleaming white sand beaches with a sheltered aspect which results in extremely safe waters for swimming. If you seek an extra splash of excitement, Hot Water Beach, renowned for its geothermal springs that bubble up through the sand around low tide, lies 6km away. The top attractions in Hahei are Cathedral Cove, Hahei Beach, Stingray Bay and Te Pare Historical Reserve, giving you plenty to explore during your stay.

Sightseeing #1: Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove, located in Hahei on the Coromandel Peninsula, is renowned for its naturally formed archway carved by the salty sea. It is a stunningly picturesque setting that is best appreciated when sightseeing. A one-hour walk from North Hahei Beach will take travellers along a cliff top to the cove, where they can discover the picturesque view of the gigantic arched cavern and two secluded coves that join together as one. Visiting Cathedral Cove should be considered an essential part of any travel itinerary for The Coromandel as it is not often that you have an opportunity to witness such a special landmark.

Sightseeing #2: Hahei Beach

Hahei Beach is one of New Zealand’s natural wonders that offers many activities for beach lovers and those looking for an adventure. Situated off the coast of The Coromandel, Hahei’s golden sand beach is sheltered by offshore islands creating an ideal setting for swimming, boating, fishing and diving. Pohutukawa trees line the shore and a wide array of marine life can be found within its boundaries as well. Te Pare historic reserve lies at the southern end of the beach with plenty to explore. All of this makes Hahei Beach one of Coromandel’s most sought-after destinations for sightseeing, recreation and leisure.

Day 3-4: Hahei to Rotorua

Travel Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Thermal Wonderland Rotorua, New Zealand

Day 3 & 4 of your Auckland to Wellington, New Zealand road trip takes you to the stunning city of Rotorua, a unique destination that offers a range of fun and exciting activities. Famous for its geothermal wonders, such as bubbling mud pools and shooting geysers, Rotorua also showcases New Zealand’s fascinating Māori culture. You can explore lush green pastures and crystal clear streams along the Tarawera Trail, ending with a dip in steaming hot pools nestled within the Pacific Rim of Fire. From epic biking trails, walking trails, and thermal mud pools to simply soaking up some local culture, Rotorua is an ideal stop on anyone’s road trip!

Sightseeing #1: Polynesian Spa

Located near Ōwhatiura Bay, a visit to the Polynesian Spa is a must on any 10-Day Auckland to Wellington road trip. Home to New Zealand’s only hot and cold alkaline and acidic geothermal mineral spring bathing experience, it is no wonder why this spa has become one of the nation’s most iconic locations. Guests can enjoy exclusive access to both hot and cold pools, as well as a selection of unique spa treatments such as massage and body wraps designed for optimum relaxation. Whether you’re looking for a day of rejuvenation or simply an opportunity to unplug from daily life, let the restorative powers of Polynesian Spa melt away any stress or tension.

Sightseeing #2: Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village

Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village is one of the unique tourism experiences Rotorua has to offer visitors. Rooted in more than 700 years of Māori history, this living village provides a unique insight into the traditional lifestyle and culture of the Tuhourangi and Ngati Wahiao people. Its geothermal location also adds to its charm as you can witness natural hot pools and bubbling mud in their spectacular native state. This picturesque village predates the famed Pink and White Terraces which were tragically destroyed during an eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. Visiting the Whakarewarewa Living Maori Village is sure to be a memorable experience, brimming with natural wonder and profound insight into an ancient culture.

Day 5-6: Rotorua to Taupō

Travel Time: 4 hours
Rotoaira and Taupo lakes, Tongariro national park, North island of New Zealand

On days 5 & 6 of your 10-day Auckland to Wellington road trip, explore the delights of Taupō. Boasting some of New Zealand’s finest attractions, this town on the northeastern shore of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, is one to be remembered. Experience world-class walks overlooking the Huka Falls and taking in the epic views at Aratiatia Rapids, or upgrade your wellness routine with a relaxing waterside sauna and mud bath at Spa Thermal Park and Riverbank Recreational and Scenic Reserve. Step back in time with a visit to Craters of the Moon, a mesmerising geothermal park rich in volcanic activity, then discover beautiful reminders of ancient times with glimpses into Maori culture at The Maori Rock Carvings.

Sightseeing #1: Huka Falls

The awe-inspiring Huka Falls is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s most incredible and well-known attractions. It has been formed from water that travels through a large 100-metre-wide and four-metre-deep riverbed before constricting to a narrow river section that is only 15 metres in width and 10 metres deep. Most notable, however, are the eleven-metre high cliff that creates an astonishing 35ft drop in the falls. With an average daily flow rate of 160 cubic metres per second, this volume can fluctuate between 32 and 270 cubic metres per second to provide visitors with constantly changing views. Without a doubt, Huka Falls should be at the top of anyone’s list looking for spectacular sightseeing opportunities in Taupō.

Sightseeing #2: Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa

At the Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa in Taupō, travellers can experience a truly special place that has been revered for centuries by Maori for its natural healing properties. This spa offers visitors a unique opportunity to share in the ancient tradition of holistic medicine as they soak in mineral-rich thermal waters surrounded by magnificent silica terraces. Often referred to as ‘taking the waters’, these healing practices have attracted people from around the world since the turn of the last century and remain popular today due to their ability to provide long-lasting therapeutic benefits and superb relaxation.

Day 7-8: Taupō to Hawke's Bay

Travel Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Vineyard rows in Napier Hawkes Bay New Zealand

Day 7 & 8 of the Auckland to Wellington road trip brings you to Hawke’s Bay, a region that boasts beautiful soils and a temperate climate, making it a leading wine producer in New Zealand. Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and chardonnays are just some of the wines visitors can sample along the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail by bicycle. Touring cyclists also enjoy the benefit of 200km of flat cycle trails connecting up many of the area’s 30+ cellar doors and artisan producers. Popular attractions in Hawke’s Bay include Napier Prison, Mission Estate Winery, Te Mata Estate Winery, Te Awanga Estate and the Ahuriri Estuary Walking Track – all worth considering on a visit to this wonderful corner of the country.

Sightseeing #1: The National Aquarium of New Zealand

The National Aquarium of New Zealand, located on Napier’s Marine Parade, offers visitors a wealth of exhibits and activities related to saltwater, freshwater and land-dwelling animal life worldwide. The aquarium’s centrepiece is its magnificent 1.5 million litre Oceanarium, providing everyone with a unique chance to explore not just the species that inhabit the nearby Hawke Bay but also the interactions between them. And with a 50m travelator offering an underwater viewing tunnel experience, travellers can appreciate different forms of marine wildlife up close without having to leap into the aquatic realm itself. To ensure that your visit is both entertaining and informative, there are also interactive displays throughout to aid in furthering your knowledge about Australia’s wonderful wildlife.

Sightseeing #2: Mission Estate Winery

Mission Estate Winery provides visitors to Hawke’s Bay with a unique opportunity to experience the history of New Zealand through its award-winning wines and astounding iconography. Boasting a rich and unique heritage, Mission Estate has been growing grapes for more than 170 years and is a must-see destination for visitors looking to learn more about the origins of New Zealand winemaking. The winery offers tours, tastings and other activities throughout the day – perfect for those who are looking to discover more about this captivating area’s culture. Moreover, with opening hours from 9 am to midnight daily, it’s sure to cater to any schedule.

Day 9-10: Hawke's Bay to Wellington

Travel Time: 4 hours
Wellington Cable Car, North Island New Zealand

On the final leg of your 10-day road trip, make sure to get an early start as you make your journey from Hawke’s Bay to New Zealand’s capital near South Island, Wellington. At 326 km, it is quite a distance, but sailing along the New Zealand east coast and taking in the stunning vistas of rolling hills will remind you why it’s worth it. As soon as you check into your accommodation in Wellington, immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant arts and entertainment scene. Take time out to sample excellent coffee and local wine at award-winning restaurants and craft breweries, and enjoy cultural attractions such as the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Mount Victoria, Wellington Botanic Gardens, Wellington Cable Car, and City Gallery Wellington. There’s something for everyone in this UNESCO City of Film – so don’t miss out!

Sightseeing #1: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which takes its name from the Māori language and translates to “Our Container of Treasured Things and People from Mother Earth”, is an attraction that draws in vast numbers of tourists due to its vast cultural exhibits. It is a merger between two individual galleries, The National Art Gallery and The National Museum, combined under the umbrella of parliament in 1992. With over 1.5 million people visiting every year, this gallery has become New Zealand’s 17th-most-visited place for art, making it a must-see for all visitors to the city. Te Papa works closely on embracing bicultural philosophy across all its displays, helping ensure that all story behind the items being showcased is brought to life with purpose and emphasis.

Sightseeing #2: Wellington Cable Car

The Wellington Cable Car is a unique experience that has been captivating visitors to the city since 1902. An iconic landmark and engineering feat of its time, it takes just 5 minutes to travel up and over the Hillside terraced houses of Kelburn and provides breathtaking vistas of the city below. A total of three tunnels and bridges traverse as the railway ascends, offering remarkable panoramas of Wellington’s rolling hills and waterfront areas. The journey is a must-do for any visitor seeking an overview of what makes this city so special.

Happy Exploring!

Campervan on road in New Zealand during Golden Hour

For more information on hiring a campervan in Auckland, speak to the Travellers Autobarn Team or get a free online quote today!

For other amazing road trip ideas on the New Zealand North Island, please visit our North Island Road Trip section. Happy Exploring!

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