North Island Itinerary

The South Pacific’s largest city, Auckland, is the arrival point for many to the North Island, a place of endless natural beauty and fascinating South Pacific culture. There’s plenty to do in the big city, but so much more on offer out around the island’s regions and towns, as well.

North Island Explorer

Minimum Length Three weeks
Highlights Waitangi Treaty Grounds; Gold-mining history; Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach; Maori culture; White Island; Art Deco Napier; Lake Taupo; Tongariro National Park; Wairarapa wine country; Whanganui River; Mount Taranaki; Waitomo Caves.

Kick-start your adventure with a scenic drive north from Auckland to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. Discover an island-studded paradise and visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Take a trip to Cape Reinga before heading south. Back in Auckland, recharge the batteries with retail therapy, dining and a harbour cruise, and then travel to Whitianga; enjoy a myriad of water activities and hit the beach. Continue to the coastal settlements of Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.

Next on your itinerary is Rotorua, hot-spot of Maori culture and geothermal activity. After you’ve had your fill of hangi and hot pools, drive to Gisborne. Get up early to watch the sunrise from New Zealand’s easternmost town and enjoy the mix of surf and café culture. Further south is Napier, famous for Art Deco architecture and fine wines. Back inland, at Taupo, choose from outdoor activities such as fishing or visiting the Huka Falls. From here, drive the Desert Road to a slice of provincial life in Palmerston North, an ideal place to break the journey.

The next leg takes you east to the vineyards of Wairarapa on the way to New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Take a tour of Parliament, browse museums and explore the many shops, cafés, restaurants and bars in this cosmopolitan city! When you finally tear yourself away, head along the Kapiti Coast to Whanganui and explore the river. Travel northwest to Taranaki. In New Plymouth, under the gaze of Mount Taranaki, are cultural attractions and outdoor activities, complemented by shopping and dining.

Drive north to the Waitomo Caves and take your pick of caving experiences, then head to Hamilton before the easy drive north back to the gateway city of Auckland.