New Zealand North Island 32-Day Road Trip Itinerary + 10-Day Cruise

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In September and October 2018, we did a 32-day road trip around the North Island of New Zealand followed by a 10-day cruise that brought us back to Australia via the South Island of New Zealand. I know, 32 days seems like an awful lot to spend on just the New Zealand North Island, right? Especially considering we visit some of those same places again on the subsequent 10-day cruise home. However, there are actually so many places to see and things to do here that are often overlooked. We could easily have spent longer here, and there are places I want to go back to and spend some more time in!

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A quick question

What is your number one must see place, or wish list place to see on the North Island of New Zealand? Let me know in the comments after this article!


This article is all our own experience. Our bookings were all paid for by us, and no part of it was free or subsidised. That said, many of the links below are affiliate links, which means that I get a small commission if you click it and make a booking or purchase. I hope that you’ll use these links anytime you need to book a place to stay or activity! These small commissions help me to keep travelling so I can write and film more travel guides for you. I would never recommend anything I don’t or would not personally use!

Our Itinerary

Day 0

I call this day 0 because we haven’t left Australia yet. For us, we opted to spend the night at Sydney Airport so we didn’t have to get up quite so early for our morning flight to Wellington, New Zealand.

Sydney Airport view from our room
Sydney Airport view from our room

Day 1 - Sydney to Wellington to Greytown - 3hrs 10 mins flight + 87km's drive approx, 1hr, 30 mins + stops

  • Sydney to Wellington
  • Wellington
  • Upper Hutt
    • 35.8km’s from The Hop Garden, approx 31 mins.
    • Pick up some groceries at Pak’n’Save
  • Rimutaka Crossing Lookout
    • 20.7kms from Upper Hutt, approx 20 mins.
    • We planned to stop here but ended up skipping it as it was already dark by the time we passed this lookout, but it is definitely worth a stop if you are here during the day.
    • The winding road through the mountains is pretty hairy, and locals seem to think they have to do it at the speed limit, drive with caution.
  • Featherston
    • 10.5km’s from Rimutaka Crossing, approx 12 mins.
  • Greytown
    • 12.6km’s from Featherston, approx 10 mins.
  • Stay: Greyfriars Motel
    • Booked a Queen Room
    • Received a free upgrade to a Garden Studio (read my review)
    • NZD $135/night
Flying over New Zealand
Flying over New Zealand
Our lunch at The Hop Garden
Our lunch at The Hop Garden

Day 2 - Greytown to Cape Palliser return -  202km's drive, approx 3hr, 50 mins + stops

  • Martinborough
    • 19km’s from Greytown, approx 17 mins.
  • Lake Ferry
    • 35.5km’s from Martinborough, approx 32 mins.
  • Cape Palliser Lighthouse
    • 41.3km’s from Lake Ferry, approx 48 mins.
    • A short walk from the car park then climb 252 steps from the base to the lighthouse.
  • Ngawi
    • 6.6km’s from Cape Palliser Lighthouse, approx 12 mins.
  • Putangirua Pinnacles Reserve
    •  17.4km’s from Ngawi, approx 17 mins.
    • There is a rather confusing walking track from the car park to the Pinnacles, but you’ll find it if you follow the stream!
  • Greytown
    • 83.8km’s from the Putangirua Pinnacles Reserve, approx 1hr, 10 mins.
    • Via Lake Wairarapa, Western Lake Road.
  • Stay: Greyfriars Motel
Matt at Cape Palliser Lighthouse
Matt at Cape Palliser Lighthouse
Matt at the Putangirua Pinnacles
Matt at the Putangirua Pinnacles

Day 3 - Greytown (Work/Rest Day)

This was a work and chill in one place day for us (which I really recommend having once in a while) so we just explored some of the local attractions including:

Cobblestones Museum Greytown
Cobblestones Museum Greytown

Day 4 - Greytown to Masterton via Castlepoint - 159km's, approx 2 hrs, 41 mins + stops

  • Carterton
    • 8.2km’s from Greytown, approx 8 mins.
    • Paua World
      • A factory that produces a range of products using the New Zealand Paua shell.
      • The visitor centre has a range of Paua products available as well as information on the shell.
  • Masterton
    • 15.7km’s from Carterton, approx 17 mins.
    • Eat: Entice Cafe and Catering
      • Corner Bruce & Dixon Streets, Masterton
      • We stopped in here for breakfast and to get food to take out to Castlepoint for lunch.
      • They do amazing food here, so good!
      • They are opposite Queen Elizabeth Gardens which makes for a great outlook.
  • Castlepoint
    • 65.7km’s from Masterton, approx 1 hr, 6 mins.
    • Castlepoint Lighthouse
      • You’ll see it as you enter the town of Castlepoint.
      • Head all the way through the town until you find the car park near St Peters By The Sea.
      • From the car park, it’s a short walk, about 120m across the beach and up to the lighthouse.
    • Deliverance Cove Walk
      • 1hr 30 mins approximately at a leisurely pace.
      • The walking track on the opposite side of the car park from the lighthouse takes you around Deliverance Cove for some fantastic panoramic views.
      • You can do the circuit, or return the same way you came.
      • It’s easier going if you head through the forest and come back via the beach.
  • Masterton
    • 63km’s from Castlepoint to Henley Lake Park, approx 54 mins.
    • Henley Lake Park
      • This wasn’t somewhere we originally planned to stop, but it is on the way into Masterton and we had time.
    • Stay: Acorn Estate Motel
      • Studio Room
      • NZD $115/night
    • Eat: Tripoli Bistro
      • 452 Queen St, Masterton
      • A tiny little place in Masterton that does great food!
Salad at Entice Cafe Masterton
Salad at Entice Cafe Masterton
Matt at Castlepoint Lighthouse
Matt at Castlepoint Lighthouse
Deliverance Cove Walk
Deliverance Cove Walk
Henley Lake Park Masterton
Henley Lake Park Masterton

Day 5 - Masterton to Taihape via the longest place name in the world - 224km's, approx 3 hrs, 30 mins + stops

  • Masterton
    • Queen Elizabeth Park
  • ANZAC Bridge, Kaipororo
    • 34.1km’s from Masterton, approx 22 mins.
    • A historic bridge built by returning WW1 veterans.
    • It isn’t listed in Google Maps, but you can find it here, or by going to these coordinates: 40°42’13.9″S 175°39’31.1″E
    • Access to the bridge is on the Northern side of the new road bridge.
  • Woodville
    • 49km’s from the Kaipororo ANZAC Bridge, approx 34 mins.
  • Herbertville
    • 91km’s from Woodville, approx 1 hr, 25 mins.
    • This little town is the ‘gateway’ to a beautiful beach. There isn’t much else here though.
    • I would consider getting fuel in Herbertville if you are on the low side because there is not a lot until Waipukurau.
  • Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu
    • 23.9km’s from Herbertville, approx 25 mins.
    • Also known as the Longest Place Name in the world.
    • Google Maps doesn’t know where this is, but you can find it here or by going to “748-382 Wimbledon Rd, Porangahau 4292, New Zealand
  • Whangaehu Beach
    • Approx 25km’s from the longest place name, or about 30 mins. Google Maps is unable to get directions so I’m not 100% sure.
    • The turn off for it is just before the town of Porangahau.
  • Porangahau
    • 20km’s from Whangaehu Beach, approx 25 mins.
    • There is fuel at a mechanic here (Porangahau Garage) and it only operates while the store is open, so don’t get caught out like we almost did!
  • Waipukurau
    • 45km’s from Porangahau, approx 45 mins.
    • Lots of fuel here.
  •  Norsewood
    • 34.4km’s from Waipukurau, approx 25 mins.
    • We didn’t stop here, but keep an eye out for the Viking signs.
  • Dannevirke
    • 19.4km’s from Norsewood, approx 15 mins.
    • The viking theme continues through this town.
    • We didn’t stop here either.
  • Woodville (again)
    • 28km’s from Dannevirke, approx 20 mins.
    • This just happens to be the quickest way to Palmerston North after a long detour via the longest place name.
  • Ashhurst
    • 16.4km’s from Woodville, approx 18 mins.
    • We took Saddle Road and got to see Te Apiti Wind Farm.
    • State Highway 3, Napier Road (which follows the river and doesn’t involve climbing mountains), is the preferred route, but it was closed when we came through.
    • The wind farm route is pretty cool though as you are often as high as the blades on some of the big wind turbines.
  • Palmerston North
    • 14.2km’s from Ashhurst, approx 15 mins.
    • The Square
      • Right at the heard of Palmerston North.
      • Lovely gardens as well as the war memorial and Hopwood Clock Tower.
    • Victoria Esplanade Gardens
      • A must see in Palmerston North during cherry blossom season.
      • There is a miniature railway here. 
      • We were here while the cherry blossoms were in flower and it was spectacular!
  • Apiti
    • 63.1km’s from the Victoria Esplanade Gardens, approx 60 mins.
    • We didn’t stop here, but we used it as a waypoint on the GPS to follow the Manawatu scenic route to Taihape.
  • Mangaweka
    • 40km’s from Apiti, approx 45 mins.
    • The Manawatu Scenic Route is pretty spectacular, if you can see it. It got dark just as we started onto it though so we missed a lot of it.
    • Definitely drive this route during daylight for some beautiful vistas,
  • Taihape
    • 19.6km’s from Mangaweka, approx 15 mins.
    • If you arrive after 7pm like we did, there isn’t a lot open for dinner. There is however, a new McDonalds that does stay open late.
    • Stay: Safari Motel
      • Kitchen Studio Unit
      • NZD $126/night
Queen Elizabeth Park - Masterton
Queen Elizabeth Park - Masterton
The Hosking Garden at Queen Elizabeth Park
The Hosking Garden at Queen Elizabeth Park
Kaipororo Anzac Bridge
Kaipororo Anzac Bridge
The Longest Place Name
The Longest Place Name
Whangaehu Beach
Whangaehu Beach
Te Apiti Wind Farm
Te Apiti Wind Farm
Palmerston North War Memorial
Palmerston North War Memorial
The Square Edge - Palmerston North
The Square Edge - Palmerston North
Victoria Esplanade Cherry Blossoms - Palmerston North
Victoria Esplanade Cherry Blossoms - Palmerston North

Day 6 - Taihape to Napier via Gentle Annie - 247km's, approx 5 hrs, 11 mins + stops (excluding backtracking to Mangaweka)

  • Mangaweka Camping Grounds
    • 21km’s from Taihape, approx 16 mins.
    • From the campground you get a great view of the river, cliffs and bridge.
    • We backtracked here so we could get a proper look at some of what we missed the night before.
  • Taihape
    • The Giant Gumboot
      • Tying in with annual gumboot day in Taihape, you can’t miss the giant gumboot.
      • It’s on the way out of the northern side of the town.
  • Springvale Suspension Bridge
    • 41.5km’s from Taihape, approx 50 mins.
    • Follow the Gentle Annie route.
    • Historic suspension bridge over the Rangitikei River at Erehwon (Nowhere).
  • Hastings
    • 103km’s from Springvale Suspension Bridge, approx 2 hts. 
    • Rush Munro’s Ice Creamery
      • Famous for making great ice cream using local produce.
    • Civic Square
      • The war memorial is located here.
      • There is also a number of traditional Maori sculptures around the park which are quite interesting.
  • Havelock North
    • Te Mata Peak
      • 13km’s from Hastings, approx 22 mins.
      • You can drive all the way to the peak, or park at various points and walk. We drove.
      • The road to the peak is narrow, often only one lane wide with long drops off the edge, so drive with care.
    • Maraetotara Falls
      • 20.3km’s from Te Mata Peak, approx 26 mins.
      • Beautiful twin falls.
      • A short walk from the car park on a dirt track.
      • We were delayed on the way here as first responders after almost being run into by a car that lost control around a bend and ran off the road.
  • Ocean Beach
    • 8.5 km’s from Maraetotara Falls, approx 10 mins.
  • Napier
    • 37.1km’s from Ocean Beach, approx 35 mins.
    • Stay: The Nautilus
      • Executive Studio with Spa
      • NZD $249/night
    • Eat: Room service from Burton’s Restaurant
      • Not what we originally planned, but we were pretty shaken up after the car accident earlier and so were eager to chill and not go anywhere.
      • The full menu is not available every night, but the simpler options are still very good.
Rangitikei River, Mangaweka
Rangitikei River, Mangaweka
The Giant Gumboot at Taihape
The Giant Gumboot at Taihape
Springvale Suspension Bridge, New Zealand
Springvale Suspension Bridge, New Zealand
Hastings Maori Sculptures
Hastings Maori Sculptures
The view from Te Mata Peak
The view from Te Mata Peak
Maraetotara Falls
Maraetotara Falls

Day 7 - Napier (Work/Rest Day)

We spent the first day in Napier working and enjoying our room and view over the ocean.

  • Napier
    • Stay: The Nautilus
      • Executive Studio with Spa
      • NZD $249/night
    • Eat: Indigo Indian Restaurant
      • 24A Hastings St, Napier
      • These guys do fantastic Indian cuisine, including great vegan options. Definitely try some of the options that are a little bit different from the everyday curries.
Nautilus Napier View
Nautilus Napier View
Vegan Dinner at Indigo Napier
Vegan Dinner at Indigo Napier

Day 8 - Napier (Work/Rest Day)

Day 8 was a work and rest day for us, but we squeezed in some awesome sights in the morning as well!

  • Napier
    • Sunrise walk along the Esplanade to Tom Parker Fountain and back to our hotel via the CBD. Definitely see the Veronica Sunbay at sunrise.
    • Eat: Breakfast at Burton’s Restaurant.
      • Choose from the ala carte menu, or the buffet.
    • Shopping
      • We did a little bit of browsing around town after lunch.
    • Stay: The Nautilus
      • Executive Studio with Spa
      • NZD $249/night
    • Eat: Room service from Burton’s Restaurant
      • We didn’t really feel like going out again, and the room service food is pretty good!
Sunrise at Veronica Sunbay Napier
Sunrise at Veronica Sunbay Napier
Art Deco Centre Napier
Art Deco Centre Napier
Nautilus Napier Room Service Dinner
Nautilus Napier Room Service Dinner

Day 9 - Napier (Work/Rest Day)

Day 9 was also a work and rest day for us, but we did decide to head out after lunch and check out Cape Kidnappers, sort of. We were originally going to visit it on the way to Napier, but as we were delayed with the car accident we had to skip it.

  • Napier
    • Eat: The Black Shed
      • 36 Awatoto Rd, Meeanee
      • We had a tasty afternoon tea from the cafe here and did some shopping for local produce.
  • Havelock North
    • Arataki Honey
      • 21.8km’s from Napier, approx 21 mins.
      • Try out all of the different kinds of honey produced by the Arataki Honey company, including some uniquely New Zealand varieties and the world famous Manuka Honey.
  • Te Awanga
    • 15.4km’s from Arataki Honey, approx 16 mins.
    • You go through this little town on the way to Clifton. There isn’t much here, but there are some great views out to Cape Kidnappers and Napier from the beach here.
  • Clifton
    • 2.7km’s from Te Awanga, approx 5 mins.
    • This is as close to Cape Kidnappers as you can get by car. It was too late for us to do the 17.5km walk the rest of the way.
  • Napier
    • 22.7km’s from Clifton, approx 25 mins.
    • Stay: The Nautilus
      • Executive Studio with Spa
      • NZD $249/night
    • Eat: Indigo Indian Restaurant
      • 24A Hastings St, Napier
      • We enjoyed our dinner here so much a few nights before so we decided to come back!
    • Tom Parker Fountain
      • The fountain gets lit up at night and worth seeing at least once as the colours and patterns change.
Morning Tea at the Black Shed
Morning Tea at the Black Shed
Arataki Honey
Arataki Honey
A Queen Bee at Arataki Honey
A Queen Bee at Arataki Honey
Clifton and Cape Kidnappers in the Background
Clifton and Cape Kidnappers in the Background
Indigo Indian Restaurant Dinner
Indigo Indian Restaurant Dinner
Tom Parker Fountain at Night
Tom Parker Fountain at Night

Day 10 - Napier to Gisborne - 306km's, approx 5 hrs, 14 mins + stops

  • Napier
    • The Spirit of Napier
  • Tangoio Beach
    • 25.8km’s from Napier, approx 27 mins.
    • Put in 4 Beach Rd, Tangoio in Google Maps.
  • Waipatiki Beach
    • 13.6km’s from Tangoio Beach, approx 20 mins.
  • Lake Tutira
    • 22.4km’s from Waipatiki Beach, approx 32 mins.
  • Shine Falls
    • 20km’s from Lake Tutira, approx 26 mins.
    • 653 Heay’s Access Rd, Putorino.
    • The last 6km’s or so of the access road is gravel.
    • The walk into the falls is about 45 minutes each way and does pass through private land. There are also some cliff drops so watch out for children!
  • Wairoa
    • 76.5km’s from Shine Falls, approx 1 hr, 12 mins.
    • It’s worth a drive out to the river mouth and Historic Reserve.
    • The drive out to the Historic Reserve is about 4km’s or 7 mins.
  • Mahia
    • 56.1km’s from Wairoa, approx 52 mins.
  • Gisborne
    • 87.3km’s from Mahia, approx 1 hr, 18 mins.
    • Stay: Airbnb – Private Cosy Caravan
      • AUD $69.72/night
    • Eat: Burger Wisconsin
      • 26 Gladstone Rd
      • Really enjoyed their vegetarian burgers and chips!
The Spirit of Napier Statue
The Spirit of Napier Statue
Lake Tutira
Lake Tutira
Matt at Shine Falls
Matt at Shine Falls
Sunset at Mahia Beach
Sunset at Mahia Beach

Day 11 - Gisborne to Hicks Bay - 235km's, approx 3 hrs, 53 mins + stops

  • Gisborne
    • Captain Cook Statue
    • Young Nick Statue
    • Titirangi Domain
    • Eat: Yoko Sushi
      • 87 Grey St
      • We got takeaway lunch, and it also ended up being dinner.
      • They make much more than just sushi, and it is delicious.
  • Pouawa
    • 20.4km’s from Gisborne, approx 19 mins.
    • Te Tapuwae o Rongokaka Marine Reserve – apparently the snorkelling here is good, but we didn’t have the time.
  • Tolaga Bay
    • 33.9km’s from Pouawa, approx 26 mins.
    • Tolaga Bay Wharf
      • Built in the 1920’s and reaching 600m in length, the Tolaga Bay Wharf is the longest on the North Island and the second longest in New Zealand.
    • Kaiaua Bay
      • 13.5km’s from Tolaga Bay, approx 18 mins.
      • It’s one way in and out of Kaiaua Bay and unless you surf, there is not a lot here. We love to see as much of the coast as possible though, which is what brought us in here.
  • Anaura Bay
    • 23.2km’s from Kaiuaua Bay, approx 26 mins.
    • This beautiful bay is one of the places that Captain Cook landed in New Zealand.
  • Tokomaru Bay
    • 28.9km’s from Anaura Bay, approx 28 mins.
    • Another old town with a big old wharf along this rugged coastline.
    • There are a lot of old shipping buildings in the wharf district. Much of it is inaccessible to the public but quite interesting to see how much industry used to be here.
  • Waipiro Bay
    • 17.3km’s from Tokomaru Bay, approx 19 mins.
    • Off the main road, Waipiro Bay used to be the largest town in the region, until the road bypassed it.
  • Tikitiki
    • St Mary’s Church
  • Lottin Point
    • 97km’s from Waipiro Bay, approx 1 hr, 34 mins.
    • Stay: Lottin Point Motel
      • AUD $69.72/night
      • Don’t follow the Google Maps all the way to the motel, it isn’t in the right place. Instead, get directions to 365 Lottin Point Rd, Lottin Point.
    • Eat: Remaining sushi from lunch
      • The only dining option in Lottin Point is the restaurant at Lottin Point Motel, so you will need to ensure you bring your own food, or be here during restaurant hours if you need food!
Nicks Statue in Gisborne
Nicks Statue in Gisborne
Captain Cook Statue in Gisborne
Captain Cook Statue in Gisborne
Gisborne From Titirangi Domain
Gisborne From Titirangi Domain
Pouawa Beach
Pouawa Beach
Matt at the end of Tolaga Bay Wharf
Matt at the end of Tolaga Bay Wharf
Cooks Landing Place Anaura Bay
Cooks Landing Place Anaura Bay
St Marys Church Tikitiki
St Marys Church Tikitiki

Day 12 - Hicks Bay to Opotiki - 234km's, approx 4 hrs, 28 mins + stops

  • Lottin Point
    • We left the Lottin Point Motel at 6:15 am to see the bay. We left Lottin Point itself at 7:00 am.
  • East Cape Lighthouse
    • 54.2km’s from Lottin Point, approx 1 hr, 22 mins.
    • This is the most easterly point on mainland New Zealand.
    • There is a climb of about 700 steps to the top.
    • If you are up bright and early, you can catch the first sunrise in New Zealand here. We were going to, but we ended up sleeping in until 6 and missed it!
  • Te Araroa
    • 20.2km’s from Pouawa, approx 28 mins.
    • Te Waha O Rerekohu – The Oldest Pohutukawa Tree
      • Moana Parade, Te Araroa
      • 21m high by 40m wide!
      • It is located beside the school of the same name.
  • Hicks Bay
    • 12km’s from Te Araroa, approx 12 mins.
    • Onepoto Beach
  • Oruaiti Beach
    • 40.3km’s from Hicks Bay, approx 37 mins.
  • Waihau Bay
    • 3.8km’s from Oruaiti Beach, approx 3 mins.
    • Anglican Church of Raukokore
  • Te Kaha
    • 35.9km’s from Waihau Bay, approx 34 mins.
  • Opotiki
    • 66.4km’s from Te Kaha, approx 57 mins.
    • Stay: Ranui Motel
      • Studio Room
      • NZD $120/night
    • Eat: Kashish Indian Cuisine
      • This is a really unique restaurant located in the old Masonic Lodge. It genuinely is like a maze inside, especially if you enter via the signed entrance for Kashish.
      • Make sure to enter via the pub entrance instead!
Matt at East Cape Lighthouse
Matt at East Cape Lighthouse
The view to East Island from East Cape Lighthouse
The view to East Island from East Cape Lighthouse
Hicks Bay Wharf
Hicks Bay Wharf
View to White Island from Te Kaha
View to White Island from Te Kaha
Kashish Indian Restuarant at the Masonic Hotel Opotiki
Kashish Indian Restuarant at the Masonic Hotel Opotiki

Day 13 - Opotiki to Tauranga - 174km's, approx 2 hrs, 53 mins + stops

  • Opotiki
    • We took the opportunity to drive around the town.
    • There isn’t a lot to see outside of the historic town centre. The old Masonic Lodge that houses Kashish Indian Cuisine is definitely one of the most interesting places here.
  • Ohiwa Beach
    • 13km’s from Opotiki, approx 13 mins.
    • There isn’t a lot at this beach, but it does have great views out to White Island!
  • Ohope Beach
    • 28km’s from Ohiwa Beach, approx 24 mins.
    • The Eastern end of this little town is partially is situated on a peninsula with a beautiful ocean beach on the North and wetlands on the South.
    • The beach and town continues to the West, almost all the way to Whakatane.
  • Kohi Point Lookout
    • 8km’s from Ohope Beach, approx 12 mins.
    • We spent a lot more time in Ohope Beach than anticipated, so we didn’t go all the way in to the lookout.
    • There is, however, another lookout on the road to Kohi Point.
    • It’s just after you turn off for Kohi Point Lookout and affords a beautiful vista across the Bay of Plenty.
  • Whakatane
    • 7.2km’s from Kohi Point, approx 11 mins.
    • Eat: L’Epicerie
      • 73 The Strand
      • L’Epicerie is a French bakery and they do some fantastic fare. It’s well worth stopping in for a bite to eat!
    • Whakatane Heads
      • We took our lunch out to Whakatane Heads to eat. It’s a beautiful location.
      • Whakatane Heads is also the historic landing place of both Maori and European explorers.
    • Muriwai’s Cave
  • Rotorua
    • 89km’s from Whakatane, approx 1 hr, 20 mins.
    • You will pass a number of gorgeous lakes on the way, including: Lake Rotoma, Lake Rotoehu, and Lake Rotoiti. We didn’t stop at any due to time constraints, but you definitely may wish to.
    • Rotorua Markets
      • Check what’s on during your visit. There are all kinds of markets here throughout the year.
    • Lakeland Queen Lunch Cruise
      • NZD $55 pp
      • The Lakeland Queen is a heritage-styled stern wheel paddle-driven vessel, the only one of it’s kind in New Zealand.
      • The cruise includes a buffet lunch and leisurely cruise around the lake.
      • If you have never seen the lake surrounds before, it is a great way to experience it.
    • Sulphur Point
      • A small sample of what the geothermal activity around Rotorua is like (and it’s free).
    • Hatupatu Dr and Scenic Point
    • Kuirau Park
      • Free entry.
      • Often overlooked in favour of well-known geothermal parks like Wai-O-Tapu, Kuirau Park is located in the centre of Rotorua and is a great place to experience geothermal activity without the price tag.
      • Put your feet in a surprisingly hot geothermal pool, something you can’t do at the paid geothermal parks.
      • Explore boiling mud pools and steaming ponds.
  • Hamurana Springs Nature Reserve
    • 17km’s from Rotorua, approx 19 mins.
    • There is an entry fee to this reserve which is known for it’s crystal clear waters.
    • Unless you plan on spending a lot of time here though, the fee is quite steep in our opinion.
    • Fortunately, you can see the beautifully clear waters from the bridge outside, which is what we did.
  • Okere Falls
    • 10.3km’s from Hamurana Springs, approx 10 mins.
    • The site of New Zealand’s first hydro-electric power station.
    • There is a short walk in to the first viewing point from the car park.
  • Te Puke
    • 36.2km’s from Okerere Falls, approx 26 mins.
      • The home of the big kiwifruit and a major kiwifruit growing region.
  • Tauranga
    • 25.6km’s from Te Puke, approx 24 mins.
    • Stay: Quest on Durham
      • One bedroom apartment
      • NZD $210/night
Bay of Plenty from the road to Kohi Point Lookout
Bay of Plenty from the road to Kohi Point Lookout
Whakatane Heads
Whakatane Heads
Lakeland Queen Rotorua
Lakeland Queen Rotorua
Boiling Mud at Kuirau Park Rotorua
Boiling Mud at Kuirau Park Rotorua
Geothermal Pools at Kuirau Park Rotorua
Geothermal Pools at Kuirau Park Rotorua
Hamurana Springs Crystal Clear Water
Hamurana Springs Crystal Clear Water
Okere Falls
Okere Falls
The big kiwifruit at Seeka outside Te Puke
The big kiwifruit at Seeka outside Te Puke

Day 14 - Tauranga (Work/Rest Day)

Day 14 was almost entirely a work and rest day. So we got up early to watch the sunrise from our balcony at Quest on Durham. Otherwise, we just went out for a walk along the foreshore to get lunch.

  • Tauranga
    • Watch the sunrise
    • Walk along the city foreshore
    • Eat: The Cottage Cafe
      • 20 Second Ave, Tauranga
    • Stay: Quest on Durham
      • One bedroom apartment
      • NZD $210/night
Our bedroom at Quest on Durham
Our bedroom at Quest on Durham
Our View from Quest on Durham
Our View from Quest on Durham

Day 15 - Tauranga (Work/Rest Day)

Day 15 was also almost entirely a work and rest day. So we got up early to watch the sunrise from our balcony at Quest on Durham. Otherwise, we went out for a drive at lunchtime. We went out to Mount Maunganui where we got lunch at the Bayfair shopping centre. We made our way down Papamoa Beach, and then across to Bethlehem to check out a health food store before making our way back to Quest on Durham to get some work done for the rest of the afternoon.

Sunrise from our balcony at Quest on Durham
Sunrise from our balcony at Quest on Durham
Papamoa Beach Library
Papamoa Beach Library
Motiti Island from Papamoa Beach
Motiti Island from Papamoa Beach

Day 16 - Tauranga to Taupo - 162km's, approx 2 hrs, 33 mins + stops

  • Tauranga
    • Sunrise foreshore walk
      • We had some stunning sunrises while we were in Tauranga, and this was one of the best!
    • Eat: Bethlehem Hot Bake (aka Bakers of Bethlehem)
      • 6.9km’s from Quest on Durham, approx 7 mins.
      • 225 State Highway 2,  Bethlehem, Tauranga
      • Right next to Bethlehem Health & Tea Shop and recommended to us by them.
      • Drop in here for breakfast on your way through.
      • They make amazing bakery food, make sure you get some of their doughnuts for later, they aren’t round like a normal doughnut and they are unbelievably amazing!!! It’s a tough call, but possibly the best doughnut’s we’ve ever tasted, and we’ve tasted a lot of doughnuts all over the world…
  • Rotorua
    • 63.4km’s from Bethlehem, approx 1 hr.
    • Government Gardens
      • Rotorua’s iconic gardens.
    • Redwoods Tree Walk
      • We didn’t think we had time to do the actual tree walk, but the forest is beautiful and worth visiting regardless. It turns out we would have had time to do the shorter walk.
  • NZ RiverJet Thermal Safari
    • 48.4km’s from Rotorua, approx 37 mins.
    • 1 Tutukau Rd, Mihi
    • Race up the Waikato River, through Tutukau Gorge to Orakei Korako geothermal park
    • A very unique experience.
  • Taupo
    • 33.9km’s from NZ RiverJet, approx 24 mins.
    • Taupo McDonalds
      • 48 Roberts St, Taupo
      • Voted the world’s coolest McDonalds.
      • Features a decommissioned DC3 Plane as part of the restaurant.
    • Eat: Kefi
      • 47 Horomatangi St, Taupo
      • Delicious, healthy food and sweet treats.
    • Stay: Tiny House – Airbnb
      • AUD $85.13 / night
      • Paid for with an Airbnb super host bonus voucher.
Hairy Mclary at Dawn in Tauranga
Hairy Mclary at Dawn in Tauranga
Rotorua Museum at Government Gardens
Rotorua Museum at Government Gardens
Matt at Orakei Korako Geothermal Park in New Zealand
Matt at Orakei Korako Geothermal Park in New Zealand
DC3 at Taupo McDonalds
DC3 at Taupo McDonalds

Day 17 - Taupo (Work/Rest Day)

Day 17 for us was mostly a chill out and catch up on some work day while enjoying the tiny house we stayed in. We did, however, walk to the nearby Waipahihi Botanic Gardens which is definitely worth checking out.

  • Taupo
    • Waipahihi Botanic Gardens
    • Free entry.
  • Stay: Tiny House – Airbnb
    • AUD $85.13 / night
    • Partly paid for with an Airbnb super host bonus voucher.
  • Eat: Waterside Restaurant and Bar
    • 3 Tongariro St, Taupo
    • These guys do great food if you are looking for a nice night out. 
Sunset from Waipahihi Botanic Gardens
Sunset from Waipahihi Botanic Gardens
Blue Cheese and Fig Cheesecake at Taupo Waterside Restaurant and Bar
Blue Cheese and Fig Cheesecake at Taupo Waterside Restaurant and Bar

Day 18 - Taupo to National Park - 175km's, approx 2 hrs, 16 mins + stops

  • Taupo
    • Huka Falls Jet Boat
      • NZD $129.00 / person
      • We found the best price on Viator and booked there.
    • Eat: Kefi @ The Hub
      • 415 Huka Falls Rd, Wairakei Park
      • Like their in town counterpart you can get a great, healthy meal here.
      • There is also an old helicopter here you can check out.
    • Aratiatia Rapids
      • Parking available near the Rapids Road Bridge.
      • A short walk in to the lower rapids lookout.
      • Only visible when the gates are open at set times each day.
      • Check the opening times here.
    • Huka Falls
      • A short walk across the river and out to the falls from the carpark.
      • You can watch the Huka Falls Jet Boat from here.
  • Waiouru
    • 112km’s from Taupo, approx 1 hr 29 mins.
    • On the way to Waiouru you will pass the Waiouru Military Area and if you are lucky, you might see some military exercises under way.
    • If you don’t turn immediately towards Ohakune and continue to drive through the town you will pass the National Army Museum which has a number of tanks and armoured vehicles on show outside.
  • Ohakune
    • 27.4km’s from Waiouru, approx 22 mins.
  • National Park
    • 35.5km’s from Ohakune, approx 26 mins.
    • Stay: The Park Hotel Ruapehu
      • NZD $145 / night
      • Queen Room
    • Eat: 
      • The room has very little cooking facilities and is designed to encourage you to dine at the hotel restaurant. We were planning on eating food we had with us though, and fortunately there is a kettle which we used to boil water for instant noodles we had with us.
Huka Falls Jet Boat
Huka Falls Jet Boat
The Hub, Taupo
The Hub, Taupo
Matt at the Aratiatia Rapids
Matt at the Aratiatia Rapids
Mount Ruapehu from Highway 1
Mount Ruapehu from Highway 1
National Army Museum Waiouru
National Army Museum Waiouru
Welcome to Ohakune
Welcome to Ohakune

Day 19 - National Park

  • National Park
  • Turoa, Mt Ruapehu
    • 54km’s from National Park, approx 45 mins.
    • Sightseeing Passes – $35.00 / person
  • Whakapa, Mt Ruapehu
    • 75km’s from Turoa, approx 1 hr 10 mins.
    • Sightseeing Passes – $25.00 / person
      • We spent too long at Turoa and didn’t have enough time to go up the gondola here too.
      • Mt Ruapehu Website
    • The iconic Chateau Tongariro is on the way to Whakapapa.
  • National Park
Matt at the top of the Turoa sightseeing chair lift
Matt at the top of the Turoa sightseeing chair lift
Whakapapa Skiing
Whakapapa Skiing
Chateau Tongariro
Chateau Tongariro

Day 20 - National Park to New Plymouth - 231km's, approx 3 hrs, 15 mins + stops ​

  • National Park
  • Piriaka
    • 31.6km’s from National Park, approx 21 mins.
  • Taumarunui
    • 10.4km’s from National Park, approx 10 mins.
  • Whangamomona
    • 6km’s from Taumaranui, approx 5 mins.
  • Stratford
    • 61.7km’s from Whangamomona, approx 52 mins.
    • Eat: The Wall Cafe & Restaurant
      • 200 Broaway, Stratford
    • Glockenspiel Clock Tower
      • Performs daily at 10am, 1pm, 3pm & 7pm.
  • New Plymouth
    • 39.8km’s from Stratford, approx 33 mins.
    • The Wind Wand
    • New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
    • Len Lye Centre
    • Paritutu Rock
    • Mt Moturoa Domain
    • Stay: The Devon Hotel
      • NZD $170 / night
      • Deluxe King Studio
    • Eat: Rig 66, New Plymouth
      • 280 Devon St E
The Old World Highway
The Old World Highway
Hobbits Hole
Hobbits Hole
Stratford Glockanspiel Tower
Stratford Glockanspiel Tower

Day 21 - New Plymouth (Work/Rest Day)

  • New Plymouth
  • Waitara
    • 15.1km’s from New Plymouth, approx 14 mins.
    • Beach and Marine Park
    • Waitara Floral Studio and Gifts.
      • A lovely little gift shop selling lots of local produce from the Taranaki region.
  • Bell Block Beach
    • 11km’s from Waitara, approx 13 mins.
  • North Egmont Visitor Centre, Mt Taranaki
    • 30km’s from Bell Block, approx 30 mins.
    • Unfortunately, it was closed when we visited.
  • New Plymouth
    • Eat: Koby’s Kitchen
      • 221 Devon St E, New Plymouth
      • Absolutely amazing dim sims, dumplings and spring rolls.
    • Eat: Egmont St Deli
      • 43 Egmont St, New Plymouth
      • Delicious cafe style food.
    • Stay: The Devon Hotel
      • NZD $170 / night
      • Deluxe King Studio
Our room at the Devon Hotel New Plymouth
Our room at the Devon Hotel New Plymouth
Sunset from our room at the Devon Hotel New Plymouth
Sunset from our room at the Devon Hotel New Plymouth

Day 22 - New Plymouth (Work/Rest Day)

  • New Plymouth
    • Eat: Giles Chocolatier
      • 169 St Aubyn Street,
        New Plymouth
      • Absolutely amazing local chocolatier.
      • Definitely try a hot chocolate.
      • If you like blue cheese, make sure to try the blue cheese truffles. MIND BLOWING!
    • Eat: The Good Home
      • 21 Ariki St, New Plymouth
      • We got dinner here. Really great food.
  • Stay: The Devon Hotel
    • NZD $170 / night
    • Deluxe King Studio

Day 23 - New Plymouth to Waitomo - 220km's, approx 3 hrs, 27 mins + stops

  • New Plymouth
    • Pukekura Park
    • Te Rewarewa Bridge
    • Bell Block Beach
    • Waitara Marine Park
  • Urenui
    • 21.3km’s from Waitara, approx 21 mins.
  • White Cliffs
    • 17.5km’s from Urenui, approx 20 mins.
  • Tongaporutu
    • 43.4km’s from White Cliffs, approx 40 mins.
    • The Three Sisters
    • Elephant Rock
  • Awakino Heads
    • 20.4km’s from Tongaporutu, approx 17 mins.
  • Piopio
    • 52km’s from Awakino Heads, approx 42 mins.
  • Waitanguru Falls
    • 20km’s from Piopio, approx 26 mins.
    • There is a short walk, about 200 metres down steps and a steep slope.
    • Allow about 10 minutes each way.
  • Waitomo
    • 22km’s from Waitanguru Falls, approx 30 mins.
    • Stay: Waitomo Big Bird Bed & Breakfast
      • NZD $110 / night
      • Queen Ensuite Homestead Room.
      • Delicious, home made breakfast included.
      • If you arrive earlier, there is a miniature animal tour too.

Day 24 - Waitomo to Hamilton - 194km's, approx 3 hrs, 57 mins + stops

  • Waitomo
    • Waitomo Caves
      • Glow Worm Cave Tour
      • NZD $45.90 / person
      • Every half hour during opening hours.
  • Mangapohue Natural Bridge
    • 24.4km’s from Waitomo, approx 32 mins.
    • 700m loop walk, approx 45 minutes.
  • Marokopa Falls
    • 5km’s from Mangapohue Natural Bridge, approx 7 mins.
  • Kawhia Hot Water Beach
    • 61.8km’s from Marokopa Falls, approx 1 hour, 20 mins.
    • There is apparently a hot water spring here somewhere. We couldn’t find it though!
    • The beach is still quite pretty nevertheless with some massive sand dunes.
  • Bridal Veil Falls
    • 36km’s from Kawhia Hot Water Beach, approx 60 mins.
    • 30-40 minute walk each way to the bottom and back.
  • Raglan
    • 20km’s from Bridal Veil Falls, approx 21 mins.
    • We were treated to gorgeous sunset here, and there are some amazing white sandy beaches.
  • Hamilton
    • 46.4km’s from Raglan, approx 41 mins.

Day 25 - Hamilton to Pukehina Beach - 178km's, approx 2 hrs, 34 mins + stops

  • Hamilton
  • Tirau
    • 50.9km’s from Hamilton, approx 37 mins.
    • Big Tin Sheep and Ram
    • Big Tin Dog
    • Big tin structures everywhere!
  • Putaruru Blue Spring
    • 12.5km’s from Tirau, approx 13 mins.
    • Stunning clear spring waters!
    • When you leave here, head back the way you came. Google Maps thinks the other way goes through and is much shorter, but it turns into a gated private road.
  • Mamaku Blueberries
    • 33.8km’s from Putaruru Blue Spring, approx 27 mins.
    • We actually didn’t stop here. We decided to keep moving and get to our destination a little earlier, plus it turns out, we went here way back in 2013 and forgot about it!!
    • They do delicious blueberry ice cream 🙂
  • Pukehina Beach
    • 74.4km’s from Mamaku Blueberries, approx 1 hour.
    • Stay: Kingfisher Beach House
      • 18 Pukehina Parade, Pukehina Beach
      • NZD $416.67 / night

Day 26 - Pukehina Beach (Rest Day)

  • Pukehina Beach
    • Chill out and enjoy the beach!

Day 27 - Pukehina Beach (Rest Day)

  • Pukehina Beach
    • Chill out some more.

Day 28 - Pukehina Beach to Waihi Beach - 111km's, approx 1 hr, 36 mins + stops

  • Pukehina Beach
    • Pukehina Beach SLSC
    • Dotterel Point Reserve
  • Bledisloe Park
    • 25km’s from Pukehina Beach, approx 24 mins.
    • Opposite side of the Waihi Estuary from Pukehina.
  • Maketu
    • 3.2km’s from Bledisloe Park, approx 5 mins.
    • Views across Maketu Estuary.
  • Te Puke
    • 14.5km’s from Maketu, approx 14 mins.
    • We just went via Te Puke to avoid the toll road.
  • Tauranga
    • Motiti Reserve
      • 14km’s from Te Puke, approx 15 mins.
      • The South-Eastern end of Papamoa Beach.
      • From here, we followed the beach North West.
    • Eat: Esquires Coffee @ Bayfair
      • Maunganui Rd, Mt Maunganui.
      • Really enjoyed the food we had here earlier in our trip, and it’s convenient.
  • Katikati
    • 44.1km’s from Bayfair, approx 40 mins.
    • Long Beach
  • Bowentown
    • 21.4km’s from Katikati, approx 19 mins.
    • A beautiful little town situated on a peninsula with ocean beach on one side and protected bay on the other.
  • Waihi Beach
    • 8km’s from Bowentown, approx 10 mins.
    • Stay: Beachaven Top 10 Holiday Park
      • 15 Beach Rd, Waihi Beach.
      • Leisure Lodge Studio
      • NZD $110 / night
      • Note, there are two Top 10 Holidays Park’s in Waihi Beach.
    • Eat: Flat White Cafe
      • 21 Shaw Rd, Waihi Beach
      • Yum yum!

Day 29 - Waihi Beach to Hotwater Beach - 149km's, approx 2 hrs, 43 mins + stops

  • Waihi Beach
  • Whiritoa
    • 27.7km’s from Waihi Beach, approx 27 mins.
  • Whangamata
    • 13.1km’s from Whiritoa, approx 14 mins.
  • Onemana
    • 9.3km’s from Whangamata, approx 11 mins.
  • Opoutere
    • 11km’s from Onemana, approx 11 mins.
  • Pauanui
    • 27.8km’s from Opoutere, approx 30 mins.
  • Tairua
    • 28.2km’s from Katikati, approx 31 mins.
    • Located on the opposite side of the Tairua River mouth from Pauanui but quite a decent distance by car.
    • Mount Paku
      • There is a summit walk you can do. We ended up skipping it.
  • Te Karo Bay
    • 8km’s from Tairua, approx 12 mins.
  • Hotwater Beach
    • 20.6km’s from Te Karo Bay, approx 22 mins.
    • Stay: Hotwater Beach Top 10 Holiday Park
      • 790 Hot Water Beach Rd, Hot Water Beach
      • Deluxe Cabin
      • AUD $93.75 / night
      • We found the best price on Agoda and booked through them.

Day 30 - Hotwater Beach

  • Hotwater Beach
  • Ferry Landing
    • 17.5km’s from Hot Water Beach Beach, approx 18 mins.
    • Shakespeare Cliff Lookout
      • 2.3km’s from Ferry Landing, approx 5 mins.
  • Cooks Beach
    • 1.9km’s from Shakespeare Cliff, approx 4 mins.
  • Hot Water Beach
    • 15km’s from Cooks, approx 15 mins.
    • Make sure to check the low tide times before you go. The Top 10 Holiday Park has them listed on a whiteboard each day.
    • Also, hire a shovel if you don’t have one!
  • Hahei
    • 8km’s from Hot Water Beach, approx 9 mins.
    • Cathedral Cove
      • 2.5km walk from the carpark to the cove.
      • Allow 1.5 hours return plus time there.
      • You have to park in Hahei Village during peak months.
      • There is a shuttle to the start of the Cathedral Cove walk for $5 per person during peak months.
      • You can also walk along Hahei Beach, but it adds 40 minutes to the return walk.
  • Hotwater Beach
    • 8km’s from Hahei, approx 9 mins.
    • Stay: Hot Water Beach Top 10 Holiday Park
      • 790 Hot Water Beach Rd, Hot Water Beach
      • Deluxe Cabin
      • AUD $93.75 / night
      • We found the best price on Agoda and booked through them.

Day 31 - Hotwater Beach to Coromandel via Opito Bay - 121 km's, approx 2 hrs 40 mins + stops.

  • Hotwater Beach
  • Opito Bay
    • 57km’s from Hot Water Beach Beach, approx 1 hr, 5 mins.
    • Such a beautiful beach off the beaten path.
  • Matapaua Bay
    • 2.7km’s from Opito Bay, approx 10 mins.
    • Narrow, winding dirt road.
  • Rings Beach
    • 16.4km’s from Matapaua Bay, approx 30 mins.
  • Matarangi
    • Just a couple of minutes drive from Rings Beach if the coast road is open, otherwise it’s an extra few km’s around.
  • Whangapoua
    • 18.5km’s from Matarangi, approx 25 mins.
  • Coromandel
    • 20km’s from Whangapoua, approx 925mins.
    • Stay: Indigo Bush Studios
      • 19 Flays Rd, Coromandel
      • Lower Studio
      • AUD $145.13 / night
      • Redeemed a $30 Qantas Hotels voucher.

Day 32 - Coromandel - 98.6km's, approx 4 hrs + stops.

Day 32 was planned as a work and rest day in addition to visiting Driving Creek Railway, however, our accommodation was meant to include wifi. Unfortunately, it didn’t, so we definitely rested but we also decided to go for a drive! 

  • Coromandel
  • Driving Creek Railway
    • 900m’s from Indigo Bush Studio’s, approx 2 mins.
  • Kennedy Bay
    • 11.1km’s from Driving Creek Railway, approx 30 mins.
    • Winding road, so it can take longer than expected.
  • Tuateawa
    • 7.2km’s from Kennedy Bay, approx 11 mins.
    • On the way to To Tuateawa we passed a small bay and boat ramp located just off the road at these coordinates, 36°38’42.7″S 175°34’15.6″E. I didn’t see any signs indicating a name, but you can find it on Google Maps here.
    • The drive will obviously take longer if you stop here like we did.
  • Little Bay
    • 6.4km’s from Tuateawa, approx 13 mins.
  • Waikawau Bay
    • 2.5km’s from Little Bay, approx 4 mins.
  • Port Charles
    • 14km’s from Waikawau Bay, approx 30 mins.
    • Port Charles Wharf
      • We actually stopped in to check out the wharf on the way back since you have to come back through Port Charles.
  • Sandy Bay
    • 1.1km’s from Port Charles, approx 3 mins.
  • Stony Bay
    • 6.4km’s from Sandy Bay, approx 20 mins.
    • The road out to Stony Bay is a bit hairy – very narrow and winding with lots of blind corners and locals going waaaaay too fast on gravel.
  • Otautu Bay
    • 25.6km’s from Stony Bay, approx 60 mins.
    • Otautu Bay Wharf
      • The old wharf is at the far end of Otautu Wharf Rd on the opposite side of the bay from where you enter.
  • Colville
    • 5.6km’s from Otautu Bay, approx 8 mins.
  • Waitete Bay
    • 9.2km’s from Colville, approx 12 mins.
  • Amodeo Bay
    • 1.7km’s from Waitete Bay, approx 4 mins.
  • Oamaru Bay
    • 10.2km’s from Amodeo Bay, approx 13 mins.
  • Coromandel
    • 4km’s from Oamaru Bay, approx 5 mins.
    • Stay: Indigo Bush Studios
      • 19 Flays Rd, Coromandel
      • Lower Studio
      • AUD $145.13 / night
    • Eat: Zagnos Kitchen
      • 105 Kapanga Rd, Coromandel
      • Great kebabs!

Day 33 - Coromandel to Auckland - 260.4km's, approx 5 hrs, 21 mins + stops.

  • Coromandel
  • Wyuna Bay
    • 8.4km’s from Indigo Bush Studio’s, approx 13 mins.
  • Te Kouma
    • 15.2km’s from Wyuna Bay, approx 20 mins.
  • Thames
    • 51.5km’s from Te Kouma, approx 1 hr, 2 mins.
  • Kaiaua
    • 42.7km’s from Thames, approx 36 mins.
  • Orere Point
    • 23km’s from Kaiaua, approx 25 mins.
  • Clevedon
    • 28.2km’s from Orere Point, approx 30 mins.
  • Maraetai Beach
    • 16km’s from Clevedon, approx 17 mins.
  • Beachlands Wharf
    • 5.5km’s from Maraetai Beach, approx 9 mins.
  • Pine Harbour Marina
    • 4.3km’s from Beachlands Wharf, approx 7 mins following the coast around.
  • Auckland
    • Cockle Bay Reserve
      • 19.3km’s from Pine Harbour Marina, approx 22 mins.
    • Howick Beach
      • 1.8km’s from Cockle Bay Reserve, approx 4 mins.
    • Bucklands Beach
      • 5.3km’s from Howick Beach, approx 9 mins.
    • Sealink Half Moon Bay Ferry Terminal
      • 2.6km’s from Bucklands Beach, approx 5 mins.
    • Snake and Ladders Park
      • 4.3km’s from Half Moon Bay Ferry Terminal, approx 8 mins.
      • This park wasn’t as exciting as the name sounds, you could definitely give it a miss.
    • Mt Wellington War Memorial Reserve
      • 6.9km’s from Snake and Ladders Park, approx 11 mins.
      • This is a little odd as you have to drive through a golf course to get to it.
      • It’s quite an unusual war memorial and well worth a visit.
    • Point England Reserve
      • 2.2km’s from Mt Wellington War Memorial Reserve, approx 5 mins.
    • Tahuna Torea Reserve
      • 3.3km’s from Point England Reserve, approx 6 mins.
    • Achilles Point
      • 4.8km’s from Tahuna Torea Reserve, approx 10 mins.
    • St Heliers Beach
      • 1.2km’s from Achilles Point, approx 4 mins.
    • Mission Bay
      • 2.6km’s from St Heliers Beach, approx 5 mins.
    • Orakei Domain
      • 2.2km’s from Mission Bay, approx 3 mins.
    • Paritai North and South Reserves
      • 1km from Orakei Domain, approx 2 mins
    • Orakei Bay
      • 2km’s from Paritai South Reserve, approx 4 mins.
    • Ellerslie

Day 34 - Auckland to Golden Princess

This is the end of the road trip portion of the itinerary. Our original plan was to fly home, but after finding the cruise on Golden Princess that lined up perfectly with our times, we decided to cruise home instead! The only difference to the itinerary is going to the cruise terminal instead of the airport.

  • Auckland
    • Return the rental car.
    • Get a taxi to Shed 10 cruise terminal.
    • Board Golden Princess.

Bonus: Cruise

Day 35 - Tauranga

There is so much you can do in a day in Tauranga, and it is especially easy since the ship is docked. Having just had some busy days (and already having spent a number of days in Tauranga on this trip) we decided to just stay on the ship and enjoy it!

Day 36 - At Sea

Day 37 - Akaroa

We spent a few days in Akaroa in 2013 on our honeymoon and fell in love with the historic French town. It’s a beautiful place and access is via tender from the cruise ship. We opted to go ashore and just walked around town, reliving some of our past memories.

Day 38 - Dunedin

The dock for most cruise ships in Dunedin is actually at the town of Port Chalmers, about 15km’s from Dunedin proper. We spent time in Dunedin in 2013 on our honeymoon and we didn’t really feel like doing much so once again we just stayed aboard and enjoyed our time on the ship. 

Day 39 - Fiordland National Park Cruising

This is really special. Cruising Fiordland on board a cruise ship is so worthwhile. Weather permitting, you will go through Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound. The weather was good to us and we saw all three. Again, we’ve been to Doubtful and Milford Sounds in the past. We’ve actually been to Doubtful Sound twice, once in 2013 and once in 2014, but it is worth every second of another visit.

Dusky Sound is extremely inaccessible, and Doubtful Sound is only accessed via limited tour operators (I highly recommend the Real Journeys Overnight Doubtful Sound Cruise). Milford on the other hand is very accessible with road, plane and boat access. Cruising through them on a big ship, you definitely miss out on the experience that a small boat has (eg most of the tour boats), however, it’s an unforgettable experience on a big ship with a sense of perspective totally unlike what the small ones offer. There is nothing quite like standing on an upper deck in Milford Sound and realising that in spite of how high you are above the water, towering over the small boats, the cliffs are still standing tall well above you.

Day 40 - At Sea

Day 41 - At Sea

Day 42 - Sydney

Almost home!

We picked up a hire car from Avis at Circular Quay and drove home.

It is so good to arrive home after a long, full, trip and be well rested!


This was a really amazing trip to New Zealand. The North Island has so much to see and do. As beautiful as the South Island is, the North Island can easily compete. Sure, it doesn’t have the massive Southern Alps or Fiordland, but it is full of contrast and geothermal activity. There are volcanos, beaches bubbling with boiling water, beautiful swimming destinations, snowy peaks, gorgeous rolling hills and rich cultural history and experiences. Don’t miss out on a spectacular trip by skimping on your time in the North Island of New Zealand. We are so glad we came back and spent so much time in the North Island. After a similar amount of time spent in the South Island in 2013, we were not at all disappointed by the North Island. 

What do you think of the North Island of New Zealand? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget, I’d love to know what your number one must see place, or wish list place to see on the North Island of New Zealand is? Let me know in the comments below!

First Published: April 7, 2019

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Travel Money & Currency Conversion: We use both Up Bank and Wise for the best currency conversion rates with support for Apple Pay and Android Pay plus excellent in-app customer support while you are travelling.

Flights: We check a few sites for different prices. Travelling from Australia, I always check Qantas directly for reward flights, but otherwise, I check and compare the cost of flights with SkyScanner. It’s always worth checking alternative routes and days, especially where there are multiple stopover options or nearby alternative airports.

Accommodation: We usually book through Agoda as we find their prices are the lowest and cancellation policies + loyalty benefits work out the best. We also use Airbnb from time to time.

Car Rental: We use AutoEurope to compare rental car prices with all the big international brands like Europcar, Budget, Hertz and Avis. We usually end up using Avis or Europcar as they offer the best deals (make sure to check their current offers for bonus discounts) and both maintain their vehicles well with relatively new fleets.

Tours & Activities: We generally try to book activities through one of these third-party sites ViatorGet Your Guide & Klook due to their flexible cancellation policies (saved us a lot of money trying to travel post-COVID) and price guarantees (often better prices than booking direct). We also book through Red Balloon on occasion for more unique Aussie and NZ activities.

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Who Am I?

Matt in Noumea

Matt works sort-of full time running his digital marketing business, TerraMedia. In his spare time though, he loves to travel with his wife, so they usually end up doing a lot of it.
Home is Australia, and while they don’t spend all their time travelling the world, Matt and his wife like to take the time to really explore and get to know a place, even if that means spending a lot longer there than normal tourists might.

You can read more about Matt and his story HERE.

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