This was an itinerary I did for a long stay visitor but shows a good deal of what is available everyone may get good use out of:
Your New Zealand Holiday Itinerary for the North Island
I recommend you spend around a month in the North Island and the remainder of the time in the South Island where most of the best scenery, activities and points of interest occur.
I will point out driving times meaning this is the average time it would take you to drive from point A to point B. This way you can judge how much time you have to enjoy poking around in the day’s travels.. I will try to point out what I think you would enjoy. All the holiday parks are clean and efficient though may vary in style and appearance. Each are fully equipped having kitchens, lounge areas, dump stations, water. I would really appreciate it if you mention I sent you. I don’t ask any park for any money to do so but it may lead to my receiving a free stay now and again. I thank you.
Arrival in Auckland - www.aucklandnz.com
After a long and tiring flight I suggest going to the closest hotel where you can gather yourselves together. It is a long drive into Auckland(20kms) so I don’t think that should be your option. Have a good sleep, a good meal and relax................................... You are on a long and lovely holiday!
Here is a list of accommodations close by that are clean, quiet and comfortable and have airport transfer with restaurants on site:
Best Western Airport Gateway Hotel - www.kiwihotel.co.nz
Centra Auckland Airport - www.centra.co.nz
Hotel Grand Chancellor - www.granda.co.nz
Rayland Motel - www.rayland.co.nz
Head north to Orewa –
First stop is the town of Orewa north of Auckland. Take Route One out of Auckland as fast as possible. Don’t try to drive in the before or after work traffic since Auckland gets truly grid-locked. It is an hour’s drive. Stay at the Orewa Beach Holiday Park (www.rodney.govt.nz/holidayparks ) a quiet and peaceful place on one of the area’s finest beaches. The town of Orewa has everything you will need to stock up for the trip so don’t worry about anything until you get there. I suggest you just take it easy, roam the beach and the town, get a good night’s sleep and away we go in the morning. A nice comfortable slow start as your body will still will be in air-mode. Some pleasant pubs, cafes. Love the beach! http://www.orewabeach.co.nz/
North to Warkworth, Matakana next -
Off north on Route One next stop about 10kms (turn left) will be the small community of Puhoi http://www.puhoinz.com/
. A drive through and perhaps a stop at the cheese factory and cafe. Puhoi cheese in world-renowned in New Zealand! Continuing on the next place to visit is on the right at Warkworth. www.warkworth-information.co.nz A little larger small community that is quite active. Good cafes and shops but don’t linger it isn’t that exciting. What is coming up is.....we now go on the side road (north edge of town turn right instead of back to Route One) to Matakana. www.matakanacoast.com & www.villageatmatakana.co.nz In this place is the best patisserie in all of New Zealand so if you have left some room after breakfast or ready for morning break this is where you stop. Turn left in Matakana and it is on the right a short distance. If you like pottery Morris and James is worth a visit. From Warkworth to here is the northern vineyards of New Zealand. Stop at the Ascension Winery www.ascensionvineyard.co.nz if you want to visit a local winery. Several in the area but this one stands out!
From Matakana we continue along the road to Leigh and then take a left to stay at the Pakiri Beach Holiday Park (www.pakiribeachholidaypark.co.nz ). Not too long a drive from Orewa to here so you can enjoy the day.( 2 hours driving). Take your time and poke around!
Pakiri to Bay of Islands - www.bay-of-islands.co.nz/
From Pakiri we head back to Route One meeting up with it at Wellsford. Turn north until Kawaka where we turn back to the ocean through Mangawhai (best fish and chips in NZ), Longs Beach, Waipu Cove and back to Route One at Waipu. Go on through Whangarei www.whangareinz.org.nz/ unless you may need something special since it will be mostly small towns from here on out except at Pahia.(2 1/2 hours drive).
In Whangarei there is a real nice camp at the Whangarei Falls Holiday Park
After Whangarei there are many side roads to the ocean to explore. I recommend off route one north of Hikurangi take the road to Whananaki. Camp ground there at
The village www.whanakiholiday.co.nz Run by Jackie Cooper. Nice spot. Return to the main road and then turn again at Whakapara to Helena Bay. What a fabulous café and gallery.(www.galleryhelenabay.co.nz) You can drive on through to Oakura where there is a camp ground. This is a back road to Russel but not recommended to drive. Return to Route One.
On Route One stop at Kawakawa where you must pull in and see their toilets. Toilets! www.pbase.com/philinnz/kawakawa_toilets Strange but true created by an internationally know architect. You’ll understand when you see them. Good cafe across the street too.
Now we continue north on Route 11 to Pahia.(11kms) Best place in the North to visit. Stay at the Bay of Islands Holiday Park (www.bayofislandsholidaypark.co.nz ). Things of interest: Treaty of Waitangi Grounds, Russell by ferry plus a lot more you can check out.(http://www.paihia.com/ ), Kerikeri is a great town with the best super market in the country.. The Bay of Islands was where Zane Grey came fishing.
North of Kerikeri following rout 10, after Kaeo turn right toward Whangatea but continue along to the park at Tauranga Bay…………our favourite park in the north!
Bay of Islands to Cape Reinga, Ninety Mile Beach, Hokianga Harbour, Dargaville and Bayleys Beach – www.teara.govt.nz/1966/R/ReingaCape/ReingaCape/en
North for Cape Reinga as far north as you can go. (3 hour drive). Route 10 to Route 1. After a visit to Reinga on the return south stop for the night at the Pukeni Holiday Park (www.northland-camping.co.nz ).
There are wild horses in the Aupouri Forest you might see. Make sure you visit 90 Mile Beach and the sand dunes! This is mostly on your return south. When you return to Awanui this time you continue south on Route One through Kaitaia to the junction of Route One and Route 12 at Ohaeawai (or there is a short detour road after Lake Omapere). 12 takes you out to the west coast on Hokianga Harbour at Opononi and then turns south toward Dargaville. Along this route in the Waipoua Forest is the largest kauri tree in the world just a short five minute walk from the car port.
Continue on south we take a hard right just before Dargaville to the sea and stay the night at Baylys Beach Holiday Park (www.holidayparks.co.nz/baylys ). (2 1/2 hour drive). One surprising situation is a small private observatory in Baylys Beach and one fine café.
Also a very good café (Blah!Blah! Blah!) in Dargaville. Don’t forget to stop at the Kauri Museum (www.kauri-museum.com on route 12.
South through Auckland to Miranda-
From here we head on south returning to Route One and hurry through Auckland again on south on Route One (4 hour drive) to turn east on Route 2 to the Miranda Holiday Park(www.mirandaholidaypark.co.nz ) and relax in their fabulous hot pools. What can I say you have earned it! Enjoy! (I haven’t programmed in a stop in Auckland merely because it is just another city and New Zealand has more to offer than that. If you have a desire you can drive downtown and ride through. There is a parking lot at the base of Queen Street that is handy for camper vans right in the Viaduct Basin).
Coromandel Peninsula - www.thecoromandel.com/
From Miranda we head off to tour the Coromandel Peninsula.(route 25) First to Thames and then up the west coast and down the east. From Thames it is about 2 hours to the town of Coromandel Recommend staying at the Long Bay Motor Camp (www.holidayparks.co.nz/longbay ). You may want to take the road up to Cape Colville and around the tip of the Coromandel. Check with the camp on how the road is. It is quite worth it. (http://www.thecoromandel.com/ ).
From Coromandel Town we cut across the peninsula to the east coast and turn south. The next interesting town is Whitianga. (46kms). On south for 26 kms take the side road to Hot Water Beach and interesting place and a really top gallery there. Voted as one of the top ten beaches in the world. (http://www.whitianga.co.nz/hwbeach.html ). From here we continue south along the eastern side of the Peninsula passing through Whangamata the to Waihi and finally stopping for the night at Athenree Hot Springs: (www.athenreehotsprings.co.nz ).
Coromandel Peninsula to Tauranga www.tauranga.co.nz/
Having left the Coromandel stay in the area of Waihi and Waihi Beach area exploring for awhile (Athenree is a good base). Mount Maunganui is the party place!
Matamata, Hamilton, Raglan
An area you might want to explore is to take route 26 to route 24 to Matamata and the route one to Hamilton and out to Raglan on the West Coast. Stay at the Raglan Holiday park www.holidayparks.co.nz/raglan Great location you will enjoy.
To Rotorua via the Waitomo Caves- www.rotorua.com
Return form Raglan to route 39 south and go to the Waitomo Caves staying at the Waitomo Caves Holiday park www.waitomopark.co.nz One of the most exciting places in the North Island at the Caves www.waitomo.com . Be sure to see the Billy Black Show www.woodlynpark.co.nz .
Back out to route 39 south to Te Kuiti turning on route 30 to Rotorua. Slight jog along the river at Whakamaru that is a short cut. Through to route one then north to catck back up with route 30 and on to Rotorua one of the most interesting places in New Zealand.(www.rotoruanz.com/ .Here you can enjoy getting Maori immersion, visit the geothermal wonders, soak in a hot pool. Stay at the Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park two nights (www.rotoruathermal.co.nz).
To Whakatane, Opotiki to Gisborne
From Rotorua take route 30 north to Whakatane. Perhaps visit the active volcano on White Island. www.geonet.org.nz/volcano/volcams/whiteisland/ Stay the night at the Ohope Beach Top Ten www.ohopebeach.co.nz .
At Opitiki take route 2 through the gorge to Gisborne (don’t take route 35 as it is one of the most boring drives in New Zealand). www.gisbornenz.com . Stay at the Showgrounds Park www.gisborneshow.co.nz . Interesting town and far removed from the rest of the country.
Gisborne to Napier to Lake Taupo -
South from Gisborne to Wairoa. A fabulous little camp there the Riverside Motor Camp.
Take a short side road trip to see Lake Waikaremoana and return to go on to Napier.
(4 hours) This is the wine country for New Zealand chardonnay.
www.napier.nz.com Stay at the Kennedy Top Ten www.kennedypark.co.nz . Fabulous town to explore for the art deco buildings.
Now off to Taupo north on route 5 to Lake Taupo. Driving time is 2 hours.
Lake Taupo, Taumarunui - www.laketauponz.com/
Lake Taupo and return to Route One south. This route takes you by the volcanoes of the Central Plains and through the desert country of the North Island. A most interesting drive. At Waiouru turn west(1 1/2 hour drive) on route 49 then north on route 4 to the Taumarunui Holiday Park (www.taumarunui-holidaypark.co.nz ) for the night on the banks of the Whanganui River.
Taumarunui to New Plymouth -
Here at route 43 we turn southwest to the Taranaki region (www.taranakinz.org/) overshadowed by Mt Egmont in all directions. Part of the road is not sealed from Tatu to Kohuratahi (40kms). The interesting town of Whangamomona (www.nzgeographic.co.nz/articles.php?ID=147 ) is on this route. This town’s mayor was a goat, a dog and who knows what now! Real characters. Route 43 ends at Stratford and route 3. Take a right toward Inglewood until reaching the turn off to the right to New Plymouth area.
In the suburb of Fitzroy on the beach stay at the Fitzroy Beach Holiday Park (www.holidayparks.co.nz/fitzroy ) and use it as your base to explore the Taranaki region.
Stay tonight and tomorrow night. (3 hours from Taumaranui to New Plymouth.
Drive around the mountain on the Surf Highway. You can pick up info at the camp on the variety of places to see or go such as Oakura and Dawson’s Falls.
New Plymouth to Wangani, Palmerston North to Masterton to Wellington-
Off south on route 3 through Wanganui to Palmerston North and on to Route 2 at Woodville and on south to Masterton (4 1/2 hours drive) staying the night at the
Mawley Park(www.holidayparks/mawley ). You are 1 1/2 hours from Wellington and the ferry across to the South Island. Wellington is one of the best party towns. Go to the bars on Courtney place and side streets………….