Planning your New Zealand North Island Itinerary?
This 2-week New Zealand itinerary is exactly what you need to explore all the famous sites and a few hidden gems that the North Island has to offer.
There is no wrong or right way to plan a North Island road trip as it all depends on what you’re interested in seeing and doing, and how fast or slow you wish to travel.
Lucky for you, New Zealand is such a diverse country with something for everyone to enjoy at any pace.
This 2 week New Zealand North Island itinerary includes a mix of cities, beaches, hikes, waterfalls, and other major tourist attractions to suit all types of travelers!
QUICK ANSWERS: NEW ZEALAND NORTH ISLAND ITINERARY
Before diving into the detailed itinerary, below you’ll find some quick answers to the most frequently asked questions from first-time visitors.
HOW TO GET AROUND NEW ZEALAND?
For the ultimate New Zealand experience, traveling by campervan is the way to go! Campervans offer unlimited freedom and flexibility.
You have the ability to pick your own travel route and sleep inside the van each night which is a cost-effective way to do a North Island New Zealand road trip.
Even better, there are so many scenic spots where you can pull up for a picnic or spend the night by the seaside at your favorite beach.
Alternatively, you can rent a car in New Zealand and stay in hotels in each location which I have outlined in this post.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT NEW ZEALAND?
The best time to visit New Zealand is from December to April when the days are long and often sunny.
The peak summer months (December to February) are ideal for sightseeing, outdoor activities, hiking, and swimming at the beach.
The winter is also a nice alternative for going skiing or mountaineering, but bear in mind that it’s not as convenient to drive around as you may experience some road closures.
Winter in New Zealand is from June to August, however, the cold temperatures, especially in the south island, can still be felt in October.
HOW MANY DAYS IN NEW ZEALAND?
For the best holiday in New Zealand, it’s best to plan a trip for at least one month.
A 1-month itinerary for New Zealand gives you enough time to explore the diverse beauty of both the North and South islands.
However, a two-week itinerary focused on either the North Island or South Island is indeed possible and you’ll still get to experience a lot.
Three weeks in New Zealand can give you a taste of both islands and you can squeeze in many fantastic activities.
NORTH ISLAND VS SOUTH ISLAND – WHICH IS BETTER?
The North Island is known for its subtropical temperatures, sandy beaches, and pristine lakes. It’s also home to an impressive array of geothermal activity.
On the other hand, the South Island is larger than the North Island and overall very beautiful, arguably more beautiful than the North.
It has a gorgeous coastline and offers more variety of landscapes and alpine regions.
If you’re traveling to both islands on a tight schedule, I would recommend spending fewer days on the North Island and more days on the South Island.
But to answer the question, either one is better than the other as they are so vastly unique in their own way. It just depends on what your interests are and what type of New Zealand experience you would like to have.
WHERE CAN I RENT A CAMPERVAN IN NEW ZEALAND?
I personally rented my campervan with Travellers Autobarn as they are one of the most reputable and affordable campervan hire companies in the country.
Their campervans feature a seating area and table that transforms into a double bed, a fully-equipped kitchen, comfortable bedding, a heater for the winter, USB power outlets, 240V power when hooked up to electricity, lots of storage, and much more.
NORTH ISLAND ITINERARY NEW ZEALAND – OVERVIEW
To help you plan your 2-week New Zealand itinerary, this is the North Island road trip route I took in a clockwise direction, starting and ending in Auckland.
I highly recommend this route if you want to see the best of what North Island New Zealand has to offer.
Please note that I traveled around the north island in a campervan (more on that below) and stayed mostly at campervan parks and the occasional freedom camping sites.
However, you can still follow this exact itinerary if you plan to rent a car and stay at hotels along the way. I have outlined the best hotels to stay in each location.
Here is a quick glance at how to spend 2 weeks in New Zealand on the North Island.
AUCKLAND TO AUCKLAND
- Day 1: Arrive in Auckland & pick up campervan / rental car
- Day 2: Drive to Coromandel Peninsula
- Day 3: New Chums Beach, Cathedral Cove, & Hot Water Beach
- Day 4: Coromandel & Mount Maunganui
- Day 5: Hobbiton Tour & Rotorua
- Day 6: Rotorua
- Day 7: Lake Taupo
- Day 8: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- Day 9: Tongariro National Park
- Day 10: Forgotten World Highway to Egmont National Park
- Day 11: Egmont National Park (Mt Taranaki) & Pouakai Tarn Hike
- Day 12: New Plymouth
- Day 13: Three Sisters & Waitomo Caves
- Day 14: Depart from Auckland
NORTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND ROUTE MAP
ALTERNATIVE ROUTES – 2 WEEK NEW ZEALAND ITINERARY
AUCKLAND TO WELLINGTON
If you plan to depart from Wellington or visit the South Island after your North Island New Zealand itinerary, then this route may be more suitable as you’ll head toward Wellington.
For the Auckland to Wellington route, follow the same itinerary above, except on Day 12 after visiting Egmont National Park you can head south toward Wellington.
- Day 12: Whanganui, Waitarere Beach, overnight in Paraparaumu
- Day 13: Explore Wellington
- Day 14: Depart from Wellington Airport or take the ferry to South Island
NORTHLAND – NORTH ISLAND ITINERARY NEW ZEALAND
Northland is the entire subtropical region above Auckland that often gets skipped by travelers, which is a shame because it’s absolutely beautiful and there are endless things to do.
You’ve got the Bay of Islands and its secluded beaches, sandboarding the dunes on Ninety Mile Beach, Cape Reinga the northernmost tip of New Zealand, and much much more!
If you’re up for a less-traveled New Zealand route, here is a suggested itinerary you could take.
It’s similar to the Auckland to Auckland itinerary above, however, you’ll head to Northland for the first week before heading south to continue from Coromandel.
- Day 1: Arrive in Auckland & pick up campervan / rental car
- Day 2: Drive to Paihia (Bay of Islands)
- Day 3: Bay of Islands
- Day 4: Cape Reinga (northernmost tip of New Zealand)
- Day 5: Ninety Mile Beach
- Day 6: Whangarei (to break up the drive)
- Day 7: Coromandel Peninsula
- Day 8: Hobbiton Tour & Mount Maunganui
- Day 9: Rotorua
- Day 10: Lake Taupo
- Day 11: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- Day 12: Tongariro National Park
- Day 13: Waitomo Caves
- Day 14: Depart from Auckland
2-WEEK NEW ZEALAND NORTH ISLAND ITINERARY
This 2-week New Zealand North Island itinerary is here to provide you with all the info you need for the ultimate getaway to this amazing country.
From exploring Auckland city to climbing volcanoes in Tongariro National Park and soaking in natural hot water springs, this two weeks north island itinerary New Zealand has it all!
So if you’re ready to be awestruck by breathtaking views and experience an adventure of a lifetime – read on!
DAY 1: FLY INTO AUCKLAND
Auckland is the gateway to North Island New Zealand, and thus a great place to kick off your two-week holiday!
There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Auckland, so you’ll want to make the most of your first day in New Zealand’s largest city.
THINGS TO DO IN AUCKLAND
Once you’ve checked in at your hotel or campervan site, it’s time to explore one of Auckland’s major attractions – Mount Eden.
This dormant volcano has been providing incredible views of the city since at least 1450 AD when Maori people lived on its slopes.
If you’d rather explore the city instead of climbing Mount Eden, then I recommend visiting Auckland Art Gallery, checking out Auckland War Memorial Museum, and trying the delicious food.
Note that both museums close at 5 PM, so you’ll want to plan accordingly.
Food-wise, I suggest you have dinner at Burger Geek for some comfort food or to Ahi for some delicious local cuisine – Yum!
Finally, head back to your hotel or campervan for the night before a long driving day tomorrow!
HOW TO GET FROM AUCKLAND AIRPORT TO AUCKLAND CITY
If you have pre-booked your campervan or rental car, it’s likely the pick-up location is at or nearby Auckland Aiport, and from here you can make your way into the city.
Alternatively, there are other transportation options to the city if you wish to pick up your campervan or car rental on day 2 of your itinerary.
Transport from Auckland Airport to Auckland City:
- Take the SkyDrive Express – from $16
- Take the train to Britomart – from $5.40
- Book a taxi – Between $75 and $90
- Order an Uber – Approx. $50
With either option, you’ll be in the city center within 40 minutes – it’s only 25 km (15 mi) away.
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CAMPERVAN PARKS NEAR AUCKLAND
See the list below for recommended campervan parks near Auckland City:
BEST HOTELS IN AUCKLAND
Auckland has hundreds of hotels to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
Below you’ll find properties suitable for luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
LUXURY: PARK HYATT AUCKLAND
MID RANGE: RAMADA SUITES
BUDGET: THE ATTIC BACKPACKERS
DAY 2: COROMANDEL PENINSULA
Buckle up for Day 2 of this New Zealand North Island itinerary as you journey to the captivating Coromandel Peninsula – brace yourselves for a scenic adventure!
If you already have your campervan or rental car, you can head directly from Auckland City to Coromandel.
However, if you are picking up a set of wheels on day 2 of this itinerary, you’ll first have to get your vehicle from the respective pick-up location in Auckland and then make tracks to Coromandel.
ARRIVING IN COROMANDEL
It’s approximately a 2-hour drive (126 km/78 miles) from Auckland to Coromandel, and the first town you will come to is Thames.
It’s a small town located at the southwestern end of the Coromandel Peninsula, ready to welcome you with its gold-mining heritage.
Perhaps you’d like to stretch your legs and explore the town’s mining museums or meander around Grahamstown, Thames’ quaint old town.
Don’t forget to fuel up on some delicious fish and chips before continuing north on the coastal journey.
CHECK OUT WYUNA BAY & SHELLY BEACH
When you reach the tip of the peninsula, you’ll have good fun beach-hopping between Wyuna Bay and Shelly Beach.
Wyuna Bay’s secluded coastline offers tranquil waters perfect for kayaking or paddleboarding, while Shelly Beach boasts a beautiful bay for a relaxing afternoon.
I recommend spending the night here in north Coromandel to rest up before day 3 of your North Island road trip.
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN COROMANDEL
For your first night in Coromandel, I recommend staying at one of the below campervan parks which are located around the northern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula:
BEST HOTELS IN COROMANDEL TOWN
Coromandel Town has dozens of hotels to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
Below you’ll find properties suitable for luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
LUXURY: COROMANDEL APARTMENTS
MID RANGE: COROMANDEL SEAVIEW MOTEL
BUDGET: WAIOTAHI VALLEY LODGE
DAY 3: NEW CHUMS BEACH, CATHEDRAL COVE, & HOT WATER BEACH
Rise and shine on day 3 of your 14-day North Island New Zealand itinerary as you head over from Coromandel Town to the picturesque east coast of the peninsula.
Start your day visiting New Chums Beach, then continue south along Coromandel’s east coast to Cathedral Cove and the ever-so-popular, Hot Water Beach.
Here is some useful information about each of these locations.
New Chums Beach
To start your day, gear up for a moderately challenging hike to the breathtaking New Chums Beach.
Known for its pristine, golden sands and crystal-clear waters, this beach remains unspoiled and undeveloped, making it a true hidden gem.
The 1-kilometer walk takes you through native bush, mangroves, and a rocky headland, so don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes and bring along plenty of water and snacks.
After a scenic hike and a refreshing swim at New Chums Beach, continue your southward journey to the iconic Cathedral Cove.
This natural attraction features a massive limestone archway that connects two secluded beaches.
The area is part of the Te Whanganui-a-Hei Marine Reserve, with abundant marine life and excellent snorkeling opportunities.
Cathedral Cove can be reached on foot at a distance of 2.5 km one way from the car park, taking approximately 30 – 45 minutes.
Alternatively, you can rent a kayak or book a boat tour of Cathedral Cove and make the day even more fun!
Another top-rated activity that might interest you is the ultimate thrills tour in Cathedral Cove.
Hot Water Beach
End your day on a high note by visiting the famous Hot Water Beach.
Known for its unique geothermal activity, natural hot springs bubble up through the sands, allowing you to create your own spa-like experience right on the shoreline.
The best time to enjoy this phenomenon is around two hours on either side of low tide, so check local tide charts beforehand to ensure you arrive at the optimal time.
You will need to rent a shovel from one of the nearby rental shops or accommodation providers, as creating this natural spa involves digging a shallow hole in the sand near the water’s edge.
After that, get back to your campervan or spend the night in a hotel, and reminisce about what an awesome day that was!
CAMPERVAN PARKS NEAR HOT WATER BEACH
The best campervan park just 5 minutes walk from Hot Water Beach is the Top 10 Holiday Park listed below. They also offer shovel rentals for $5!
BEST HOTELS NEAR HOT WATER BEACH
There are a few hotels to choose from near Hot Water Beach.
Below you’ll find properties suitable for luxury travelers, budget backpackers, and everyone in between.
LUXURY: HOT WATER BEACH BURE WAI
MID RANGE: HAHEI BEACH RESORT
DAY 4: COROMANDEL & MOUNT MAUNGANUI
On Day 4 of your New Zealand North Island itinerary, some amazing places shouldn’t be skipped while you’re still in Coromandel.
Heading south from Hot Water Beach, here’s a suggested one-day itinerary of spots to visit along the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula as you make your way to Mount Maunganui.
Mount Paku Summit
Your first stop should be Mount Paku Summit, which is a short 15-minute hike up to the top of a volcanic peak.
From here, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape!
Next up is Whangamata Beach, where you can stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes in the area, including Indian, Italian, and a bakery with almond croissants to die for!
This beach is known for its crystal-clear waters and golden sands, which make it a popular spot for swimming and surfing if that’s your thing.
If not, you could rent a kayak and head to Donut Island for a short adventure, how cool!
After lunch, continue your drive towards Karangahake Gorge, a historic gold-mining area that’s now a scenic reserve with many trails and even a biking trail.
Take a walk along the walking tracks that follow the old railway lines and explore the tunnels and bridges that were once used to transport gold from the mines.
And at the end of the trail, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful, scenic waterfall where you can chill for a while.
There are two large parking lots with a seating area, some tables to have a snack or drink, and even restrooms if you need the loo.
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From Karangahake Gorge, it’s only a 1-hour drive to Mount Maunganui, where you can spend the rest of your day exploring the town and its attractions.
I have listed some of the best things to do in Mount Maunganui below:
The most popular spot in Mount Maunganui is undoubtedly Maunganui Beach, a long stretch of white sand that’s perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing.
There are also plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby where you can grab a bite to eat and drink after a day in the sun.
If you have a drone, that’s your chance to take it out and shoot great photos!
Mount Maunganui Hike
If you’re feeling active, Mount Maunganui is a popular hike that takes 30 to 45 minutes to reach the summit and requires some level of fitness, but you don’t need to be an expert in any way!
Two scenic tracks lead to the summit, which stands 232 meters high and offers breathtaking views of Tauranga Harbour, beaches, and the city.
The most direct way to get to the top is via the trailhead located right by the main beach.
Don’t forget to take your water bottle with you for the hike as you’ll get pretty thirsty on the way!
I recommend coming here for sunset or sunrise the morning after – you definitely won’t regret it!
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Mount Hot Pools
The Mount Hot Pools in Mount Maunganui is a great place to relax and unwind after a long day of adventures.
With the majestic Mount as your backdrop, you can soak in the only hot ocean water complex in the world!
The pools are heated to 39°C, making them perfect for soothing away any body aches, especially after driving for a few days.
- Adults: NZ $20
- Senior 65+: NZ $13.50
- Child 3-15: NZ $13.50
- Child under 3: FREE
- Family: NZ $53.50
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 7 am – 10 pm, Sunday & Public Holidays: 8 am – 10 pm
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN MOUNT MAUNGANUI
There are two campervan parks located right by the beach in Mt Maunganui and spaces are limited so it’s best to book well in advance.
BEST HOTELS IN MOUNT MAUNGANUI
Mount Maunganui has several hotels to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
LUXURY: CAPRI ON PILOT BAY
MID RANGE: GATEWAY MOTOR INN
BUDGET: MOUNT BACKPACKERS
DAY 5: HOBBITON TOUR & ROTORUA
On this day of your New Zealand North Island road trip adventure, you will head to Matamata which is where the famous Hobbiton Tour is located.
After that, you’ll drive about an hour from Matamata to Rotorua, a region with endless adventurous activities to keep you entertained.
Matamata is a great location to visit for one main reason: the Hobbiton Movie Set.
Here, you will join a guided tour of this magical movie set, immersing yourself in the fantastical world of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.
As you explore the set, you will truly feel as if you have entered the Shire, with its intricate and charming hobbit holes, picturesque gardens, and rustic countryside charm.
The tour also includes a complimentary drink at The Green Dragon Inn, and you can indulge in quaint Middle-earth-inspired delights.
Please note that Hobbiton is the most popular attraction in New Zealand so be sure to book online in advance so you don’t miss out!
Click the button below to book the Hobbiton Movie Set Guided 2-Hour Walking Tour.
After the Hobbiton Tour, continue your north island itinerary New Zealand to Rotorua, a city located on the southern shore of Lake Rotorua in the Bay of Plenty region.
Rotorua is known for its active geothermal landscape, Maori culture, and outdoor adventure activities.
You can spend the afternoon exploring some of the many attractions which I have outlined below.
Okere Falls, located on the Kaituna River, is known for its seven cascading waterfalls and pools that flow through the gorge.
The waterfalls are located on the northern end of Lake Rotorua so it’s best to stop here first before continuing into the main town.
Although you can’t go swimming in this section of the Kaituna River, you can simply admire the series of falls from the viewpoints along a rainforest track.
What a cool break from driving around on this North Island itinerary!
The Redwoods Walk
The Redwoods Walk is a must-visit attraction in Rotorua, perfect for romantic strolls, leisurely cycling, and adventurous hikes.
This stunning loop track winds through 700 to 800-year-old redwood trees, showcasing the grandeur of the area’s untouched natural landscapes.
It’s a great way to take in the breathtaking surroundings as you walk or cycle along one of the two paths.
Along the way, make sure not to miss the sculptures; these carvings have been created by local artists and provide an insight into the culture of this beautiful region.
Best known for its impressive geothermal activity, Sulphur Point includes mud pool attractions, hot springs, and steam vents that constantly bellow smoke due to the volcanic heat.
There’s also the amazing sulphur lake – very unique to this spot – where you can admire blue and yellow algae floating around.
Aside from its geothermal area, Sulphur Point has plenty of lovely walkways and gardens that are perfect for a leisurely stroll. I couldn’t recommend it enough!
The Polynesian Spa offers a world-class experience to relax and unwind in therapeutic mineral hot pools overlooking Lake Rotorua.
Visitors can also indulge in various traditional treatments offered by the spa along with receiving multiple health benefits from volcanic hot springs.
There are different packages on offer, from Geothermal Mud Therapy to bathing packages and much more.
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN ROTORUA
There are numerous campervan parks in Rotorua to choose from for your 2-night stay, and these are the top three that I recommend:
BEST HOTELS IN ROTORUA
Rotorua has countless hotels on offer so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay for 2 nights.
LUXURY: REGAL PALMS RESORT
MID RANGE: BEST WESTERN BRAESIDE ROTORUA
BUDGET: ROCK SOLID BACKPACKERS
DAY 6: ROTORUA
For your second day in Rotorua, there are many fun-fuelled activities and cultural experiences to try.
Of course, while you may want to chill a little, I have listed some options below that you can choose from to have a fantastic day ahead!
First up, Skyline Rotorua offers breathtaking views of the city and Lake Rotorua.
Hop on the gondola and enjoy the ride up to the top of Mount Ngongotaha. Here you’ll find activities like ziplining, luging, and mountain biking.
Apart from that, you’ll find a restaurant and even a winery to sip on a glass of local wine while taking in the views.
I recommend booking your tickets in advance to be guaranteed the best rate and jump the queue!
Te Puia Geothermal Park
Next, head over to Te Puia Geothermal Park, where you’ll witness the power and beauty of nature like never before.
This 70-hectare geothermal park is home to bubbling mud pools, steaming vents, and the famous Pōhutu Geyser, which erupts up to 20 times a day.
Te Puia also houses a traditional Maori village, where you can learn about the culture and history of the Maori people.
When coming here, I recommend booking a guided tour that offers a mix of culture, geyser, nature, the three craft schools, and the Mario marae.
Whitewater River Rafting
Make it a day to remember with this 3-hour activity and sign up for whitewater river rafting on the Kaituna River.
Get your adrenaline going as you paddle through dramatic rainforest gorges and over thrilling whitewater rapids.
Hold on tight as you take a run down the mighty Tutea Falls and leap off dizzying cliff sides like a daredevil.
Of course, all the necessary gear such as wetsuits, booties, and helmets are provided, so all you need is courage!
Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village
For a deeper understanding of Maori culture, Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village, is not to be missed when in Rotorua.
This village has been inhabited by the local Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people for over 700 years and is a living example of Maori customs and traditions.
You can watch cultural performances, learn about the art of weaving, and even try traditional hangi cuisine, which is cooked underground using heated rocks.
If you’re feeling brave, take a trip to Hells Gate – New Zealand’s most active geothermal field.
This otherworldly landscape boasts steaming vents, bubbling mud pools, and even a “Devil’s Bath” – a bright green hot pool due to its high sulfur content.
You can also try a mud bath or sulfur spa, which is said to have therapeutic benefits for the skin and body.
Simply put, you can’t skip Hell’s Gate when visiting Rotorua!
Jet Boat Tour on Lake Rotorua
And if you still have some adrenaline left to burn, hop on a jet boat and experience the thrill of speed and spins on Lake Rotorua.
Zip around Lake Rotorua at exhilarating speeds as an expert driver provides a thrilling tour of the area.
You’ll be able to take in iconic landmarks like Mokoia Island, Sulphur Bay, and Kawaha Point from an entirely different perspective.
These boats can reach speeds of up to 80 km/h and will take you on a 30-minute tour around the lake and its islands.
Are you ready to experience the most unique activity on your North Island New Zealand itinerary?
Then be sure to book a Zorb ball ride at Mount Ngongotaha in Rotorua. Whether you try the straight, curvy, or harness route, you’re sure to have a blast!
Enjoy stunning views of Lake Rotorua, Mokoia Island, and Mount Tarawera as you slip and slide around inside your inflatable ball – how cool!
DAY 7: TAUPO
On day 7 of your 2 week New Zealand itinerary, depart Rotorua early morning and head towards Taupo.
MUST READ: 25 EPIC THINGS TO DO IN TAUPO
The distance between the two cities is around 80 km and the drive will take you approximately 1 hour.
Be sure to take Highway 5 from Rotorua and along the way stop at Kerosene Creek, a geothermally heated stream and falls where you can bathe and relax for an hour or so.
THINGS TO DO IN TAUPO
Continuing to Taupo, you have a full day to explore the attractions in the area. Here are the top sights to add to your itinerary:
A natural wonder that you shouldn’t miss out on, Huka Falls is a must-see when you travel North Island New Zealand.
Huka Falls is located just north of Taupo town, boasting an incredible force of water flow at 220,000 liters per second, and the falls are 11 meters high!
Witness the turquoise blue water as it rushes through the narrow cliff base and over the waterfall, creating a breathtaking scene.
And in case you want a unique experience, I suggest you book this amazing 30-minute Huka Falls Jet Boat Ride – you can’t do better than that!
Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa
Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa is a unique and special experience located in the Wairakei geothermal area of Taupo.
And if you didn’t have time to stop by the Te Puia Geothermal Park or Hells Gate in Rotorua, then this is your chance to get a similar experience!
Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa gives you the opportunity to soak in mineral-rich geothermal waters, which are said to have healing and curing properties.
The terraces were formed over years of mineral deposits and are a shining example of the natural beauty of Taupo.
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Maori Rock Carvings
This North Island itinerary so far has been a mix of culture and fun-filled activities, and the Maori Rock Carvings are here to impress!
Located in the Western Bays of Lake Taupo, these 14-meter high carvings were created by carver Matahi Brightwell and reflect his ancestry.
The best way to see the carvings is by jumping on a sailing boat for a couple of hours to explore the lake and the impressive artwork.
Take a photo at the #LOVETAUPO sign
Just beside the Lake Taupo Visitor Centre is the iconic #LOVETAUPO sign, a perfect location for a photo op.
Of course, the sign represents the love for Taupo and its natural wonders and has become a popular spot to capture memories.
Take your adrenaline rush to new heights with a tandem skydive over stunning Lake Taupo!
Choose from 12,000, 15,000, or 18,500 feet of free fall and experience pure exhilaration.
During the jump, you can take in majestic views of Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe while gliding back down to the ground.
Plus, enjoy complimentary transport in a bright yellow stretch Hummer to get the adventure started out right!
Skydiving is an unforgettable way to explore beautiful Taupo – don’t miss it!
PREPARATION FOR TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING
Before the day comes to an end in Taupo, you’ll want to prepare for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing for the following day.
I suggest going to the supermarket in Taupo and buying snacks, extra water bottles, and other essentials for the hike.
You’ll also have to purchase your Tongariro shuttle bus tickets in advance. I recommend booking your tickets online or you can purchase them from the Taupo Visitor Center upon arrival in Taupo.
I’ve included more detailed info about the shuttle bus system below.
WHERE TO STAY IN TAUPO
You want to stay as close as possible to Ketetahi Car Park which is the shuttle pick-up point for the Alpine Crossing in Tongariro National Park.
I recommend staying in or near the town of Turangi, which is located on the southern end of Lake Taupo and just 15 minutes drive to reach Ketetahi Car Park where the Tongariro Alpine Crossing adventure begins.
Other nearby towns include Whakapapa Village and Ohakune.
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN TAUPO
I personally stayed at Motutere Bay Top 10 Holiday Park (which is a little further away about 35 minutes drive to Ketetahi Car Park) but the powered sites for the campervan on the lakeside were hard to beat!
If you’d like to freedom camp in your campervan the night before embarking on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, you’ll find plenty of DOC Freedom Campsites in the Kaimanawa Forest Park, which is quite close to the Ketetahi Car Park.
Get the Rankers App and search availability for these campsites.
BEST HOTELS NEAR THE TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING
LUXURY: ORETI VILLAGE RESORT
MID RANGE: MOE MARIE SLEEP PEACEFULLY
BUDGET: SKOTEL ALPINE RESORT
DAY 8: TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING
If you’re the adventurous type, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing should definitely be on your North Island New Zealand itinerary.
The 19.4-kilometer trek will take you through breathtaking landscapes, including volcanic craters, steam vents, hot springs, and mesmerizing forests.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered one of the world’s best one-day walks and will undoubtedly be the highlight of your trip.
What To Pack For The Tongariro Alpine Crossing?
The weather can be unpredictable throughout the year, so it’s recommended that you pack wisely.
Pack enough food and water, warm clothing, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, rain gear, and comfortable hiking boots or shoes.
Of course, don’t forget your camera as you’ll take awesome photos on the way!
What To Expect On The Tongariro Alpine Crossing?
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience to witness some of the most stunning and unique landscapes in the world.
The trail is well-marked, but you should pay attention to the weather forecast and any advisory warnings from authorities.
The challenging hike is worth it, and at the end of the walk, you will be rewarded with a fantastic view of the serene and tranquil Lake Rotoaira.
Most hikers take between 6-8 hours to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, but it can take up to 10 hours for less experienced walkers or those who like to take their time.
You will have anything between 9 and 11 hours of sunlight during the trek, so you should be able to do it before dusk.
To complete the trek, you should have a medium to high level of fitness, I do not recommend beginners to attempt it, as you may not complete it by sunset.
Where To Park Your Car At The Tongariro Alpine Crossing?
The Tongariro Crossing starts at the end of Mangatepopo Road and ends at Ketetahi Parking Lot.
Click here to see the exact location of the Ketetahi Parking lot on Google maps.
For this reason, I recommend parking your car/campervan at Ketetahi Parking Lot and take a shuttle bus to the trailhead on Mangatepopo Road.
The end of the trail will bring you back to the Ketetahi Parking Lot.
Should You Trek The Tongariro Alpine Crossing On Your Own?
You definitely can trek the Tongariro Crossing on your own, as this is what most travelers do.
However, by going on a guided hike, you’ll be with an expert trekker that will show you the path, tell you unique stories, and show you the best photo spots!
Also, it’s worth noting that, when booking a tour, appropriate clothing and gear are included, so you won’t need to buy your own, which is a massive plus.
DAY 9: TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK
After completing the Alpine Crossing, I highly recommend sticking around in Tongariro National Park for another full day.
Tongariro NP is a World Heritage Site and is home to some of the most stunning natural features in New Zealand.
The park is famous for its three active volcanoes, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu.
Needless to say, you can enjoy countless activities here, from hiking and riding a bicycle in the summertime to skiing and snowboarding in the winter.
The park is open all year round, but the best time to visit is during the spring, summer, and autumn months.
THINGS TO DO IN TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK
Ski Mt Ruapehu
Mt Ruapehu is the largest active volcano in New Zealand, and it’s also home to two of the most popular winter ski resorts in the country.
Whakapapa and Turoa offer ski and snowboard slopes for all levels of ability, as well as a range of other winter activities like tubing, tobogganing, and snowshoeing.
The skiing season typically runs from June to October, but it’s best to check the snow reports before planning a ski trip if you’re coming specifically for this.
If you’re looking for another spectacular hike, the Tama Lakes trail is a great alternative to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
It’s a 17-kilometer round trip hike that takes approximately 6 hours and takes you through picturesque forests, waterfalls, and finally to the stunning Tama Lakes.
The lakes are formed from volcanic craters and have crystal-clear waters, which makes it a perfect location for a picnic lunch or a refreshing swim.
There are several bike trails in the Tongariro National Park ranging from easy to advanced and the most popular is the Old Coach Road trail.
The Old Coach Road is an intermediate-level trail that takes you through historic railway tunnels, suspension bridges, and beautiful bush landscapes.
It’s a 15-kilometer ride that takes 2 to 3 hours to complete.
You can rent a bike at the National Park and start the trail on Matapuna Road in Horopito or Ohakune Railway Station – both spots have signs indicating the trail, so it’s easy to find.
Tawhai Falls is an easily accessible waterfall that’s a short walk from the main road. It featured in the Lord of Rings movies, where it was the backdrop for Gollum catching fish.
The waterfall cascades over a rocky outcrop into a pristine pool below, making it a perfect spot for a refreshing dip on hot summer days.
The waterfall is 13 meters high, which is great for photographers, and it’s easy to reach, so you don’t need to be particularly fit!
Pssst! Check out this EPIC Hiking Backpack!
Perfect for shorter day hikes, the Osprey Stratos 24L is a tough pack made from sustainable materials.
With great internal organization, this is all you need for your next adventure, no matter the weather!
Mangawhero Falls were also used in the Lord of the Rings movies, where it represented the cliff of the Dwimorberg, where Aragorn races his horse to the top.
The waterfall is 25 meters high and has a grand viewing platform from which to take that perfect photo.
On top of being an incredible stop on the circuit, it’s just as majestic in the summer and winter, and I couldn’t recommend it enough!
Full Blog Post: Mangawhero Falls New Zealand
Another waterfall you shouldn’t miss is Taranaki Falls.
The waterfall drops 20 meters over a volcanic cliff into a deep pool below, surrounded by lush native forest. It’s a popular photography spot and a great place to relax after a short 1-hour hike.
Full Blog Post: Taranaki Falls Walk
DAY 10: FORGOTTEN WORLD HIGHWAY TO EGMONT NATIONAL PARK
After spending some time exploring the natural wonders of Tongariro National Park, it’s time to hit the road and make your way to Egmont National Park via the Forgotten World Highway.
The Forgotten World Highway spans 155km and runs between Stratford and Taumarunui, passing through remote and rugged landscapes that are perfect for exploring.
You’ll see rolling hills dotted with sheep, rivers, and streams carving through deep valleys, and misty forests that teem with wildlife.
It takes around 2.5 hours – 3 hours to get from Tongariro National Park to Egmont National Park.
THINGS TO DO IN EGMONT NATIONAL PARK
As the day draws to a close, you’ll arrive at Egmont National Park, and one must-visit destination is Wilkies Pool, a hidden gem that lies on the eastern side of Mount Taranaki.
This emerald-green pool is fed by a series of waterfalls and is surrounded by lush greenery and towering trees.
Take a dip in the refreshing water, or sit back and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
To get to Wilkies Pool, you’ll have to hike a lovely trail in the middle of the forest and it’ll take around 90 minutes to complete, so don’t forget to bring your water bottle.
Another highlight of Egmont National Park is Dawson’s Falls, a towering waterfall cascading from over 28 meters.
Several walking tracks around offer fantastic views of the falls, as well as the surrounding landscapes.
As the sun sets, make your way to Kent Road, a spot that offers some of the most spectacular views of Mount Taranaki.
Here, you’ll be able to capture some breathtaking photos as the colors of the sky change and the mountain is bathed in golden light.
Finally, wrap up your day with a visit to Lake Mangamahoe, a stunning lake that’s surrounded by lush forests.
This peaceful setting is perfect for ending your day with a gentle stroll or a relaxing picnic as you take in the natural beauty of the area.
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN EGMONT NATIONAL PARK
If you’re traveling in a campervan, I recommend spending the night at one of these campervan sites:
BEST HOTELS IN EGMONT NATIONAL PARK
If you’re traveling in a rental car and need to book a hotel for the night, these are the ones I recommend.
LUXURY: AMITY COURT MOTEL
MID RANGE: PATUHA RAINFOREST RETREAT
BUDGET: NGATI RUANUI STRATFORD MOUNTAIN HOUSE
DAY 11: EGMONT NATIONAL PARK (MT TARANAKI) & POUAKAI TARN HIKE
The Pouakai Tarn Hike is one of the most popular hikes in the park and offers breathtaking views of Mount Taranaki.
It’s a challenging 5 – 6 hour trek that starts from the North Egmont Visitor Centre and ends at Pouakai Hut.
Another alternative trail to reach Pouakai Tarn is the Mangorei Track Trailhead. This route takes about 2 hours one way with a steep incline.
Before starting the hike, it’s important to prepare enough food and water to sustain you for the duration of the hike. You can easily drive into New Plymouth City to pick up supplies.
You’ll also need a sleeping bag and pillow if you plan on staying overnight at the Pouakai Hut.
The hike itself is not for the faint of heart. It’s a steep uphill climb that will take you through a variety of terrains, including forests, wetlands, and alpine meadows.
The view of Mount Taranaki from the Pouakai Tarn is 100% worth every drop of sweat to get here!
Full Blog Post: Pouakai Tarns Hike
STAY OVERNIGHT AT POUAKAI HUT
As mentioned earlier, there’s a hut available for hikers to stay in overnight and it’s near the Pouakai Tarn reflective viewpoint of Mount Taranaki.
The Pouakai Hut is a basic alpine hut with 16 bunk beds, a fireplace, a communal kitchen, and drop toilets.
Bookings for the Pouakai Hut are essential and the cost is $15 per night. Click here to book online in advance.
DAY 12: NEW PLYMOUTH
After an overnight stay in Pouakai Hut, and once you’ve completed the hike back down, make your way to New Plymouth, which is only a short 20 – 30 minute drive away.
THINGS TO DO IN NEW PLYMOUTH
Paritutu Rock is a volcanic remnant that towers over the surrounding landscape, offering stunning views of the city and the Tasman Sea
It’s a popular spot for rock climbing or hiking, but don’t worry, getting to the top only takes about 15 minutes!
After visiting Paritutu Rock, take a 20-minute drive south to Oakura Beach, a beautiful black sand beach that is perfect for surfing and beach bumming.
This popular beach is known for its consistent waves, and it’s ideal for beginners and experienced surfers.
You can still enjoy the picturesque scenery and work on your tan if you’re not a surfer.
New Plymouth Coastal Walkway
Before ending your day, make sure you head to the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway. This scenic walkway is 12.7 km long and offers stunning views of the coast and the city.
The walkway is easy to access, and it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels. You can walk, jog, or cycle, and take in its panoramic views.
That’s not it – New Plymouth is also a great place for shopping. The city has a vibrant and bustling shopping scene, with many stores, boutiques, and markets.
Alternatively, you could visit Centre City Shopping Centre, which boasts dozens of retail stores and a food court.
Take Your Photos & Videos To New Heights!
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN NEW PLYMOUTH
When searching for campervan parks in New Plymouth, these are the ones I recommend spending one night:
- Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park
- New Plymouth Top 10 Holiday Park
- Back Beach Car Park (Freedom Camp Spot)
BEST HOTELS IN NEW PLYMOUTH
New Plymouth has dozens of hotels to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
LUXURY: KING & QUEEN HOTEL SUITES
MID RANGE: FLAMINGO MOTEL
BUDGET: DUCKS & DRAKES BOUTIQUE MOTEL
DAY 13: THREE SISTERS & WAITOMO CAVES
On the second-last day of your 2 week North Island itinerary, is time to start making your way back north toward Auckland, spending one night in Waitomo to break up the drive.
A couple of must-visit attractions in between New Plymouth and Auckland is the Three Sisters and Waitomo Caves.
About 1-hour drive north of New Plymouth, be sure to stop at the Three Sisters along the way to Waitomo.
Boasting 25-meter-tall rock formations along the coastline, and distance views of Mount Taranaki, you will be left in awe of this natural phenomenon.
The Three Sisters can only be reached on low tide and it takes about 10 minutes to reach the spot by walking from the car park along the river’s edge.
Alternatively, you can marvel at this epic landscape from the Three Sisters Lookout.
Waitomo is a village in the Waikato region, known for its extensive underground cave systems that play home to thousands of glowworms.
One of the best ways to explore Waitomo Caves is by blackwater rafting with The Legendary Blackwater Rafting Co.
This thrilling 3-hour experience takes you through the fascinating cave system where you can marvel at thousands of tiny glow worms illuminating the caves like a starry night sky.
If you’re not keen on blackwater rafting, there are other tours available which I have listed below;
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN WAITOMO
These are the top-rated campervan parks in Waitomo to spend the night:
BEST HOTELS IN WAITOMO
The Waitomo area has a few accommodations to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
LUXURY: WAITOMO GOLF RIDGE
MID-RANGE: WAITOMO LODGE
BUDGET: CAVES MOTOR INN
DAY 14: DEPARTURE FROM AUCKLAND
As your adventure across North Island comes to an end, you have two options for your last day, depending on your onward plans.
The options are:
- Going back to Auckland and flying out
- Heading to Wellington and either flying out or continuing to the South Island
OPTION 1: BACK TO AUCKLAND
If you need to catch a flight back home or to your next destination, you can head back to Auckland and return your campervan or rental car.
The distance from Waitomo to Auckland is approximately 200km and takes roughly 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Depending on your schedule, you could stop into Raglan Beach on the way for lunch, perhaps spend some more time roaming around Auckland City, or if you have a couple more days up your sleeve, take a trip over to Waiheke Island.
OPTION 2: GO TO WELLINGTON
For those with a little more time, make your way down to Wellington.
This vibrant capital city offers plenty to see and do such as;
- A visit to Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s national museum.
- Take a walk along the picturesque Wellington waterfront.
- Head up to the top of Mount Victoria for stunning panoramic views.
Related Article: 2 Week South Island New Zealand Itinerary
WELLINGTON TO SOUTH ISLAND
The Interislander Ferry is a 3-hour cruise across the Cook Strait, departing from Wellington Ferry Terminal.
The ferry tends to fill up fast, especially during peak season from December – February, so make sure to book the ferry online well in advance.
CAMPERVAN PARKS IN WELLINGTON
BEST HOTELS IN WELLINGTON
Wellington has hundreds of accommodations to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay during your visit.
LUXURY: INTERCONTINENTAL WELLINGTON
MID-RANGE: RAMADA BY WYNDHAM WELLINGTON
BUDGET: THE MARION HOSTEL
TRAVEL TIPS: NEW ZEALAND NORTH ISLAND ROAD TRIP
Here are some handy travel tips and things to know before you begin your 14 day New Zealand itinerary.
BEST APPS FOR A NORTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND ROAD TRIP
When planning your New Zealand north island road trip, several apps can make your journey even more pleasant and convenient.
From having an accurate weather forecast to finding the best camping locations and even hiking trails, these apps will come in handy.
Among the best apps for a New Zealand road trip are:
- MetService (Weather)
- Maps.me (GPS)
- Google Maps (GPS)
- Spotify (Music)
- Great Rides (Biking trails)
- Great Hikes (Hiking trails)
- Rankers Camping NZ (Camping Locations)
- CamperMate (Camping spots, details, and more)
FREEDOM CAMPING IN NEW ZEALAND
Freedom camping in New Zealand is a fantastic way to save money on accommodation.
There are many sites and apps available to help you find freedom camping locations all across the country, but I recommend Freedom Camping and CamperMate, which list dozens of locations around New Zealand.
CamperMate is one of the most popular apps for finding both free and paid campgrounds in New Zealand. It includes information on sites such as facilities, activities, and even nearby attractions.
When going off-grid, be sure to buy enough water, food, and snacks for the road, especially if you plan to sleep in your campervan for a few days!
OTHER THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Firstly, WiFi isn’t available everywhere, and for this reason, you will want to get a local sim card when you arrive at Auckland Airport or purchase an eSIM.
Secondly, I suggest you buy groceries at PAK ‘n’ SAVE, which is much cheaper than other stores around the country.
Also, most tours and entrance tickets sell out super fast so I suggest booking online on Viator in advance and being guaranteed the best rates.
More New Zealand Travel Guides
Click the button below to view all articles related to New Zealand!
WHAT TO PACK FOR NEW ZEALAND
When visiting New Zealand, here is a list of items I highly recommend bringing with you:
Must-Have Travel Essentials
Hidden Money Wallet
Keep your cash and other valuables safe with this anti-theft hidden money wallet!
Reusable Water Bottle
The GRAYL GeoPress is the best reusable bottle that allows you to purify water from anywhere!
The Nomatic Travel Backpack has 20+ innovative features, perfect for everyday use!
Quick-Dry Travel Towel
The most compact, lightweight, and quick-dry towel for traveling!
Keep your phone, laptop, and accessories charged while you’re on the go with the Anker PowerBank!
FINAL THOUGHTS – ITINERARY NORTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND
I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and if you have any questions, please drop me a comment below this post, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.
TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!
Search and book accommodation worldwide.
Compare and book cheap flights to anywhere.
Find tickets, tours, and experiences around the world.
Book buses, trains, and transfers online in advance.
Search all rental cars in your next destination.
Need travel insurance for your next trip?
THANKS FOR READING
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