Hilde and Sam's first trip to NZ together was one they'll never forget.
Hilde and Sam shared their 6-berth maui River with three of their closest friends from Christchurch to Auckland and had the time of their lives.
Their escapades took them along some of New Zealand's most scenic drives and they found some amazing places to spend the night.
Their itinerary was the perfect marriage of adventures and relaxation...
Christchurch to Auckland
Best Time of the Year
All year round
Sunrise in Picton
Natural hot pools in Rotorua
Hobbiton Movie Set
Christchurch to Wellington
Distance 340km - Driving Time 6 hours
I have visited New Zealand a few times before, but it was the first time bringing my wife with me to experience this beautiful country. Our initial plan for the roadtrip was to try to head as north from Christchurch as possible and see as much as possible. Let's just say that it is a huge task to complete, so we just decided to make our way north day by day and experience and enjoy the journey itself.
We actually ended up inviting a couple of our close friends to join us on our trip and they all were able to come with us for a few days.
On the first day, our only goal was to make it to Picton to catch an overnight ferry to Wellington. We ended up spending a few extra hours by exploring the beautiful town of Kaikoura and taking it easy on the stunning coastal road.
Wellington to Te Waihou
Distance 480km - Driving Time 6 hours
The ferry arrived to Wellington early in the morning and we decided that instead of trying to stop immediately to find a place to sleep, we would try to push a couple of hours north along the road and find a rest stop for a quick sleep. A beautiful sunrise woke us up and we started heading north. We were excited to discover local tourist attractions. We were able to find natural hot pools in Rotorua where we took a swim as well as in the freezing cold Blue Spring in Te Waihou, where we ended up for the night.
Te Waihou to Raglan
Distance 455km - Driving Time 7 hours
Our third day started with an early drive up north towards Cathedral Cove. On the way there we stopped at Hot Water Beach, but we ended up there at high tide, which isn't the best time to find the hot pools on the beach, so we carried on to Cathedral Cove. That was simply stunning. Beautiful little beach with an arch carved into the rock by the waves, which you can walk through.
We didn't have too much time to spend there, since we still wanted to make it to the last tour in the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata. I think the experience of being in such a real movie set was definitely one of the biggest highlights of the trip, since we all love Lord of the Rings and that place actually exists. For the night we headed west to Raglan and found a beautiful rest stop by the cliffs on Whaanga Rd.
Raglan to Piha
Distance 200km - Driving Time 3 hours
After eating breakfast it was time to say goodbye to our friends and drop them off at the airport. Before heading further from Auckland our friend suggested that we should check out Ponsonby Central, which was such an amazing experience. Really great places to eat with neat little shops. After having our lunch, my wife and I headed out to the West Coast to Piha to have a relaxing day on the beach.
Piha is such a beautiful little town with short stunning walks and great little waves to enjoy surfing. We didn't want to rush any further that day, so we enjoyed a nice dinner at the local restaurant and stayed the night in Piha.
Piha to Paihia
Distance 320km - Driving Time 4.5 hours
After starting the day with a beautiful breakfast view over Piha beach, we decided to head towards our most northern point of our trip and make our final U-turn in Paihia. We calculated that it will be the last place we are able to reach before heading back down. On the way north, it was amazing to realise how much the scenery had changed since our start in Christchurch. A couple of our friends also told us to go and check out a surf beach called Anchor Bay on the way, because the weather was supposed to be great for surfing. After renting out a couple of surf boards, we headed out to Anchor Bay, cooked a lunch in the campervan and enjoyed a quiet and nice surf afternoon with a couple of local people. Definitely a good place to stop to charge our batteries for the rest of the drive. We were able to make it all the way to Paihia by the evening and set up our camp by the lake.
Paihia to Auckland
Distance 250km - Driving Time 5 hours
We started our final day exploring Paihia for a few hours and they have a great little road going around the city taking you by the waterfalls and golf courses with beautiful views. We knew that we had to make it back to Auckland on the sixth day, because our flight was early the next morning. Instead of driving back down through the highway, we decided to enjoy ourselves and take some tiny winding roads through the little villages. It is always so rewarding to see the real culture and characters when you make a coffee stop in those little places. We ended up finding a great rest stop by Auckland for the last night.