Auckland’s setting between two sparkling harbours is a fitting starting point for spectacular coastal getaways. Hiring a campervan to take on your Auckland road trip has never been easier. Pick up your maui motorhome from the conveniently located depot near Auckland airport, and you’ll be perfectly positioned for a fast getaway to explore the beautiful surrounds.
To help you on your way, we’ve created three terrific Auckland road trip itineraries you can enjoy. There are a huge array of fun things to do in Auckland as well as a few must do Auckland day trips that you could work into a long weekend or a four-to-five-day trip. There are many wonderful side-trips, attractions to visit in Auckland and towns around the North Island, allowing you to expand your trip to suit your own timeframe.
4 - 7 DAYS
Auckland to Auckland
Best Time of the Year
- Bay of Islands
- Waitomo Caves
- New Plymouth
Maui Ultima Plus
Route 1: Northern Explorer
This route offers a return journey from Auckland, exploring the best of the Northland region’s historical towns, spectacular coasts and waterways. To extend your road trip, include the seven-days, signposted Twin Discovery Tour which takes in the stunning east coast and rich history of two beautiful harbours to the west.
Auckland to Whangarei
Day One will take you directly up SH1 to Wellsford before turning east towards the surf haven of Mangawhai Heads (just under 100 kilometres from Auckland). Enjoy the beach and estuary campground there, and eat out at the iconic waterfront pub, or one of many great restaurants in charming Mangawhai Township. Add an extra 60km to reach the buzzy little port city of Whangarei. Take in the vibrant waterside restaurants and shops in the bustling marine hub. A 45km scenic drive to dramatic Whangarei Heads is a must, before returning to camp surrounded by water on three sides at Blue Heron Holiday Park. If you are well rested and road-ready, you could easily make Paihia in the Bay of Islands your first overnight stop after a pleasant 3.5 hour drive from Auckland, although a more leisurely drive is recommended.
Bay of Islands - Credit Adventure HQ
Whangarei to Paihia/Russell
It is time to explore the Bay of Islands - a destination in its own right. You could spend a week just tootling around the many bays, islands and inlets. There are numerous campgrounds to choose from around Paihia and motorhome parking is well signposted behind the Pahia shops. Base yourself there for the day while you explore by land or sea. Take the Cream Run ferry trip around the islands, or a shorter day trip on the passenger ferry to explore historic Russell by foot. If you’ve got the time, you could even stay in Russell at the Top 10 Holiday Park Russell. Just take the car ferry from Opua.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Day 3 & 4
Paihia to Kerikeri & back to Auckland
A visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in Waitangi is an absolute must-do for a profoundly affecting cultural immersion at the nation’s birthplace. Then continue north and head for historic Kerikeri and surrounds. This is a good place to spend a night before planning your route home, staying at the campground high above the charming harbour town of Rawene beside the Hokianga. Make time to visit Opononi and the sacred giant kauri tree, Tane Mahuta, enroute to the Kauri Museum at Matakohe. You could return to Auckland directly via the SH1 or take the spectacular Hokianga and Kaipara Harbours joining the Twin Coast Discovery Route at Kawakawa.
If you’re keen to extend this route and take in all the delights of Northland, head up to Cape Reinga on our Twin Coast Discovery itinerary, or alternatively follow the action packed Northern Lights itinerary.
Route 2: Coromandel, Tauranga and Hawkes Bay
Take in the stunning Coromandel Peninsula before moving down to Tauranga and Hawkes Bay, exploring some of the best sights the east coast of New Zealand has to offer. From the stunning coastlines to endless vineyards, this route has something for everyone.
Hot Water Beach - Credit Graeme Murray
Auckland to Coromandel
Take SH1 south and east from Auckland to Tauranga and the Coromandel Peninsula. Turn left through Thames to explore the winding and beautiful coastal road to charming Coromandel township and stay overnight there. The faster, steeper Kopu-Hikuai route will deliver you to the numerous stunning surf towns of Pauanui, Tairua, and Whitianga, as well as world-famous Hot Water Beach and laid-back Whangamata. Driving time from Auckland to Hot Water Beach is around 3 hours.
Mount Maunganui - Credit Graeme Murray
Coromandel to Tauranga
Spend a morning exploring the Coromandel before travelling to Karangahake Gorge and Waihi, enveloped in gold mining history. Don’t miss the Windows Walk at K-Gorge and the museum at Waihi, before continuing to Tauranga and Mount Maunganui via Kiwi-fruit hub Katikati - totaling 2.5 hours. Stay at Omokoroa Thermal Kiwi Holiday Park near Tauranga or at Mount Maunganui beachside campground. Enjoy multi-ethnic restaurants and shops around ‘The Mount’, as well as beach walks and the eponymous mountain climb (3.4km/45-minutes).
Geyser in Rotorua - Credit Mark Clinton
Tauranga to Rotorua
Head to Rotorua via Te Puke before a great day of exploration in ‘Sulphur City’. Rotorua is best seen by taking in the city’s art and cultural places, as well as the jaw-dropping hot pools, geysers and lakes. Soak up some Maori culture at Tamaki Maori Village, and the thermal wonderland of Te Puia. Finish off with a soak in the Polynesian Spa or a wander through the ancient redwood groves marvelling at these giant trees. At the end of the day, drive one hour to beautiful, bustling Lake Taupo and stay overnight at All Seasons Holiday Park Taupo.
Napier - Credit Graeme Murray
Day 4 & 5
Rotorua to Napier
Head to Napier, a busy and picturesque port city, rebuilt in the 1930s after a massive earthquake razed the city centre. It is internationally acclaimed for its Art Deco-architecture. It is also at the heart of the surrounding wine district perfectly linked by bike trails between vineyards. Immerse yourself in this stunning region for as long as you can and whilst here take the opportunity to visit Cape Kidnappers and the stunning Ocean beach. Accommodation options here are plentiful but the Napier Beach Holiday Park, 9km from town, is hard to beat with its sea views.
Napier to Auckland via Hobbiton
On your last day, it’s time to return to Auckland via SH1 (about 6 hours), making time to take in Hobbiton, a short drive off the main road to Matamata. Or stop in beautiful Cambridge (two hours from Auckland) for a bite to eat. See more variations and activities to include in this trip with our Pacific Coast Highway itinerary.
Route 3: Southern Splendour
What’s not to love about a roadie that will take you to one of the country’s best-kept secrets and hottest emerging destinations? The journey to New Plymouth via surf central Raglan and wonderful Waitomo Caves takes you through the heartland of New Zealand.
Auckland to Raglan
On day one, start your adventure with a quick trip down SH1 to Hamilton to explore the spectacular Hamilton Gardens before driving the short distance to stay overnight at Raglan, one of the country’s best loved surf towns. Enjoy the serenity and picture-perfect views of this coastal town - the perfect place to setup camp for a night.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Raglan to Waitomo
On day two, head south for just over an hour and discover Kiwi central, Otorohanga, or continue to Waitomo Caves and discover an ancient world 30 million years in the making. Marvel at Mother Nature’s light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto. And don’t miss out on visiting the Ruakuri and Aranui Caves too, making use of Waitomo’s Triple Cave Combo pass. Make the most of your time here by spending the night at Waitomo Top 10 Holiday Park.
Whanganui River, Taranaki - Credit James Heremaia
Day 3 & 4
Waitomo to New Plymouth
Turn off to Taranaki and take your time exploring the famous Surf Highway en route to New Plymouth. This should take about 2 hours, but you’ll want to budget much more as there’s plenty of places to pull over and marvel at the view. Stay overnight here before continuing on. For those outdoor lovers, Mount Taranaki itself provides a great opportunity for a day hike immersing yourself in the flora and fauna that is unique to the area. Take the time to soak up New Plymouth and explore the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery incorporating Len Lye Centre as well as the outstanding parks and gardens, waterfront walkways and bike paths.
New Plymouth to Auckland
Dependent on time, from here you can head back towards Auckland, which takes roughly five hours, or extend your trip heading toward Tongariro National Park. One for the outdoor lovers, there’s hikes galore including the legendary Tongariro Crossing, waterfalls, skiing (during winter) and cycling. Whakapapa holiday park will have you camping on the side of a volcano with stunning views out over the land below just a few minutes walk. It’s easy to spend a couple of days here before taking the trip back to Auckland (about 4.5 hours).