In late February 2013 we hired a small camper van and drove in a ‘loop’ around the North Island for 10 days. I thought I’d share my route in case anyone was looking for something similar covering a lot of the major sites. It’s worth noting that our route was quite ‘driving intensive’ so add another 4 days in the places you enjoy if you want a more relaxed pace.
On day 1 we picked our camper van up from Auckland airport and drove to Coromandel Town, taking us just over 2 hours. We stayed the night at Coromandel Motel (opposite top 10 holiday park) $12.50pp
New Chums Beach
Voted by the Observer in 2006 as one of the Top 20 Beaches in the World. It’s a hard scramble to the beach along rocks – but totally worth it!
Hot Water Beach
Get here early to reserve your spot!
Stay the night at the Sea-air motel ($15pp)
We walked to the east cape lighthouse – the most easterly point in New Zealand!
The beach here is one of the most stunning on the East coast. Stay the night at Anaura Motor Camp ($14pp)
Tolaga Bay is home to the longest wharf in New Zealand (600m) and for many years the only access to the town was via boat!
Gisbourne is the laid back city of surfers.
Morere Hot Springs
Hot and cold springs set amid 364 hectares of rainforest.
An idyllic lake favoured by fishermen and Kiwi’s looking for R&R. We stayed at the DOC campsite here ($5pp suggested donation)
Napier is a stylish art deco town with a ‘café culture’ going on, as well as being one of New Zealand’s biggest sea ports.
Taupo is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist towns and its mountains are famous internationally for being featured as the ominous Mt Doom in the Lord of The Rings trilogy.
You can stay the night for free at Reids Farm (free council campsite)
The Tongariro Crossing has to be one of the best one day walks in the world. The crossing will take 6 – 8 hours to complete and passes over varying terrain so you’ll need to be in reasonable fitness to complete the walk.
The mighty Huka Falls are on the Waikato River just a 10 minute drive from the centre of Taupo.
Rotorua has to be the most touristy town in New Zealand – and it knows it! You can take part in various Māori cultural evenings; however these come at a high price of around $140 per person – take them or leave them. However the Wai-O-Tapu thermal valley is a must do.
As Otorohanga is the nearest town to Waitomo Caves so it tends to feel like a transit town, however it is home to the Kiwi House. If you stay the night at Camp Kiwi Holiday Park ($12pp) you can get discounted entry to the Kiwi House.
Waitomo Caves attract thousands of visitors per year to see the thousands of glow worms all hanging around inside.
Extremely laid back hippy town… a little too laid back for us.
Located on the banks of the Waikato River and home to the Hamilton Gardens – well worth a visit if you are passing through. Stay at the City Camp ($16pp).
A quiet seaside town an hour South West of Auckland. Rest your head at the Top 10 Holiday Park ($18pp).
Compared to all other cities in New Zealand, Auckland feels like a true city – complete with many shops, restaurants, trendy suburbs (including Ponsonby) and a humming bar scene.