Auckland to Wellington, East Coast Journey

6 DAYS

1181 km

Highlights

  • Coromandel Town
  • Mount Maunganui - voted NZ's best beach
  • Art Deco Napier

Proximity

CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

This 6-day East Coast journey is the beach lover’s route from Auckland to Wellington.

Travel from the urban pleasures of Auckland to the tranquil bays of the Coromandel coast and the sunny city of Tauranga in Bay of Plenty. Explore an active volcano in Whakatane and beautiful beaches in Opotiki, then tour vineyards in Gisborne and Napier before travelling on to the cultural attractions of Wellington.

Day 1: Auckland to Whitianga

The Coromandel
Hot Water Beach, The Coromandel

By Destination Coromandel

The Coromandel

COROMANDEL

Pristine beaches and dramatic coastlines.

Highlights

  • Explore the world famous Cathedral Cove
  • Snorkel Orua sea cave
  • Dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach

Proximity

  • By car: 3 h 15 min | 210 km SH1 & SH25
  • By bus: 4 h 35 min | by Intercity

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is situated between two enormous harbours and dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones. Spend your time here enjoying the city's harbour, museums, galleries, and adventure activities.

Your first stop on the journey south is the historic township of Thames. Founded during the Coromandel gold rush, this is a great place to learn the region's history. Further on, Coromandel Town is a haven for artists, craftspeople and conservationists. Explore the galleries and craft shops that showcase the local talent. 

Whitianga is home to a fishing fleet - expect to eat some excellent seafood. Best things to do include surfing, surf casting and beach walks.

Day 2: Whitianga to Tauranga

Bay of Plenty
Kayaking Wairoa River, Bay of Plenty

By Tourism Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty

BAY OF PLENTY

Spectacular beaches and an active volcano.

Highlights

  • Mount Maunganui - voted NZ's best beach
  • Cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail
  • Evening kayaking with glowworms

Proximity

  • By car: 3 h | 184 km via SH25 & SH2
  • By bus: 5 h | via Thames by Intercity

The road south gives you the opportunity to visit Hot Water Beach, where geothermally heated water bubbles up through the sand. At low tide, you can dig your own spa. Another highlight of this journey is the walk to spectacular Cathedral Cove, which begins at Hahei

Along the way pause in Whangamata, for all sorts of water-based activities or take a day trip to Mayor Island, the summit of a dormant volcano rising from the seafloor.

The prosperous city of Tauranga sprawls along the edge of an attractive harbour. From here you can organise boat charters to take you fishing, snorkelling or dolphin watching. Or visit nearby Mount Maunganui for surfing and beach walks.

Day 3: Tauranga to Whakatane & White Island

Bay of Plenty
White Island, Bay of Plenty

By Tourism New Zealand

Highlights

  • White Island volcanic tours
  • Maori historical sites
  • Dolphin and seal nature tours

Proximity

DISCOVER WHITE ISLAND

Learn more about New Zealand's only active marine volcano.

Read more

Get up early to watch the sunrise from Mount Maunganui, before heading on to Whakatane.

Sitting just 49km off the coast, White Island is one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes. Step out on the volcano's surface and get up close to roaring steam vents, bubbling mud pools, boiling streams and a lake of steaming acid. The guides will give you a taste of the island's rich geological and human history.

If islands of steaming sulphur aren't your thing, why not visit the beautiful Mataatua, Te Manuka Tutahi meeting house or spend the afternoon meeting local marine life with a boat cruise or kayaking adventure.

Day 4: Whakatane to Gisborne via Opotiki

Eastland
Surfing, Gisborne, Eastland

By Paul Abbitt

Eastland

EASTLAND

Maori culture, miles of surf beach and wine.

Highlights

  • Surf beaches
  • Seaside towns
  • Wineries

Proximity

  • By car: 2 h 30 min | 185 km via SH2
  • By bus: 3 h 5 min | by Intercity

Your first stop today is the picturesque seaside town of Opotiki. Eco-tourism activities make excellent use of the beautiful coastal and forest environment, with horse trekking, kayaking, river rafting and dolphin swimming all on offer.

From Opotiki take the scenic inland route to Gisborne, past the Urewera Ranges

Gisborne is a sunny city with a reputation for good wine and fantastic surf beaches. There are more than 20 vineyards in the area – the emphasis is on Chardonnay. Not far from the town centre Kaiti Beach marks the first European landing place in New Zealand.

Day 5: Gisborne to Napier

Hawke's Bay
Gannet Colony, Cape Kidnappers, Hawke's Bay

By Travelling Pooh

Hawke's Bay

HAWKE'S BAY

Wineries, wildlife and Art Deco design.

Highlights

  • Cape Kidnappers gannet colony
  • Beautiful cycling trails
  • World-class food and wine

Proximity

  • By car: 3 h | 214 km via SH2
  • By bus: 4 h | by Intercity

There are two routes from Gisborne to  Napier. On the inland route, you'll pass Hackfalls Arboretum, one of the largest private collections of trees in New Zealand. Alternatively, take the coastal route for access to Morere Hot Springs and Mahia Peninsula. Both roads bring you to Wairoa, a good place for kayaking or riverside walks and a base for exploring Te Urewera

Napier is excellent for exploring by foot or by bike. Walk through the town and discover the beautiful 1930s Art Deco buildings. Take a scenic cycling trip up Te Mata Peak or ride cycle trails that connect the region's wineries. Cape Kidnappers walking track leads to a fascinating gannet colony.

Day 6: Napier to Wellington

Wellington
Oriental Bay, Wellington., Wellington

By Rob Suisted

Wellington

WELLINGTON

Mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine.

Highlights

  • Cafes, bars and restaurants
  • Classic New Zealand wine trail
  • Art and culture in Wellington

Proximity

  • By car: 4 h 20 min | 230 km via SH2
  • By bus: 5 h 25 min | via Kapiti Coast by Intercity

As you journey south today you'll pass a series of small rural towns. Palmerston North, New Zealand's largest provincial town is a good lunch stop. Many of the original 1920s and 1930s stores have been restored as boutique shops, cafes and restaurants. 

Other attractions along the way include Owlcatraz owl sanctuary and Kapiti Island nature reserve.

In Wellington, you'll discover a lively combination of culture, heritage and cuisine. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot. Delve into museums and galleries, sample local craft beers and experience the quirky culture of New Zealand's capital city.

Driving in New Zealand

Important things you need to know about driving in New Zealand.

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