Northern Beaches and Boats Itinerary

10 DAYS

1415 km

Highlights

  • Bay of Islands beaches
  • Giant kauri trees
  • Swimming with dolphins

Proximity

CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

The North Island of New Zealand is a paradise for beaches, boating and every kind of adventure in between. You'll start with the black sand of Auckland's west coast before taking a circuit through Northland that includes the gorgeous beaches of Bay of Islands, right up to Cape Reinga at the tip of the country, where two oceans meet.

Sandboarding the dunes on 90 Mile Beach, kayaking on the Coromandel, and surfing in Raglan are some of the highlights of this 10-day itinerary.

Day 1 - 2: Auckland Adventures

Auckland
Piha, Auckland

By Luke Thurlby

Auckland

AUCKLAND

Vibrant city style and spectacular landscapes

Proximity

  • By car: 1 h | 40 km to West Coast Beaches
  • By ferry: 30 min | to Waiheke by Auckland Transport

MUST-DO EXPERIENCES IN AUCKLAND

Explore a combination of metropolitan delights and natural landscapes.

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Set between two harbours, Auckland is a city of beaches. Enjoy fish and chips on Mission Bay Beach, a popular spot for Auckland locals, or cross the Harbour Bridge to Takapuna Beach where native Pohutukawa trees grow to the sand’s edge. A visit to Auckland’s West Coast beaches is a must-do. These wild beaches are quite a contrast to beaches on the east coast, with their black sand and pumping surf. Climb Lion Rock at Piha and watch the surfers riding the waves below.

For a good day trip or overnight excursion take the ferry out to Waiheke Island and chill out at Onetangi Beach or enjoy yourself at one of Waiheke’s many vineyards.

Day 3 - 4: Northland and Bay of Islands

Northland & Bay of Islands
Hole in the Rock, Northland & Bay of Islands

By Great Sights

Northland & Bay of Islands

NORTHLAND

A place of history, long beaches and giant trees

Proximity

  • By car: 3 h 10 min | 227 km via SH1
  • By bus: 4 h 15 min | by Intercity

MUST-DO EXPERIENCES IN NORTHLAND

Discover a subtropical wonderland of islands, marine life, kauri forests and Maori myth.

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Northland is a relaxing place, full of friendly people and stunning beaches. Head up the east coast to the Bay of Islands, where you can visit Tutukaka to dive the sub-tropical Poor Knights Islands or revel in the white sand of Matapouri Bay.

Paihia is a good spot to spend the night, as it’s the gateway to the Russell area and close to all the top attractions. A popular choice is a boat trip out to the famous Hole in the Rock. Alternatively, hire a kayak and explore the islands for yourself. In Paihia, thrillseekers can skydive and land right on the beach.

Day 5 - 6: Cape Reinga & 90 Mile Beach

New Zealand
Ninety Mile Beach is part of the Te Araroa Trail, one of the world's longest walking routes., New Zealand

By Amos Chapple

Highlights

  • Cape Reinga
  • 90 Mile Beach
  • Sandboard giant sand dunes

Proximity

  • By car: 3 h | to Cape Reinga (one way) via SH10
  • By bus: Visit the local iSITE for day trips & tours

EXPLORE CAPE REINGA

Discover the place of leaping, where Maori spirits begin their final journey.

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Continue north from Paihia past more glorious beach spots and along a narrowing splinter of land to Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean at the very top of New Zealand. From here, it isn't far to Ninety Mile Beach where you can sandboard down the giant Te Paki sand dunes or ride quad bikes and blokarts along the beach. Ahipara makes a good base for the night.

On your way back to Auckland, you’ll pass through Waipoua Forest, home to the largest kauri trees in the world. Spend a night in Opononi if you need a break from the road, and for one final bit of fun north of Auckland, try snorkelling at Goat Island Marine Reserve.

Day 7 - 8: Coromandel Peninsula

The Coromandel
Coromandel Fishing Charters, The Coromandel

By Brent Devcich, Devcich Design, Tauranga

Northland & Bay of Islands

COROMANDEL

Pristine beaches and dramatic coastlines

Proximity

  • By car: 2 h 35 min | 169 km via SH1, SH2 & SH
  • By bus: 4 hr 35 min | by Intercity

MUST-DO EXPERIENCES IN COROMANDEL

Discover laid-back locals, golden coastline and a mountainous interior.

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It’s off to the Coromandel Peninsula for the next couple of days, a popular holiday spot stacked with beautiful beaches. Coromandel Town is a great place to take a fishing charter out on the bay or scoot around the coast to the beachside town of Whitianga, known for its famous annual Scallop Festival.

The next day, get your swimsuits on and dig your own personal hot pool in the sand at Hot Water Beach, or get out on the water in the stunningly clear waters of Cathedral Cove with a guided kayak tour. If you have the time, you can also swing past Whangamata and try stand-up paddleboarding.

Day 9 - 10: Raglan

Hamilton - Waikato
Raglan, Hamilton - Waikato

By Chris McLennan

Hamilton - Waikato

HAMILTON - WAIKATO

Limestone caves & black sand beaches

Proximity

  • By car: 3 h | 218 km via SH25 & SH23
  • By bus: No direct bus service - see car-free options

TOP EXPERIENCES IN HAMILTON - WAIKATO

Explore a land of lush green pastures, home to Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Caves.

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Spending a couple of days in the chilled surf town of Raglan is the perfect way to wrap up your beach holiday. This place buzzes with creativity and a laidback vibe. Spend your time exploring the beautiful coastal scenery, or hire a surfboard and hit the waves. Manu Bay is said to have the longest left-hand break in the world, and it’s a great place to learn.

Ocean Beach, with its black sand, is a relaxing spot for lunch and a swim, or walk to the Bridal Veil Falls, off the Pakoka River. From Raglan, you’ll make your way back to Auckland and the end of your journey.

Car-free option

Spend in a night in Hamilton before heading on to Raglan.

Driving in New Zealand

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

View the route below

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