Experience a holiday of refreshing relaxation, geothermal attractions and every kind of seaside scenery as you travel the epic Pacific Coast Highway, from Auckland to Whakatane.
With its picturesque harbour and bountiful islands, Auckland is the perfect place to start a coastal holiday.
Island hopping is a favourite pastime for Auckland ‘boaties’ and it's easy to see why, the region is simply littered with islands. Wind your way through the Hauraki Gulf on a whale and dolphin-watching cruise as you discover some of the gulf's friendly wildlife.
The most accessible of Auckland's islands is Waiheke, also known as the ‘island of wine’ for its numerous award-winning wineries. Indulge your taste buds with a delicious food and wine tour or for something a little more adventurous, try flying through the forest canopy on a zipline.
Coromandel Peninsula, is home to some of the North Island's most spectacular natural sights, including the world famous Cathedral Cove, featured in the film Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Here the soft white rock has eroded away to create a magnificent archway connecting two secluded coves. A rocky island pinnacle completes the picture making it one of The Coromandel's most photogenic spots.
Not far from Cathedral Cove, you will find Hot Water Beach. Dig down into the sand a little way and create your own seaside bath from the rising natural spring that resides beneath the surface.
Journey down the peninsula to Waihi where you will find one of New Zealand's Great Cycling Trails. Following a historic railway route from Waihi to Paeroa and beyond, the Hauraki Rail Trail is rich with gold mining history and stunning scenery. One highlight is the Owharoa Falls, in the spectacular Karangahake Gorge.
Your next stop is the sunny city of Tauranga. Learn more about this favourite kiwi holiday spot with a guided tour of Mount Maunganui. Enjoy hearing local Maori legends as you wander from the mountain's base to its summit.
Alternatively, spend the afternoon on board a boat cruise meeting the Bay of Plenty's friendly marine life and exploring the region's many secluded islands.
Learn more about New Zealand's only active marine volcano.More about White Island
Wake up early to watch the sunrise from Mount Maunganui, before driving the short distance to Whakatane. Here you will join a thrilling scenic tour to White Island, New Zealand's only active marine volcano. 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 influenced history.
After your volcanic encounter return to Tauranga for the night, and spend the evening kayaking through a canyon alight with twinkling glowworms. A perfect end to the day.
If you're into mountain biking you can't go past Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest. Known to most simply as the 'Redwoods', this forest boasts world-class mountain biking trails and is one of just 6 centres in the world to receive gold-class status from the International Mountain Biking Association.
Switch gears in the afternoon, with a visit to Te Puia, where stunning geothermal features and unique Maori cultural experiences combine. Watch the world famous Pohutu geyser erupt, gaze on pools of bubbling mud and end the day with an authentic cultural performance.
Another scenic drive from Rotorua gets you to the city of Napier, a great place to relax and unwind.
Hawke’s Bay is a fertile wine-growing region that boasts one of the world’s best collections of Art Deco architecture.
Once in Napier, you can visit the Hawke’s Bay’s many wineries on a self-drive, chauffer driven or bicycle tour. The winery restaurants make it easy to appreciate lush sauvignon blanc, smooth merlot and spicy cabernet sauvignon.
Nearby Cape Kidnappers/Te Kauwae-a-Māui is home to the world’s largest gannet colony which can be reached on foot, by kayak or on a tractor. The Cape also happens to have one of the country’s best golf courses.
It is a long (five and a half hour) but beautiful drive back to Auckland, through rolling hills and lush countryside. As you pass through take time to visit some of the region's many unique rural towns.
Getting around the Pacific Coast is easy with familiar road signs and a great range of transport options available.
Use this distance calculator to get approximate travel times for your journey.
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