Auckland to Wellington via Napier

6 DAYS

875 km

Highlights

  • Wineries
  • Volcanoes and geysers
  • Museums and art galleries

Proximity

CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

Volcanic action and vineyards are major features of this 5-day journey to Wellington.

Visit the wine growing regions of Auckland, experience boiling mud, geysers and steaming craters in Rotorua and Taupo, and try trout fishing in Turangi. Napier and Hastings are packed with Art Deco design and world-class vineyards. Then take the tranquil drive through the Wairarapa to fun and vibrant Wellington.

Day 1: Spend the day in Auckland

Auckland
Waiheke Island, Auckland

By Miles Holden

Auckland

AUCKLAND

Vibrant city style and spectacular landscapes.

Highlights

  • Enjoy delicious food and wine
  • Matakana Saturday markets
  • Auckland's vibrant nightlife

Proximity

  • By bus: Visit AT Metro for local bus, ferry & trains.
  • By car: Visit Auckland iSITE for day trip information

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city is situated between two large harbours and dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones. It’s a place to enjoy marine adventures, wine trails, forest walks and urban sophistication. Spend a day exploring the sights and sounds of central Auckland. 

 If you have time, visit picturesque Waiheke Island where you'll find plenty of vineyards, beaches and artists’ studios. For a taste of wilderness, travel to Auckland's West Coast, where you can explore the rugged black-sand coast.

Day 2: Auckland to Rotorua

Rotorua
Rotorua Canopy Tours, Rotorua

By Matt Crawford

Rotorua

ROTORUA

Mud pools, adventure and unique Maori culture.

Highlights

  • Redwood Forest canopy tours
  • Geothermal attractions
  • Maori cultural experiences

Proximity

  • By car: 2 h | 228 km via SH1 & SH5
  • By bus: 3 h 30 min | by Intercity

Today you'll journey south, through the green Waikato countryside to Hamilton. Along the way, side roads lead to Waingaro Hot Springs and Raglan; a surf resort on the west coast.

Hamilton is a city carved in two by the mighty Waikato River. Attractions include gardens, riverboat cruising and a giant free flight aviary. 

Further south, Rotorua is alive with geothermal activity and thrilling adventure. Explore the geothermal areas, discover the unique culture of New Zealand’s Maori people or spend the day trying out some of the many adventure activities on offer.

Day 3: Rotorua to Taupo

Lake Taupo
Lake Taupō Boat Cruise, Lake Taupo

By Alistair Guthrie

Lake Taupo

TAUPO

Teeming with outdoor activities and water sports.

Highlights

  • Kayak to the Mine Bay Maori carvings
  • Huka Prawn Park
  • Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park

Proximity

The road to Taupo is packed with geological attractions. Take a side road to Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park or Craters of the Moon where you’ll discover geysers, silica terraces and craters of boiling mud. Other diversions include Huka Falls, Huka Pawn Park and a world-acclaimed golf course.

The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake. You’ll find everything a traveller could wish for, including an excellent choice of restaurants. Most accommodation establishments make good use of the underground thermal activity to provide hot spas for relaxation.

Day 4: Day trip to National Park

New Zealand
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

By Graeme Murray

Highlights

  • Trout fishing
  • Skiing in winter
  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Proximity

  • By car: 1 h 20 min | 100 km via SH1 & SH47
  • By bus: 45 min | by Intercity 
  • By : Visit Taupo iSITE for local day tours.

TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK

Home to the volcanoes of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.

Read more

Follow the eastern edge of Lake Taupo to reach Turangi. The drive is very scenic and there are many picnic opportunities along the way. Turangi is a mecca for trout fishers, with famous fishing spots in almost every direction. 

Further on, National Park Village is well positioned for those who want to explore the Tongariro National Park, with its volcanic peaks of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro. In 1887, the local Ngati Tuwaretoa tribe presented this land to the New Zealand people and it became the country's first National Park. It is now a World Heritage area packed with hiking trails including Tongariro Alpine Crossing, regarded by some as one of the best one-day walks in the world.

Day 5: Taupo to Napier

West Coast
Hawke's Bay Cycle Trail, West Coast

By Camilla Rutherford

Hawke's Bay

HAWKE'S BAY

Wine, orchards and Art Deco design.

Highlights

  • Art Deco heritage
  • Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony
  • Winery tours

Proximity

  • By car: 1 h 45 min | 142 km via SH5
  • By bus: 2 h | by Intercity 

The major entertainment on the road from Taupo to Napier is the fantastic scenery. There’s a bit of everything - rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and huge vistas.

In 1931, a devastating earthquake nearly levelled Napier and its twin city Hastings. They were rebuilt in the style of the times, and are now highly acclaimed for their Art Deco design. Hastings is only 20 kilometres south of Napier and easily accessible by cycleway as are many of the Hawke’s Bay vineyards.

Another attraction is the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers.

Day 6: Napier to Wellington

Wellington
Wellington City, Wellington

By Julian Apse

Wellington

WELLINGTON

A mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine.

Highlights

  • The Classic New Zealand wine trail
  • Heritage architecture
  • Cafe culture

Proximity

  • By car: 4 h 20 min | 335 km via SH2
  • By bus: 5 h 30 min | direct to Wellington - Intercity

Today's journey takes you through the vineyards and small heritage towns of Wairarapa and on to Wellington.

Pause in Masterton, the Wairarapa's largest settlement. Here you will find the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Park, The Wool Shed (the National Museum of Sheep and Shearing) and Aratoi: Wairarapa Museum of Art & History. Masterton is also a great base to explore nearby Castlepoint.

Finish in Wellington, New Zealand's capital city and a hub of culture and heritage. The downtown area of this compact city is ideal for explorations on foot. Spend your remaining time enjoying the many cafes, restaurants, museums and galleries that populate the Wellington area.

Driving in New Zealand

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

View the route below

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