Auckland to Wellington via Taupō



Breathtaking farm scenery and culture

10 Days


  • Travel the North Island's centre
  • City of Sails - Auckland
  • Coolest Little Capital - Wellington

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Experience outdoor adventures, geothermal wonders, arts and culture and food and wine as you drive from Auckland through the centre of the North Island to the country’s capital city of Wellington.

This 10-day itinerary takes you through the lush Waikato, to the bubbling mud and spouting geysers of Rotorua, into the majestic alpine scenery of Tongariro National Park, around the boutique wineries of Martinborough and on to vibrant Wellington.

Day 1: Explore the Waikato


Choose from scenic Cambridge or movie magic at the Hobbiton Movie Set


  • Cambridge
  • Lake Karapiro
  • Hobbiton Movie Set™

Learn more about the Waikato

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Heading to Rotorua from Auckland, there are two main routes to choose from.

You could travel through the picturesque town of Cambridge, which is known for its tree-lined streets, and head out on Lake Karapiro for a jet boat adventure with Cam Jet, or check out the wildlife at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. Or, if you have Tolkien fans on board (or anyone who loves a bit of behind-the-scenes movie magic), then take the road to Matamata where the world-famous Hobbiton Movie Set(opens in new window) lies a short drive outside town, amongst the rolling green hills of the Waikato.

Either route will then take you through Tirau, with its antique and homeware stores, and you can add a little side trip to Putaruru and take Te Waihou Walkway to find the beautiful Blue Springs. From here it’s just 45 minutes to Rotorua, where you’ll find plenty of options for campervan-friendly accommodation for the next three nights.

Day 2: Culture and adventure in Rotorua


The birthplace of New Zealand tourism


  • Skyline Rotorua
  • Te Puia
  • Mountain biking

Begin your Rotorua adventure

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Rotorua has a great selection of cafés for breakfast (try Fat Dog or Artisan Café) then plan for a day of adventure, culture and natural wonders.

Explore the trails that wind around the bubbling mud pools and spouting geysers at Te Puia, watch the master carvers at work and take part in the Māori cultural experience before feasting on a hāngī cooked in a hot pool for lunch.

At Skyline Rotorua(opens in new window) you can ride the gondola to the top of Mount Ngongotaha then luge down the twisting trails, or try the zipline or sky swing.

Agrodome is fun for all the family too, with a farm show and tour that includes hand-feeding alpacas. For dinner, Eat Streat offers plenty of options, or the popular Night Market held every Thursday has street food of every kind.

Stay at Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park near Whakarewarewa Forest ready for tomorrow’s adventure.

Day 3: Back to nature in Rotorua


Forest adventures for all ages


  • Redwoods Treewalk
  • Mountain biking
  • Polynesian Spa

Visit Whakarewarewa Forest

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Whakarewarewa Forest(opens in new window) is just five minutes from downtown Rotorua and offers short walks, hiking trails, horse riding, mountain biking and more. You’ll find all the information you need at the Redwood i-SITE Visitor Centre(opens in new window).

Look up, and you’ll see Redwoods Treewalk(opens in new window) – an incredible 700m of suspension bridges high in the century-old Redwood trees, with glowing lanterns by New Zealand artist David Trubridge dotted throughout. Enjoy the Redwoods during the day or visit at night to see the lanterns illuminated and a spectacular light show.

Keen mountain bikers(opens in new window) will find a wide range of trails through the forest and Mountain Bike Rotorua(opens in new window) has bike hire.

After a day in the great outdoors, relax at Secret Spot Hot Tubs(opens in new window) in a bush setting on the forest edge or head back into town to the lakefront outdoor thermal pools at Polynesian Spa,(opens in new window) There is also limited overnight campervan parking directly across the road.

Day 4: Highlights of Taupō


Fishing, fun and adventure on Lake Taupō


  • Huka Falls
  • Jetboating
  • Lake cruises

Explore New Zealand's largest lake

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It’s just an hour to Taupō from Rotorua and on the way you’ll find the volcanic valley of Waimangu where you can see the world’s largest hot spring, as well as the stunning bright blue Inferno Crater.

There’s lots to see and do in and around Taupō and its lake. For adventure, take your pick of parasailing, skydiving or even a bungy jump.

There are heaps of mountain bike tracks to choose from too. Keen to relax? Take a lake cruise to see the Ngatoroirangi Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings, or head out on a fishing trip.

Huka Falls is a must-see – you can watch the pounding white water from the viewing platforms, take a cruise to the Falls, or jetboat the rapids for the ultimate experience. Book a spot at Taupo DeBretts Spa Resort, which combines a campground with a waterpark and thermal pools.

Day 5: Trout time in Tūrangi


Trout fishing heaven in Tūrangi


  • Trout fishing
  • Tongariro River
  • White water rafting

Drop a line in Turangi

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An early morning walk at the lakefront is a beautiful way to start the day in Taupō – you can watch as rowers cut through the glassy water and boats head out for some early fishing. Dig your toes into the sand at the water’s edge and you might even find some warm spots! From here it’s just  

45 minutes to Tūrangi on the banks of the Tongariro River, just outside Tongariro National Park.

Tūrangi is famous for rainbow trout – you can try catching them on one of the many fishing trips available or learn more about them at the National Trout Centre(opens in new window)

Thrill-seekers can try rafting on Tongariro River too. Half an hour south is Whakakapapa Village, at the foot of Mount Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park. Book a campervan site at Whakapapa Holiday Park for a great place to base yourself while exploring the region.

Day 6: Tongariro National Park


Alpine adventures year-round


  • Tongariro Crossing
  • Sky Waka Gondola
  • Whakapapa ski field

Venture into Tongariro

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Tongariro National Park is an incredible experience at whatever time of year you visit.

The DOC Visitor Centre in Whakapapa Village is the place to learn more about the area and its wide range of walks and hikes. Choose from short walks, Tongariro Crossing day hikes or multi-day walks like the Northern Circuit and Round the Mountain tracks. Mount Ruapehu is the North Island’s highest peak – take in the views on the Sky Waka Gondola or hit the ski slopes in winter.

Day 7: National Park to Palmerston North


Rugby-lovers heaven in Palmerston North


  • National Army Museum
  • New Zealand Rugby Museum
  • Manawatū Gorge

Head south to Palmerston North

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On the way south to Palmerston North is Waiouru – formerly a major army base during WWII, it’s now home to the National Army Museum.

Further on is Taihape, known as the “gumboot capital” of New Zealand – be sure to get a photo next to its giant gumboot sculpture.

Stop for lunch in pretty Fielding or take a detour to the sweetly scented lavender gardens of the Herb Farm Café. The Manawatū region is famous for its beautiful gardens(opens in new window) with many open to view.

In Palmerston North you’ll find fascinating art at Te Manawa(opens in new window), while the amazing memorabilia at the New Zealand Rugby Museum will delight rugby fans.

Get outdoors on one of the many walking trails in the Manawatū Gorge(opens in new window), or enjoy a round on New Zealand’s oldest golf course. Palmerston North Holiday Park on the banks of the Manawatū River is the perfect stop for the night.

Day 8: Palmerston North to Martinborough


Boutique wineries in Martinborough


  • Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre
  • Martinborough wineries
  • Star gazing

Visit Martinborough

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Although you’re heading to wine country today, the iconic Tui Brewery is well worth a detour to the village of Mangatainoka near Pahiatua for a tour and tasting.

Back on SH2 is the Pūkaha National Wildlife Centre, a captive breeding sanctuary where you’ll see wildlife up close, like cheeky kākā parrots and giant eels.

Martinborough is just an hour from here and joining a wine tour is the easiest way to experience the wineries dotted around the village and its surroundings. In November, the annual Toast Martinborough(opens in new window) wine and food festival draws thousands of people to this region. In the heart of Martinborough you’ll find boutique shopping, as well as fine dining at the historic Martinborough Hotel.

Book a site at the Martinborough Top 10 Holiday Park and make the most of your night in Martinborough with an unforgettable star gazing experience.