Auckland to Queenstown via the East Coast

12 Days
2260km
1405mi

Route

Auckland Central to Central Queenstown

Highlights

  • 6 Wine regions
  • Whale watching
  • Beaches & mountains

Best time of year

All year

This intrepid road trip takes you to some of the lesser-travelled parts of New Zealand, as well as our most popular visitor destinations. Starting in our largest city, Auckland, you'll make your way to the Coromandel Peninsula, famous for its beaches, and down to geothermally active Rotorua. Gisborne is a land of Chardonnay and amazing surf breaks, while Napier serves up beautiful red wines and art deco architecture.

Wellington is known as the world's coolest little capital. It boasts exciting nightlife and diverse cuisine scene, along with unique wildlife experiences and cultural activities. Take the ferry across to the South Island and you're in Marlborough, the home of Sauvignon Blanc. Make your way down the coast and encounter whales, dolphins and seals in Kaikoura.

Next you're in funky Christchurch and on to picturesque Lake Tekapo. Your journey winds up in the beautiful lakeside towns of Wanaka and Queenstown, where you can enjoy adventurous pursuits or just relax and indulge.

Info

Framed by a massive natural rock arch, Cathedral Cove is only accessible by boat, kayak or on foot.

Photo by David Wall

Day 2 / 12

Auckland - Hahei

3 hrs

20 mins

224 km

139 mi

Auckland

Your drive to Coromandel begins on the southern motorway. Just beyond the Bombay Hills you’ll take a left turn toward the Coromandel Peninsula.

The hilly, pastoral scenery gradually flattens out to become the Hauraki Plains. There are two routes to Hahei; travel up the coast via Coromandel township, or head straight across the Peninsula and up the eastern coast. The former journey is more scenic, the latter is faster by at least an hour.

Formerly a gold-mining and timber town, Coromandel is now a haven for artists, craftspeople and conservationists. It has many well-preserved Victorian buildings.

Hahei is your beautiful beachside base for visiting two must-see attractions in this area. Cathedral Cove is a picturesque photo spot, and at Hot Water Beach you can dig your own natural spa. You can see both these places in one day, but you'll need to time it carefully; be at Hot Water Beach within 2 hours of low tide to access the naturally heated water.

Skyline view from Devonport

Auckland Central

This is the heart of Auckland, with a relaxed coastal living vibe by day and a night-time energy shared by the inner-city suburbs that surrounds it.

Time & distance calculator