Auckland to Queenstown via the East Coast

12 Days


Auckland Central to Central Queenstown


  • 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.


Rotorua's famous Pohutu Geyser shoots hot water and steam up to 30 metres (100 feet) in the air

Photo by Destination Rotorua

Day 3 / 12

Hahei - Rotorua

2 hrs

51 mins

219 km

136 mi


The road south takes you past the surf town of Whangamata and historic Waihi, a gold mining town. As you approach the city of Tauranga, roadside stalls are an opportunity to buy seasonal fruit.

Tauranga has a well developed café culture and boat charters are available to take you big game fishing, snorkelling or dolphin watching. Nearby Mt Maunganui is a destination for surfing and beach walking.

It’s an easy drive from Tauranga to Rotorua. The road climbs up and over the Mamaku Range, delivering fabulous views before descending towards Lake Rotorua. Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so volcanic activity is part of the city’s past and present.

Be greeted with a Hongi, a traditional Maori greeting, in Rotorua.

Rotorua Central

Entertaining in any weather, Rotorua will captivate you with its shooting geysers, intriguing Maori villages and thrilling adventure activities.

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