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.


Craggy Range is one of the many excellent wineries in the Hawke's Bay

Photo by Hawke's Bay Tourism

Day 5 / 12

Gisborne - Napier

2 hrs

42 mins

215 km

134 mi


There are two ways to approach the trip to Napier. The inland route gives you the chance to visit Hackfalls Arboratum, one of the largest private collections of trees in New Zealand. The coastal route provides access to Morere Hot Springs and the fabulous beaches of the Mahia Peninsula. As you near Napier, Waipatiki Beach and pretty Lake Tutira are attractive diversions.

In 1931 a devastating earthquake nearly levelled the city of Napier. It was rebuilt in the style of the times, and is now considered the Art Deco Capital of the world. The vineyards of Hawke’s Bay are all within easy reach of Napier. Another attraction is the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers.

Gisborne is known for its spectacular sunrises.

Start in Gisborne

If you have a strong interest in Maori culture - and you love food, wine and surf beaches - Gisborne is a city you won't want to miss.

Art Deco architecture in Napier

End in Napier

Beautifully preserved 1930s architecture is Napier's special point of difference.

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