This circular route through some of the North Island's wine country provides a stunning range of landscape contrasts.
Explore wild and beautiful Lake Waikaremoana and swathes of wineries in Napier, before heading on to Taupo for water activities of all kinds. End your journey in Rotorua where weird and wonderful geothermal sights, quirky adventure and unique Maori culture offer something for everyone.
The road from Rotorua to Waikaremoana is lined with forest on all sides. Kaingaroa Forest (one of the world’s largest pine plantations) is followed by the native forests of Whirinaki and the Urewera Ranges. Along the way, you'll pass Murupara a forestry settlement popular with hunters and anglers.
Formed over 2,200 years ago due to a landslide, Lake Waikaremoana is now the gateway to Te Urewera wilderness area.
There are plenty of ways to explore, try horse trekking, kayaking or hiking - Lake Waikaremoana Track is one of New Zealand's Great Walks. Onepoto Caves are also a highlight and nearby Aniwaniwa has a small museum that tells the story of the area.
After the wilds of Te Urewera, the town of Wairoa will feel like a bustling metropolis. As well as a lighthouse in its main street, Wairoa has an interesting museum.
On the road south, you’ll cross Mohaka River, known for its fishing, kayaking and rafting adventures. The last leg of your journey takes you past picturesque Lake Tutira and the turn-off to Waipatiki Beach.
Napier is the main centre in Hawke's Bay region, New Zealand's oldest wine-growing area and a hub of Art Deco design. Explore the region’s wineries on the Hawke's Bay cycle trails, or for a spectacular wildlife encounter, visit nearby Cape Kidnappers, home to the world’s largest mainland gannet colony.
You'll be amazed by the range of fantastic scenery on the road from Napier to Taupo today. There’s a bit of everything - rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and huge vistas. Along the way stop to soak in the natural hot springs above Waipunga River and check out the twin waterfall at Waiarua Falls lookout.
Taupo is the perfect place to get out on the water. Take a boat cruise to the giant Maori rock carvings in Mine Bay or hire a kayak and discover the lake for yourself. On land, the region offers many hiking and mountain bike trails.
In the afternoon, visit Huka Prawn Park, and treat yourself to delicious self-caught prawns.
The short journey to Rotorua is packed with activities. Just outside Taupo, you'll find Huka Falls, a world-acclaimed golf course and Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. If you have time, visit Orakei Korako Cave & Geothermal Park, home to some of the country's most remarkable geothermal features.
Geothermal activity breathes through every part of Rotorua, with bubbling mud, steaming vents or erupting geysers everywhere you look. For adrenaline junkies, the region also offers a plethora of quirky and bizarre adventure activities.