This round trip will satisfy your desire to see the best of the North Island. The marine and urban entertainment areas of Auckland lead on to the simple, seaside pleasures of the Coromandel Peninsula.
After a taste of Tauranga’s sunny lifestyle, you’ll be fascinated by the steaming fumeroles and roaring geysers of Rotorua. Gisborne and Napier are all about vineyards, surf beaches and Art Deco architecture, while Wellington is a cultural experience that mixes New Zealand heritage with contemporary creativity.
Explore the mysteries of the Whanganui River before you browse the gardens and galleries of New Plymouth. The magical underworld of Waitomo demands your attention on the way back to Auckland.
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Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is situated between two enormous harbours and dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones. It’s a place to enjoy marine adventures, wine trails, forest walks and urban sophistication.
There are two routes to Thames. The fast way whisks you along the motorway and over the Bombay Hills, then across the serene, green Hauraki Plains to Waitakaruru. The slower, scenic route winds through farmland to the village of Clevedon before leading you around the edge of the Firth of Thames. Kawakawa Bay, Orere Point and Kaiaua are beachside settlements to visit.
Both routes make it possible to visit Miranda’s hot springs and bird sanctuary. The historic township of Thames was founded during the Coromandel gold rush. Visit the museum and discover an interesting range of shops.
In Thames you can learn about New Zealand’s gold mining past. The mining museum has a fascinating mineralogical collection and there are gold mining relics to discover on many of the bush walks.
The road to Coromandel Town clings to the edge of the coast. You’ll enjoy amazing views and a constant procession of beautiful beaches fringed with Pohutukawa trees.
Formerly a gold-mining and timber town, Coromandel Town is now a haven for artists, craftspeople and conservationists. It has many well-preserved Victorian buildings and an interesting museum. There are several good walks in the area and a railway enthusiast has created an hour-long train trip at Driving Creek.
On your drive to Whitianga you’ll notice a side road leading to Whangapoua Beach – a worthwhile detour if you have time. You could also call into Matarangi, a recently developed beach settlement. Kuaotunu is another area of pretty beaches.
The beach town of Whitianga is home to a fishing fleet - expect to eat some excellent seafood while you’re here. Best things to do include surfing, surf casting and beach walks. Catch the ferry to the south side of the harbour – a short taxi ride will take you to Cooks Beach.
Start in 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.
End in Whitianga
From Whitianga you can enjoy the beaches, water sports and boat excursions of Mercury Bay. Expect great seafood and enjoy a forest walk or two.