North Island Explorer

17 Days


Auckland Central to Auckland Central


  • Dolphin spotting
  • Giant Kauri Trees
  • Geothermal Rotorua

Best time of year

All year

On this round trip you'll explore the best of the North Island. The marine and urban entertainments of Auckland lead on to the simple, seaside pleasures of the Bay of Islands and Northland.

After a taste of Auckland’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 Tongariro National Park before experiencing New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo. The magical underworld of Waitomo demands your attention on the way back to Auckland.

Day 1 / 17

Auckland - Whangarei - Paihia

2 hrs

52 mins

228 km

142 mi


At the beginning of your journey, you’ll drive over the Auckland Harbour Bridge towards the bays and beaches of Auckland’s North Shore. The motorway will quickly sweep you northward, until the suburban scenery gives way to peaceful farmland.

Driving north, you’ll pass Hatfield’s Beach before coming across Waiwera, which means ‘hot water’ in Maori. The hot springs are the main attraction in this small, seaside village.

Whangarei is a subtropical city on the edge of a beautiful harbour. At the Quayside Town Basin complex you'll find stylish cafes and restaurants, as well as museums, art galleries and shops. Be sure to visit Whangarei Falls.

Take a rest stop in Kawakawa, because it has a remarkable public toilet designed by Austrian artist Frederick Hundertwasser. From here the road to the Bay of Islands becomes quite twisty, but you’ll enjoy some delightful scenery.

Skyline view from Devonport

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.

Enjoy the local harvest in Paihia.

End in Paihia

If you want to discover the coves and beaches of the Bay of Islands, Paihia is the perfect place to start. Cruises of all types leave from the wharf daily.

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