This 6-day East Coast journey is the beach lover’s route from Auckland to Wellington.
Travel from the urban pleasures of Auckland to the tranquil bays of the Coromandel coast and the sunny city of Tauranga in Bay of Plenty. Explore an active volcano in Whakatane and beautiful beaches in Opotiki, then tour vineyards in Gisborne and Napier before travelling on to the cultural attractions of Wellington.
Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is situated between two enormous harbours and dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones. Spend your time here enjoying the city's harbour, museums, galleries, and adventure activities.
Your first stop on the journey south is the historic township of Thames. Founded during the Coromandel gold rush, this is a great place to learn the region's history. Further on, Coromandel Town is a haven for artists, craftspeople and conservationists. Explore the galleries and craft shops that showcase the local talent.
Whitianga is home to a fishing fleet - expect to eat some excellent seafood. Best things to do include surfing, surf casting and beach walks.
The road south gives you the opportunity to visit Hot Water Beach, where geothermally heated water bubbles up through the sand. At low tide, you can dig your own spa. Another highlight of this journey is the walk to spectacular Cathedral Cove, which begins at Hahei.
The prosperous city of Tauranga sprawls along the edge of an attractive harbour. From here you can organise boat charters to take you fishing, snorkelling or dolphin watching. Or visit nearby Mount Maunganui for surfing and beach walks.
Watch the sunrise from Mount Maunganui, before driving the short distance to Whakatāne.This stretch of coastal road is dotted with berry farms – pick your own berries between October and January.
Discover endangered native wildlife on a trip to island sanctuary Moutohorā (Whale Island). You can journey by motor or sailing catamaran to this pest-free oasis and learn about the conservation efforts that protect this precious slice of New Zealand. Then dig yourself a soothing geothermal spring pool at the island’s secluded hot water beach.
Or, spend the afternoon onboard a boat cruise meeting the Bay of Plenty's friendly marine life.
Your first stop today is the picturesque seaside town of Opotiki. Eco-tourism activities make excellent use of the beautiful coastal and forest environment, with horse trekking, kayaking, river rafting and dolphin swimming all on offer.
From Opotiki take the scenic inland route to Gisborne, past the Urewera Ranges.
Gisborne is a sunny city with a reputation for good wine and fantastic surf beaches. There are more than 20 vineyards in the area – the emphasis is on Chardonnay. Not far from the town centre Kaiti Beach marks the first European landing place in New Zealand.
There are two routes from Gisborne to Napier. On the inland route, you'll pass Hackfalls Arboretum, one of the largest private collections of trees in New Zealand. Alternatively, take the coastal route for access to Morere Hot Springs and Mahia Peninsula. Both roads bring you to Wairoa, a good place for kayaking or riverside walks and a base for exploring Te Urewera.
Napier is excellent for exploring by foot or by bike. Walk through the town and discover the beautiful 1930s Art Deco buildings. Take a scenic cycling trip up Te Mata Peak or ride cycle trails that connect the region's wineries. Cape Kidnappers walking track leads to a fascinating gannet colony.
As you journey south today you'll pass a series of small rural towns. Palmerston North, New Zealand's largest provincial town is a good lunch stop. Many of the original 1920s and 1930s stores have been restored as boutique shops, cafes and restaurants.
Other attractions along the way include Owlcatraz owl sanctuary and Kapiti Island nature reserve.
In Wellington, you'll discover a lively combination of culture, heritage and cuisine. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot. Delve into museums and galleries, sample local craft beers and experience the quirky culture of New Zealand's capital city.
Getting around New Zealand is easy with a great range of transport options available.
There are plenty of accommodation options for every budget and travel style.
No matter the season, the majority of our main attractions are open year-round.
More information on basic costs for accommodation, travel and food.