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14 days is a great amount of time to get a taste for all the North Island of New Zealand has to offer. Planning a North Island New Zealand Road Trip is one of the most exciting, yet overwhelming things to do. Talk about decision overload, there are just so many amazing destinations to choose from.
This 14 day North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary will take you to the most beautiful parts of the North Island, exposing you to the snow-capped mountains, beautiful beaches and national parks.
14 day North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
Some destinations you will visit using this 14 day North Island road trip itinerary include Whangarei, Cape Reinga, Bay of Islands, Coromandel, Mount Maunganui, Rotorua, Taupo, Mount Taranaki, Tongariro National Park, Napier and Wellington.
Before I get into it, I want to share my #1 tip for planning your New Zealand Road Trip. Download the Rankers App. The Rankers App will be your best friend. It pinpoints campsites, visitor centres, dump stations, hiking trails, supermarkets, petrol stations and more! You can even download the maps for offline use. It is an absolute New Zealand Road trip essential.
Now we have that covered, it’s time to plan your North Island New Zealand Road Trip itinerary. For your road trip, I recommend hiring a Jucy Campervan so you can explore the North Island without limits. The great thing about hiring a Jucy Campervan is that you can start in one location and finish in another – for example, start in Auckland and finish in Wellington or vice versa.
This 14 day North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary is starting in Auckland. If you plan to start in Wellington, simply follow this itinerary backwards.
Day 1 – Whangarei
So you’ve just arrived in Auckland and collected your car, now it’s time to let the adventure begin. Since you presumably just got off a flight, we don’t want you to drive too far in day 1.
Head North towards Cape Reinga, stopping in at one of the east coast beach towns on the way. Choose from Whangarei Heads, Mangawhai Heads or anywhere in between. These beach towns are known for having a laid-back atmosphere, beautiful beaches and an abundance of hiking trails.
If you are in a Jucy Campervan, I suggest spending the night at Ocean Beach Car Park, Whangarei Heads. This is a free, beachfront campsite. From here, there are a number of hiking trails and easy beach access.
Day 2 – Bay of Islands
For day 2, a visit to the Bay of Islands is on your New Zealand itinerary. You simply couldn’t drive past the Bay of Islands without stopping in. Paihia is the main town to visit within the Bay of Islands. From here you can take sea and plane tours into the Bay of Islands or could take a ferry to Russell.
You can spend the night in the Bay of Islands, or you could just stop in for a few hours then hit the road towards your next destination, Cape Reinga.
Day 3 – Cape Reinga
The landscapes in Cape Reinga are absolutely stunning. Cape Reinga is best known for its iconic lighthouse, but it was the rolling hills, warm colours and deep blues of the ocean meeting the cape that struck my interest. Expect amazing hiking conditions, beautiful landscapes, campgrounds and sand dunes. If you dare, you can rent a board and go sandboarding! There isn’t ANYTHING in Cape Reinga, no shops or hotels, so come prepared.
Use the Rankers App to find a campsite in Cape Reinga.
Day 4 –The Coromandel
The Coromandel Peninsula is renowned for its pristine waters, beautiful sandy beaches, dramatic landscapes and untouched forests and protected areas. You won’t want to miss Coromandel during your trip to the North Island of New Zealand. Some key attractions in The Coromandel include Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach.
Cathedral Cove is a secluded beach known for its natural rock arches and coves. Access to Cathedral Cove is a two-hour return walk. Expect stunning views and tranquillity. Hot Water Beach is a beach with volcanic hot water. You can dig up the sand and make your own hot water spa bath.
Day 5 and 6- Mount Maunganui
Mount Maunganui is a North Island New Zealand must-see destination. This charming beach town has great vibes, beautiful stretches of coastline and surf breaks. Make sure you hike Mount Manganui itself, the views are stunning.
I recommend 2 nights in Mount Maunganui. If you would prefer, you can always take your second night at another destination.
Day 7 – Rotorua and Taupo
Rotorua is a short drive from Mount Maunganui. Rotorua is home a balance of fun and leisure, natural wonders, themeral springs and captivating Māori culture. See my guide on things to do in Rotorua here.
After your stopover in Rotorua, continue on to Taupo, a lakeside town with no shortage of stunning views. The Taupo region is one of New Zealand’s top tourist destinations with beautiful forests, volcanic mountains and a number of adventure activities including jet boating, bungy jumping, mountain biking, snow activities in winter and skydiving. It is safe to say that you won’t get bored in Taupo. Make sure you don’t miss Huka Falls on your trip to Taupo.
Day 8 and 9 – Mount Taranaki
Mount Taranaki is home to snow-capped mountain landscapes, hiking trails and waterfalls. Essentially, it is a nature lover paradise. Start your trip to Mount Taranaki at either Dawson Falls Visitor Centre or North Egmont Visitor Centre. From here you can get all the information you need and choose what hikes and attractions you will visit during your stay at Mount Taranaki. If you plan to hike, 2 nights is recommended in the park. If you are just stopping in, 1 night should be enough. The photos below were taken at Dawson Falls.
Day 10 and 11 -Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is another one for all outdoor enthusiasts. There are endless hikes to choose from, in various lengths, all offering stunning views of nature. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the best-known hikes in New Zealand.
Likewise to Mount Taranaki, you could stay 1 or 2 nights, depending on how many hikes you choose to do.
Day 12 – Napier and Hawkes Bay
Napier is an adorable East Coast beach town, found in Hawkes Bay. Visitors can enjoy a walk along the ocean front or a trip to one of the many surrounding wineries and vineyards in Napier. Cape Kidnappers is another great place to explore in the Hawkes Bay region.
Day 13 and 14 -Wellington
Wellington is New Zealand’s Captial City, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. The quaint city has plenty of cute cafes and restaurants to chose from, making it the perfect destination to end your trip. Wellington is home to the Botanical Gardens, accessible by the Cable Car, Te Papa Museum and Oriental Parade Beach walk. Wellington also offers visitors amazing views of the ocean and surrounding mountains. See my guide on free things to do in Wellington.
This North Island New Zealand driving itinerary will keep you busy and take you to many of the best places in the North Island. There will be a lot of driving involved, so make sure you pack your best playlist and road trip snacks. For more New Zealand bucket list inspiration, click here.
New Zealand Road Trip Tips
- Use this guide to plan your trip to New Zealand.
- Download The Rankers App. The Rankers App will be the best tool to help you plan your New Zealand road trip.
- The weather can change quickly. Be prepared for rain, hail and shine during your North Island New Zealand Road Trip.
- Pack lots of food, snacks and water so you can save money on your road trip.
- Petrol in New Zealand is expensive, pay attention to the cost of petrol and fill up at the cheaper petrol stations. We saw petrol for $2 per litre to $2.40 per litre. 40 cents makes a massive difference over 2 weeks.
- Use my guide to creating a travel budget to plan your budget.
- Don’t forget to pay your tolls within 5 days.
- Don’t be afraid to ask a local for directions or recommendations, they are generally always happy to help.
- Find out more about why I love Road Trips.
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