14 day North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

Road Trip Essentials

14 days is a great amount of time to get a taste for all the North Island of New Zealand has to offer. 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. 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 for the adventure begin. Since you presumably just got off a flight, we don’t want you to drive too far on 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.

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

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.

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

(photo from here)

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.

Cape Reinga - North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

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.

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

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.

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

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 with these fun things to do. Make sure you don’t miss Huka Falls on your trip to Taupo.

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

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.

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

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.

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

(photo from here)

Likewise to Mount Taranaki, you could stay 1 or 2 nights, depending on how many hikes / the length of the 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 oceanfront 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.

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

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. 

North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

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.
  • 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.
  • Don’t forget any road trip essentials.
  • Find out more about why I love Road Trips. 
North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

If you found this 14 day North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary helpful, pin it for later! And if you are road tripping the South Island, check out this guide.

14 Day North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary / New Zealand Travel / New Zealand Road Trip / South Island New Zealand / New Zealand South Island / North Island New Zealand / New Zealand North Island / Things to do in New Zealand / New Zealand Winter / New Zealand Photography / Queenstown / Auckland / Wellington / Christchurch / Nature

Planning a trip to New Zealand

If you are in the process of planning a trip to New Zealand, this article will tell you everything you need to know about visas, flights, car hire, budgeting, accommodation and more.

Day trips from Auckland

If you plan to spend more time in the Auckland region, these are the best day trips from Auckland.

Arrange Travel Insurance for New Zealand

Travel Insurance is a necessity when travelling to New Zealand. I recommend World Nomads. If you aren’t sure whether you should get insurance or not, read this.

Book accommodation in New Zealand


Book a tour in New Zealand

Overseas Travel Checklist

Creating a budget for New Zealand

For assistance in creating a travel budget, use my guide to affording travel. This guide comes with a printable worksheet that helps you create your travel budget down to the dollar. It also comes with tips to help you save money and stick to your budget while travelling.

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17 thoughts on “14 day North Island New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary

  • Jas

    I love road trips AND I’ve been dying to visit New Zealand too. Super glad I ran across your guide plus your photos are stunning by the way! All the places you recommended look absolutelt beautiful although with working full-time, I’m not sure I have 14 days of vacation days to spare. Bookmarking this regardless and I can’t wait to visit someday!

  • Tiffany Heard

    I would love to go to the National Park it looks beautiful. I have never taken a road trip in an RV van, this looks like so much fun and the ultimate road trip. Being with people on the road is hard, glad you all still look happy at the end of your trip. lol

  • Brianna

    Fantastic photos. It looks like it would be so fun and convenient to have a campervan to do this itinerary. I’ve always wanted to rent one and go on a tour and New Zealand looks like the perfect place to try that out. Thanks for sharing! Tongariro looks like an otherworldly experience with that barren landscape and milky-teal lakes.

  • carrie

    I knew almost nothing about New Zealand before reading this, but you’ve definitely convinced me that a road-trip there is a must-do! I love your colorful little camper-van and the free campsites available along the way. The views around Mount Taranaki are amazing…I imagine i’d want to spend the two nights there to do more hiking.

  • Pingback: The Essential Guide to Whangarei Heads | Matejalicious Travel Blog

  • Candy

    14 days is a long road trip! I’m so jelly and wish I could take time off to do this. Wellington looks like the perfect place to end the road trip too 🙂 Great tips about gas and stocking up on food and water.

    • atravellersfootsteps Post author

      14 days was a perfect amount of time to explore all the north island had to offer. To be honest I could have road tripped for even longer 🙂

  • Emma

    Ah the North Island looks so beautiful, especially Cape Reinga. You got a beautiful day on the crossing- I went via the kiwi experience when I was 19 straight up the centre of the north but this is persuading me to return .
    Thanks for all the info, especially the app it sounds great!