This six-day itinerary will take you through New Zealand’s North Island. It includes where to stay, what sights to see and what to bring.
There are many things to do on New Zealand’s north Island.
New Zealand is comprised of two large islands, the North Island and South Island. I had the chance to rent a campervan for a road trip through the North. I went hiking and visited waterfalls. I also enjoyed relaxing in geothermal pools. I enjoyed swimming in clear waters and exploring some of the most stunning glowworm caves around the globe.
We only had six days to explore New Zealand so we concentrated on the south. However, if you have more time then it is worth going north. We had already visited the Bay of Islands on our 17-Day South Pacific cruise so we decided to take a short road trip south.
Day 1 & 2, Auckland & Coromandel Peninsula
Auckland is my choice for a starting point on a North Island New Zealand trip. Although I was only able to visit Auckland, there are so many things to do in the city.
You can get a panoramic view of Auckland from the Sky Tower. Waiheke Island has many vineyards. A foodie tour is also available (Auckland has an amazing food scene).
Day 3: Hobbiton & Rotorua
Hobbiton, whether you are a diehard Lord of the Rings fan or not is a must-see on any North Island New Zealand trip. Driving to Hobbiton can take anywhere from two to three hours depending on where you begin your day on the Coromandel Peninsula.
Hobbiton, which was used in the Lord of the Rings movies and Hobbit movies, is located in New Zealand’s Waikato area. Hobbiton is a place where you can explore the unique facades that have been carved into the hillsides. You’ll also enjoy pints at The Green Dragon pub and take too many cute pictures.
This is the ideal place for mountain biking enthusiasts, as The Redwoods in Rotorua is the center of the sport. It was even awarded the IMBA – International Mountain Biking Association – gold-level ride status.
Day 4: Waikite Valley Thermal Pools & Kerosene Creek
You can put on your favourite bathing suit for Day 4 of the North Island New Zealand Road Trip. It’s all about thermal pools
Technically, Kerosene Creek can be found in Rotorua. It is located 30 km from The Redwoods. This is the ideal place to enjoy a geothermally-heated soak at a stream. The hot water rises from the earth’s natural springs and mixes with the Kerosene creek’s cold water to create pleasant warm waters. Kerosene Creek is free to visit, but there are often other visitors.
Day 5: Waitomo Glowworm Caves
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, located approximately two hours from the Thermal Pools in New Zealand, are one of the most popular attractions. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are home to the Arachnocampa Luminosa glowworm, a rare species of glowworm found only in New Zealand.
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You will need to book a guided tour to visit the caves. You will learn about the caves’ history (30 million years ago), the animals living there, and the stalagmites and stalactites. These tours have been in existence for more than 100 years. You will enjoy a bit of history by going on one of them!
Day 6: Raglan
Raglan, located 100 km northwest of Waitomo Glowworm Caves is a charming surf town that offers natural beauty and culture.
You can learn how to surf on any of the beaches (Ngarunui Beach in particular), hike Mt Karioi and visit one of the many art galleries. Take a harbor cruise.
You can also take a longer North Island road trip.
Six days on New Zealand’s North Island is just a taster. There is much more to see and do if you stay longer. These are some other ideas to help you plan your trip:
- Karekare Waterfall
Karekare Waterfall, a waterfall measuring 30 meters tall and located about an hour from Auckland, is home to a small rest area with a pool.
From the Karekare waterfall trailhead, you will find a 0.5-mile out and back trail that leads to the waterfall. It’s a fairly easy trail, although it is not wheelchair-friendly. The trail will take you to the bottom of the waterfall.
- Lake Taupo
You can have a great adventure on the water by heading to Lake Taupo, Waikato Region.
Taupo is a prime spot for swimming, kayaking, fishing and other water sports. It was formed 200 years ago by a massive volcanic eruption. You can enjoy the geothermal underwater currents on some Taupo beaches.
- Huka Falls
Huka Falls, located just north of Taupo, is one of New Zealand’s most popular attractions. This 11-meter waterfall is thunderous because it drops more than 220,000 liters per second from the Huka Falls cliff.
- Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is a great place to go north of Auckland if you are looking for adventure. The Bay of Islands, which is made up of 144 islands, lies between the Purerua peninsula and Cape Brett. It’s where you can see the Hole in the Rock at Piercy Island, gorgeous seaside trails and lots of wildlife watching.
- Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island, New Zealand’s island paradise is where you should be if you want to experience true island vibes. It takes only 40 minutes to get to the island by ferry from Auckland. There are tons of things to do on the island for everyone.
You can visit one of the many cliff-top hiking routes on the island or book a tour to a vineyard. Or just relax and enjoy the stunning beaches.
- Piha Beach
Piha beach is located just west of Auckland. It features stunning black sand and untouched forest.
Piha beach is a popular spot for locals during the summer, but be aware that currents can run strong there. Lifeguards are often on duty in the area. However, it is important to stick to clearly marked swimming areas.
- Nikau Cave
Nikau Cave is a great place to find glowworms in a natural cave. The cave is located just 90 minutes from Auckland and houses all types of wildlife, thousands upon thousands of glowworms, as well as ancient rock formations.
- Owharoa Falls
Owharoa Falls, located in the Karangahake Gorge approximately 2 hours from Auckland is an easy-accessible waterfall. It is also a great spot for swimming and picnicking.
You can explore the Karangahake Gorge if you wish to explore more of the area. There are many old trails, tunnels and bike trails to explore. Additionally, there is rich history in gold mining.
- Pinnacles Hike
For some of the best views in the country, the summit Pinnacles hike is a popular choice. It takes approximately 8 hours to complete the hike. If you prefer a longer day, then pack your overnight gear.
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You will need to climb some ladders and there are many steps to reach the pinnacle. The hike is relatively easy, but there are some parts that require extra energy.