The Great Kiwi North Island Road Trip Itinerary

The Central North Island is perfect for a road trip, with beaches, lakes, forests and geothermal wonders to explore. The best part is nothing is too far away! Keeping the drive times short, you’ve got more time to relax and explore what New Zealand has to offer. 

A Coromandel Sunrise

The Pinnacles Walk is a great adventure just outside of Thames. There’s no hiding it, it’s a big walk with a lot of up, but the views from the top are totally worth the effort. An overnight stay in the modern 80 bunk Pinnacles Hut is an experience in itself! In the morning, a short steep 40-minute hike to the summit will reward you with a stunning panoramic sunrise. 
Image: Jack Austin Photography. The Pinnacles, Destination Coromandel, New Zealand 

Beaches in the Bay of Plenty

No kiwi road trip is complete without some white sandy beaches and the Bay of Plenty has heaps to offer! Our pick is Waihi Beach, away from the hustle and bustle, with a great walk over to the beautiful Orokawa Bay or up to the trig for some epic coastal views. 

Rotorua’s Forest Playground

From the beach, head inland through the gorge to Rotorua. Break up the journey with a bush walk on the way. The Kaharoa Kōkako Track is a local secret, or the Otanewainuku Forest has a selection of beautiful trails in stunning native bush. 

 Then on to discover a land of glistening lakes and forests in Rotorua. Whakarewarewa Forest is a giant playground for walkers and bikers, and lake lovers will have the pick of many to explore. At night the Redwoods Treewalk is lit up with a colourful light show, and has become a firm favourite with visitors from all over the world.

Wonders of the Geothermal Valley

Waikite Valley Thermal Pools is perfectly placed for a stop off between Rotorua and Taupo. Take a soak in our mineral waters, wander up to Te Manaroa Spring, or stay the night at our campground.
While you’re in the area, take advantage of our geothermal combos and visit either Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland or Waimangu Volcanic Valley for some otherworldly scenery and unique smells!

Great Lake Taupo

A summer hot spot, Taupo ticks all the boxes for a road trip stop off. The iconic Huka Falls are just a short trip of the highway and from there you can wander along the river in either direction to Spa Park or Aratiatia Dam. 
A must-do while you’re there is to hop on a cruise on the great lake to the Maori Carvings at Mine Bay for a taste of culture and storytelling.
Image: Sail Barbary, Taupo, NZ. Destination Great Lake Taupō

Waitomo’s hidden treasures

Everyone knows Waitomo is the place to go for glow worms. There’s also some beautiful nature walks in the area, and if you take the road less travelled, you’ll also find some hidden treasures like the arch and Marokopa Falls. 
Image: Marokopa Falls, Waikato, NZ. Hamilton & Waikato Tourism

Relaxing in Raglan

From Waitomo, it’s off to explore the black sand and surf breaks on the west coast at Raglan. This laid-back little town is the perfect place to wind down and recharge. You’ll find a selection of boutique shops, some great coffee and eateries and plenty of options for a chilled walk on the beach. 

Looking for more road trip inspiration? 


Get Out More NZ has a whole host of itinerary suggestions to help you plan your trip in the Central North Island. If you’re looking for a girl’s weekend away, a family adventure or a longer road trip epic, there’s plenty of top tips to point you in the right direction. 
So, where to next? 
 
The Great Kiwi North Island Road Trip Itinerary
Waikite Valley Thermal PoolsThe Great Kiwi North Island Road Trip Itinerary
Waikite Valley Thermal PoolsThe Great Kiwi North Island Road Trip Itinerary
Waikite Valley Thermal PoolsThe Great Kiwi North Island Road Trip Itinerary
Waikite Valley Thermal PoolsThe Great Kiwi North Island Road Trip Itinerary
Waikite Valley Thermal Pools