Spring is the perfect time to take a roadtrip in New Zealand’s North Island. Mild weather, flowers in bloom, longer days and less crowded landscapes makes for ample opportunity to explore the destination when it’s looking its best.
There is no better time than long weekend to hit the road on one of these awesome New Zealand road trips. Why stop at one, make a real holiday of it and book in a couple?
Thermal Explorer Highway – 4 DAYS, 457KM
The Thermal Explorer Highway begins in Auckland and makes its way through the central North Island alongside the mighty Waikato River. Spring time in the Waikato means rolling green hills, adorable farm animals and a burst of colour from the native flora. The Hobbiton Movie Set always looks its best during spring when the local hobbits have their gardens in tip-top shape making meandering through the living film set that little bit more special. Heading south towards Rotorua prepare yourself for geothermal activity like which you have never seen before as erupting geysers and steaming hot pools are the backdrop to the unique culture of New Zealand’s Maori people.
Must dos: Visit OGO Rotorua the largest ball rolling park in the world developed by the inventors of this iconic experience.
The Volcanic Loop takes travelers to the heart of the UNESCO dual heritage status Tongariro National Park. The skyline is dominated by the towering peaks of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngaruahoe as you find yourself in the midst of the real Middle-Earth. The small towns that are scattered throughout the park are packed full of charm, cute cafes and friendly locals ready to welcome you with open arms. The resort town of Ohakune is affectionately known as the ‘carrot capital’ so a picture of the giant carrot sculpture in town is a must before continuing the circumnavigating the Volcanic Loop and heading back to New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo home of the inspiring Mine Bay rock carvings and the ferocious Huka Falls.
Must dos: Set aside a day to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the world’s best day walks.
Twin Coast Discovery – 5 DAYS, 751KM
As the name suggests The Twin Coast Discovery takes in two different coastlines, both vastly different with their own natural beauty. Starting and finishing in Auckland and heading north the east coast route will take you into one of the warmest regions in New Zealand with hidden surf spots and empty beaches. Take some time to explore Paihia, the gateway to the Bay of Islands and home to one of New Zealand’s best farmers markets. Before heading west to make the return trip don’t forget to take the slight detour to Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand. The journey back to Auckland passes rugged west coast beaches and ancient kauri forests line the highway.
Must do: Discover the bay with Explore Cruises in the Bay of Islands and cruise through the famous hole in the rock.
Pacific Coast Highway – 7 DAYS, 1170KM
Using the Pacific Ocean as a guide the Pacific Coast Highway’s first stop is the Coromandel Peninsula. ‘The Coro’ is a popular holiday spot for Kiwis and the old gold mining area is now famous for its beautiful beaches and quirky communities. Tauranga is the Bay of Plenty’s busiest city and right on the doorstep of the popular seaside town of Mt Maunganui and cultural hub Whakatane. Put aside some time to visit Mataatua in Whakatane, a beautiful marae with an incredible story and take the day trip White Island for a marine volcano experience like nothing else in the world. The last hurrah on the journey is New Zealand’s food bowl, the Hawkes Bay. Home to some of New Zealand’s best wineries and artisan producers no one is going hungry here, or thirsty. Take a stroll around Napier one of the best places in the world to see original art deco architecture.
Must do: Visit Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel and dig your own private hot pool.