3 Ways to See New Zealand’s North Island

Published 24 August 2016

Angela Griffin

So you want to see New Zealand’s North Island but you’re not sure where to start? Fear not, fellow kiwiphiles, we’re here to help! While there’s no shortage of things to do and places to go on this diverse landmass, don’t be tempted to cram the whole island into one trip; you just won’t do the mountains, geysers and hobbit holes justice. Decide on your priorities and take your time. And to get you started, we’ve chosen three of our favourite tailor-made North Island Journeys – take your pick!

For those who want to see as much as possible

Best of the North Island – 21 days

Choose this Journey if: You want the best bits and then some.

Highlights: Cape Reinga dune buggying, kayaking in Cathedral Cove, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, wine tasting in Martinborough.

If you’re a ‘you only live once’ kind of person, aren’t too fussed about taking it easy and prefer your itineraries full-on, then this is the one for you. After all, you might as well see as much as you can while you’re here, eh?

Touch down among the bright lights of Auckland, pick up your hire car and spend the next 17 days driving the scenic route to Wellington. First up, you’ll stop for a dip in the turquoise waters of the Bay of Islands, then swing by Cape Reinga’s sand dunes for a spot of boogie boarding and off-road dune buggying. There’s just time to catch your breath before you’re gazing up at the giant kauri trees of Hokianga and grabbing your paddle for a kayaking adventure along the spectacular cliffs of Cathedral Cove. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll admire the bubbling geysers of Rotorua and sail into the darkness of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves to watch the glow worms glitter, before staying on a beautiful country estate among the sweeping vineyards of Martinborough. With further stops in Taupo and Napier too, you’re really cramming in the sights on this non-stop itinerary. Phew!

For those who want the freedom to explore

North Island by Campervan – 16 days

Choose this Journey if: You like to go with the flow.

Highlights: Decide your own route through the North Island, stopping as and when you choose.

If you’re the laid-back type who prefers to take each day as it comes, then this is your Journey. With 12 days’ campervan hire but no fixed itinerary, you can go where you want, when you want and for as long as you want. So if you fall in love with the vineyards of Hawke’s Bay and want to stay an extra day, find an off-piste detour for an hour or two’s hike in Tongariro National Park, or decide last minute that you want to sky-dive Lake Taupo, then there’s nothing stopping you. This Journey includes a night in Wellington at the start of your trip and 12 days’ campervan hire in a two-berth vehicle with a shower and a toilet.

For those with less time to spare

Essential North Island – 15 days

Choose this Journey if: You’re ticking items off your New Zealand bucket list.

Highlights: Swimming with dolphins in Paihia, Hawke’s Bay wine and cheese tasting.

We all lead busy lives and it’s not always possible to spend months travelling the world, despite how much we’d like to. If you want to cover the North Island’s best bits, but only have a couple of weeks, then this is the Journey for you. Ticking off the must-sees with no faffing about, this is a great way to cram as many essential sights as you can into a short space of time. And don’t forget, as with all our Journeys, this itinerary can be tailor-made to suit you. So if our top sights don’t quite match yours, change them!

Starting in Auckland, at first you’ll head north, visiting the Bay of Islands to look for dolphins. If you find them, you can even choose to jump in and swim with them. Then, turning back south, you’ll swing by the bubbling mud pools of Rotorua and the beautiful Lake Taupo, where outdoor adventures are in abundance. Once you’ve hiked, biked and rafted to your heart’s content, you’ll continue to the vineyards of Napier, where you’ll indulge in a wine and cheese tasting, before finishing with the excellent museums and restaurants of Wellington.

All of our Journeys to New Zealand can be tailor-made to suit you. So if you have more (or less) time to spare or want to add in a day trip or even another destination – perhaps the Cook Islands, Fiji or Tahiti – give your Expert a call.

You might also like:

3 Ways to See Australia in 3 Weeks

New Zealand: South Island vs North Island

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