After I came back from my 11-months working holiday at New Zealand, a lot of my friends ask me for the itinerary and information to travel in New Zealand. So this article is the itinerary to the North Island of New Zealand.
From North Island to South Island of New Zealand, passing through the Auckland then the National Park at the center, as well as the Wellington at Southern part. Normally the flight arrives at Auckland so you can either go North or South from Auckland.
Cape Reinga – Bay of Islands (Kerikeri, Paihia, Russell, Kawakawa) – North West Side of Auckland (Piha, Muriwai,Anawatha) –Around Auckland – Coromandel – Bay of Plenty – Tauranga – Hamilton – Rotorua – Taupo- Tongariro – Gisborne – New Plymouth – Wairapapa – Wellington
Recommended Routes (about 8-9 days)
Auckland – Coromandel – Rotorua – Taupo – Tongariro – Hamilton – Auckland
Campermate, HERE maps, BBH Travel, YHA NZ Travel, NZ Greatwalks.
Jucy, Avis, Apex, Omega and etc. Remember to read the terms & conditions.
Jucy, Maui, Mighty, Britz, Apollo, Wilderness and etc. Remember to read the terms & conditions.
Can get to know more new friends if you stay in BBH, YHA / Airbnb / Motorhome /Motel / Motorlodge / Camping Tent. Spring and Summer are the peak season, so do reserve your accommodation in advance.
Useful tips & website
Bookme NZ, Information Centre, i Site (you can find it everywhere, you can also get more information regarding to the ticket here) and In A Faraway Land
Weather in New Zealand☀
You may check the weather on MetService.
1) Cape Reinga
The northmost lighthouse in Northern Island. In here you can also see the interceptin point of Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. You probably have the chance to witness the current swirl in the sea. Before you depart, remember to fill the petrol tank at the petrol station nearest to Cape Reinga.
- Tepaki Sand Dunes, Pukenui – The sandfield near Cape Reinga. You can rent a skateboard here. But remember not to rent too much because it drains a lot of energy to hike to the top. Take note that you shall not bring your Smartphone along with you or put it into your pocket because it may disappear into the sand dunes.
- 90 miles Beach – where the sky meets the sea, endless view of beach. If you’re not driving a four-wheel vehicle, remember not to drive your car all the way down to the beach because your car may end up being buried in the sand during high tide.
- Mangonui Fish Shop – If you are to travel to Cape Reinga from Bay of Island, you may pass by the Mangonui Fish Shop. Go to try the Fish & Chips there, it is quite nice!
2) Bay of Island (Kerikeri, Paihia, Russell, Kawakawa)
- Rainbows Waterfall – You can see a wonderful rainbow. The rainbow always appears around the waterfall.
- KeriKeri Mission Station, Kemp House, Stone Store – Most vintage buildings in New Zealand, were built in 1819, 1822 and 1832 respectively.
- Rewa’s Village
- Makana Confections – Pleasant Chocolate shop
- Abbey Cave – A firefly cave located at Whangarei and it is free entrance!
- Paihia & Russell – Coves & Beach activities (Kayak, Boat Tour, Dolphin & whale watch, waterski). It is very clear and blue coast, it is suitable for water activities.
- Kawakawa – Here you can see the steam train to Taomarere that is operating everyday. It’s called the Steam Train Gabriel. There are 4 trips of train everyday. Other than that, the Public Toilet (Hundertwasser Toilet) at Kawakawa is very unique and colourful. It’s basically made of glass bottles and fractured ceramic tiles.
3) Northwest side of Auckland
- Waipoua Forest – Tane Mahuta Giant Kauri Tree, the oldest tree in New Zealand.
- Muriwai Beach – Once listed as one of the 30 most beautiful scenes in National Geographic Magazine. It has the shiny volcanic black sand in which the locals call it Bird Island. You may notice the cliff beside the Muriwai Beach, it is the main habitat of the pelicans here. Pelicans watching period is around October to February. Other pelicans watching venue are Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay and Farewell Spit.
- Anawhata Beach (see right photo) & White Beach – The beach that the tourists rarely come. Anawhata Beach has a mysterious small waterfall that is accessible only by rock climbing. You may be able to catch a glimpse of this secret place when you take rest at Anawhata rest station.
- Piha Beach, Waitakere Rangers – Black sand beach. The wave is very tidal so it’s suitable for surfing in the summer. At night you can gaze the starry sky here. Waitakere Rangers and Hillary Track are the natural forest that you can go on foot. In Piha Beach, you can also go on foot by the Kite Kite Track to reach the Kite Kite Waterfall!
4) Rangitoto Island
It’s a volcanic island. By boat, it takes about 25 minutes to reach from Auckland. Feel free to go by foot in this beautiful island. By the way, the Pohutukawa, the world largest New Zealand Christmas tree was born here. Summit Track is about 4.6km and return trip is for about 2 hours. At the peak, you can overlook the Waitakere Rangers and Hunua Ranges.
- Shakespear Regional Park, Whangaparoa Peninsula – there are good photo spots like photo frame here, as well as sheeps, grassland, nice scene. You can also pick up the Cockles at the Okaromai. But remember one person can only pick up maximum of 50 pieces otherwise you will be fined. Other than that, there is a BBQ pit right there for you to barbecue your cockles after you pick them up. Have a relaxing picnic there but take note of the low tide and high tide timing as well as the season. Another place you can pick up cockles in Auckland is the Cockle Bay. You can also go for a walk at the Tiri Tiri Track.
- Mount Eden – The highest point of natural continental region in Auckland. One of the mountains is a extinct volcano crater with 50 metres of depth. You get to catch the 360 ultimate full view of Auckland and overlook the Auckland city as well as the Auckland Tower here.
- One Tree Hill, Maungakiekie – There was once a tree here at the hill but now it became a monument site with the graveyard of the father of Auckland. Once upon a time this was one of the largest homes to the Māori. Cornwall Park is a good place to go, you sometimes can see the wedding ceremony of the Māori here. In the Spring, this is a good place for picnic with the sakura bloom view in the spring.
- Mount Victoria, Devonport – It is nice place for watching the sunset. At top, you may see a lot of the small mushroom as the decoration but in fact the mushrooms function as a drainage.
- Western Spring Lakeside Garden – A park where you can see a lot of ducks. I previously went there just to catch Pokemon.
- Manukau Heads Lighthouse – It’s one of the rare lighthouses that allows the public to go up to the top in New Zealand. It’s located at the Awhitu Peninsula.
- Auckland War Memorial Museum – Remember to bring along your bank card. If you reside in Auckland you get free entry. It’s located in Auckland Domain. It is a good museum for a visit. The park outside the museum is another good place to spend your afternoon. You can also discover other artworks here. Go to the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki or Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum if you are a cultural heritage lover.
- Auckland Sky Tower – A romantic dinner place to go. It has casino, sky jump, 360 full view of the Auckland city. It is also a good place to go for new year countdown and fireworks photo-shooting.
Nearby: Queenstreet, shopping centre; Giapo for ice cream; Auckland Viaduct Harbour, good espresso bar for entertainment; Britomart, another shopping centre that serves variety of food.
- Hunua Falls – located at the Hunua Range. A waterfall that is easy to reach.
- Fo Guang Shan Temple, Auckland – Must-go! You can see the Sakura in the spring. Vegetarian food is served there. It must be very happening during Chinese festivals.
Summary for Auckland
- Hiking trails in Auckland – Auckland City Herritage Walk, Coast to Coast Walkway, KiteKite Track, Hillary Trail, Tamaki Drive Walk, Tiritiri Track, Hunua Falls Lookout Walk, Rangitoto Island Summit, Stony Batter Historic Reserve, North Shore Coastal Walk, Tamaki Drive Walk (Mission Bay)
- Good place for full view of Auckland – Mount Eden, One Tree Hill, Mount Victoria, Cyril Bassett VC Lookout, Stokes Point Reserve.
- Auckland Regional Park – Ambury Regional Park, Auckland Botanic Garden, Awhitu Regional Park, Hunua Regional Park, Long Bay Regional Park, Tapapakanga Regional Park, Tawharanui Regional Park, Wenderholm Regional Par, Barry Curtis Park, Western Spring Lakeside Garden.
- Reachable volcano in Auckland – Rangitoto, North Head, One Tree Hill, Mount Eden, Mangere Mountain
Morning Market in Auckland
- Matakana Farmers Market
- La Cigale French Market (must try the Risotto)
- Parnell Farmers’ Market
- Browns Bay Market
- Rodney Farmers Market
Night Market in Auckland
- Wednesday ~ Botany Town Centre under Hoyts
- Thursday ~ Henderson Under Kmart
- Friday ~ Papatoetoe Under Kmart
- Saturday ~ Pakuranga under The Warehouse / Hamilton Kmart carpark
- Sunday ~ Glenfield Mall
La Cigale French Market – Risotto (Must-Try)Recommended places for two days trip in Auckland are Mount Eden, One Tree Hill (morning), Auckland Museum (afternoon), Mount Victoria, Mission Bay (afternoon), Viadut Harbour, Night Market (night).
Coromandel has scenic view on the highway but you must be careful driving here because the road is winding and bending.
You can go to Port Jackson for camping. The campsite is just beside the beach so it is not bad to camp there.
- Driving Creek Railway and Potteries – a railway journey on mini train.
- Karangahake George – cozy place for a walk
- Hot Water Beach – best visited two hours either side of low-tide. If you arrive at high tide the hot springs will be under water. Be in there two hours before or after the low tide and excavate your own ‘spa’ and enjoy a beer or two.
- Cathedral Cove – the famous picturesque for its huge arch view on the beach. It’s very crowded during summer but if you get to photo it without other passer-by it would be a good photo.
7) Bay Of Plenty (Tauranga)
- Mount Manganui – At top you get the full view of the amazing Tauranga city. It’s a good place to watch the sun rise as well. The hiking isn’t too difficult, only takes about 30 minutes to reach the peak.
- Boddy’s Fish Market – try out the Fish and Chips, but they don’t provide tableware.
- White Island – The one and only active volcanic on te island. Reachable by boats. When hiking in the volcano, remember to put on a face mask.
- Matamata Hobbiton Movie Set – This is one of the movie scenes of the movie ‘Hobbiton’. It’s very pretty place but very crowded. The view is exactly the same as the movie scene. Some say the ticket is not worthy but in fact the view here is very scenic with greenery grassland and unique houses. It is a good place for photo.
- Hamilton Garden – A very large garden. It consists of 5 different themes of garden, namely the japanese style, chinese style, american style and etc. Wu Qi Long and Liu Shi Shi had their wedding dress photoshooting here.
- Tirau – If you are to drive to Rotorua from Hamilton, you may pass by this town. There is an information centre here that you can go for enquiries. The building and architecture here is very unique. Most of them were constructed to look like a dog with large corrugated iron. This is another good place for wedding dress photoshooting as well.
- Blue Spring Putaruru – Very blue spring water. Te Waihou Walkway is the trail towards the Blue Spring.
- Waitomo Glowworm Cavé – A firefly cave. You may try out the Black Water Rafting. Rafting while watching the firefly in the cave might be a good experience.
- Bridal Veil Falls
9) Rotorua (variety of Mao Li culture and many thermal places)
- Government Garden – It is an important place to the Māori and its architecture is unique architecture. There is the Polynesia Spa nearby.
- Skyline Rotorua – From here you get the view of Lake Rotorua. The Luge activity here i s very exciting and fun, as well as the OGO; Agroventure – Try out yourself the Shweeb (the personal rapid transit network based on human-powered monorail cars).
- Wai-O-Tapu – a geothermal garden. It’s quite hot here and you can smell the pungent sulphuric gas here. There are many colourful pools here. The most popular one is the Champagne Pool. While the Lady Knox Gyeser is famous for its eruption to heights of 10 to 20 metres every morning at 10am.
- Tamaki Maori Village – Experience the Māori culture
- Kerosene Creek Waterfall – Hidden Gems, waterfall with free entrance.
- Hamunara Spring – Very clear spring water like the Putaruru. You can basically see through the spring to its base and witness the Dancing Sand. There are mangrove forest here as well. You must watch the Dancing Sand from the video below.
Crystal clear water + dancing sands ….Amazing nature! #withamazingtravelmates #caimandugopro #5个人的旅行 #hamuranasprings #dancingsands #newzealand #rotorua
Posted by Chua Hong Wei on Sunday, July 3, 2016
- Redwood Forest – Spectacular mangrove forest. It is a good place for some walk. The Lake Okareka nearby is a calm place to go.
- Lake Tarawera, Mount Tarawera & Tarawera Falls – The three places are not as famous as the attraction mentioned above, but they are actually worth-going.
- Hells gate – You can witness the largest hot pool waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere here and treat yourself to a revitalizing body therapy with the volcanic hot spring.
Lake Taupo – The lake size is as big as that in Singapore. Here you can have the Bungy, Swing and Sky dive.
- Huka Fall – Very spectacular watrefall, see the photo at right. You will be amazed by the current flow of 220 thousands litres of water flowing from the top.
- Taupo Mc Donalds – One of the coolest Mc Donalds in the world because there is a Douglas DC3 plane in the shop. You can have your McD in the plane.
- Gisborne Wainui Beach – It’s the city where the world’s first sunrise appears.
- Rere Falls – I personally think this is one of the best waterfall in New Zealand.
- Lake Waikaremoana – One of the Great walk in the Northern Island of New Zealand. Another one you can find is the Whanganui Journey which is 145 kilometres long. Kayaking is available there but restricted by the season.
- Tongariro National Park – Tongariro was the first national park in New Zealand and the fourth in the world. It has been acknowledged by UNESCO as one of the 28 mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites.
- Tongariro Alphine Crossing (You can finish the journey in one day) – A very popular trail which is 19.4-kilometers long. The view is very scenic all season long. You may pass by the amazing Emerald Lake as well. The Ruapehu is the highest mountain in the north island. It’s also the Mount Doom in the Warcraft.
- Tongariro Northern Circuit – Great Walk in the north island and it is 41-kilometers long. It may require 3 to 4 days to finish walking to the end. The first day we stepped on the Tongariro Alphine Crossing, which is surrounding the Mount Ngrauhoe.
- Whakapapa Ski Field — The largest ski area in New Zealand.
13) New Plymouth
- Mount Taranaki – tiny Mt. Fuji. You must go to the Pouakai Circuit Track because you will pass by the Pouakai Tarns. Here you can witness the reflection of the Mount Taranaki, hence it is a great place for photo.
- Lake Mangamahoe – A lake nearby, another good place for photo session.
- Mount Taranaki Summit Track & Fanthams Peak – Two of the trails in New Plymouth. The weather changes real quick at the peak. You basically observe different kind of weather every 5 minutes.
- The exterior of the Len Lye Centre – A building with full of metal element.
- Tongaraputu – You can only reach this beach during low tide. The beach definitely has very scenic view. Beisdes, you can find the Three Sisters Rock here. Only thing disappointing is the the Elephant Rock has already collapsed.
- Te Rewa Rewa Bridge – unique Bridge.
- Whanganui Journey – One of the Great Walk in New Zealand. It’s special because the whole journey is available for kayaking.
- Whangamomona – Forgotten World Highway, the #43 Highway. It is a nation independent of New Zealand. You may bring up your passport here for another immigration stamp. There are not much vehicles on the highway but I personally think this is really a wonderful place. The population here is not more than 200 while the most eye-catching attraction in this town is the Whangamomona Hotel.
- Putangirua Pinnacle – It has a very special landscape with unique geological formation, it is also a movie scene of Lord of the Rings.
- Castle Point – There are plenty of lighthouses here. It is also a good place for photo session.
- Te PaPa Tongarewa – New Zealand National Museum
- Wellington Cable Car – Wellington Cable Car is the iconic attraction of Wellington.
- Mount Victoria Lookout – 360° view of Wellington and its port. Amazing night view.
- Cuba Street – a pleasant street to go to. In March, the Cuba Street Festival is held here; Jervois Quay Wellington Underground Market – open at 10:00 to 16:00 every Saturday. It has different themes every month.
- Old St Paul’s – Unique and beautiful Church
- Miramar Wellington Sign – It’s like a sign in the Hollywood hill.
- Weta Studio Tour – Wellington Movie Tour. You can watch many behind-the-scenes clip here.
Although I personally think the north island is not as nice as the south island in New Zealand, but it has its own uniqueness. On the road trip you may not find as many scenic view with high mountains as you do in north island, but it still has many greenery grassland. It’s a different kind of feeling. Other than that, the petrol price in north island is lower than that in south island.