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North Island New Zealand Itinerary: 6 Day Road Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Doretta Villegas



Welcome to the breathtaking North Island of New Zealand, a place of indescribable natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and countless adventures awaiting you. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking an unforgettable road trip experience, the North Island has it all. From the vibrant city of Auckland to the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, the stunning landscapes of Taupo, and the artistic charm of Napier, this 6-day road trip itinerary will immerse you in the diverse and captivating essence of the North Island.


As you embark on this journey, be prepared to encounter mesmerizing landscapes, encounter Maori culture, and indulge in exhilarating activities. The North Island is renowned for its iconic landmarks, such as the Auckland Sky Tower, the Te Puia Geothermal Valley, the Huka Falls, and the beautiful vineyards of Hawke’s Bay. Along the way, you’ll also have the opportunity to try traditional Maori cuisine, soak in hot springs, explore vibrant cities, and connect with the warmth and hospitality of the locals.


Before you hit the road, it is recommended to rent a car to ensure a smooth and flexible trip. This will allow you to fully embrace the freedom of exploring the North Island at your own pace and will also enable you to venture off the beaten path to discover hidden gems along the way. Keep in mind that New Zealand follows left-hand driving, so familiarize yourself with the local traffic rules and regulations.


It’s important to note that the following itinerary is just a suggested plan, and you can adjust it according to your own preferences and time constraints. So without further ado, let’s dive into this incredible North Island adventure!


Day 1: Auckland

Welcome to Auckland, the “City of Sails” and the starting point of your North Island road trip! Start your day by exploring the vibrant heart of the city. Take a walk along the waterfront promenade of Viaduct Harbour, where you can admire the impressive yachts and enjoy a delicious breakfast at one of the waterfront cafes.


After breakfast, head up to the iconic Auckland Sky Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Take an exhilarating ride up the elevator to the observation deck, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the city and its surrounding landscapes.


Next, immerse yourself in the fascinating history and culture of the region by visiting the Auckland Museum. Located in the beautiful Auckland Domain park, this museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, including Maori treasures, and provides insights into New Zealand’s natural and cultural heritage.


In the afternoon, venture to the nearby neighborhoods of Ponsonby and Britomart, known for their stylish boutiques, eclectic cafes, and vibrant art scenes. Take some time to stroll through the streets, browse unique shops, and indulge in a delightful lunch at one of the trendy eateries.


No visit to Auckland is complete without exploring the stunning west coast beaches. Just a short drive from the city center, you’ll find Piha and Muriwai, two popular surf spots surrounded by rugged cliffs and black sand. Spend the afternoon soaking up the sun, taking a refreshing dip in the ocean, or even try your hand at surfing if you’re feeling adventurous.


As the sun begins to set, head back to the city for a memorable dining experience. Auckland is known for its diverse culinary scene, offering a wide range of international cuisines as well as delectable local delicacies. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, mouthwatering Asian cuisine, or traditional Maori dishes, you’ll find something to satisfy your taste buds.


After dinner, you can choose to explore the city’s bustling nightlife, with its lively bars, clubs, and live music venues. Alternatively, if you prefer a more relaxed evening, take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront, enjoy the beautiful city lights reflecting on the water, and savor a nightcap at one of the waterfront bars.


At the end of an exciting day exploring Auckland, rest up and recharge for the next leg of your North Island adventure.


Day 2: Rotorua

Get ready to experience the geothermal wonders and Maori culture of Rotorua, a city known for its bubbling mud pools, steaming geysers, and rich cultural heritage. Start your day by visiting Te Puia, a geothermal park and Maori cultural center. Explore the mesmerizing geothermal valley, where you can witness the famous Pohutu Geyser erupting and marvel at the colorful mineral terraces.


While at Te Puia, immerse yourself in Maori culture by taking part in a traditional welcome ceremony, known as a powhiri, and enjoy a cultural performance that showcases traditional dances and songs. You’ll also have the opportunity to taste traditional Maori cuisine cooked in a hangi (earth oven).


Next, head to the nearby Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, where you’ll encounter spectacular geothermal features, including the famous Champagne Pool and the colorful Artist’s Palette. Take a leisurely stroll along the walking trails and be amazed by the vibrant colors and unique formations created by the mineral-rich waters.


In the afternoon, visit the Redwoods Forest, located just a short drive from the city center. This expansive forest is home to towering redwood trees, perfect for a peaceful walk or a thrilling mountain bike ride. You can also explore the treetop walkways and experience the forest from a whole new perspective.


To complete your day in Rotorua, indulge in a relaxing spa experience. The city is renowned for its rejuvenating hot springs, and there are several spa facilities where you can soak in the mineral-rich waters and pamper yourself with a range of therapeutic treatments.


In the evening, reflect on your day of exploration and enjoy a delicious dinner at one of Rotorua’s many restaurants. You’ll find a variety of dining options, from international cuisine to traditional Maori fare. As night falls, consider joining a guided tour to witness the magical glowworms illuminating the darkness in nearby caves.


After an awe-inspiring day in Rotorua, find a comfortable place to rest and recharge for the next day’s adventure.


Day 3: Taupo

Prepare to be amazed as you journey to Taupo, a picturesque town nestled on the shores of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. Day 3 of your North Island road trip promises stunning natural landscapes, thrilling adventures, and tranquility.


Begin your day with a visit to the mighty Huka Falls, a breathtaking natural wonder just a short drive from the town center. Watch as the crystal-clear waters of the Waikato River rush through a narrow gorge, creating a spectacular display of power and beauty. Take a scenic walk along the riverbank for different vantage points and capture memorable photos.


For adrenaline enthusiasts, Taupo offers an array of thrilling activities. Consider embarking on a skydiving adventure and experience the exhilaration of freefalling from thousands of feet above the ground. Alternatively, you can opt for a jet boat ride on the lake, where you’ll zoom through the water at high speeds, performing thrilling spins and turns.


If you prefer a more serene experience, take a leisurely cruise on Lake Taupo to explore its pristine beauty. The boat trip will take you to the famous Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, an impressive 14-meter high artwork carved into the rock face. Learn about the cultural significance of the carvings and capture panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.


No visit to Taupo is complete without indulging in some geothermal relaxation. Visit the nearby Wairakei Terraces and Thermal Health Spa, where you can immerse yourself in geothermal hot pools and soothe your muscles in the therapeutic waters. Take in the natural surroundings and let the warm mineral-rich waters rejuvenate your mind and body.


In the evening, explore the lively town center of Taupo and treat yourself to a delicious dinner at one of the lakeside restaurants. Try some of the local specialties, such as freshwater trout or succulent lamb dishes. As night falls, take a stroll along the lakefront and enjoy the peacefulness of the surroundings or visit the nearby Taupo Hot Springs, where you can soak in warm thermal pools under the starry night sky.


Reflect on the day’s adventures and relax in your accommodation, enjoying the tranquility of Lake Taupo as you anticipate the next adventure that awaits you on your North Island road trip.


Day 4: Napier

Welcome to Napier, a city renowned for its stunning Art Deco architecture, charming vineyards, and beautiful coastline. Day 4 of your North Island road trip will take you on a journey through history, art, and wine.


Start your day by exploring the captivating city of Napier, which rose from the ashes after a devastating earthquake in 1931. Take a guided tour or simply wander the streets on your own to admire the exquisite Art Deco buildings that line the city’s streets. The unique architecture and vibrant colors will transport you back to the glamorous era of the 1920s and 1930s.


After immersing yourself in the city’s architectural treasures, head towards the picturesque Hawke’s Bay region, known for its world-class wineries. Take a scenic drive through rolling vineyards and stop at some of the local wineries for tastings. Sample a variety of award-winning wines, from crisp Sauvignon Blancs to full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignons, and learn about the art of winemaking from passionate vintners.


Continue your culinary exploration by indulging in a delightful lunch at one of the region’s renowned winery restaurants. Many of these establishments pair their wines with locally sourced ingredients, creating a gastronomic experience that perfectly complements the flavors of the region.


In the afternoon, head to the coast and explore the enchanting beaches and rugged cliffs of the region. Visit the iconic Cape Kidnappers, known for its impressive gannet colony. Take a guided tour or hike along the coastline to witness these magnificent seabirds nesting and diving into the ocean.


For those interested in the region’s history, a visit to the Hawke’s Bay Museum and Art Gallery is a must. Explore the exhibits that showcase the rich cultural heritage of the area, including Maori artifacts and artwork, as well as historical displays that delve into the region’s past.


As the day draws to a close, return to Napier and take a leisurely walk along the Marine Parade, a scenic promenade that overlooks the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean. Sit and relax on one of the benches, enjoy the sea breeze, and watch the vibrant sunset painting the sky with hues of orange and pink.


End the day with a sumptuous dinner at one of Napier’s fine restaurants, where you can savor the flavors of fresh seafood and other delicious local dishes. Raise a glass of Hawke’s Bay wine to toast the unforgettable experiences of the day.


Retire to your accommodation and reflect on the day’s adventures, eagerly anticipating what the next day of your North Island road trip has in store for you.


Day 5: Wellington

Welcome to Wellington, the vibrant capital city of New Zealand. Known for its creative energy, cultural attractions, and stunning waterfront, Wellington offers a perfect blend of urban adventures and natural beauty. Day 5 of your North Island road trip will immerse you in the art, history, and culinary delights of this captivating city.


Start your day by exploring Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum of New Zealand. This world-class museum offers a fascinating insight into the country’s natural and cultural history. Discover interactive exhibits, Maori artifacts, and captivating art collections as you delve deep into the stories that shape New Zealand’s identity.


After your museum visit, take a scenic cable car ride up to the Wellington Botanic Garden. Stroll through the beautifully manicured gardens, enjoy panoramic views of the city, and explore the exquisite Lady Norwood Rose Garden. Take a moment to relax amidst nature and admire the vibrant array of flowers and plants.


Next, head to Cuba Street, one of Wellington’s most eclectic and vibrant neighborhoods. This pedestrian-friendly street is lined with an array of boutique shops, quirky cafes, vintage stores, and art galleries. Take your time to browse the unique offerings, savor a delicious cup of coffee, and perhaps pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir.


A visit to Wellington is incomplete without a taste of the city’s renowned culinary scene. Treat yourself to a memorable lunch at one of the city’s many restaurants, ranging from cozy cafes to fine dining establishments. Wellington is famous for its diverse and innovative cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh local ingredients.


In the afternoon, immerse yourself in the world of cinema at the Weta Workshop and Weta Cave. Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the creative process behind blockbuster films like The Lord of the Rings and Avatar. Take a guided tour or explore the mini-museum on your own, marveling at the intricate props, costumes, and sculptures that bring movie magic to life.


To complete your day in Wellington, take a leisurely stroll along the beautiful waterfront. Enjoy the picturesque views of the harbor, watch sailboats gliding by, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere. Visit the iconic Wellington sign, stop by the Te Wharewaka o Poneke cultural center, or simply find a cozy spot to relax and enjoy the serene setting.


As evening descends, indulge in a delicious dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants, where you can savor fresh seafood or international cuisine while enjoying the stunning views. Alternatively, head to one of the trendy bars or craft breweries in the city center to sample some of Wellington’s finest beverages.


As you bid farewell to Wellington for the day, take a moment to reflect on the vibrant energy of the city and the unforgettable experiences you’ve had. Rest up for the final day of your North Island road trip, where you’ll return to Auckland, cherishing the memories created along the way.


Day 6: Return to Auckland

On the final day of your North Island road trip, it’s time to make your way back to Auckland. While this may mark the end of your adventure, there are still a few stops along the way to make your journey back memorable.


Start your day by heading north towards the beautiful Bay of Islands. This stunning region is known for its pristine beaches, clear turquoise waters, and fascinating marine life. Take a scenic cruise around the bay, explore the charming town of Paihia, or embark on a thrilling dolphin-watching excursion.


After experiencing the beauty of the Bay of Islands, start your drive back to Auckland. As you journey south, make a stop at the Waipoua Forest to visit Tāne Mahuta, the largest Kauri tree in existence. Standing tall and majestic, this ancient tree is estimated to be over 2,500 years old and is a true marvel of nature.


Continuing your drive, make a detour to the stunning west coast beaches such as Muriwai or Piha. Take a leisurely stroll on the black sand, breathe in the fresh ocean air, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the famous gannet colony if you missed it earlier in your trip.


As you approach Auckland, take a different route and head towards the Waitakere Ranges. This lush forested area offers a variety of walking tracks, stunning waterfalls, and breathtaking viewpoints. Stop at the famous Karekare Beach, known for its rugged beauty and black sand dunes.


Before returning your rental car, take a moment to savor a delicious meal at one of Auckland’s renowned restaurants. Choose from a variety of international cuisines or indulge in traditional New Zealand fare, reflecting on the incredible journey you’ve had over the past six days.


After returning your car, spend your final evening in Auckland exploring the city’s vibrant nightlife. Visit one of the popular bars or rooftop lounges, catch live music performances, or simply take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade, enjoying the city lights and reflecting on the memories created during your North Island road trip.


As your trip comes to an end, you can take pride in the fact that you have experienced the diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and incredible adventures that the North Island of New Zealand has to offer. Cherish the memories made and the connections formed during your journey, and rest assured that the enchanting beauty of New Zealand will always be waiting to welcome you back.



As your North Island road trip comes to an end, you can reflect on the incredible experiences, breathtaking landscapes, and rich cultural heritage that you have encountered along the way. From the bustling city streets of Auckland to the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, the natural beauty of Taupo, the artistic charm of Napier, and the vibrant culture of Wellington, each destination has left its own unique imprint on your journey.


Throughout your road trip, you’ve had the opportunity to immerse yourself in Maori culture, witness awe-inspiring geothermal features, indulge in delicious cuisine, explore captivating museums, and connect with the warmth and hospitality of the locals. The North Island of New Zealand has undoubtedly showcased its diversity and depth, offering a rich tapestry of experiences for all travelers.


From the tranquil beaches to the majestic forests, from the bustling cities to the serene countryside, the North Island has something for everyone. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural exploration, this journey has provided a taste of the many wonders that New Zealand has to offer.


As you return to Auckland, you can look back on the memories you’ve created, the friendships you’ve made, and the moments of awe and inspiration that have enriched your road trip. The beauty of New Zealand will continue to linger in your heart, beckoning you to return and uncover more of its treasures.


The North Island road trip has not only allowed you to witness the stunning landscapes and experience thrilling adventures but has also gifted you with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich history, customs, and people of this extraordinary land.


As you return home with a renewed sense of wonder and a collection of cherished memories, remember that the spirit of exploration and adventure lives on. The North Island of New Zealand will always be waiting to welcome you back, ready to unveil even more secrets and beauty as you continue your journey of discovery.


Until then, hold on to the memories, the laughter, and the awe-inspiring moments that have made your North Island road trip an unforgettable experience.