Auckland North Round-trip: 7-Day Campervan Itinerary

New Zealand Coastal Charm and Adventure

What a road trip! Auckland to Cape Reinga in the subtropical far north—“the winterless north,” as some call it. As we follow the 800 km Twin Coast Discovery Highway up the east coast and back down the less developed west coast, with this itinerary, you’ll be able to visit the beaches, bays and little coves of the east coast and the impressive dunes, sweeping harbours and wild coastline (oh yes, and the rainforests) out west.

Auckland City at sunset

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Day 1: Auckland

Mount Eden volcano in Auckland, New Zealand

Mount Eden

Mount Eden is a suburb in Auckland, New Zealand, named after the volcanic cone that is one of its most prominent features. The cone, also called Maungawhau in the Māori language, is the highest natural point in Auckland with an elevation of 196 meters. The summit offers panoramic views of the city. Mount Eden is easily accessible from downtown Auckland, either by public transport, car, or even by walking if you're up for some exercise. The climb to the summit is relatively easy, and there are well-maintained paths leading up to the top. Vehicle access to the summit has been restricted to protect the site, so you'll need to go on foot or use other non-motorized means to reach the top.

Queen Street, Auckland

It’s the thriving commercial and shopping centre of the CBD. With shops, bars and restaurants galore, you’ll feel the vibe of NZ’s biggest and busiest city. Plus, it’s an easy walk to the waterfront.

SkyJump 72 Victoria Street West, Auckland

There’s plenty to see and do in “big city” Auckland, including SkyJump for adrenaline junkies, where you can freefall 192 metres at 85 kilometres an hour. But if you’d rather see “the real NZ”, head north over the bridge to the charming town of Mangawhai Heads, where you can either surf at the beach or swim peacefully in the harbour. Or check out the native bird life on the sand dunes. And while you’re nearby, perhaps you’d fancy a fancy chocolate? Then head to…

Bennetts of Mangawhai 52 Moir Street, Mangawhai

Treat yourself to some hand-crafted deliciousness at Bennetts Chocolate shop (made from sustainable cocoa and local flavours).

Day 2: Whangarei

Whangarei Falls, New Zealand

Wairau Maori Art Gallery 2 Quayside, Whangarei

The world’s first Maori dedicated Public Art Gallery, it’s housed within the Hundertwasser Art Centre. By the way, the locals pronounce Whangarei as fong-array with the stress on the first syllable.

Whangarei Falls 6 Ngunguru Road, Tikipunga, Whangarei

Just 10 minutes out of town and an easy 2-minute walk from the car park to the waterfall’s lookout. Another 6 minutes to the base of the 26-metre waterfall, then an optional 30-minute loop back to your vehicle. Keep in mind that the loop track has stairs.

Tutukaka Harbour The Anchorage, Tutukaka

This coastal haven is the entry to the Poor Knights Marine Reserve and its beautiful white-sand beaches. The reserve is home to 125+ species of marine life, making it a wonderful diving experience with good fishing spots. It’s one of the world’s top 3 coastlines, as rated by National Geographic Traveler.

Day 3: Bay of Islands

New Zealand Bay of Islands North Island

Waitangi Treaty Grounds Tau Henare Drive, Waitangi

Widely considered the birthplace of the nation, here you’ll find historic buildings, exhibits and a Maori cultural presentation about the intent and significance of NZ’s founding document.

Russell Wharf, 27 The Strand, Russell

Russell was New Zealand’s first capital city, the first European settlement and the country's first seaport. The Russell Wharf is a great place to take a cruise of the Bay of Islands. Look out for seals, dolphins, seabirds and the “Hole in the Rock.” Other outdoor attractions in the Bay of Islands include parasailing, diving, dolphin swimming and kayaking.

Day 4: Bay of Islands

New Zealand Bay of Islands Coastline North Island

Rainbow Falls Walk 34 Landing Road, Kerikeri

For spectacular scenic views, visit Rainbow Falls (and also Paihia Harbour). There are hiking trails, guided cycling tours and wildlife cruises where you can hope to spot whales and the local dolphin population, rumoured to be around 500 strong.

Day 5: Cape Reinga

Walkway to the famous Cape Reinga lighthouse in the far tip of New Zealand

Butler Point Whaling Museum 31 Marchant Road, Hihi

Early whaling fleets visited the Mangonui harbour. Today a 26-hectare site includes the whaling museum and the old Butler homestead, restored and open to visitors. Call in here while en route to Cape Reinga.

Cape Reinga Lighthouse Cape Reinga

Standing 165 metres above sea level, the solar-powered lighthouse at Cape Reinga can be seen 35 km out at sea and marks the (most accessible) northernmost point of NZ. However, the true northernmost point is 30 km east at Surville Cliffs.

Day 6: Kaitaia

Rangiputa beach, Karikari Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand

Carrington Estate 109 Matai Bay Road, Karikari Peninsula

As you make your way back south, take the western route to visit NZ’s northernmost vineyard—and three compass points in one short sentence! On 3000 acres, the estate includes 18 holes of championship ocean-side golf, plus 900 acres of restored wetlands. Visit the restaurant or play your best-ever golf with sweeping ocean views to both the north and the east.

Day 7: Return to Auckland

Auckland City Skyline by night

Sheepworld 324 State Highway 1, Warkworth

With five sheep (give or take) for every person, NZ is big on sheep. So a unique and memorable way to wrap up your time in the “land of the long white cloud” is to check in at Sheepworld, 4 km north of Warkworth, where you can watch entertaining live shearing demos, see sheepdogs at work and lamb feeding in season. In addition, the Ecowool shop sells knitwear and sheepskin products.

Auckland North Round-trip: 7-Day Campervan Itinerary

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