New Zealand North Island: 14-Day Campervan Itinerary

Discovering the North Island's Natural and Cultural Treasures

New Zealand is one of the most dreamed-of holiday destinations in the world. With snow-capped mountains, world-class beaches, ancient glaciers, rolling hills, and wine, it’s a uniquely invigorating experience. Your self-drive motorhome trip around the North Island of New Zealand can be the trip of a lifetime because this wonder-filled island is renowned for breathtaking coastlines, geothermal treasures, and remarkable glowworm caves. Check out this 14-day itinerary, then plan to see this beautiful and unspoiled country.

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Day 1: Auckland

Sky Tower Victoria St West (corner of Federal St), Auckland

With 1.6 million residents, Auckland is NZ’s largest city, albeit not the capital (that’s [Wellington]((new-zealand/wellington). For the city's best view, check out the 360-degree views from Sky Tower, which is 328 metres tall. For the 2nd best view (and it’s free), make your way to Mount Eden, 196 metres above sea level.

Mount Eden (Maungawhau) 250 Mount Eden Road, Mount Eden

Much loved for its spectacular views of Auckland city and its harbours. You can go down inside an extinct 50-metre volcanic crater. Wear good walking shoes.

Other attractions include the Auckland War Memorial Museum (rated 4.6/5 by 9000 people), bungee jumping from Sky Tower, and Sky Tower’s Restaurant, but be sure to book months ahead.

Day 2: Kerikeri

Rainbow Falls Walk 34 Landing Road, Kerikeri

For spectacular scenic views of the Bay of Islands, visit Rainbow Falls (and Paihia Harbour). In addition, there are hiking trails, guided cycling tours and wildlife cruises where you can hope to catch sight of whales and the local dolphin population, rumoured to be around 500 strong.

Day 3: 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 4: Warkworth

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.

Day 5: Hobbiton

Hobbiton Village 501 Buckland Rd, Hinuera, Matamata

Lord of the Rings fans may already know that Hobbiton is 176 km south of Auckland, less than 2.5 hours to drive. The Hobbiton Movie Set tour is 2 hours, or there’s a 4-hour banquet tour in the evening. But if you’re not a fan of Middle Earth, drive another 70 km south to Rotorua in NZ’s geothermal heartland.

Day 6: Rotorua

Pohutu Geyser 20 Hemo Road, Rotorua

The geyser erupts 30 metres high many times each day. It is located in a 70-hectare geothermal valley with 500+ geothermal wonders, including bubbling mud pools and a living Maori village. There’s no charge for the aroma of hydrogen sulphide, which comes from geothermal depths.

Tamaki Maori Village 1220 Hinemaru Street, Rotorua Here the locals still use traditional thermal resources to heat, cook and bathe. Entry is free. Attractions include Maori crafts, dance and music shows.

Other Rotorua attractions include aMAZEme (a 1.4 km maze), the Redwoods Treewalk (featuring mountain bike tracks and 23 suspension bridges in the forest) and the Rotorua Museum (within the beautifully maintained Government Gardens).

Day 7: Taupo

Taupo, on the northern end of beautiful Lake Taupo, is well known for trout fishing and also offers warm, healing geothermal pools and a warm water playground for the kids.

Whitewater Rafting Tongariro River Rafting, 95 Atirau Rd, Turangi

Adrenaline, anyone? These Grade 3 rapids are suitable for first-timers as well as experts. Traverse 60 roller coaster rapids in 2 hours with an expert guide doing the steering.

Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs 76 Napier-Taupo Road, Taupo

Geothermal mineral hot pools, two heated water slides, and a children's interactive warm water playground. Open all year. Private pools & spa treatments too. And, no sulphur smell!

Day 8: Napier

National Aquarium of New Zealand Marine Parade, Napier

The Oceanarium has an underwater viewing tunnel and a 50m travelator. Watch above and all around you as the fish swim and feed. Napier is famous for its art deco architecture.

Prefer the outdoors? At 399 meters, Te Mata Peak is one of the most popular attractions in the Napier area. There are some great walking and mountain biking trails there.

Day 9: Wellington

Just because you’re in the capital city doesn't mean you have to spend big. These attractions are FREE.

Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa) 55 Cable Street, Wellington

They say you can “experience the whole of New Zealand in one building!”

Mount Victoria Lookout Alexandra Road, Wellington

Walking, jogging, mountain biking and stunning 350-degree views of the city, the harbour and the ocean.

For garden lovers, Otari-Wilton’s Bush Native Botanic Garden (native plants only) and the Lady Norwood Rose Garden.


Day 10: Whanganui

Virginia Lake 110 Great N Road, St Johns Hill

The lake has a picturesque woodland walk where you might see blue pukeko birds, swans and ducks on the lake. If not, there are more birds in the aviary. Further out of town is the predator-free Bushy Park Wildlife Sanctuary. Or ride the historic steam paddler, Waimarie. And just when you thought you’d figured out how to pronounce the “wh" sounds, here it’s pronounced “w”.

Day 11: Tongariro

Tongariro National Park Whakapapa Village State Highway 48, Mount Ruapehu

Dramatic landscapes galore here, with three volcanoes—Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu (which last erupted in 1996). The park is a World Heritage site and features emerald lakes, steaming craters, and old lava flows.

Day 12: Waitomo

Waitoma Glowworm Caves 39 Waitomo Village Rd, Waitomo Caves

Massive numbers of tiny glowworms create an enchanting effect as you float downstream in an inflatable raft—it’s magical.

Black Water Rafting 584 State Highway 3, Waitomo

Want more action? Three hours in Ruakuri Cave and its underground river includes not just the glowworms but waterfalls and fast waters.

Day 13: Otorohanga

Otorohanga Kiwi House 20 Alex Telfer Drive, Otorohanga

Brown kiwis are active during the day in the centre's Nocturnal Houses. You’ll also see NZ’s unique tuatara, one of the longest-living reptiles and the only remaining member of the Sphenodon reptile family.

Day 14: Auckland

Muriwai Beach 458 Motutara Road, Muriwai

From August to March, visit the gannet colony at Muriwai Beach. Viewing platforms, easy access, and you can also hire blokarts (small compact land yachts), bikes and kites.

Rangitoto Island

There are 50 volcanoes in and around Auckland, forming the city's hills, lakes and other geographic features. Six hundred years ago, the latest volcanic eruption in the area created Rangitoto Island, and today you can get there by ferry.

Your other possibilities include Auckland Museum, whale watching, the farmer's markets on the weekend and shopping for souvenirs.

Campervan Itineraries