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Top Ten Things to do in Auckland with a Campervan

Need some inspiration on where to go on your epic North Island adventure? We’ve curated a shortlist of the most staggeringly beautiful spots within easy reach of Auckland.

Egmont National Park (376 km south)

An epic ice-caped volcano enveloped by misty rainforest lures nature lovers here in droves. Marvel at the scenery from easy-to-access lookouts or trample the 18 km Pouakai Crossing to savour the majestic scene.

Tongariro National Park (364 km south)

Stretch your legs and soak up spectacular volcanic views on the North Island’s most celebrated hike. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing showcases the park’s most breathtaking highlights on a demanding (but totally worth it) 19 km stint.

Taupō (287 km south)

Easy-going Taupō is a top spot to give TLC the cold shoulder and chase some wondrous waterfalls. Wandering the footbridge across the thunderous Huka Falls is guaranteed to get you feeling all giddy.

Rotorua (229 km south)

A highlight of any North Island itinerary, Rotorua brims with gurgling geothermal springs, vibrant Maori culture, and towering Redwood trees. Take the time to savour the jaw-dropping nature of one of New Zealand’s top tourism drawcards.

Waitomo Caves (190 km south)

A bazillion bio-luminescent glow worms light up these moody subterranean caves. Jump on a boat to navigate a labyrinth-like network of underground rivers and admire the twinkling phenomena firsthand.

Cathedral Cove (176km southeast)

This photogenic ocean cave is among the most Instagrammable spots in the north. And getting there is half the fun. Hike along a scenic coastal path or rent a kayak to paddle to paradise.

Great Barrier Island (114 km northeast)

Despite being New Zealand’s sixth largest island, this remote landmass is among the country’s least populated regions. Untouched beaches, thickly forested mountains, and abundant wildlife make it a great place to escape the rat race.

Waiheke Island (49 km east)

Love your wine? Then you’ll adore the luscious vineyard-clad landscapes of Waiheke Island. Pop over on a day trip to quaff top-notch plonk from the source or BYO campervan on the car ferry to soak in the spectacular surroundings.

Cape Reinga (418 km north)

Straddling the northern tip of the island, this scenic cape marks the spot where the Pacific and Tasman meet. Snap a selfie at the iconic lighthouse and take a moment to savour the breathtaking views.

Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve (197 km north)

Leave your campervan on the mainland and jump on a charter ferry to this stunning marine-life-rich reserve. Gawk in awe at dramatic volcanic archways and caves, then plunge beneath the surface to rub shoulders with curious ocean-dwelling critters.

The Auckland Experience

It’d be a crime to visit the North Island without sussing out Auckland’s most iconic attractions.

Take the elevator up to the observation deck at Sky Tower to get a lay of the land. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could bungee jump back down.

To get up to speed on New Zealand’s culture, natural history, and military past, pop into the neo-classicist Auckland War Memorial Museum. Other superb inner-city exhibits include the New Zealand Maritime Museum and the Museum of Transport and Technology. Art aficionados mustn’t miss Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, where a magnificent château-style building showcases international and traditional Maori works.

Auckland is a world-renowned gastronomic hotspot bursting with multicultural flair. Foodies can tantalise their tastebuds with a smorgasbord of international flavours. Top culinary districts include Viaduct Harbour, Ponsonby, Kingsland, and Newton.

For tranquil parklands, try Auckland Domain or the Auckland Botanic Gardens. Families can pencil in SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium or the Auckland Zoo to gawk at adorable animals.

If you’d rather observe marine life in the wild, jump on a Hauraki Gulf whale-watching tour. Operating year-round, the trips often spot breaching Bryde and Sei whales, plus other slippery critters like dolphins and manta rays.

A 40-minute ferry trip from Auckland Harbour lies Waiheke Island, a vineyard-strewn spot dubbed the “Island of Wine” (hit Stonyridge or Mudbrick for heavenly tipples). Even closer resides Rangitoto, a dormant volcanic island chock full of walking trails and spellbinding views. Sign up for a sunset kayak tour to get there in style.

Another tempting offshore escape is Tiritiri Matangi Island, home to curious wildlife and colourful avifauna. Alternatively, take your camper on the SeaLink car ferry to Great Barrier Island for a secluded getaway. Located 100 km offshore, this remote 285 square kilometre island is home to just a thousand inhabitants. Wilderness adventures span hiking to surfing and mountain biking.

Auckland serves as a handy base to explore the dramatic volcanic landscapes of New Zealand’s North Island, A.K.A. Te Ika-a-Māui.

North of Auckland

Heading up towards the aptly named Northland, make a pitstop at the picture-perfect Whangarei Falls.

You’ll need to leave the camper on the mainland when exploring the Poor Knights Islands, a marine life-rich reserve some 22km offshore. Local tour operators offer action-packed day trips encompassing snorkelling, kayaking, and cave explorations.

Stop at Waitangi Treaty Grounds to catch up on colonial-era history before hitting Cape Reinga, a scenic spot where the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea converge. Be sure to grab a happy snap with the iconic Cape Reinga Lighthouse.

South of Auckland

Southeast of the city lies the Coromandel Peninsula, a paradise of pristine beaches and misty forests. The most iconic attraction is Cathedral Cove, where a majestic limestone archway peers out over the South Pacific. Get there via a scenic coastal hike, a kayaking jaunt, or a boat cruise.

J.R.R Tolkien fans would be mad to miss a Movie Set Tour at Hobbiton, which set the scene for the Shire in the classic Peter Jackson films.

The southern route takes you towards Rotorua, a quaint lakeside town surrounded by a gurgling geothermal hotbed of steamy geysers and springs.

Pop into the touristic Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland to admire technicoloured volcano-heated pools. For a similar yet less-crowded experience, try the protected Waimangu Volcanic Valley, home to the largest hot springs on earth. The Hell’s Gate Geothermal Reserve is your best bet for a sloppy mud spa and other wellness indulgences.

While in Rotorua, meander between towering giants at Whakarewarewa Forest—do the Redwoods Treewalk. Next, say hello to fluffy, flightless birds at the National Kiwi Hatchery and visit the Government Gardens for impressive Tudor-style architecture.

Rotorua is also a top spot to immerse yourself in Maori culture. Check out Te Puia to learn about traditional customs while admiring more geothermal wonders.

To the west of Rotorua, Waitomo Caves is a worthy detour. Millions of bio-luminescent glow worms light up a network of limestone caverns in a dazzling display.

Further south, Taupō is a laidback lakeside town and a great place to chase waterfalls. The roaring pièce de résistance is Huka Falls, which pumps out an astonishing 220,000 litres per second. Other less ferocious—but still spectacular—options include Otupoto Falls and Tieke Falls. Whitewater rafting and jetboat riding experiences abound.

Avid hikers (or any fit travellers) mustn’t miss the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This undulating 19km trail trudges between cragged volcanic peaks—some say it’s the best one-day hike in the north. If you’ve rocked up during the cooler months, nearby Mount Ruapehu is the North Island’s premiere ski resort.

To the west, Egmont National Park hosts Mount Taranaki, an enormous dormant volcano with spectacular hiking trails. The top pick is Pouakai Crossing, where a scenic 18 km route traverses crystalline alpine tarns.

If time permits, wander down to the New Zealand capital of Wellington, a windy city on the island’s southwest tip.