Top Ten Things to do in Wellington with a Campervan

Not sure where to go on your upcoming North Island adventure? We’ve rounded down the top 10 spots to check out in your campervan.

Auckland, 642 km

New Zealand’s most populous city brims with urban sophistication. With world-class restaurants, rowdy nightlife, and first-rate museums, Auckland offers a welcome respite for cosmopolitan types. Get a lay of the land from the top of the iconic Sky Tower—and if you’re feeling brave, bungee jump back down.

The Coromandel Peninsula, 647 km

Pristine beaches and thickly-forested hills define this rugged peninsula in the northeast. Take a picturesque coastal hike to the majestic limestone arch known as Cathedral Cove—or get there via a boat cruise or kayak tour. Hoping to spot a bona fide kiwi in the wild? The adorable little critters still roam here.

Egmont National Park, 319 km

Way over near the west coast, Egmont National Park is home to Mt. Taranaki, a monumental ice-capped volcano visible from miles around. Scenic hikes traverse these pristine high-altitude landscapes, including the famous 18 km Pouakai Crossing.

Hauraki Gulf, 642 km

Adjacent to Auckland, this enormous 4000 km² expanse is home to frolicking Bryde and Sei whales. Island adventures span picture-perfect wine-growing regions to remote wildness-rich zones. Not keen to leave the camper on the mainland? Take the car ferry to Great Barrier Island to get away from it all.

Napier, 320 km north

Straddling the east coast, this easy-going beach town boasts spectacular shorelines, art deco architecture, and a delightful waterfront promenade. You’ll also be within easy reach of the Hawkes Bay Wine Region, which has a stellar reputation for red blends and Chardonnay. We’ll drink to that.

Northland, 866 km

Way up north, this aptly-named region is home to breathtaking coastal landscapes such as the semi-tropical Bay of Islands. For aquatic adventures, the Poor Knights Islands harbour some of the best SCUBA diving in the world, plus atmospheric cave kayaking journeys. Hit the Cape Reinga Lighthouse to see where the Tasman and Pacific converge.

Rotorua, 452 km

A North Island highlight, Rotorua is famous for its steamy geysers and gurgling geothermal springs. Watch these natural furnaces from afar, or treat yourself to a rejuvenating mud bath. Maori cultural centres, towering redwood forests, and luscious colonial-era gardens add to the magic of Rotorua.

Taupō, 372 km

The laidback lakefront town of Taupō is best known for its thunderous cascades. Waterfall chasers mustn’t miss the roaring Huka Falls—wander across the footbridge to watch the mighty show unfold below. Other incredible cascades include Otupoto and Tieke Falls.

Tongariro National Park, 289 km

The North Island’s most emblematic hike is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which resides in the otherworldly Tongariro National Park. The challenging 19 km route trudges through awe-inspiring volcanic terrain, offering sweeping vistas of snow-dusted peaks and sparkling turquoise tarns.

Waitomo Caves, 465 km

Billions of bio-luminescent glow worms light these underground rivers in a dazzling display. Jump on a boat tour to cruise through the vast subterranean network and learn how this striking natural phenomenon came to be.

The Wellington Experience

Wellington has an impressive ensemble of exciting attractions for a city of its size (population 200,000).

For a lay of the land, hop aboard the iconic Wellington Cable Car, which rumbles between hip Lambton Quay and the hilly suburb of Kelburn. Upon arriving at the top, meander around the luscious Wellington Botanic Gardens and pop into its on-site museums.

Another lofty lookout sits at the summit of Mount Victoria, which you can access with your campervan or via a steep uphill hike—it’s a top spot to watch the sunset.

Next, stretch your legs with a stroll along the Wellington Waterfront Walk. Artisanal shops and harbour restaurants make this a vibrant place to hang out.

No trip to Wellington would be complete without perusing the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. As the country’s official national museum, the site hosts an impressive collection of exhibits spanning Maori culture to natural history and the arts. Other worthwhile cultural institutes include the Wellington Museum and the City Gallery of Wellington.

Wellington is widely regarded as the country’s culinary capital. Esteemed chefs plate up an enticing array of regional and international flavours, with gastronomic delights catering to every taste. Hit Hannahs Laneway for a vibrant selection of chic contemporary eats.

Beer lovers will find exceptional craft breweries at seemingly every turn. Follow the Craft Capital Beer Trail to quaff the city’s tastiest hoppy creations. If vino is more your jam, the world-renowned Wairarapa Wine Region lies less than an hour’s drive away. Ditch the campervan for a day and hire a bike to ride between tasting sessions in this scenic wine-growing zone.

More into caffeine than alcohol? CNN rates Wellington among the best coffee cities on earth. Try The Hangar for sensational house-brewed beans.

Movie buffs mustn’t miss the Wētā Workshop, a special effects and prop company with credits on famous blockbuster films (including the Lord of the Rings trilogy). Guests get an inside glimpse of how high-tech innovation can create movie magic on the big screen.

For close encounters with adorable wildlife, try Zealandia or the Wellington Zoo.

While Wellington itself is worth a gander, many travellers use it as a base to hire a camper and explore the North Island’s natural splendour.

Wellington to Auckland

Stop for lunch in the gorgeous flower-filled fields of Palmerston North’s Victoria Esplanade before continuing to the seaside village of Napier. Art deco landmarks, a tree-thronged promenade, and laidback vibes make it a relaxing place to stay.

The town resides within Hawke’s Bay, a sprawling coastal region with picturesque beaches and wonderful wineries.

Heading back inland, hike the 19 km Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a breathtaking trail meandering between pointy volcanic peaks. Nearby Mount Ruapehu is your best bet for downhill thrills during the ski season (Jun-Oct).

The North Island’s other epic day hike is Egmont National Park’s Pouakai Crossing, a scenic 18 km stint trudging between glimmering high-altitude tarns. Other stunning trails crisscross the park and encircle the ominous Mount Taranaki volcano. For avid trekkers, Egmont is well worth the lengthy detour.

In the centre of the North Island, Taupō is a charming lakeside town near a collection of thunderous cascades. The most exhilarating option is Huka Falls, which churns out a mind-blowing 220,000 litres per second. If you’re not done chasing waterfalls, swing by the spectacular Otupoto and Tieke Falls. All this fast-flowing water makes Taupō a top spot for white-water rafting and jet boat rides.

North of Taupō resides Rotorua, the bubbling geothermal jewel in the North Island’s tourism crown. Some of the most spectacular steamy hot springs reside at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. For less crowded geothermic geysers, try the Waimangu Volcanic Valley instead. The Hell’s Gate Geothermal Reserve is your go-to option should you fancy slathering yourself in a sloppy mud spa.

But there’s more to Rotoruathan thermal springs. Wander among enormous redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forest or say g’day to adorable flightless birds at the National Kiwi Hatchery. The Government Gardens boasts stately Tudor architecture and luscious lawns.

Rotorua is a great place to experience traditional Maori customs. Te Puia is a well-regarded cultural centre showcasing indigenous Polynesian dance, arts and crafts. The site also boasts steamy hot springs and a Kiwi Conservation Centre.

West of Rotorua, you’ll find the Waitomo Caves, home to a bazillion bio-luminescent glow worms. Watch in awe as these neon-lit critters light up a vast network of subterranean limestone caverns.

Lord of the Rings fans should swing by Hobbiton, a picturesque farm famous for the Shire scenes in Peter Jackson’s classic films.

East of Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula hosts a dreamy selection of pristine beaches and mist-shrouded forests. Do the scenic hike (or kayak/boat cruise) to Cathedral Cove, a magnificent natural archway overlooking the Pacific.

Auckland & the Northland Region

If time permits, consider adding Auckland and Northland to your campervan itinerary.

As New Zealand’s most populous city, Auckland is awash with top-notch restaurants, exquisite museums, and attractive parklands.

Boat cruises plying the Hauraki Gulf offer a rare glimpse of breaching Bryde and Sei whales, plus playful pods of dolphins and flapping manta rays.

A string of picturesque islands lies peppered around the Hauraki Gulf.

BYO campervan on the car ferry to Waiheke Island for scenic vineyards or Great Barrier Island for off-the-beaten-track landscapes. The volcanic walking trails of Rangitoto Island can be reached via a kayak tour from Auckland. Another excellent day trip option is Tiritiri Matangi Island, famed for its cute wildlife and colourful avifauna.

The gorgeous Whangarei Falls should be your first Northland pit stop. Next, leave your camper on the mainland and join a day tour to Poor Knights Islands. This world-class marine reserve has an enviable reputation for underwater SCUBA/snorkelling exploration and kayaking cave tours. Further north, the Bay of Islands has a string of breathtaking campsites.

To the west, the Tane Mahuta nature walk showcases a monstrous kauri tree known as the Lord of the Forest. Catch up on colonial-era history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds before making a beeline for Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean intertwine. The iconic Cape Reinga Lighthouse sits at the northern tip of New Zealand.