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Road Trip New Zealand: Go Auckland & Northland

Spectacular landscapes, diverse natural wonders, rich culture, an inspiring art scene, plus fine wine, good food, and sunshine! What’s not to love about road tripping Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and Te Tai Tokerau Northland?

Spectacular landscapes, diverse natural wonders, rich culture, an inspiring art scene, plus fine wine, good food, and sunshine! What’s not to love about road tripping Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and Te Tai Tokerau Northland?

7-day, 1098 km: Go Auckland & Northland

Your Auckland and Northland adventure kicks off with a journey around Auckland’s triple harbours: Manukau, Waitematā, and Kaipara. Start at Ambury Regional Park to experience Manukau Harbour’s best views. While you’re there, hike the dormant crater of Mangere Maunga.

Next head to West Auckland to the quaint village of Titirangi before heading to the iconic West Coast black sand beaches of Karekare and Piha.

Onwards to Riverhead to experience the rich history of Waitematā. Continue north to Omeru Pā Scenic Reserve and Atiu Creek Regional Park, with views of Kaipara Harbour.

Coastal walks ©Auckland Unlimited
Coastal walks ©Auckland Unlimited

On day two, travel the Sheltered Coast, enjoying a range of picturesque Auckland beaches and regional parks en route. Laze under the pōhutukawa trees at Wenderholm Regional Park, kayak or fish at Mahurangi Regional Park, and wander Warkworth village. From here, head to Tāwhranui Regional Park for a walk or relaxing swim at Anchor Bay.

Let your tastebuds lead the way, day three, as you explore the world-class wineries, artisanal eateries, and stylish restaurants of the Matakana region. Enjoy wine tastings at the independent wineries on the Matakana Wine Trail, before meandering Brick Bay Wines’ outdoor sculpture trail. Finish the day with a trip to New Zealand’s oldest marine reserve, Goat Island before checking out Leigh Sawmill. The live music is a total vibe here.

Day four, drive to Whangārei’s newly opened Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Māori Art Gallery. Experience art, culture, and nature in perfect synergy.

Poor Knights Islands ©David Kirkland/Northland NZ
Poor Knights Islands ©David Kirkland/Northland NZ

From here, walk to the summit of Mount Manaia in Whangārei Heads: gorgeous 360-degree views await. As you continue up the Tutukākā Coast, be sure to stop by the postcard-perfect Otuihau Whangārei Falls. Divers, don’t miss the world-famous Poor Knights Islands.

Day five, check out Matapouri’s stunning white sand beach before heading to the Bay of Islands, Northland’s most iconic destination. Here, explore the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds, visit the Old Packhouse Markets in Kerikeri, and take a wildlife cruise or thrilling jet boating adventure. Hikers, make time to explore Urupukapuka Island’s walking tracks.

Tane Mahuta ©Northland NZ
Tane Mahuta ©Northland NZ

Day six, if you’re game, rise early and drive to the top of New Zealand, at Cape Reinga, to see the lighthouse, visit 90 Mile Beach, and sandboard the Te Paki dunes. Return via Northland’s West Coast, stopping at Waipoua in time for the twilight encounter with Tane Mahuta.

Day seven, journey back to Auckland, stopping at Dargaville, kūmara capital of NZ, the Tokatoka Peak lookout, and the Māori Pā sites at Paparoa.

On your return to Auckland, consider adding a day to your vacay to experience the sandy beaches, boutique vineyards, and waterfalls of the Pohutukawa Coast.

Here’s our top five things to do. Just five? For Auckland? And Northland?! Crazy… but we did it:

1. Iconic

Waitangi Treaty Grounds Meeting House ©David Kirkland
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Meeting House ©David Kirkland

Reach into the beating heart of Tāmaki Makaurau by staying central at the sophisticated Park Hyatt Auckland. Forget bland hotel rooms, each of the 195 spacious waterfront rooms incorporate Māori artwork. Enjoy sumptuous Kiwi flavours with sustainable local produce while enjoying panoramic water views.

The Bay of Island’s most iconic attraction is the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Alongside learning the history of the Treaty of Waitangi at the two museums, you’ll have access to a rich cultural programme. There’s so much to soak in here, admission to the grounds covers two days!

2. Learn

The Good From Scratch cookery school offers farm to plate cooking classes
The Good From Scratch cookery school offers farm to plate cooking classes

Adding educational elements to your road trip deepens your connection to these regions. In Auckland, choose from six unforgettable lessons at the Good From Scratch cooking school, out in Muriwai.

In Northland, the exceptional Manea Footprints of Kupe takes visitors on a 75-minute, multi-sensory 4D journey following Kupe, the first Polynesian explorer to arrive in NZ.

3. Arts & Culture

Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery ©Northland NZ
Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery ©Northland NZ

Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery presents local art, artists, and ideas through its contemporary exhibits, events, and activities. Diverse, cultural, and inspiring, this is a West Auckland gem.

Whangarei’s new Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery is set to become a Kiwi landmark. This is thanks to its iconic architectural structure (with forested roof, no less), and accompanying gallery for contemporary Māori art.

4. Nature

Viewing platform, Arataki Visitor Centre ©Auckland Unlimited
Viewing platform, Arataki Visitor Centre ©Auckland Unlimited

Get into Auckland’s best scenery out west to hike the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and the powerful west coast surf. Stop by the Arataki Visitor Centre, visit Whatupu’s caves, snap a selfie at Piha’s Lion Rock, and walk spectacular hikes, including the Te Henga Walkway.

Connect with ancient Kauri trees on a Footprints Waipoua Forest Twilight Tour. With the soundtrack of the forest coming alive as dusk falls, learn the secrets and tales of enchanting Waipoua Forest.

5. Food & Drink

The Duke of Marlborough ©Northland NZ
The Duke of Marlborough ©Northland NZ

There are countless gourmet flavours found across Auckland, from trendy Britomart to the Bethells Café food truck. For a premier dining experience, book a spot at the 80-acre Hunting Lodge estate. Enjoy the restaurant, the cellar door or Lawn Bar, or find a spot among the vines for a romantic picnic.

Take a step back in time at New Zealand’s first licenced pub, the Duke of Marlborough in Russell. “Refreshing rascals and reprobates since 1827”, the epic waterfront views enhance the seafood-inspired fare.

Get Inspired

Hear the siren song of Auckland with this uplifting video.

Want a quick teaser of all that Northland has in store? Take a journey throughout Northland right here, right now.

Driving Auckland & Northland

Tawharanui Regional Park lookout ©Unlimited Auckland
Tawharanui Regional Park lookout ©Unlimited Auckland

Driving Auckland and Northland is scenic and easy for Australians. Navigating Auckland is like any major city: best avoided out of peak hours and a breeze at all other times.

The travel time from Auckland to Whangarei is two hours, three to Russell, and nearly six to Cape Reinga. There are three domestic Northland airports if you’re looking for a fast getaway: Whangarei, Kerikeri, and Kaitaia.

Get the Road Trip Playlist

You’ve probably already got a few Auckland musicians on your Spotify faves (Lorde, Six60, Benee to name a few), so crank that on your way out of the City of Sails, then switch to Northland’s Spotify playlist.

With top tunes like Tiki Taane’s Always on My Mind and Sons of Zion’s Come Home, it’s an hour of foot-tapping good times setting the perfect road trip mood.

Travel Advisor? Gain Access to the Marketing Hub Toolkit Here

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Can you believe it? The last of our incredible South-to-North New Zealand adventures is here, so block out July the 13th on your calendar! You won’t want to miss our final webinar where the respective RTOs spill the tea on all things Auckland and Northland.

Interest piqued today and not willing to wait until the 13th? Check out Tourism New Zealand’s mind-expanding Marketing Hub Toolkit or head to the Auckland and Northland travel trade sites. Knowledge is power, after all!

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