loading...

Location: Auckland

Day 1 - 17 Jan 2022

Auckland CBD

Auckland, Auckland CBD

Content: My northland road trip start and finish in Auckland where I currently live. This city is often the point of arrival for many travellers, being New Zealand’s largest international airport. And also the largest city (it has more than one and a half million inhabitants). It is here that the lush landscapes meet the sophistication of the city. Indeed, Auckland is a city located close to the sea, and is very green with lots of parks. Nature is omnipresent in Auckland CBD, making it a pleasant city to live in. In fact, did you know that Auckland is home to more than 50 volcanoes? I didn’t detailed everything that you can do in Auckland in this itinerary but I recommend that you spend a few days in the area before you head north to visit the main points of interest around the city. For now let’s just visit a couple of iconic places in Auckland CBD to stop on your way to the Northland.

Sky Tower

Auckland, Sky Tower
Auckland, Sky Tower

Content: The first iconic place to explore in Auckland City is the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere: The Sky Tower. It, stood tall at 328 meters, is an icon of Auckland for 20 years. You can visit the Observatory from 10 am to 6pm daily. This will give you a panoramic 360° view up to 80 kilometres in every direction. Best place to spot the key landmarks and volcanoes of the City of Sails.

Remedy Coffee

Auckland, Remedy Coffee
Auckland, Remedy Coffee

Content: Stop at the lovely Remedy Coffee for a yummy lunch. I love the vibes of this cafe and the food is absolutely amazing.

Viaduct Harbour , Viaduct Basin

Auckland, Viaduct Harbour , Viaduct Basin

Content: Then stroll around the Viaduct Harbour, a buzzing place in Auckland. Watch superyachts and admire boats as you stroll along the water's edge. With over 30 bars and restaurants to choose from in one waterfront destination, The Viaduct is a also an amazing place to dine.

Takapuna

Auckland, Takapuna

Content: After crossing the famous Harbour Bridge, you are now in the North Shore. Takapuna is a vibrant beachside destination with a city rhythm only 10 mins from Auckland’s CBD.

Location: Omamari

Day 1 - 17 Jan 2022

Kai Iwi Lakes

Omamari, Kai Iwi Lakes
Omamari, Kai Iwi Lakes
Omamari, Kai Iwi Lakes
Omamari, Kai Iwi Lakes

Content: Kai Iwi Lakes are located about 3 hours (210km) from Auckland on the west coast. The lakes, nestled in a 538-hectare reserve, are the perfect place to relax, swim in crystal clear water or enjoy water sports: kayaking, paddles, jet skiing and boating all meet in this lake.

Kai Iwi Lakes Promenade Point Campground

Omamari, Kai Iwi Lakes Promenade Point Campground

Content: Two campsites are available on the shores of Kai Iwi Lakes for an incredible view when you wake up.

Location: Waipoua Kauri Forest

Day 2 - 18 Jan 2022

Tane Mahuta

Waipoua Kauri Forest, Tane Mahuta

Content: Less than an hour from Kai Iwi Lakes, continuing north, you enter the Waipoua forest, New Zealand’s oldest Kauri forest. Here you can see giant Kauri, the largest and oldest Kauri trees in the world. As well as Tāne Mahuta, the 51.2m tall and 14m ‘Lord of the forest’, known to be the largest living Kauri, which is approximately 2,000 years old. You can’t miss this lush and impressive forest, as the SH12 main road runs through it.

Location: Ōmāpere

Day 2 - 18 Jan 2022

Arai te Uru Nature Reserve

Ōmāpere, Arai te Uru Nature Reserve

Content: The estuary of Hokianga Harbour begins at Arai Te Uru Reserve. Stop here for the stunning view of the sand dunes that cover the tip of the peninsula on the opposite shore.

Location: Hokianga

Day 2 - 18 Jan 2022

Manea Footprints of Kupe

Hokianga, Manea Footprints of Kupe

Content: Hokianga Harbour, Te Hokianga – Nui-a-Kupe, is a long estuary stretching for over 30 km. But above all, it is a special place for the Māori. History tells us that it was here that Kupe, the ancestor of the Māori, first discovered New Zealand. At Manea - Footprints of Kupe, you are taken on a 75 minute unique cultural experience, with the people of Te Hokianga-nui-a-Kupe, Kupe’s descendants, journeying into the Māori world and Kupe’s story. The experience includes a guided walk along beautiful carvings where stories explain Māori origins and connections to the world we live in. Then, you are able to participate to a live performance. Prices are $65 per adult and from $6 for child. They also offer family price

Location: Rawene

Day 2 - 18 Jan 2022

Rawene Car Ferry

Rawene, Rawene Car Ferry

Content: When you continue the SH12, you will pass through many small villages, you can continue on the same road to get back to the main road, SH1. However, I recommend that you take the ferry with your car from Rawene which will take you through Hokianga Harbour to the small village of Kohukohu. From there, you can then find up SH1. The crossing takes about 15 minutes and costs $20 per vehicle and $2 per passenger. I highly recommend taking the ferry as it will save you time rather than going around the peninsula. There are no points of interest on this part of the road.

Location: Ahipara

Day 2 - 18 Jan 2022

Ahipara

Ahipara, Ahipara
Ahipara, Ahipara

Content: Ahipara is located at the southern end of the so famous 90 mile beach. Surfers and sunset enthusiasts alike will be in heaven in this small town. Shipwreck Bay is one of New Zealand’s best left-break surf spots and sunsets are always stunning. No wonder Ahipara means sacred fire!

Te kohanga Shipwreck Bay Campground

Ahipara, Te kohanga Shipwreck Bay Campground

Content: If you travel by campervan and motor home, make sure to stop for the night in this campground. Only $5 per person and the view in the beach is stunning. This is owned by a lovely local family.

Location: Kaitaia

Day 3 - 19 Jan 2022

Kaitaia

Kaitaia, Kaitaia

Content: Before heading up to the very top of New Zealand, consider filling up your vehicle and getting some groceries in Kaitaia, the last major town before heading into one of New Zealand’s most rural areas. There won’t be bay major grocery stores up north.

Location: 90 Mile Beach

Day 3 - 19 Jan 2022

Ninety Mile Beach

 90 Mile Beach , Ninety Mile Beach
 90 Mile Beach , Ninety Mile Beach
 90 Mile Beach , Ninety Mile Beach
 90 Mile Beach , Ninety Mile Beach

Content: From Ahipara to Te Paki Dunes, you can discover 90 mile beach. An 88 km long beach that is also officially a highway when the main road is closed. Yes, you heard me right, a highway. Of course, it’s best to venture there with a 4×4 and at low tide. However, if you are confident at driving on the sand, it is possible to drive on parts of it with a campervan. We did it with our Toyota Hiace with no problems. Several exits to the main road are available along the 88 km. But beware, most car insurances (and rental companies) do not cover for beach driving so think twice before going.

Location: Cape Reinga

Day 3 - 19 Jan 2022

Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes

Cape Reinga, Te Paki Giant Sand Dunes

Content: At the northern end of 90 mile beach, Te Paki is a 10km by 1km wide coastal strip of 150m high sand dunes. Grab a sand board (or hire one onesite) and go for a adrenaline pumping ride down the dunes.

Cape Reinga Lighthouse

Cape Reinga, Cape Reinga Lighthouse
Cape Reinga, Cape Reinga Lighthouse
Cape Reinga, Cape Reinga Lighthouse

Content: Cape Reinga is the northernmost point of New Zealand, 230km from Auckland (4 hours). The road to get there may seem endless, but it is well worth it! The landscapes are just awe! Lots of secluded beaches, the famous Ninety Mile Beach (which I mentioned earlier), and the beauty of watching two oceans meet at Cape Reinga Lighthouse. When you visit Cape Reinga, you’ll learn this place is a sacred and spiritual site for Māori. Indeed, according to the legend, this is where the spirits of the dead jump into the ocean to return to their ancestral land of Hawaiki. Plan to stay here for a few days if you also want to do some hiking and enjoy this beautiful area. The best time to go is at sunset for the breathtaking colours.

Tapotupotu Campsite

Cape Reinga, Tapotupotu Campsite

Content: Only a 15 minute drive from the lighthouse to reach this lovely free camp spot right on the beach.

Location: Karikari Peninsula

Day 4 - 20 Jan 2022

Maitai Bay Scenic Reserve

Karikari Peninsula, Maitai Bay Scenic Reserve

Content: On your way down to the south-east of Cape Reinga, make a stop at the Karikari Peninsula. Renowned for its incredible white sand beaches and bays such as Maitai Bay. This bay, located at the tip of the peninsula, is a popular holiday destination for New Zealand families. It has turquoise blue water and white sand for swimming and snorkelling. A DOC campsite is available (this is a first-come, first-served campsite so make sure to arrive early during peak season).

Tokerau Beach

Karikari Peninsula, Tokerau Beach

Content: Don’t forget to visit the other wild beaches in the surroundings, such as Karikari beach or Tokerau beach. The latter, located in Doubtless Bay in the south of the peninsula, is perfect if you want to stay for the night for free. Indeed, a large free camp is located right on the beach. Unbeatable view on the bay guaranteed!

Location: Lake Ohia

Day 4 - 20 Jan 2022

Rotopokaka (Coca Cola) Lake

Lake Ohia, Rotopokaka (Coca Cola) Lake

Content: And not far from Tokerau Beach, Lake Rotopokaka, also known as Coca-Cola lake (because of its brown colour that looks like coca-cola), is a great spot for swimming. Apparently, the water in this lake has healing properties.

Location: Whangaroa

Day 4 - 20 Jan 2022

Saint Paul's Rock Track

Whangaroa, Saint Paul's Rock Track
Whangaroa, Saint Paul's Rock Track
Whangaroa, Saint Paul's Rock Track

Content: We continue south towards the Bay of Islands! On the way, the charming little town of Whangaroa offers a breathtaking view of the area. The small road along the sea already gives a taste of what awaits us at the top of St Paul’s Rock Lookout. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to climb to the top of the rock. And once at the top, enjoy the immensity of the landscape. Once again, the Northland region leaves us speechless.

Location: Kerikeri

Day 4 - 20 Jan 2022

The Stone Store

Kerikeri, The Stone Store

Content: From Whangaroa, it is only a half-hour drive to reach the beautiful Bay of Islands. What a dream name! Bay of Islands is one of the most popular tourist areas in Northland and offers a dream setting. With its sub-tropical climate and 144 islands, each more looking like paradise than the next, as well as towns full of history, this region is well worth spending a few days. The town of Kerikeri is the first stop you should make. Here you can see New Zealand’s oldest building, the Old Stone Store, built in 1836.

Rainbow Falls (Waianiwaniwa)

Kerikeri, Rainbow Falls (Waianiwaniwa)

Content: For nature lovers, the Rainbow Falls is beautiful and easy to get to. Perfect for a swim in summer. Its specificity: you can go behind the waterfalls in the cave. Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Location: Paihia

Day 4 - 20 Jan 2022

Paihia

Paihia, Paihia
Paihia, Paihia

Content: Paihia is the main town of Bay of Islands and the departure point for boat cruises in the bay. Bay of Islands is made up of 144 islands, so a boat trip to explore these paradise islands is a must. And definitely the best way to enjoy the area in all its beauty. You will be able to see a lot of wildlife such as dolphins, seals, gannets,…

Location: Paihia - Bay of Islands

Day 5 - 21 Jan 2022

Zane Grey's Restaurant and Bar

Paihia - Bay of Islands , Zane Grey's Restaurant and Bar
Paihia - Bay of Islands , Zane Grey's Restaurant and Bar

Content: Starting the day with a fabulous breakfast on the wharf before jumping on board of our boat cruise for the day.

Paihia Wharf

Paihia - Bay of Islands , Paihia Wharf

Content: We decided to visit the Bay of Islands from the sea with Explore group and their “Discover the Bay” boat cruise.

Cruise to the Hole in the Rock - Explore Group

Paihia - Bay of Islands , Cruise to the Hole in the Rock - Explore Group
Paihia - Bay of Islands , Cruise to the Hole in the Rock - Explore Group
Paihia - Bay of Islands , Cruise to the Hole in the Rock - Explore Group
Paihia - Bay of Islands , Cruise to the Hole in the Rock - Explore Group
Paihia - Bay of Islands , Cruise to the Hole in the Rock - Explore Group
Paihia - Bay of Islands , Cruise to the Hole in the Rock - Explore Group

Content: The 5-hours expedition on the crystal blue waters of the bay with a 1h30 stop on Urupukapuka island. This island is a little heaven on earth where you can relax on Otehei Bay or explore the island thanks to numerous hikes and viewpoints. Throughout the day, the captain and the crew (A big thank you to Andy, Marty and Blair for this amazing day on board) gave us a lot of information and stories about the Bay of Islands with a few stops at the main points of interest: First of all, we could discover the very specials “black rocks”, formed by volcanic eruptions about a million years ago. But also see some gannets and seal on Mahenotapuku (Bird Rock). Unfortunately, we did not see any dolphins that day. However, it is very common to see them in the bay so keep an eye out for them. The highlight of the day for me was seeing the iconic “Hole in the Rock” at the northern end of Cape Brett. This imposing rock, with its steep cliffs rising 150 metres above the sea, was carved out by the ocean and forms a 16 metre hole. As the weather conditions were good, we were also able to pass through this hole with the boat. It was really impressive!

Bad habits

Paihia - Bay of Islands , Bad habits
Paihia - Bay of Islands , Bad habits

Content: We ended up this beautiful day with some friends in one of the restaurant in Paihia Center. They do amazing cocktail and the food was great.

Waitangi Holiday Park

Paihia - Bay of Islands , Waitangi Holiday Park
Paihia - Bay of Islands , Waitangi Holiday Park

Content: We stayed in a caravan park for the night close to Waitangi treaty ground as it is where we’ll go tomorrow morning. This holiday park had all the amenities we needed: clean shower, toilet, kitchen and wifi. With nice view on the water.

Location: Waitangi

Day 6 - 22 Jan 2022

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Waitangi, Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Waitangi, Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Waitangi, Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Waitangi, Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Waitangi, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Content: Want to learn more about New Zealand’s history? A visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is a must on a Northland road trip. It was at Waitangi, on 6 February 1840, that the agreement between the Māori chiefs and the British Crown was signed. The Treaty of Waitangi is the founding document of New Zealand. During your visit, a 1-hour guided tour of the grounds will tell you more about the history of that treaty and many anecdotes about how things really happened. You’ll see the iconic flagstaff representing the exact spot where the treaty was signed, the treaty house and some impressive waka taua (war canoe). After this tour, you can walk freely around the site and visit the 2 museums: Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi and Te Rau Aroha (newly opened in 2020) I highly recommend to participate in a cultural performance. This one will take you back in time with traditional Māori songs and dances. I’ve had the opportunity to watch several cultural performances in different cities around New Zealand and this is definitely one of the best I’ve seen so far.

Location: Okiato

Day 6 - 22 Jan 2022

Okiato Vehicle Ferry Terminal

Okiato, Okiato Vehicle Ferry Terminal

Content: Take the vehicle ferry in Opua to reach Okiato, the first capital of New Zealand. The ferry ride take about 10minute and tickets can be purchased on board. Prices varies depending on the vehicle from $13.50 to $55

Location: Russell

Day 6 - 22 Jan 2022

Pompallier Mission and Printery

Russell, Pompallier Mission and Printery
Russell, Pompallier Mission and Printery

Content: The small village of Russell also has an important place in New Zealand’s history. It was the first European settlement and therefore the first seaport and nearby the first capital of New Zealand, Okiato. It is a charming little town where it is pleasant to stroll around to see the historic buildings

The Duke of Marlborough Tavern

Russell, The Duke of Marlborough Tavern

Content: Don’t forgot to have a drink on the terrace of the first licensed hotel-bar-restaurant, the Duke of Marlborough. Many says that visiting Russell is like stepping back in time.

Location: Matapouri

Day 6 - 22 Jan 2022

Whale Bay

Matapouri, Whale Bay
Matapouri, Whale Bay

Content: From Russell heading south, I highly recommend taking the Russell Rd and then the Twin Coast Discovery Highway rather than the main SH1. This route is likely to be longer but will take you through fantastic views and beaches. Stop off near Matapouri to relax at the beautiful Sandy Bay or Whale Bay. A short 10-minutes walk will take you to the last. There are many natural pools inviting you to take a dip. Explore the area by yourself and look for your own private rock pool, of which there are many along the coast.

Location: Tutukaka

Day 6 - 22 Jan 2022

Matapouri Glamping

Tutukaka, Matapouri Glamping
Tutukaka, Matapouri Glamping

Content: If you love Glamping like me, make sure to stay one night at this amazing Glamping if you can.

Location: Whangārei Heads

Day 7 - 23 Jan 2022

Mount Manaia Track

Whangārei Heads, Mount Manaia Track
Whangārei Heads, Mount Manaia Track

Content: Drive along the Tutukaka Coast to Whangarei (pronounced Fangarei – Wh is pronounced F in Māori language), the capital of Northland. You’ll find great views at Mt Parihaka or Mt Mahia on Whangarei Heads.

Ocean Beach

Whangārei Heads, Ocean Beach

Content: Check out Ocean beach, Whangarei’s premier surf beach with its beautiful white sand and views of Bream Head.

Location: Whangārei

Day 7 - 23 Jan 2022

Whangarei Falls

Whangārei, Whangarei Falls

Content: A waterfall is also easily accessible from the SH1 about 30 minutes north of the town: Whangarei Falls.

Town Basin Marina Village

Whangārei, Town Basin Marina Village
Whangārei, Town Basin Marina Village

Content: Stroll around the Town bassin and do a bit of shopping before lunch.

The Quay

Whangārei, The Quay

Content: Have lunch at The Quay ! Beautiful view on the Marina and amazing cocktails.

Location: Auckland

Day 7 - 23 Jan 2022

Britomart

Auckland, Britomart
Auckland, Britomart
Auckland, Britomart
Auckland, Britomart

Content: Back to Auckland, let’s celebrate this awesome trip in a vibrant precinct in the heart of waterfront Auckland: Britomart. Some of Auckland’s oldest buildings are lying new between new architecture and dockside warehouse. It is a place where past and future collide.

Talulah

Auckland, Talulah
Auckland, Talulah

Content: Let’s start with an happy hour in my favourite tiki cocktail bar in town: Talulah. From 4pm to 7pm Thursday to Sunday, enjoy cocktails for $10 only.

Amano

Auckland, Amano

Content: And then down the street, dine in one of the most famous restaurant that celebrates the best European/Italian-inspired foods.