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7 day northern experience | back to itineraries index

Day 1: Auckland - Whitianga
WhitiangaDistance 214km, approximate drive time 4 hours
Follow the Pacific Coast Highway to The Coromandel. The Peninsula has kilometres of spectacular coastline. Stop in Thames, known as the gateway to Coromandel, for a break mid-morning. Continue driving up the west side of the Peninsula, through secluded bays and coastal villages offering locally made art and craft, to Coromandel Town to soak up some of the small-town atmosphere. Take State Highway 25 to Whitianga. Whitianga is a great beach holiday spot and the relatively sheltered waters of the bay are great for all water sports. In the evening dine out and indulge in a seafood fest at one of Whitianga's restaurants. (Suggested Coromandel accommodation)

Day 2: Whitianga
Spend the day in the Whitianga area. From Whitianga Wharf, the centre of the town's boating and fishing activity, you can take the passenger ferry to Ferry Landing and Flaxmill Bay. From here short walks lead to interesting spots. Another option from Ferry Landing is to take a shuttle bus to Cooks Beach, Hahei Beach, Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Hot Water Beach is one of the region's most fascinating places. For two hours either side of low tide, visitors can dig in the sand for hot spring water and make spa pools. (Suggested Coromandel accommodation)

Day 3: Whitianga - Tauranga
Distance 167km, approximate drive time 3 hours

Depart Whitianga for Tauranga along the Pacific Coast Highway, passing through the coastal townships of Tairua and Whangamata. Be sure to take in Whangamata's 'Ocean Beach' - mile after mile of white sandy beach, complemented by the blue waters of the Pacific. Arrive in the Bay of Plenty region early afternoon and spend the rest of the day exploring the growing city of Tauranga. This region seems to have it all - a mild, sunny climate, some of the country's most popular beaches and an abundance of orchards, especially kiwifruit, avocado and citrus. (Suggested Bay of Plenty accommodation)

Day 4: Tauranga - Rotorua
RotoruaDistance 86km, approximate drive time 1 hour 30 minutes

Take State Highway 33 to Rotorua, leaving the Pacific Coast Highway touring route behind. Spend the remainder of Day Four in Rotorua. From the moment people arrive in Rotorua they know they're somewhere quite different. At nearby geothermal hotspots there are geysers spouting, mud pools bubbling and belching and warm geothermal springs and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of colour. In the evening, entertainment could include a Maori cultural performance or a swim in a hot mineral pool to relax and unwind after a busy day. (Suggested Rotorua accommodation)

Day 5: Rotorua - Taupo
Distance 80km, approximate drive time 1 hour 20 minutes

Depart Rotorua for a short journey through to the Lake Taupo region on State Highway 5. If time allows, stop at Orakei Korako thermal area. Access to Orakei Korako is by boat and the average sightseeing time is about one hour. Taupo is the main centre in the region and Lake Taupo is also one of the North Island's most popular holiday destinations, both in summer and in winter. Arrive in Taupo by midday to allow plenty of time to see the many attractions in this area. Overnight in Taupo. (Suggested Taupo accommodation)

Day 6: Taupo - Napier
Distance 143km, approximate drive time 2 hours 30 minutes

NapierDepart Taupo on the Thermal Explorer Highway (State Highway 5) for the Hawke's Bay region. This road is also known as the Napier-Taupo Road, linking Taupo with Napier. It runs from rugged mountain range to gentle plain, from desert-like pumice lands to a vineyard area and from marginal farmland to well cultivated fields. Basking in a Mediterranean climate, the Hawke's Bay region is known for its wine, food and fabulous scenery. Over 30 vineyards offer visitors a wine tasting and indoor/outdoor dining experience. Napier and Hastings, the two main centres in the region, have a high concentration of Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture. (Suggested Napier accommodation)

Day 7: Napier - Wellington
Distance 335km, approximate drive time 5 hours

Depart Napier for Wellington. State Highway 2 heads south through the Wairarapa and arrives into Wellington over the Rimutaka Hill and through the Hutt Valley. Options include stopping at the small country towns of Carterton, Greytown, Featherston or Martinborough in the Wairarapa on the way through. In Carterton you can go rafting, river-bugging, kayaking, abseiling, rap-jumping and bridge swinging, or in Martinborough, check out one of the 26 vineyards in and around this village-like town.
(Suggested Wellington accommodation)


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