Hobbiton is a must visit for Lord of the Rings Fans
Has New Zealand been calling your name? If you love adventure, hiking, beaches and adrenaline activities, there’s no better place to visit. Those familiar with the country will know that it’s split between two islands – North Island and South Island. While both are spectacular, South Island often gets most of the attention and North Island is sometimes left as an afterthought. This 7 day North Island itinerary will walk you through the best spots to check out and show you just how unique and beautiful this part of New Zealand is!
Getting Around New Zealand
Since New Zealand is a fairly small country with a small population, there aren’t many transit options. With that being said, it’s quite easy to get around and the locals will help you find your way if you happen to get lost.
Travelling North Island by Campervan/Car
Hiring a car or a campervan is a wonderful way to experience the North Island on your own! You’ll have the freedom to stop wherever you please along the way and will wake up to amazing views if you’re sleeping in a van. This option is best if you’re travelling with at least one other person so you can split costs and will have some company along the way! Check here for car and campervan rental pricing and availability.
Travelling North Island by Train
Taking the train is another method you can use to get from one place to another in New Zealand. It’s not the most common option as it can sometimes be the pricier option compared to flying or driving. You can check the ticket prices here.
Travelling North Island by Bus
If you’re planning on travelling solo through the North Island, a hop-on, hop-off bus such as Kiwi Experience or Stray is a great option! The system allows you to travel from certain points within the country and secures a hostel stay the night of, so you don’t have to worry about accommodation ahead of time. Making friends is incredibly easy if you choose one of these options, making it one of the most popular methods for solo travellers to get around the country!
Travelling North Island by Plane
New Zealand has a number of airports and if you prefer to fly in and out of different New Zealand towns, then why not. The major airline in New Zealand is Air New Zealand.
Places to Visit When Travelling Around New Zealand’s North Island
With only a week (maybe more) to explore all that the North Island has to offer, we’re starting in Auckland and travelling down to Wellington before circling back to the starting point!
Day 1 – Auckland
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and there’s plenty to see and do. There are great cafes, restaurants and shopping throughout the city and many tourist attractions to keep you busy. Head to the SkyTower for panoramic views of Auckland, walk around the edge or even jump off – New Zealand is about adventure after all!
You can also hop on public transit to explore Mt. Eden for an easy 2km walk to a stunning view of the city. Mt. Eden is actually a sacred crater that you can see once you reach the top. Just be careful not to fall in! If you’re after a beach day, Mission Bay Beach is one of the closest beaches to the city and it won’t disappoint.
You can also opt to spend the day at Waiheke Island which you can get to by ferry. There are numerous beaches along the island and fun water activities to partake in.
Where to stay in Auckland:
Day 2 – Coromandel
Distance to Coromandel: 2.5-hour drive
Coromandel is a must for beach lovers! Walk along Cathedral Cove – a beach with beautiful cliffs and a white rock cavern. Hot Water Beach is another incredible spot for swimming and surfing. What makes it so unique are the natural hot springs that form along the beach when the tide is low! You won’t experience a beach like this anywhere else, so it’s worth checking out.
Where to stay: Anchor Lodge Motel
Day 3 – Rotorua
Distance to Rotorua: 3-hour drive
Upon leaving Coromandel and en route to Rotorua, you’ll want to stop at a special spot. The Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the Rings series can be found about 20 minutes from Rotorua. If you’re a fan, you can choose from a few different tour options and explore the entire set!
Once you get to Rotorua, you may be interested in visiting the Tamaki Maori Village where you can learn about the Maori people of New Zealand and take part in a cultural experience. If you’re interested in other activities, there are many others to choose from. Head over to Te Pui Geothermal Park to see some geysers in action and learn about the geothermal activity surrounding Rotorua.
Where to stay: Rotorua Downtown Backpackers is a great spot to spend the night in Rotorua as it’s centrally located. Otherwise, you can spend the night at the Tamaki Maori Village.
Day 4 & 5 – Taupo
Distance to Taupo: 1-hour drive
There’s a lot to do in Taupo so you should account for a few days here! Just before you reach the city, you’ll pass by Huka Falls. Make sure to stop there for a few photos and take in the bright blue water rushing by.
Spend your first day walking along New Zealand’s largest lake – Lake Taupo, or perhaps you’ll want to take a boat ride along the lake for sunset. You’ll be able to see beautiful rock carvings done by the Maori people many years ago.
Extend your stay in Taupo to give skydiving a chance! Don’t worry if you’re not up for the adrenaline rush because you can spend the day at one of many natural or man-made hot springs! There are options that work with any budget and you can even find free natural hot springs a few minute drive from the city.
Day 6 – Tongariro National Park
Distance to Tongariro: 1-hour drive
Your 7 day New Zealand North Island itinerary wouldn’t be complete without completing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing! This day hike is part of a World Heritage Site and will take about 6-8 hours to complete.
The hike is unlike any other hike you’ll do in New Zealand with beautiful and uniquely coloured geothermal lakes and volcanic rock! Or just enjoy this beautiful area around Mount Ruapehu and maybe take a flight over this scenic mountain.
Day 7 – Wellington
Distance to Wellington: 3.5-hour drive
You’ll want to make the most of your day in New Zealand’s capital city! Start your day by heading to the Mount Victoria lookout for a fantastic view of the city. Wellington is home to a range of wineries so you can spend the afternoon enjoying a glass or three of some of New Zealand’s best wine!
Where to stay: Your last night of accommodation will be a train! The overnight train will take you back to Auckland to complete your trip. Or, it could be on New Zealand’s South Island after taking the Inter-Island Ferry. Or you can extend your time in Wellington.
While this 7 day North Island Itinerary is merely scratching the surface of New Zealand, it’s a great place to start.
If you end up having some extra time available to explore the North Island, you can venture further north up to Bay of Islands or Cape Reinga where you’ll stumble upon hundreds of picturesque beaches and learn more about the Maori people. Either way, you’re sure to have an unforgettable trip!
READ MORE: A New Zealand Working Holiday
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.