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10 Day North Island Self Drive

Level Contributor
6 posts
35 reviews
10 Day North Island Self Drive

My wife and I are off on our first trip to NZ in the last week of September. We fly into/out of Auckland and are looking at a self drive. Has anyone any suggestions around an intinerary. We are not looking to spend hours in the car each day so we may be limited to north and central parts of the island.

Also if someone can give me an idea of what sort of weather and temp we can expect that time of the year?

Auckland Central...
Level Contributor
1,531 posts
47 reviews
1. Re: 10 Day North Island Self Drive


Welcome to the New Zealand Forum.

With just 10 days I think you have the right approach with regard to not trying to cover too much in too short a time. You may wish to consider the following as a start for your planning.

Day 1

Arrive Auckland.


For an overview of Auckland have a look at:


The Explorer Bus is a good way to get an overview of the city:


Viaduct Basin or Mission Bay for cafes and restaurants. The Viaduct Basin is more lively than Mission Bay and the Maritime Museum is located there. Mission Bay is more relaxing and has nice views across the harbour towards the volcanic (extinct) island of Rangitoto.

If you would like to experience Maori Culture then I suggest that you visit the Auckland Museum where daily there is an excellent Maori concert/cultural performance. Have a look at:


Sky Tower - there is revolving restaurant at the top but in my view you go there for the views rather than the food.

Shopping – small boutique type shops in Parnell or for larger shops and Malls just up the road in Newmarket, arguably Auckland’s best shopping area.

Ferry - across the harbour to Devonport 10 - 15 minutes or to Waiheke Island (40 minutes) The trip to Waiheke is a good way of seeing the harbour.

Overnight Auckland

Day 2


Overnight Auckland

As a destination New Zealand is not somewhere one comes to for our cities and in the case of Auckland the best is to be found in the surrounding area rather than in the city itself. For natural beauty look at the Waitakere Ranges to the west of the city where you will find black sand (surf) beaches, regenerating rain forest, waterfalls, walking tracks and not too many people For a rural environment with vineyards have a look at the Kumeu area to the North West.

Day 3

Auckland to the Hokianga

Via Kauri Museum at Matakohe. This is a fascinating place and will give you an excellent insight into the early days of European settlement. Well worth a visit even if you are not a “museum person”.


If you time it right you will get there around lunchtime - they have a small cafe.

From Matakohe go through Dargaville and up to the Waipoua Forest and make short stop to look at the large kauri tree - Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest). Trounson Kauri Park on the way up to the Forest is also worth a visit if time permits.

From there on up to the Hokianga Harbour – a beautiful area where you will be able to find accommodation overlooking the water.

It is a good day’s drive from Auckland to the Hokianga and I would suggest a reasonably early start.

Overnight Opononi or Omapere in the Hokianga.

Day 4

Head over to the Bay of Islands – possibly take boat ride out to Hole in the Rock. I would suggest staying Russell rather than Paihia. Paihia is more conveniently located but Russell is much quieter and prettier . It has a lot of character and history – for a short time it was once the capital of NZ

Overnight Bay of Islands

Day 5


Possibly take coach trip along 90 mile beach.

Overnight BOI

Day 6

Bay of Islands to North of Auckland

To get from the Bay of Islands to either the Coromandel or the Rotorua/Taupo area is really too long a drive and I would suggest breaking the journey either around Waiwera, Orewa, Puhoi or the Matakana area.

So possibly a lazy start to the day – visit the Treaty House at Waitangi and then head back towards Auckland down SH 1. If you are feeling more adventurous then you could take the coast road from Russell. If you choose to stay at or near Waiwera then relaxing in the hot pools may appeal after the day’s drive.

Overnight North of Auckland Waiwera, Orewa, Puhoi or Matakana area.

Day 7 Friday

North of Auckland to Coromandel

Reasonably early start and straight through Auckland on the motorway or the more scenic route along the Firth of Thames to Coromandel

Overnight Coromandel

Day 8 Sunday

Coromandel to Rotorua and on to Taupo

Overnight Taupo

Taupo and surrounding area is superb – great views across the lake, Tongariro National Park , lots to see and do and nice places to stay and eat

Day 9

Taupo to Auckland

Overnight Auckland

Day 10

Auckland and Fly out

The above is just a starting point and you can massage it as you see fit. Hope this helps.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Holiday Travel, Food and Travel, Macau, Hong Kong
Level Contributor
28,874 posts
6,582 reviews
2. Re: 10 Day North Island Self Drive

Above suggestion seems quite reasonable. As implied above, there are endless ways to visit N. Island over a 10 day period so make sure to study up on the island and its destinations so you know what is most appealing for you.

Another area that we've grown fond of us Hawke's Bay, this is a surprisingly nice area to visit with some very good boutique wineries and foodie stops. Also, Lake Taupo is one of our very favorite lakes in the world, so beautiful and such a nice little community. I might suggest trying to spend 2+ days here if you are a lakes and mountains person.

Lots to consider for your N. Island self-drive. Hope you've a great time here in Tripadvisor and come up with a great schedule.

Level Contributor
6 posts
35 reviews
3. Re: 10 Day North Island Self Drive

Brilliant! Thanks for the info. Will certainly take into account what you recommend. Seems very consistent with what friend frm NZ living in Aus tell us to do.

San Diego
Level Contributor
369 posts
406 reviews
4. Re: 10 Day North Island Self Drive

What great information.

Kamahl, we will be doing the same thing in February. Would you consider posting a trip report when you get back?



Level Contributor
6 posts
35 reviews
5. Re: 10 Day North Island Self Drive

Will do!

6. Re: 10 Day North Island Self Drive

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