Auckland to the Bay of Islands Road Trip Highlights

New Zealand’s North Island is home to some spectacular road trips. Visitors can journey across both islands and witness the rugged landscapes, wild terrain, and beautiful sights that have captured the hearts of so many who visit. 

There are any number of road trip adventures you can take while you visit. A trip from Auckland to the Bay of Islands will have you experiencing the best of the city and the coast. Drive up from Auckland, the busiest city on the North Island to the Bay of Islands and even up to the tip of New Zealand itself, Cape Reinga. With picturesque beaches, golden sands, warm temperatures, and crystal clear blue ocean waters, the Bay of Islands is a fantastic place to stay for a few days, relax, and unwind. This blog will be all about the highlights of Auckland to the Bay of Islands - read on to discover more about this little pocket of the world. 

Visit Long Bay Regional Park

Long Bay Regional Park is located just a 25-minute drive outside of Auckland and is the perfect first stop on your road trip. After a few days in the busy city, the fresh coastal air and gorgeous scenery will be a welcome sight. Stop here for a clifftop walk, perhaps even a swim or a kayak, before venturing onto the road and on to your next destination. 


Paihia is a three-hour drive from Auckland. It’s the main tourist town of the Bay of Islands, so it’ll likely be your base while you drive up and explore further north. With great activities to do that will suit all visitors, Paihia has something for every visitor. One of the main highlights is the water; with jet boat cruises, dolphin tours, and so much more, you’ll find yourself venturing out each day to see what you can discover off the land. 

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Waitangi is a remarkable site in New Zealand and one of utmost importance, historically and culturally. It’s where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. The treaty was signed between the British Crown and the Maōri chiefs, marking the formation of modern-day New Zealand. Visit the site and learn about the history here - you can even see the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe during your visit. 


Russell is slightly smaller than Paihia, but it makes up for it in personality. There are two ways to get to Russell, via car or ferry. Wander through the streets, and visit the cafes and restaurants that line the walkways. Head to the shore and spend time on the seafront before heading to the Duke of Marlborough for a bite to eat. 

Cape Reinga

If you’re in the Northland region, it makes sense to drive up to the tip of New Zealand itself, Cape Reinga. See where two oceans meet; the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide just offshore, which you’ll be able to view from the lighthouse. You can also visit Ninety Mile Beach on the way up and down. There are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained, from swimming in the ocean, surfing, to sandboarding down the dunes. Ninety Mile Beach is actually an official highway, and visitors are able to drive across the sand; however, you will need a 4WD to make the trip. While you may not be able to cruise along the sand in your rental car, there are 4WD day tours that will enable you to experience this adventure. 

Auckland to the Bay of Islands is full of beautiful scenery and exciting activities. Immerse yourself in all that this area of New Zealand has to offer, and enjoy your time here. We recommend spending a few days in both Paihia and Auckland too, to truly experience what these cities are all about. And of course, if you’re looking to hire a car while on this road trip, please visit our bookings page. And, if one thing is certain, this will be a road trip you’ll never forget. 

To road trip from Auckland to the Bay of Islands, hire a car from Auckland Airport today!

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