Auckland to Wellington Road Trip Highlights

New Zealand is divided into two islands, the South Island and the North Island. With nearly 4 million visitors annually, New Zealand sees plenty of tourist activity on both islands. While the South Island of New Zealand is renowned for its impressive rugged landscape and mesmerising scenery, the North Island is equally as beautiful, featuring everything from bustling cities to lush rainforests. This blog will detail the highlights of a road trip from Auckland to Wellington, New Zealand’s two most populous cities.

The Coromandel Peninsula

This will be your first stop on an incredible trip. The Coromandel Peninsula is simply spectacular, with domestic holidaymakers often flocking here during summer. You may recognise Cathedral Cove, made famous from the Chronicles of Narnia films that were filmed here. With aqua blue seas and white sandy beaches, you’ll feel like you have landed in paradise after just a few moments. Perhaps stroll down to the infamous Hot Water Beach, where you can dig out your own natural hot tub and relax in the warm spring water that bubbles up from the earth below. But, don’t stop just at the beach - the Coromandel has incredible hikes, views, as well as plenty of rugged landscapes - it’s the perfect spot to welcome you to the epic beauty of New Zealand. 

The Waikato Region

Waikato is a phenomenal region that nature lovers and movie fans alike will simply adore. Delve deep into Middle Earth and discover the ‘Shire’ from Lord of the Rings. The Hobbiton Movie set is open for visitors who want to learn more about the magic behind the movie. You can also pay a visit to the Waitomo Caves, where glow worms light up the dark tunnels below. Float underneath the twinkling ceiling down a winding river, or challenge yourself and participate in a more adventurous tour; the option is yours! Raglan is also a renowned surf side town famed for its wild and rugged beaches and perfect waves. 


Rotorua is the tourism capital of the North Island, and it is undoubtedly a great place to visit. Try out one of the many adventurous activities on offer, from zorbing to white water rafting. Learn about the geothermal activity in the area with a visit to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, which will undoubtedly be insightful for all. Perhaps visit a Polynesian Day Spa and relax in the natural hot springs caused by the geothermal activity below. Finally, learn about the Maōri heritage and history with a visit to one of the many villages that line the central city. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in a hugely fundamental part of New Zealand culture. 


Taupo and Lake Taupo should be definite must-visits on your road trip itinerary. The crystal clear waters of Lake Taupo are perfect for swimming, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and even a sunset boat ride - it’ll be a great way to relax and unwind after a busy few days on the road. Make sure to visit the Maōri Rock Carvings beside the water - they are an impressive sight. Perhaps indulge in more adventurous activities here, like bungy jumping or skydiving - if there is one location to test your limits, New Zealand is the place to do it!

Beautiful Emerald Lake on the Tongariro Northern Circuit, New Zealand.
Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park is where you’ll witness the vast, rugged landscape that New Zealand is made famous for. This national park is New Zealand’s oldest and is a World Heritage site. With three volcanoes inside the park, the area sits atop the Pacific Rim of Fire, making it an incredible location for all who visit. Perhaps embark on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 19-kilometre track that’ll span the park's most impressive sights. Walk between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe before climbing to the peak of Red Crater. You’ll descend past the Emerald Lakes and through the alpine slopes. It’s a thrilling hike. 

From here, you’ll travel to the capital city of Wellington. Enjoy places like Te Papa Tongarewa, Cuba Street, and the South Island beyond. These stops might be the highlights of the road trip from Auckland to Wellington, but this is by no means every stop you’ll get to make: you’ll find plenty of road stops and scenic sights along every stretch of your journey. Drive safely and enjoy - New Zealand is a beautiful country to discover. 

To explore this road trip between Auckland and Wellington, hire a car from Auckland Airport or Wellington Airport today!

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