In the depths of winter you might find yourself dreaming about the warmer weather. The good news is that it’s on the horizon, so now is a fantastic time to start planning a getaway. Hire a car from one of our many branches around the North Island and hit the road this spring with Thrifty.
Here’s a few North Island road trips we love to help inspire you:
Wellington to Turangi: 4hrs 10min
The capital nestled at the bottom of the North Island is an easy place to start your journey. If you’re coming from out of town you stop in to rent a car from either our Wellington Airport or Ferry locations.
Depending on your itinerary, you might like to spend a night in Wellington, soaking up its vibes, shopping it’s numerous vintage stores or dining out on the waterfront. When you’re ready to hit the road you’ll travel north up the Kapiti Coast.
The North Island’s rolling countryside offers some pretty vistas to enjoy during the drive, and a bunch of little towns to stop and stretch your legs in. If you’re a military enthusiast, or history buff you may enjoy making one of your stops at the National Army Museum in Waiouru.
From here you enter National Park on the desert road. For budding photographers or Instagrammers the landscape is sure to inspire shot after shot. On a clear day you’ll have spectacular views of Mt Ruapehu, and nearby Ngaruahoe and Tongariro.
Your road trip finishes in Turangi, on the southern shores of Lake Taupo. A tourism hub, the gateway to National Park and a fisherman’s dream, this is a great spot to base yourself to do the Tongariro Crossing, one of New Zealand’s best day walks!
Auckland To The Bay Of Islands: 3hrs 30min
Tell someone you are headed to Northland and no doubt you’ll get some wistful looks followed by tales of secret bays and hidden gems. The far North is a treat, and the jewel in its crown is without a doubt the Bay Of Islands.
After collecting your vehicle from Thrifty Car Rental Auckland Airport, the easy 3.5 hours trip takes you up the Northern Motorway, through Albany past Whangaparaoa and Orewa to Warkworth. If you have the time you’ll find arguably one of the best beaches in the Auckland region 30 mins from Warkworth, Tawharanui.
When you’re ready hit the main road again all the way up to Whangarei, the marine front has had an upgrade in recent years, and really does make a lovely spot for a stroll or lunch.
Whether you decide to stay in Paihia or Russell, you’ll be able to make use of the excellent ferry services to travel between the two centres. Both locations offer a range of dining options and an assortment of local shops. You can also visit nearby Waitangi for a taste of NZ history.
Thrifty Tip: If you have extra time to spend, we’d thoroughly recommend weaving up and down the coast and exploring the endless little towns and beaches. Stop for a few nights along the way and get a really good look at what Northland has to offer.
Gisborne to Whakatane (Via East Cape): 5hrs
If you are looking to take the road less travelled, we think East Cape could be the road trip for you. You’ll start your journey in Gisborne, which boasts some pretty cool activities in our view. Take some time to check out the Rere Rockslide, be the first to see in the world to see in the new day at Maunga Hikurangi, or jump on board the Gisborne Railbike Adventure.
Once you’re on the road, you’ll find your first stop just outside Gisborne, Dive Tatapouri. Here you can get in the water and up close with the local stingray population while learning about these majestic creatures in an Ecology Tour.
Next stop, Tologa Bay, one of the largest settlements in East Cape, and home to New Zealand’s longest pier. If you fancy spending the night there are a number of accommodation options in the area including freedom camping.
As you continue on your journey be sure to stop in at St Mary’s Church in Tikitiki, one of the finest Māori churches in New Zealand. Here you’ll see a real blend of Maori and European cultures.
At the end of your journey you’ll park up in Whakatane, where you’ll find beautiful beaches, a wildlife sanctuary at Whale Island and a range of activities including golfing and fishing.
Much of the charm of East Cape can’t be found in a guide book, instead roadtrippers in the region marvel at the authenticity of the region and the quintessentially Kiwi-ness of the experience. It’s the marae dotted around, the kids riding horses, the kai being served up, the rustic accommodation and more. We love it and we think you will too.
Mt Maunganui To Hahei: 2hr 30mins
You’ll land at Tauranga Airport located at Mt Maunganui, where you can pick up your vehicle. Mt Maunganui (the Mount) is an iconic kiwi beach, with golden sands and breaking surf. Enjoy a stroll around the Mount or better yet climb to the top for some spectacular views.
When you hit the road you’ll make your way up the coast, through Te Puna and Omokoroa until you reach the old mining settlement of Waihi. Here you’ll find NZ’s richest Gold Mine – still in operation today. If you’re in the mood for a walk through nature take a detour to Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway.
From Waihi you’ll continue your journey up the coast to Whangamata, where you might like to stop for supplies or a quick bite to eat. The coromandel is a holiday favourite for many North Islanders, with little settlements dotted all over the peninsula. Your drive will take you past Onemana Beach and Tairoa, giving you plenty of opportunities to explore.
You’ll finish your journey in beautiful Hahei, where you can relax and enjoy everything the Coromandel has to offer. Be sure to explore Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove and nearby Whitianga. The beautiful Mercury Bay Estate in Cooks Beach features stunning views and a beautiful lunch menu, not to mention the delicious wine on offer.
Thrifty Tip: For your return journey, turn inland and head down the other side of the Peninsula.