From Hong Kong to Auckland, it’s quite a long direct flight (nearly 11 hours) but as a French, it’s a great destination that I would probably never had the chance to discover with the minimum 26 hours flight from Paris!
I have loved it so much I wanted to share this adventure with you although it is not a typical “getaway” as we are used to.
Here is a short 4-day road trip itinerary around New Zealand North Island that could inspire you for your next expedition. This is the first part of a 2 weeks road trip, the main part of the trip will be discussed in a second post and is about the discovery of the wilderness in the South Island. The shorter time spend in the North does not mean that North Island is less interesting, on the contrary, it has a lot to offer! See below.
The itinerary if this 4-day trip is as follows:
Auckland > Te Kuiti > Tongariro > Taupo > Rotorua > Auckland
Day 1: Auckland > Te Kuiti > Taumarunui
As you go down the road to the South from Auckland, you will see progressively the fields gaining on the city.
Before Te Kuiti, you will encounter a great countryside that is a delight for the eyes. You will easily imagine yourself inside the marvellous Shire of the Lord of the Rings.Stop at Waitomo glowworm caves to discover these fantastic creatures and their natural habitat. The boat ride at the end is really amazing and worth the expensive entrance fee. Unfortunately no pictures allowed inside so here is only the exit of the cave and our friendly skipper.
There are plenty of walks and bike rides around Te Kuiti and Taumarunui countryside, just check with the local I-site or your B&B what are the best options according to your level and motivation 😉
Day 2: Taumarunui > Tongariro > Taupo
On the road from Taumarunui to Taupo, stop on the volcano Tongariro for a great treck called the transalpine crossing (you must be rather fit to do so) or hire some mountain bikes in Tongariro and go for the Tongariro river trail a great loop along the river, forest and close to the adjacent fields done in less than 2 hours return.
Taupo is a charming small town.
A great stop for the night with plenty of restaurants near the lake. It is also a thermal city with many hot water sources around town.
On the road, you will see a lot geothermal activity materialised by fumes coming from the ground.
Taupo’s electricity comes actually from a geothermic power plant.
You can go to some nice spa & hot pools using this naturally hot and silica enriched water like in Waikarei terraces where you can also see an artificial geyser (nothing compared to Te Puia one though).
Many activities are available on the lake itself such as kayaking or cruises.
Day 3: Taupo > Rotorua
In Rotorua, another thermal town located in the volcanic area of North Island, you can enjoy many activities related to the volcanoes and geothermal activity as well as discovering the Maori culture and traditions.
Te Puia is a great place to do all that in a day.
The Pohutu geyser is the highest of the southern hemisphere and erupts between 18 to 20 times per day.
You can discover also the incredible mud pools formed by boiling clay. The clay is used for beauty treatments.
The kiwi house is a place to discover the so cute flightless national bird living in the dark.
They also preserve and share tradition through a cultural performance including singing and dancing with an impressive haka warlike dance in a reproduction of a marae (tribe’s gathering place).
A carving and a weaving school are also part of Te Puia: you can watch the students perform their art. The carving is particularly impressive and you can se it everywhere in Maori culture as they did not have a written language.
Another great place to visit in Rotorua is the Redwood forest. I has many walking tracks including a great short walk. The trees are amazingly beautiful and you can spot there the national silver fern.
Head to the Polynesian Spas if you would like to enjoy the geothermal benefits one last time before heading back to Auckland.
There is also a good selection of restaurants as you reach the sea side of town center.
Day 4: Rotorua > Auckland
Auckland is a beautiful city surrounded by water.
It is sitting on about 200 volcanoes which are all extinct.
Some of them, still visible today form some mounts like the mount Eden where you have good views of the city and see the crater.
The neighbourhood of Pernell, near the Auckland Museum is really nice with its small coffees and shops.
The Auckland museum is a great way to discover the Maori culture (including arts & crafts) as well as New Zealand’s fauna & flora, as well as volcanic activity through great exhibitions.
The tiki are pendants made of jade stone or Pounamu in Maori. They are dwelling places for ancestral spirits, while others are vessels for gods and supernatural beings.
I hope you liked this guided itinerary through North Island of New Zealand and you will have the chance to discover this amazing country for yourself.
If you would like to prepare your travel, I have made this free printable travel planner that will help you preparing your trip but also keep track of what you are doing during your stay day by day.
You may also like my previous Hong Kong getaways guide: