6 incredible road trips you must do in New Zealand


New Zealand is one of those destinations best explored by car or campervan. Public transport is limited outside cities, and so much of what you’ll want to see and do is off-the-beaten-track, immersed in New Zealand‘s incredible natural environments. Road tripping means touring at your own pace, stopping for stunning walks, cycle rides, wild swimming or wildlife spotting.

Cape Reinga lighthouse with the sun setting in New ZealandA trip to the very tip of New Zealand is more like a pilgrimage – see Cape Reinga lighthouse at sunset © Getty Images

1. Auckland loop

Best road trip in “the Winterless North”
Auckland–Auckland (roundtrip); 650 miles (1050km); a week or more

Kiwis call the regions north of Auckland (Northland & the Bay of Islands) the “Winterless North” because of its year-round subtropical climate. First, to the Bay of Islands, via the surf beaches of Mangawhai and the artsy city of Whangārei, which requires a good day or two of exploring. 

Next, drive north and ferry over to the former whaling port of Russell, which matches heritage charm with on-water adventures like sailing, diving, fishing and kayaking. All of these are also accessed from the thriving mainland town of Paihia – where you’ll also want to spend a day at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds learning about the colonial history of New Zealand. 

Further north, the attractions are more remote and even more spectacular, leading all the way to the very top of the North Island at spiritual Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. On your way to the tip, stop at foodie Kerikeri; chill out in laidback Mangonui (which will please seafood lovers); and spend another day at Ahipara, with its surf breaks and nearby…

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