If you’re a new traveler to New Zealand, you will likely hear tourists talking a lot about the South Island sites. But most tourists don’t know that the North Island is just as attractive when it comes to scenic beauty. 

The North Island has remarkable roads that are perfect for traveling and exploring the fertile farmland, calming white beaches, awe-inspiring views, and weather-beaten mountainous scenery. North Island, New Zealand, is the perfect travel destination to hike the mountains, dive into warm waters, and camp out. 

There are many scenic routes to discover, so we recommend taking a camera along to help you slow down and capture memories of nature and wildlife as you go ahead. If you’re curious about the scenic routes that North Island has to offer, keep reading, and you’ll find out.

1. Murupara to Wairoa 

The route from Murupara to Wairoa through State Highway 38 is scenic and will leave you breathless. The pathway itself is a quiet, lonely road and the absence of traffic is conducive to navigating the narrow, meandering route. The beauty of the scenic panorama isn’t lost on any traveler as they gain along their journey.

Most Northern Island locals travel on horseback through the stunning route. If you plan to visit during the winter, don’t forget to visit Lake Waikaremoana for breathless views. If you’re looking for a scenic pathway to see Wairoa, you may find one by way of State Highway 38.

It’s known as a quiet road, and traffic is not something you’ll see often. The road is thin and twisted, but you will want to stop and take in the landscape’s spectacular views once you arrive.

lake track

2. Taihape to Napier

This part of the North Island is famously known for Gentle Annie; the Island’s grandest slope, found smack in the middle of Taihape and Napier. The route from Taihape to Napier cuts through sheep country and lots of magnificent treetops.

There are lots of crawling hills that will provide serene backdrops to all your panoramic shots. During the winter, try to be careful as the winds are relatively strong. However, you will enjoy views of the snow-capped mountains.

scenic view from the road

3. Maungatapere to Kaikohe

If you’re on the way to the Bay of Islands, you need to steer clear of traffic on the major roads. You have to experience hidden backroads leading to tropical orchards, bulwarks, and volcano scenes.

If you need a reminder of country life, you should take this scenic drive. The journey comes with picturesque landscapes, and you can add to your adventure by visiting the Wairua Falls and the Wairua River.

water falls north island

4. Stratford to Taumarunui

Get in touch with the Northern Island as you pass through the Forgotten World Highway and stumble upon Whangamomona. The settlement is independent, but locals welcome adventurers to their paradise. There’s a burrow through the town that leads to beautiful mountain views.

green road

5. Westport to Kohaihai

There’s no other route that will lead you through magnificent views of rainforests such as the Karamea Highway. You can catch a glimpse of wild animals as they linger to watch the sea and its untold mysteries.

If you’re looking for adrenaline-filled activities along your journey, the North Island beach is perfect for surfers. Even if you only want to take in the crystal water’s beauty or interact with some townspeople, you won’t go wrong with this route.

6. Waikato

Waikato is a lengthy stream in New Zealand, North Island. It begins from Mount Ruapehu and greets Lake Taupo and finally rests at the Tasman Sea. The Waikato River is famous for long boat rides and delicious trout.

The route is home to landscapes that stand out along the Kauri Loop Track and the Hakarimata Scenic Reserve. If you need to break the monotony of driving around, you’re welcome to hike up Karioi Summit Track or take a bike ride along the adventure.

big river in waikato

→ More information about this track: Kariori Track Overview 

→ If you are a passionate fan of hiking, you can also check our compilation of the Best Hiking Tracks in New Zealand


7. Auckland to Napier through Whakatane

As you go through this scenic route, you will have a chance to find adventure in the Coromandel Peninsula and enjoy the warm coastal scenery. You can rest at Whakatane, then get to Napier and enjoy the wineries and art deco.

coromandel beach

Temperatures around New Zealand, Northern Island

If you plan to explore the Northern Island by car, you must understand its temperature conditions. It would be best to plan your travels to take full advantage of the beautiful views and warm climate during the warmer months from November to March.

During these months, typical daytime temperatures get to 58 °F and then drop to almost 45 °F during the night. You should ensure that you’re comfortable and carry items that will protect you from the elements such as light clothing, shorts, sunscreen, sunglasses, or a rain jacket.

If you intend to hike, don’t forget your hiking boots and flip-flops for the beach.