Driving a Car through the North Island of New Zealand

Driving in the North Island

✅ Last Update: Apr 22, 2024 @ 11:08 am

New Zealand is divided into 28 regions, each offering something unique. Below, we briefly summarize the areas of the North Island.

1. Northland

Head out of Auckland and heading north, and you will soon enter the warmest and most northern part, Northland.

Beautiful beaches and stunning bays are abundant (Matai & Taupo Bays are two unique places).

While Paihia and Russell are two deserved hot tourist spots, the beauty of this area can be discovered and enjoyed in so many other places.


2. Auckland

Auckland, the largest metropolis in New Zealand, boasts a vibrant population of approximately 1.4 million residents. 

Positioned on an isthmus, the city sprawls across a considerable expanse, traversing from one end to another like a journey.

Embraced by the aquatic beauty of its surroundings, Auckland offers an exciting blend of day and night experiences. 

From the awe-inspiring volcanoes and lush parks to the untamed, picturesque beaches along the rugged west coast, the city invites exploration at every turn.


3. Coromandel

The Coromandel is the holiday home destination of Aucklanders and noticeably increases in population each summer weekend.

With small townships like Whangamata, Waihi Beach, Tairua, Hahei, Cooks Beach, and Whitianga, you could spend hours exploring the coastline and enjoying the hospitality of these towns.


4. Bay of Plenty

Tauranga is a coastal city, a short drive from Mount Maunganui. The Mount, the locals call it, is the perfect place to walk on the beach, trek up the Mountain, soak in the saltwater hot pools, and finish with ice cream at the delicious Copenhagen Cones.

bay of plenty

5. Waikato

Hobbiton, the Waitomo Caves, and plenty of cows are located here. The lush green countryside provides fantastic land for dairy farming.

Raglan is well worth a visit. You will find a surfy hot spot just 40 minutes from Hamilton.


6. Rotorua

Rotorua is one of the most popular destinations in the country, and with good reason.

You could find yourself lugging in the morning, walking through mud pools in the afternoon, and watching a cultural performance in the evening.


7. Eastland

The East Cape of the North Island is one of our gets away from it, as are all parts of the country.

If you are driving around the Cape, it is expected to feel like you are isolated and away from it all. 

Gisborne, or Gizzy is the largest town in the area and a perfect place to stock up on provisions before you drive around the Cape.


8. Taupo

Taupo township is located on the lakefront, and on a clear day, the view of the mountains is spectacular.

Taupo is a mini adventure capital with bungy jumping, skydiving, and jet boating all available.


9. Mt Ruapehu

Mt Ruapehu is approximately one-hour drive from Taupo. It is one of three beautiful volcanoes located in the Tongariro National Park.

The Tongariro Crossing is one of the most popular walks in the world. Ohakune’s small and lively township is situated on the mountain’s South side.

mt ruapehu

10. Taranaki

Mt Taranaki is a spectacular Mt Fuji-shaped cone that dominates this region’s scenery on a clear day.

New Plymouth is a city that has developed world-class arts and outdoor facilities over the past two decades.

Check out the 12 km Coastal Walkway and the newly opened Len Lye Center.


11. Hawke’s Bay

The fruit bowl of the North Island, Hawke’s Bays, grows masses of apples and stone fruit over the summer and autumn months.

Napier is the Art Deco capital of New Zealand due to an Earthquake rebuild that took place in the 1930s.

hawkes bay

12. Whanganui

The Whanganui River winds its way through this small city. Check out Kowhai Park with its fun nursery rhymes turned playground entertainment.

Virginia Lake at the top of Saint John’s Hill is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy a 25-minute walk around the lake.


13. Manawatu

The small town of Bulls is an entertaining stop-off, full of small boutique shops and fun signs that incorporate the word ‘bull’ into it.

You will drive past Ohakea Airforce Base before heading along the long stretch of the Himitangi Straight.


14. Wairarapa

The Wairarapa contains several small towns surrounded by farming countries and a mountain range.

Greytown and Martinborough are particularly enjoyed by visitors to the region, while getting off the beaten track and exploring the Southernmost parts of the North Island, Cape Palliser lighthouse, should be on the agenda.


15. Wellington

Wellington is a compact capital city with its fair share of hipsters. You are spoiled for choice with eateries located both centrally and on the coast.

You could pick up a great coffee and walk along the rocks to share your latte with a view of seals and the South Island.


👉 Additional articles you may consider to check

🔗 How Driving in New Zealand can be a Challenge

🔗 12 Essential Rules for Driving in New Zealand

🔗 Where to Park your Campervan in Auckland

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