Tāmaki Makaurau has amazing experiences right on its doorstep in every direction. Starting in the heart of the CBD, discover the best the city center has to offer before venturing north on the ultimate road trip along the North Island’s east coast.
Our road trip itinerary encompasses everything from stays in boutique hotels to farmers markets and some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.
Your journey begins in downtown Auckland. Stay at the Britomart Hotel, a boutique hotel in the heart of the city, surrounded by an array of designer boutiques, world-class restaurants and excellent cafes. Grab a morning coffee and pastry at Amano or The Store and stroll along the waterfront to the Viaduct and Wynyard neighborhood.
Explore the bookstores, bars and boutiques along the High Street and nearby lanes, head to Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki for a dose of culture, and end your day with delicious seafood at kingi.
It’s time to head north for some fresh country air.
Just an hour north of central Auckland and close to the stunning east coast beaches, Matakana is a popular getaway spot for locals and visitors alike with its artisan cuisine, award-winning wine, stylish shops like Honest Chocolate and its galleries. Visit on Saturday mornings to make the most of the Matakana Village Farmers Market, with its multitude of stalls offering local produce, cakes, cheese, sauces, vegetables and more, in a peaceful waterfront setting. of a river with live music.
Matakana River Tours is a memorable experience after a visit to the Farmers Market – immersing visitors in the history and importance of the river, in all the food and wine produced in the region. Notice to ceramic lovers; it is also the source of the clay in the pottery of Kiwi Morris and James icons.
Alternatively, if time is shorter or you’d prefer someone else to drive for a day – consider a private experience and culinary adventure with the Private Matakana Country and Cuisine Tour – which includes fully serviced Guided and picked up from downtown Auckland in a luxury Mercedes.
sea and sun
Near Matakana are a multitude of regional parks, quiet beaches and marine reserves waiting to be explored. Picnic and swim in Tāwharanui Regional Park, paddleboard or swim in Omaha, or experience one of the North Island’s best diving and snorkeling spots at Goat Island Marine Reserve . In the evening, enjoy great food, hospitality and live music at Leigh Sawmill.
The next day, take a ferry to Kawau Island, one of the largest in the Hauraki Gulf. The island is home to many secluded bays and docks with a range of accommodation, private rentals, camping and the recently opened Parohe Island Retreat.
Next stop is an early morning swim at Pakiri Beach, before continuing to Northland. The historic Mangawhai Tavern is a great place to refuel before a walk along the magnificent Mangawhai Cliff Walkway.
If you’re feeling nimble, tackle the steps, ladders, and rocks to be rewarded with great views along the Waipū Coastal Walk, and check out the glowworms of the Waipū Caves if you have time.
Now begins a journey to one of the most magical stretches of coastline in the North Island; a road trip dream.
Before you begin your coastal experience, start in Whangārei exploring the brand new Hundertwasser Art Center and Wairau Māori Art Gallery – a unique opportunity to experience art, nature and culture in perfect balance.
Get inspired appropriately, bring your journey to life and get the blood pumping as you head up Mount Manaia to Whangārei Heads for the hike and the unforgettable 360 degree views from the top.
Stop and visit Otuihau Whangārei Falls on the way to Tutukākā Coast before arriving at the Pacific Rendezvous Motel Resort, high on a peninsula overlooking the Poor Knights Islands; the remains of a group of ancient volcanoes. The next day, explore this world famous dive site up close with Dive Tutukaka. For more experiences and deals in the area, check out travel-booking.stuff.co.nz.
Discover Matapouri’s irresistible stretch of white sand, before heading further north by car, or following the four-hour round-trip walk on the Whananaki Coastal Walkway to visit the longest walkway in the Southern Hemisphere. For a true connection with nature, spend a night at Motutara Farm Campground.
Far North Fascinations
If your fellow travelers wish to make it all the way to Cape Reinga, there is plenty more to see and do on the way. Some of the main attractions include:
- Visit the old packing markets in Kerikeri
- Discover the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
- Explore the hiking trails of Urupukapuka Island
- Hike the Cape Brett Walk, St Paul’s Rock Track or Duke’s Nose
- Stay at the Colonial Marlin Hotel
- Camp in Taupō Bay, one of Northland’s most beautiful beaches
- Grab some fish ‘n’ chips at the Mangonui Fish Shop
While in the area, visit Cable Bay, one of New Zealand’s best swimming and snorkeling spots and a jewel in the crown of the Far North due to the region’s subtropical climate. The Karikari Peninsula is well known for its stunning beaches and special spots including Puwheke Beach, Karikari Beach and Waikato Bay. Memorable destinations like Rarawa Beach and Henderson Bay just a little to the south provide an additional opportunity to get away from it all. No trip to the Far North is complete without a stop at Houhora Honey Bees for one of their famous Paua Pies.
If time is on your side, the 5-Day East Coast Exploration Tour may be just what you need to discover the beauty of Aotearoa.
When you’re ready, embark on a West Coast home adventure for a totally different experience.
To view and print maps for more inspiration for your roadtrip, click here for The Sheltered Coast or click here for Northland Journeys.
Head to the Auckland and Northland websites for more idyllic adventures. To find out what travel packages are available for Auckland and Northland, visit travel.stuff.co.nz/auckland-northlanddeals.