Kia Ora: your essential two-week road-trip of New Zealand's North Island

By , 3rd August 2016

New Zealand’s North Island boasts dramatic scenery straight from a Hollywood blockbuster and perfect for the road-trip of your dreams.

A popular stopping point for backpackers, the island is best explored on the open road, so grab your mates and check out this ideal two-week road-trip that features Auckland’s foodie district, relaxing in Rotorua’s mud pools and even testing your nerves in Taupo.

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Stop 1 : Auckland

[caption id="attachment_13051" align="aligncenter" width="2048"]North Island road trip: Auckland Auckland | Photo by Francisco Anzola (CC BY 2.0)[/caption]

With a population of almost 1.5million, New Zealand’s largest city is also one of the most exciting. Found in the North of the North Island, Auckland features a great mix of culture, nightlife and even nature, with plenty of beautiful beaches within easy reach.

Famous for its food markets, the city is also emerging as a foodie hub of the region, with highlights including the Auckland Fish Markets, French food market, La Cigale and the Britomart District.

Stay in: Rendezvous Hotel Auckland

Rendezvous Auckland is found in the heart of the city, just a short distance from everything you need. Boasting a grand spa and health club, guests can take a dip in the indoor heated swimming pool, relax in the saunas or even enjoy tea in the Japanese garden.

Rendezvous Hotel Auckland

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Keeping with the oriental theme, the hotel’s Katsura Japanese Restaurant is a treat for the senses. The talented chefs will wow you with their culinary skills and have you mesmerized, as they prepare your meal in front of your eyes. Diners can sample a range of foodie delights, from fresh sushi to katsumi, as well as other delicious seafood options.

Rendezvous hotel Auckland

The hotel prides itself on its chic décor and smart design and the bedrooms are no different. The King Rooms are stylishly decorated and come with all the modern amenities one would expect from a 5-star hotel. The rooms come equipped with air-conditioning, flat-screen TV, mini bar, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Stop 2: Waiheke Island

Auckland – Waiheke Island | 42.4 km

[caption id="attachment_13045" align="aligncenter" width="2560"]North Island road trip: Waiheke Island Waiheke Island | Photo by Goueg (CC BY-SA 2.0)[/caption]

Despite being just a 30-minute ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island is a world away from the bustle of the city.  Famed  as  a  popular  escape  for  urban  city  dwellers,  the  island  is  known  for  two things: great wine and even better beaches.

Activities  on  the  island  range  from  the  sporty  (hiking,  kayaking  or  zip-lining)  to  the  sedate  (wine-tasting, beach-hopping and boutique shopping)

Stay in: Delamore Lodge

Heaven on earth is the only way to describe Delamore Lodge. The luxury hilltop boutique hotel offers visitors a peaceful country retreat, just 30 minutes from Auckland.

Delamore Lodge photos

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The lodge has a wealth of amenities for guests to enjoy including a modern spa, Jacuzzis, saunas and a heated infinity pool, which offers magnificent views over Owhanake Bay – perfect for those in need of some pampering.

Delamore Lodge photos

The hotel’s exclusive feel is thanks to its limited number of bedrooms, with only four suites and a two-bedroom apartment available, guests are sure to feel like the centre of attention. Each of the suites boast their own private terrace, breathtaking ocean views, rain showers and plush soft furnishings.

Stop 3 : Rotorua

Waiheke Island – Rotorua | 245 km 

[caption id="attachment_13047" align="aligncenter" width="2048"]North Island roadtrip: Rotorua Rotorua | Photo by Goueg [/caption]

Nicknamed ‘Sulphur City,’ Rotorua is a well-known spa destination. Home to geysers, steaming hot springs and exploding mud pools, the region is New Zealand’s most active thermal area. The city is also  a  significant  centre  of  Maori  culture,  with  Maori  making  up  35%  of  the  population. There are also a number of traditional villages close by offering visitors a unique insight into the indigenous culture of New Zealand.

Fans of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings can also pay a visit to Hobbiton, where they can see the films’ real life sets and see what life in Middle Earth was really like.

Stay in: City Lights Boutique Lodge

A boutique lodge set in the hills above Rotorua, City Lights is located in two-acres of peaceful countryside on the slopes of Mount Ngongotaha and is within easy reach of the city centre.

City Lights Hotel

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Biking enthusiasts and fans of the outdoors have found their ideal accommodation as the hotel is only a short drive from the famous Skyline Gondola trails. The hotel has two mountain bikes, which you can borrow, should your adventurous side take over. If you’ve brought your own bicycles, secure storage and cleaning facilities are available to all guests.

City Lights Hotel

The Tui Suite is the hotel’s largest guest room and boasts its own lounge area and veranda with accompanying garden furniture. The stylish suite is fitted with a comfortable Queen-sized bed, luxury massage shower and wall-mounted TV.

Stop 4 : Taupo

Rotorua – Taupo | 81.8 km

[caption id="attachment_13058" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]North Island road trip: Lake Taupo Taupo | Photo by Abaconda Management Group (CC BY-SA 2.0)[/caption]

Located in one of the most stunning natural areas of the North Island, Taupo is situated on the shores of its namesake, Lake Taupo. Whilst it is also a well-known resort town, Taupo is a popular destination for adrenaline junkies, with sports activities such as whitewater rafting, Jet Boating and mountain biking readily available. There’s even the option to take a ride in a helicopter – it’s definitely one way to appreciate the views!

The popular Tongariro Crossing is found on the opposite side of the lake and is considered by some to be the best one-day trek in New Zealand. However, if you’re in need of some relaxation, Taupo has plenty of spas and gentle walking trails that’ll keep your stress levels down.

Stay in: Millennium Hotel

The Millennium is a lakeside hotel and resort, which offers fantastic views of the beautiful surrounding mountain scenery. The hotel is only minutes away from many of Taupo’s top tourist attractions and activities. Guests can plan a trip to the nearby Huka Falls, relax in hot thermal pools or simply play a round of golf at one of the four golf courses.

New Zealand road trip hotels: Millennium

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One of the most unique things about this hotel, is the private grotto pool! Like something out of Hollywood, guests can retreat to the secluded plunge pool and enjoy its soothing waters and relaxing ambiance.

Hotels in New Zealand: Millenium Taupo

To fully appreciate the beauty of Lake Taupo, visitors should book one of the Superior Lakefront Rooms. The rooms are bright and spacious, with a classical interior décor and offer everything you need and more. The Californian-King bed ensures you’ll have a restful night’s sleep, whilst the corner spa bath will leave you relaxed and refreshed.

Still undecided between New Zealand and Australia? Check out our ultimate decider here.