The Pacific Coast Highway of New Zealand is one of the greatest self-drive experiences in the country due to the vast array of scenery, artisan towns and activities along the route.
A road trip from Auckland to Napier along the Pacific Coast Highway lets you sample the top tourist picks that the North Island has to offer.There are hundreds of quality stops along the way, but we've picked a few of the best to tackle in a four day tour. If a self-drive New Zealand holiday sounds like your thing, start your adventure and book a Britz campervan online today.
Auckland to Auckland
Best Time of the Year
- Hot Water Beach
- Mount Maunganui
- Rotorua - The Sulphur City
Auckland to Coromandel
Distance 182km - Driving Time 2 hours 40 mins
Hugging the coastline, this drive will allow you to see some of the most spectacular views in the country. For this trip, you will need a suitable campervan which can be picked up in the Auckland branch. There is a complimentary airport bus taking you to and from Auckland airport, so it's easy to be on the road as soon after you arrive (as long as you are rested). Jump straight on the State Highway 25 heading south, passing through the picturesque towns of Mount Wellington and Manuwera. Stop for lunch at Brew Café in Thames. Specialising in fresh local seafood and produce, this café serves up some of the best food in the Coromandel Coast. Just before arriving in Coromandel, pull up at Kawakawa Bay for a few tourist shots. The serene lake and rolling hillsides in the background make it perfect for photos. Once you arrive at Coromandel, ensure you head to Hot Water Beach. This is a favourite tourist spot where you can dig your own natural spa out of the sand. You'll need to check the tides before you arrive and aim to be there within two hours of low tide to make the most of the naturally warm water. Stay at Hot Water Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park, where you can sleep just a few hundred metres from the beach for $18 per adult per night.
Coromandel to Tauranga
Distance 166km - Driving Time 2 hours 40 mins
A trip to New Zealand isn't the same without a visit to the town of Paeroa, famous for the legendary New Zealand beverage, L&P. The café L&P Bar and Cafe, was recently featured on The Kitchen Job, NZ's version of Hell's Kitchen where it was refurnished and updated. Grab a bite to eat and enjoy the most iconic kiwi soft drink.
Tauranga is a busy city that offers everything from water sports to shopping and natural scenery. Spend the day shopping at Mount Maunganui's Bayfair Shopping Centre before topping it off with a sunset stroll around the Mount. On the outskirts of Tauranga you'll find McLaren Falls Park, 190 hectares of parkland open for fishing, kayaking, BBQs and picnics.
There are loads of places to stay in Tauranga, our favourite for campervans is Omokoroa Thermal Kiwi Holiday Park. Like the name suggests, it combines a place to stay, with access to thermal hot pools. Prices start from $40 per night.
Tauranga to Taupo
Distance 150km - Driving Time 1 hours 50 mins
Leaving Tauranga, head straight for Rotorua. This is one of New Zealand's most famous spots, packed with geo-thermal hot pools, bubbling mud pools, heart-racing activities and Maori culture. Nicknamed Sulphur City, you'll smell Rotorua before you see it.
Head over to Agroventures where you can spend the day doing the bungy jump, speed boat ride, giant sky swing, Freefall Xtreme and Shweeb racing. Entry to four rides will cost $99. However book online to save 10%.
Lake Taupo is 80km south of Rotorua and where The Lord of The Rings was filmed. A giant, placid lake with a surface area of 616 square km, it is believed to have been formed by a super-volcanic eruption 26,500 years ago. Today, however it is a place of beauty and a perfect spot to picnic and snap photographs.
If you're game, Lake Taupo is a great place to skydive, prices start from $239 for the 10,000ft tandem jump.
Stay at All Seasons Holiday Park, Taupo where an unpowered site will cost you $38 per night. This is a great place to explore the Tongariro Volcanoes and watch the surging Aratiatia rapids on the Waikato River. The dam gates are opened several times a day and watching the water rush through the 1km stretch of rocks is a must-see experience.
Taupo to Auckland
Distance 278km - Driving Time 3 hours 30 mins
Even if you've never seen the movies or read the books, you need to stop in at Hobbiton. Located in Hamilton, about 90 minutes North West of Taupo, is the village built to resemble the Hobbiton village in Tolkien's books. Tours run daily, and the café there is a great place to stop for refreshments.
Along the way to Auckland, stop in at Jesters Pies in Rototuna (Cnr Horsham Downs and Thomas Road) to try one of the 16 flavours of pies on offer.
After lunch head north for an hour and a half back up to the Britz depot in Auckland to complete your tour.
Book a Britz campervan today and check out some of New Zealand's best drives!