How long does it take to drive around North Island, New Zealand

How long does it take to drive around North Island, New Zealand?

Ever wondered if you could circle New Zealand’s North Island in less than a day? It may not seem feasible, especially as it’s a whopping 113,729 km2! In fact, this is the 14th largest island in the world.

So, why would anyone even think it possible to get around the island within a day? Well, here’s the thing… It’s actually possible!

How long does it take to drive around North Island, New Zealand?

In theory, you could drive around the North Island of New Zealand from top to toe in approximately 16 hours non-stop. However, most travellers choose to savour the beauty of the area, which means most road-trips to see the island’s attractions take about 10 days. 

This route typically includes Cape Reinga, Auckland, Waitomo, Rotorua, Taupo, and Wellington. 

Here’s a possible itinerary to help you make the most of your 10-day road trip adventure around the captivating North Island, New Zealand. This allows you to not only see the highlights but also uncover some hidden gems along the way.

Day 1: Auckland to Rotorua

Touch down in Auckland, grab your rental wheels (just 30 minutes to get set up!), and hit the road for a thrilling 3.5-hour drive to Rotorua. 

After checking in and dropping off your bags, it’s off to Te Puia to dive into Māori culture for a couple of hours. End the day on a delicious note with dinner at one of Rotorua’s local gems.

Day 2: Rotorua 

Start your morning with the vibrant hues of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland (just an hour of your time!). Then, say Kia Ora to New Zealand’s iconic kiwi bird at the Otorohanga Kiwi House for another hour.

As the day mellows, soak away your worries in Rotorua’s famous hot pools for a well-deserved 2 hours.

Day 3: Taupo

Roll out for a 1.5-hour cruise to Taupo, a lakeside haven. Explore the enchanting Craters of the Moon geothermal park for an hour. 

Then, let the waters of Lake Taupo lull you into serenity on a 2-hour boat cruise. Come evening, treat your taste buds to the delights of Taupo’s lakeside restaurants for a memorable hour.

Day 4: Tongariro National Park 

Hit the road for an hour to Tongariro National Park. It’s time for the big one: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a full-day, 6-8-hour hike through some of New Zealand’s most dramatic landscapes. 

As the sun sets, unwind and recharge in your park accommodation, soaking in the memories of your alpine adventure.

Day 5: Waitomo

Drive 1.5 hours to Waitomo, a land of natural marvels. Explore the enchanting Waitomo Glowworm Caves for an hour and be captivated by the elegance of Marokopa Falls for another hour. 

As the stars begin to twinkle, savour the local flavours with dinner at one of Waitomo’s inviting restaurants.

Day 6: Wellington 

Embark on a 3.5-hour drive to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. 

Dive into the nation’s history and culture at Te Papa Tongarewa, a museum like no other, captivating you for 2 hours. And then ascend to the skies with a cable car ride to the top of Mount Victoria, offering breathtaking views in just an hour. 

Come evening, indulge in the culinary delights at one of Wellington’s charming waterfront restaurants, making your night memorable.

Day 7: Wellington

Yes! More Wellington sights! Spend 2 hours at Zealandia, a sanctuary where native wildlife thrives, bringing you closer to nature. 

Then, wander through the Wellington Botanic Garden, a serene oasis in the heart of the city, for another 2 hours. 

Day 8: Waiheke Island 

Take a 1-hour ferry ride followed by a scenic 30-minute drive to reach Waiheke Island. Here, explore the sun-kissed beaches, lush vineyards, and fragrant olive groves, immersing yourself in the island’s beauty. 

In the evening, experience the island’s gastronomic wonders with a delectable dinner at one of Waiheke’s inviting restaurants, complemented by local wines.

Day 9: Auckland 

Hop back on the ferry (1 hour) to return to Auckland. Dive into the city’s heritage at the Auckland Museum, captivating you for 2 hours. 

Later, savour the last flavours of your New Zealand adventure with a memorable dinner at one of Auckland’s diverse restaurants, reflecting the city’s multicultural culinary scene.

Day 10: Departure from Auckland

Say farewell to the North Island as you head to Auckland Airport (just 30 minutes away), carrying with you the cherished memories of your exhilarating road trip. Safe travels!