Day 2 - stay in Paihia to explore the area. See some impressive Kauri wood carvings and a have bite to eat at the onsite cafe. However your car rental company is unlikely to allow you to drive here as it's only suitable for 4WD vehicles and should only be attempted at low tide. If you did want to drive a long the beach then we suggest taking a day tour with Dune Rider from Paihia to Cape Reinga instead of self driving. Cape Reinga Some lovely places to walk around here, including the absolute must walk to the Lighthouse.
The views are really lovely, so have a good lunch break here. One thing you absolutely should do when here is go sandboarding at the Te Paki Stream sand dunes.
Must be booked in advance. Return to Paihia I recommend driving back to Paihia and civilisation! So that you have a full day ahead of you tomorrow to explore more of Paihia or to head back to Auckland. Keen to explore off the beaten path? The east of Rotorua is rarely explored by travelers and in our opinion, has some of the best views New Zealand has to offer!
The East Coast is a great way to meet local "grey nomads" that tend to take advantage of New Zealand's free camping opportunities. Drive east towards the town of Whakatane and then make your way south east towards Gisborne - a surfing mecca and the first place in the world to see the sunrise! It's also a great place to feed Stingrays there are tours available. We suggest spending a night in Gisborne to catch the morning sunrise.
Next day, as you make your way north east towards Tokomaru Bay you will be blown away by the rugged coastline and uninhabited countryside - you will really feel like you are in the middle of nowhere! En route make sure you plan to jump off New Zealand's longest pier - Tolaga Bay Wharf, stop by the Tikitiki Maori Church and grab lunch at a local seaside pub. After Tokomaru Bay we suggest driving to Te Kaha - there is a beautiful ocean front hostel here run by a local family called Te Kaha Lodge. On the way, make sure you take a walk to the top of East Cape Lighthouse - New Zealand's most easterly point where the ocean extends to South Africa!
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It is impossible to talk about road trips in New Zealand without mentioning the Coromandel. Some our favourite beaches in New Zealand are found in the Coromandel check out our guide to New Zealand's secret beaches. This little peninsula on the North Island boasts some of the most incredible coastlines in the country. There are amazing bluffs, lookouts, and beaches including the famed hot water beach, and Cathedral Cove.
Hot Water Beach is a place on the coast where you can sit in your own little man made sand Jacuzzi. The geothermal activity under the ground causes the ocean's water to reach temperatures of up to 60 degrees Celsius! A visit to Cathedral Cove is also a must - it is like nowhere else on the planet!
Spend a night in Hahei and book a Kayaking Trip to the cove - if you're on a budget, you can walk along the cliffs to reach the cove. We will just leave this here Heading west of Rotorua will lead you through some of the most unique places in New Zealand! Head west to Raglan and spend a night in New Zealand's surf capital - this little town is compared to the likes of Byron Bay and is a great place to try a surf lesson.
Our tip? Stay the night in the hippie retreat Karioi - there is an open rainforest shower well worth experiencing! After waking up in Raglan, head back to the mainland and travel around 1. Here you can check out the cave system by Tubing, Abseiling or taking a boat ride underground. Rather than spending the night in Waitomo, we suggest travelling 2 hours south to Taupo - home to New Zealand's largest lake!
If you feel like ditching the van for the night or if you have a car, stay the night at Base Taupo. Taupo is also a great place to Skydive or take a party cruise on the Barbary. More Taupo Must Do's! Take a journey from Taupo to Hidden Valley to see hot springs, bubbling mud pools, massive caves, and silica terraces. Next, hop in the car and head to Tongariro National Park for extraordinary landscapes. On your way back to Rotorua make sure to stop and check out Huka Falls. This is a meter wide river that plunges down a narrow gorge and is New Zealand's most photographed natural attraction!
When people picture Milford Sound most people see the sheer mile high cliffs and roaring waterfalls.
However, a major highlight of a trip to Milford is the drive. Driving from Queenstown to Milford has not only been called one of the best New Zealand road trips, but it has also been called one of the best road trips in the entire world! The two hours from Te Anau to Milford towards the end of the journey are insanely good. This epic road trip takes you past the fabled mirror lakes, through dense rainforest, and along snowy mountains.
You venture through mountain ranges, and travel down through snowy valleys. It takes around 8 hours to reach the foot of Milford from Queenstown so we recommend breaking up the driving time and travelling over 3 days. Upon returning to Queenstown, don't forget to book a bed at Base Queenstown! Day 1 - Begin your journey north east towards Lake Wanaka around 1 hour north of Queenstown. The road leading into Wanaka is stunning and will guide you past New Zealand's oldest pub - the Cardrona!
There's loads to do in Wanaka from snowboarding, skiing, hiring a bike along the lakefront, a hike to the top of the infamous Roy's Peak, a short walk to the top of Mt Iron, Puzzling World, Aerobatic Flying, Skydiving and more!
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Check out our Top 10 things to do in Wanaka. Day 2 - The following day make your way north east to Lake Tekapo around 3 hours. The winding roads will lead you along the Lindis Pass through stretching valleys and through to the foot of the Southern Alps. En route to Lake Tekapo make sure you stop by Lake Pukaki - the blue waters will take your breath away! When you reach Lake Tekapo there is an ice skating rink, outdoor hot pools and an Observatory - the stars in New Zealand's south island are out of this world literally!
South Pacific Motorcycle Tours have plotted an eight-day GPS-guided trip that riders can explore on their own terms; their hand-picked route consists of several mountain passes and also takes you into local points of interest like Queenstown, Milford Sound and the West Coast. If you want to see lots of the North Island in a span of seven days, this self-guided tour might be best.
» SOUTH ISLAND
An ideal summer road trip that is just as popular with drivers as it is with motorcyclists. A route that is perfect for those wanting to get the TranzAlpine experience on two wheels. Save to Wishlist. New Zealand is home to an array of postcard-worthy roads just begging to be explored. Some might opt to do this by car, but the best way is undoubtedly via motorbike. Take a look at the most popular routes. The Coromandel Loop.