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North Island Loop

Circle the island in 2 weeks

This itinerary loops the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) in 2 weeks - if you’ve only got a week, start in Auckland with a one-way car rental, pick your side of the North Island to travel down, and return the car in Wellington.

To add some context to this itinerary, quite a few people actually drive the 646km between Auckland and Wellington in a single day on SH1 through the middle of the North Island.

Mt Egmont / Taranaki

Days 1-6: Auckland to Wellington via the east coast

Drive via Hobbiton to Rotorua for some Māori cultural experiences and a soak in the geothermal hot pools.

Continue to Lake Taupo, then on to Hawke’s Bay, one of NZ’s top wine destinations.

Drive via the Wairarapa and on to Wellington.

Days 7 & 8: Explore Wellington

Give yourself a couple of days to explore the capital. A visit to Te Papa is a must.

Days 9-14: Wellington to Auckland via the west coast

Drive via Palmerston North (the NZ Rugby Museum!) and Mt Taranaki to New Plymouth.

Continue on SH3 to the Waitomo Caves and via the west coast beach community of Raglan back to Auckland to return your car.


Movie set tours

Mt Taranaki & Egmont NP

Hiking on & around this perfect volcanic cone

NZ Rugby Museum

A "can't miss" for rugby tragics!


Laid-back surf town

Te Papa

NZ's national museum

Waitomo Caves

Spot the glow worms


One of Rotorua's top drawcards

Text © Craig McLachlan

Images by craig, Joe Roberts