Auckland to Wellington, east coast journey
From Auckland to Wellington, this 6-day East Coast vacation is ideal for beach lovers. Travel from Auckland's cosmopolitan delights to the Coromandel coast's quiet bays and the sunny city of Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. Explore Whakatane's active volcano and Opotiki's stunning beaches, then see Gisborne and Napier's vineyards before heading to Wellington's cultural highlights.
Day 1: Auckland to Whitianga
Auckland, New Zealand's largest metropolis, is surrounded by 48 extinct volcanic cones and sits between two massive harbours. Enjoy the city's waterfront, museums, galleries, and adventure activities while you're here. The historic township of Thames is your first stop on your journey south. This museum, which was established during the Coromandel gold rush, is an excellent site to learn about the region's history. Coromandel Town, further on, is a sanctuary for artists, crafters, and environmentalists. Visit the local galleries and craft businesses to see what they have to offer. A fishing fleet is based in Whitianga, so anticipate to enjoy some delicious seafood. Surfing, surf casting, and beach walks are among the best activities.
Hot Water BeachHot Water Beach, New Zealand
Day 2: Whitianga to Tauranga
Hot Water Beach, where geothermally heated water surges up through the sand, is accessible through the route south. You can dig your own spa at low tide. The hike from Hahei to magnificent Cathedral Cove is another highlight of this excursion. Take a day trip to Mayor Island, the summit of a dormant volcano rising from the seafloor, or stop in Whangamata for a variety of water-based activities. Tauranga is a thriving city that sprawls along the edge of a beautiful bay. You can book boat excursions to go fishing, snorkeling, or dolphin watching from here. Surfing and beach hikes are available at nearby Mount Maunganui.
Cathedral CoveCathedral Cove, Waikato, New Zealand
Mount MaunganuiMount Maunganui, New Zealand
Day 3: Tauranga to Whakatane & Whale Island
Before travelling the short distance to Whakatne, see the sunrise from Mount Maunganui. Between October and January, this stretch of seaside road is lined with berry farms where you may harvest your own berries. Visit the island refuge of Moutohor to learn about endangered native fauna (Whale Island). You can travel to this pest-free haven by motorboat or sailing catamaran and learn about the conservation initiatives that conserve this valuable piece of New Zealand. Then, at the island's quiet hot water beach, dig yourself a peaceful geothermal spring pool. Spend the afternoon on a boat ride and encounter the friendly marine life of the Bay of Plenty.
Moutohora IslandMoutohora Island, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Day 4: Whakatane to Gisborne via Opotiki
The lovely beach town of Opotiki is your first stop today. Horseback riding, kayaking, river rafting, and dolphin swimming are all available eco-tourism activities that make excellent use of the magnificent coastal and forest setting. Take the picturesque inland road from Opotiki to Gisborne, passing through the Urewera Ranges. Gisborne is a sunny city known for its excellent wine and beautiful beaches. There are more than 20 vineyards in the area, with Chardonnay being the predominant grape. Kaiti Beach, located near the town center, is the site of New Zealand's first European landfall.
Mount HikurangiMount Hikurangi, Raukūmara, New Zealand
Day 5: Gisborne to Napier
From Gisborne to Napier, there are two options. On the inland route, you'll pass by Hackfalls Arboretum, one of New Zealand's largest private tree collections. Alternatively, for access to Morere Hot Springs and the Mahia Peninsula, follow the coastline road. Both roads lead to Wairoa, a popular spot for riverbank walks and kayaking, as well as a base for exploring Te Urewera. Napier is a great place to explore on foot or by bike. Take a stroll through town to see the amazing Art Deco buildings from the 1930s. Take a picturesque cycling journey up Te Mata Peak or ride the winery-to-winery cycle routes. A magnificent gannet colony can be seen along the Cape Kidnappers walking trail.
Cape KidnappersCape Kidnappers, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Day 6: Napier to Wellington
Today you'll drive through a series of small rural communities on your way south. Palmerston North, New Zealand's largest provincial city, is a nice place to stop for a bite to eat. Many of the original stores from the 1920s and 1930s have been restored and are now used as boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants. The Owlcatraz owl sanctuary and the Kapiti Island nature reserve are two other stops along the journey. You'll find a vibrant mix of culture, heritage, and food in Wellington. The downtown area, which is nestled between the harbour and the hills, is great for walking tours. Explore New Zealand's capital city's museums and galleries, drink local craft brews, and take in the eccentric culture.