The Ultimate Auckland to Northland Road Trip | Apollo NZ
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The Ultimate Auckland to Northland Road Trip


With its ancient forests, unique cultural experiences, and awesome adventure opportunities, Northland is a paradise for campervan explorers. Keen to explore New Zealand’s history, sample its diverse flavours, or just looking for family fun? An Auckland to Northland road trip has something for everyone. 

But with so many great things to do in this part of New Zealand, it can be hard to know where to start. Don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve researched all the best places to visit in Northland and have put them together in our ultimate 7-day Auckland to Northland travel itinerary.

This popular route starts in Auckland then takes you to Whangarei before heading to the Bay of Islands, Hokianga, and Tutukaka. You’ll then head back to Auckland, stopping to explore Waipu Cove along the way.



Day 1: Auckland

It’s the very first day of your ultimate Auckland to Northland road trip. Kick off your holiday by picking up your pre-booked Apollo campervan hire from our Auckland branch on Manu Tapu Drive. It’s right next to Auckland International Airport – so easy if you’re flying in.

Spend day one exploring the sights and sounds of New Zealand’s biggest city. For the best vantage point, head into the CBD and up the Sky Tower. Take in 360-degree views of the city below, and if you’re feeling brave, you can try the Skyjump or Skywalk.

If you’ve got a rugby fan onboard, don’t miss the All Blacks Experience. This state-of-the-art interactive experience explores the All Blacks' heritage, culture, and of course, their many victories. Learn more about the esteemed players who've worn the famous black jersey, and what it takes to be an All Black.

Keen to explore the city’s great shops? Check out the eclectic offerings in Ponsonby or the city’s downtown shopping precincts. From here, you can catch a ferry to the harbourside village of Devonport. Among its attractions is the Navy Museum, where you can learn more about the history of New Zealand’s Navy. And if you’re in town on a Sunday, don’t miss the market at the Devonport wharf from 9 am – 2 pm. 

Tonight, park up your Apollo camper beachside at the popular Takapuna Beach Holiday Park. Just 20 minutes from central Auckland, this lovely campground is a beautiful spot to rest and prepare for the next leg of your journey. 


Day 2: Auckland to Whangārei

Travel time: 2 hours
Distance: 155 km

Now that you’ve explored the big city, it’s time to head north! Today, you’ll be travelling to New Zealand’s northernmost city, Whangārei. As you leave Auckland, take a break at Orewa Beach. This picturesque spot is perfect for a morning stroll along the shore or a refreshing swim. You may like to wander through the shops while you’re here. And if you’re passing through on a Sunday morning, you may like to stock up your campervan pantry at the Orewa Beach Farmers Market

Once you reach Whangārei, stretch your legs at Whangārei Falls. Standing 26 metres high, the waterfall is often referred to as the most photogenic in New Zealand.

Visitors can see the cascading water from several viewpoints, including a walkway that circles the falls. Don't miss the chance to take a short forest walk downstream to AH Reed Kauri Park, home to 500-year-old kauri trees. 

Park up your campervan tonight at Whangārei TOP 10 Holiday Park 


Day 3: Whangarei to Paihia

Travel time: 1 hour 

Distance: 70 km

Today, it’s a cruisy one-hour drive to the seaside village of Paihia, the gateway to the Bay of Islands. 

In this special part of New Zealand, you can delve into the country’s fascinating history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This beautiful location is often called the ‘Birthplace of our Nation’. It is where much of New Zealand’s history was shaped through the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1835 and the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.  

One of the best things to do in Paihia is a Hole in the Rock Dolphin Cruise. Relax on board as you cruise among the 144 remote islands of the harbour. Enjoy the picturesque views as you watch for dolphins. The cruise will take you through the famous Hole in the Rock on Motukōkako Island. You’ll stop at two remote islands for a short walk and even have a chance to snorkel or try paddleboarding.

Another great activity is to take the ferry across to Russell and explore the shops and eateries. You can take your campervan, just drive on board the passenger ferry

Put your feet up with a relaxing stay at Paihia TOP 10 Holiday Park

Image: Instagram - @kristamayphotography


Day 4: Paihia to Hokianga

Travel time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Distance: 95 km

On day four of your New Zealand road trip, you’re off to the beautiful Hokianga. Plan a short diversion along the way to make a stop in the historical town of Kerikeri. Known for its relaxed holiday vibe and boutique shopping, this little town has loads to see and do. One of the must-dos is a visit to Rainbow Falls. Enjoy a short walk through the forest trail before reaching the picturesque 27-metre waterfall. For a longer walk, take the 3.5 km Kerikeri River Track

While in Kerikeri, visit one of New Zealand’s oldest buildings, the Stone Store. Built in 1832, the store is both a museum and shop stocking a range of unique New Zealand merchandise. 

Once you reach the Hokianga region, there’s plenty of exploration to be done. Top of the list is a visit to the Waipoua Forest, home to some of New Zealand's oldest and largest kauri trees. The star attraction is Tāne Mahuta. Also known as the ‘God of the Forest’, this kauri tree stands over 50 metres tall and is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old. 

Nearby, you can also visit the Kauri Museum in Matakohe, offering fascinating insights into the historical and cultural significance of these mighty trees.

Park your campervan up for the night at Rawene Holiday Park


Day 5: Hokianga to Tutukaka

Travel time: 2 hours

Distance:  144 km

Before you hit the road today, take some time to explore the township of Rawene. This lovely little slice of the Hokianga is full of charm. Enjoy a walk through the village and check out the historical buildings and art galleries. Take the opportunity to tuck into a yummy brunch at the Boat Shed. The menu features uniquely Kiwi dishes including Hangi Tacos and a Reef & Beef Burger – definitely worth checking out!

As you arrive in Tutukaka, you’ll want to take some time to simply enjoy the beautiful scenery on offer. This seaside village was rated as one of the top coastal destinations on the planet by National Geographic Traveller, and it’s easy to see why. Tutukaka offers some incredible snorkelling and diving opportunities. There’s also plenty of fun to be had off the water. Take a relaxing 20-minute walk around the Ngunguru Mangrove Walkway, or for a longer option, the one-hour return walk to the Tutukaka Lighthouse. There are plenty of other great walks and hikes in the area, each of them surrounded by incredible scenery.  

When it’s time to park up for the night, head to Tutukaka Holiday Park.


Day 6: Tutukaka to Waipu Cove

Travel time: 1 hour 12 minutes

Distance:  76 km

Today you’ll be driving your camper back south to Waipu Cove. You’ll also have the chance to stop in Whangārei and see more of the sights. 

Whangārei has a vibrant arts scene with 15 large-scale art murals, the Wairua Māori Art Gallery, and Whangārei Art Museum. We recommend a visit to the Hundertwasser Art Centre where you can see the quirky artwork of Friedensreich Hundertwasser along with works by contemporary Māori artists. 

Another great attraction here is the Kiwi North Museum where you can see kiwi, geckos, and other fascinating native creatures. 

Once you reach Waipu Cove, you’ll want to check out the beautiful sandy beach. If you’ve got kids on board, it’s a great spot for them to explore. They can check out the rock pools, take a swim, or even book in for a horse ride. Afterwards, take a walk to see the picturesque Piroa Falls

Tonight, enjoy a peaceful stay at the Waipu Cove Holiday Park.


Day 7: Waipu Cove to Auckland

Travel time: 2 hours

Distance: 141 km

It’s the final day of your awesome roadie and time to head back to Auckland. But before you do, be sure to check out the Waipu Caves. The main cave spans around 175 metres long and is home to one of the longest stalagmites in New Zealand. You’ll also be treated to stunning displays of glowworms and see some impressive limestone formations. Bear in mind that you are likely to get wet inside the caves. You’ll also need a good torch and sturdy footwear (which will get wet). 

The very last stop on your road trip is to head back to Apollo’s Auckland branch to return your campervan. 

Image: Instagram - @kristamayphotography


Ready to explore Northland?

From cruises and culture to ancient forests and underground caves, our Auckland to Northland road trip has it all! Ready to see it all for yourself? Book your Apollo campervan hire today.


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