PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY 7 Days
Experience every kind of seaside scenery on this epic coastal journey from Auckland to Napier, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast Highway. The trip takes you off the beaten track to some of the North Island's most beautiful and remote coastal areas.
Day 1: Auckland to Whitianga
Begin your journey in Auckland and travel south to the Coromandel Peninsula.
The Coromandel is home to some of the North Island's most spectacular sights, including the world famous Cathedral Cove. Here the soft white rock has eroded away to create a magnificent archway connecting two secluded coves.
Not far from Cathedral Cove, you will find Hot Water Beach. Dig down into the sand a little way and create your own seaside bath from the rising natural spring beneath the surface.
As you continue on to Whangamata, stop to take a kayak tour of Whenuakura Island. This unusual island contains a tranquil lagoon at its centre, due to the collapse of a volcanic blowhole.
Day 2: Whitianga to Tauranga
Journey down the peninsula to Thames where you will find one of New Zealand's Great Cycling Trails. Following a historic railway route from Thames to Waihi, the Hauraki Rail Trail is rich with gold mining history and stunning scenery. One highlight is the spectacular Owharoa Falls.
Your next stop is the sunny city of Tauranga. Learn more about this favourite kiwi holiday spot with a guided tour of Mount Maunganui. Enjoy hearing local Maori legends as you wander from the mountain's base to its summit.
Spend the evening kayaking through a canyon alight with twinkling glowworms. A perfect end to the day.
Day 3: Tauranga to Whakatane & White
Watch the sunrise from Mount Maunganui, before driving the short distance to Whakatane, gateway to White Island.
Sitting just 49km off the coast, White Island is one of the world's most accessible active volcanoes. Step out on the volcano's surface and get up close to roaring steam vents, bubbling mud pools, boiling streams and a lake of steaming acid. The guides will give you a taste of the island's rich geological and human history.
Or, spend the afternoon on board a boat cruise meeting the Bay of Plenty's friendly marine life and exploring the region's many secluded islands.
Day 4 - 5: Whakatane to Gisborne via Te Araroa
The drive around East Cape is beautiful but challenging. If you have time, spread this trip over two days and spend a night in Te Araroa.
The friendly coastal towns offer a plethora of things to see and do, with uninterrupted beaches for swimming, walking, surfing and fishing.
Near Te Araroa you can visit the country's easternmost lighthouse and Tikitiki is home to one of the most ornate Maori churches in New Zealand.
Tolaga Bay a good spot to take a break; stretch your legs with a walk along the historic 660-metre wharf.
Day 6: Gisborne to Wairoa & Waikaremoana
From Gisborne there are two routes to Wairoa and nearby Lake Waikaremoana.
The inland route gives you the chance to visit the spectacular Te Reinga Falls, while the coastal route takes in Morere Hot Springs and the fabulous beaches of the Mahia Peninsula.
At Waikaremoana you will find one of the North Island’s most beautiful lakes, and the gateway to Te Urewera wilderness area. Hiking, kayaking and fly-fishing are popular activities in this area. As one of New Zealand's Great Walks the 3-day Lake Waikaremoana Track is a particular highlight.
Day 7: Wairoa to Napier
The last leg of your journey takes you past Lake Tutira and on to the city of Napier, a great place to relax and unwind.
Hawke’s Bay is a fertile wine-growing region that boasts one of the world’s best collections of Art Deco architecture.
Once in Napier, you can visit the Hawke’s Bay’s many wineries on a self-drive, chauffer driven or bicycle tour. The winery restaurants make it easy to appreciate lush sauvignon blanc, smooth merlot and spicy cabernet sauvignon.
Nearby Cape Kidnappers/Te Kauwae-a-Māui is home to the world’s largest gannet colony which can be reached on foot, by kayak or on a tractor. The Cape also happens to have one of the country’s best golf courses.