Central North Island Campervan Holiday
Of all the regions in New Zealand, the central North Island is the most diverse, with the volcanic plateau, ski fields, surf beaches, geothermal activity and wine regions.
- The Pacific Coast Highway is one of the region's two main self-drive touring routes, following the East Coast and featuring the beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty and Eastland, on the way to Hawke’s Bay, one of New Zealand’s key wine regions.
- The Thermal Explorer is the other major scenic touring route, leading your campervan from Hawke’s Bay across the volcanic plateau, where New Zealand’s location in the “Pacific Rim of Fire” is evident. You can experience natural hot spring spas, geothermal parks full of geysers and boiling mud pools, as well as the site of New Zealand’s largest volcanic eruption in living memory, Mt Tarawera.
- Rotorua is home to many Maori people and is one of the best places to learn about Maori culture.
- Beneath the Waitomo area, the ground is a labyrinth of limestone passages and caves that can be explored on foot or by water – an activity known as black water rafting. Further south, the Tongariro Crossing, considered New Zealand’s best one-day walk, is another type of adventure that features moonscape craters, lava formations and emerald-blue lakes.
- Lake Tarawera is a magical place renowned for rainbow trout fishing. Local fishing guides provide insights into local history and can even steam your catch in geothermally-heated sands while you enjoy a glass of wine.
If you want your road trip to include dazzling natural beauty, idyllic beaches and golden sunshine then think about taking a drive around New Zealand. This is a road trip route that works for just about anyone—couples, families or singles. Possible activities range from discovering the islands off the coast of Whitianga to heading to Cathedral Cove and Shakespeare's Cliff.
About 2 hours south of Auckland, over the Kopu bridge there is a Peninsula well-known amongst Kiwi holiday makers. The protecting arm that shelters the Hauraki Gulf from the Pacific, the Coromandel Peninsula is a veritable playground for campers
Straddling both sides of the Waikato River and linked by the Tainui Bridge, is Huntly at the heart of New Zealand’s largest coalfields. Underground and opencast mines still operate here, along with its massive coal and gas fired power station.
From Auckland to Waitomo this road trip will take you through a variety of landscapes and cultural environments. While Auckland is an urban oasis and Rotorua is the heart of New Zealand’s Maori culture, Lake Taupō remains a mix of the two, with both relaxing and adventurous activities available. In Waitomo be sure to take a tour of the Glow Worm Caves and Grotto, a truly unique experience.
Matamata is set in the idyllic heartland of the Waikato which found fame as the rural landscape and hobbit holes of filmmaker Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. Tours are taken over the farm to see sites where the trilogy was filmed and personalised accounts are given of the interesting relationship between these rolling hills and Hollywood.
The East Cape protrudes into the South Pacific from New Zealand’s North Island, bordering the Bay of Plenty to the north and not far above the sunny Hawke’s Bay area. It is an isolated region that is a lot less developed than many other areas of New Zealand, with small towns and stunning coastlines. There is not as strong a European influence as in the rest of the country, and the Maori heritage and character are rich, with in coastal towns centered around the ocean or Te Moana. Overseas visitors may be interested to know that two well-known Kiwi films, Whale Rider and Boy, were set and filmed on the East Cape.
Beginning in the city of Auckland, where you can participate in a variety of activities from whale watching to extreme sports, this road trip will take you through three wonderful cities in New Zealand. South of Auckland you will find beautiful Waikato farmland and the magical Waitomo Caves. Then move on to the unique city of Rotorua, which has been welcoming tourists for more than 200 years. When you arrive at this heart of New Zealand Maori culture you will be met with the scent of sulphur wafting in the air, a sign of the geothermal hotspots dotted around the city. Rotorua is a great spot for fishermen and those looking to relax amidst natural beauty and hot springs.
The township of Taumarunui, situated at the meeting place of the Whanganui and Ongarue Rivers, in the heart of a province known as the King Country. Taumarunui was an important centre to local Maori, providing a path to the sea via the mighty Whanganui River. As legend has it, the river was carved by Mt Taranaki, who after a losing a battle with Mt Tongariro over the Central Plateau’s fairest maiden mountain, Pihanga, fled west towards the setting sun, his sheer bulk carving the Whanganui River, which he filled with tears.
Te Kuiti is the Shearing Capital of the World, and the venue for the annual New Zealand Shearing Championships which always attract a large crowd, providing a large boost to the town’s population of some 4,500 souls. This annual muster, held the weekend following Easter, is a great time to visit: shearing contests are held, sheep races are run down the main street, and Maori cultural groups perform.
In Tirau ,corrugated-iron creations have played a huge part in reinventing this idyllic South Waikato town. Don’t be surprised when you come face to face with a giant corrugated sheep – and a good looking Waikato sheep dog, housing the Tirau information centre.
In Tokoroa, forestry is the central life force of this pulp and paper mill town. Head out of town in almost any direction and evidence of the enormity of the local forestry industry is readily seen in the exotic pine forests stretching as far as the eye can see.
Turangi is located at the hub of the North Island’s trout fishing scene, and whilst it’s not compulsory, you’d be mad not to try your hand at angling for the rainbow and brown trout that thrive here. Skilled guides can introduce novices to the intricacies of the fine art of fly fishing; and dedicated anglers can stalk trophy browns and rainbows with dry flies during the summer months, and pursue spawning runs of rainbow trout upstream with nymphs.