2 Week itinerary:
North Island of New Zealand
Info at a Glance:
- Start and finish: Auckland
- Total number of days: 14
- Total Kms covered: ~1271km
- Total cost*: $2355 (see below for full cost breakdown)
New Zealand is an amazing island to visit, from its rolling country side and magnificent mountains to it’s endless beaches and volcanic terrain. New Zealand is every adrenaline junkie, nature loving, adventurous travellers, dream destination. Although it is expensive, it’s worth spending the cash on, if you can.
Although there are many FREE things to do here, the very basics such as food, transport and accommodation quickly add up.
I found the cheapest option was to hire a camper van, drive and camp around the country. This is the most popular choice amongst backers and you will see hundreds of Jucy and Wicked campers on the roads.
However, when I went over, it was the peak season (the Christmas holidays), so hiring a campervan for 2 weeks was going to cost upwards of $2500 AUD. Once you add fuel for $2/litre, camping ground costs/permits, you’re looking at a very expensive two week holiday.
So instead I hired a car, for around $1000AUD (still 4 times more expensive than it would be in off peak season), and stayed in hostels and Air BNBs which worked out just fine for us anyway!
- Day 1: Aukland Airport to Paihia: If you can, get an early morning flight and hire your car/camper van directly from the airport. Once you’ve picked up your vehicle drive ~3hrs north to Paihia, in the Bay of Islands.
- Day 2-4: Spend 2-3 nights in the Bay of Islands, exploring the mainland and the outer islands. Its an amazing, laid back little town with one supermarket, lots of adventure stores and tour companies and some nice small town pubs. Check out Things to do in the Bay of Islands for a detailed list.
- Day 5 Phaia to Te Awamutu: Leave early in the morning and make the long 5 hour drive south to Te Awamutu. This is the biggest travel day, but if you can leave early in the morning, you might like to check out the Hamilton, before continuing on to Te Awamutu.
Day 6 The Waitomo Caves: Its about a 40 minute drive from Te Awamutu to the Waitomo cave system, where you can either take a boat ride and walk into the more touristy glow worm caves, or, if you can afford it, enjoy 2-7 hours worth of Black Water Rafting. Personally I chose the Black Odessy, which saw us zip lining, abseiling, tubing, climbing waterfalls and swimming our way through the caves. It was an epic experience complete with hot chocolate and all!
- Day 7 Te Awamutu to Lake Taupo: Leave mid morning and drive 1hr to Taupo. Taupo is a town set on gorgeous lake Taupo and is an excellent spot to base yourself for a few days of adventuring. Check out top 10 things to do in Taupo.
- Day 8: Go mountain biking on the trails around Lake Taupo. Cycle past Huka Falls, hugging the river until you stumbled upon the Aratiatia Rapid. Turn around at the Rapids for a nice 30km round trip.
Watch as thousands of litres of water gets released from this dam, creating a powerful display. The release happens 3-4 times a day (Summer – October to April 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm Winter- May to September 10am, 12pm, 2pm) so be sure to double check the timetable and get there 10-15 minutes prior to get a prime viewing spot.
- Day 9 The Tongariro Alpine Crossing: Drive for ~1hr from Taupo to the Tongariro Apline National Park. Prior to departure book a shuttle to take you from the carpark to the beginning of the trek and then hike back to your car. Check why the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the best day hikes in the world, for logistics of the hike and trip information.
- Day 10 Taupo to Rotorua: Leave early in the morning and drive for ~1hr to Rotorua. Rotorua, while it might smell like rotten eggs, provided us with lots of entertainment for our 3 day stay.
Spend your first day looking around town, checking out the lake and the free geothermal park in the centre of town and maybe book some tours and activities.
Also if you have time, check out the Red Wood Forrest, for a nice afternoon walk amongst some very tall tress!
Day 11: Go white water Rafting on Kaituna River, canoeing on the lake, or bungy jumping. If you’ve got enough energy left at night, head up the Gondola and go Luging.
Day 12 Rotorua to Tauranga: Just one hours drive from Rotorua, Tauranga is a beautiful sea side town, with the magnificent Mt Maunganui towering over it. Base yourself here for 2 nights and climb the “Mt” at least once, to get spectacular 360 views of the town and its bay.
Day 13: Take a visit to White island: if your funds allow and your interested, drive for ~1hr to Whakatane and get a boat tour out to White Island. White Island is one of the only Active Water Volcanoes in the world and the only one in NZ. It was amazing to see it bubbling and steaming away, but the 4hr return boat ride isn’t for the faint hearted. This is a whole day activity and its quite expensive at $250AUD, so if this isn’t for you spend the day surfing and exploring Tauranga instead.
Day 14 Return to Aukland: From Tauranga, Aukland is a 2 and a half hour drive, so depending on what time your flight is, you may need to leave the previous night or alternatively leave sometime that day allowing 3hrs of driving time to be safe.
If you have a night time flight, like I did, opt to spend the morning in Tauranga or alternativley leave early and spend half a day in Aukland.
- Airfare from Melbourne to Auckland: $400 return (Jetstar red eye flight)
- Car hire: $900AUD ($450pp) – El Chepo from Juicy
- Accomodation: $560 pp (twin share) – stayed in a mix of Air bnbs, Hostels & Cabins.
- Fuel: ~ $2 L ($1.70 a liter was the cheapest we found)
- Restaurants: avg $20-30 per main dish (lunch slightly cheaper)
- Take away: $10-25
- Groceries: $150-200 per week (2 persons)
- White water Rafting: $35pp (Get 40% off by booking on this website)
- Black Water Rafting: $250pp (Black Abyss)
- White Island Boat tour: $250pp
- Canoe hire: half day $45 ($22.5pp)
- Alpine crossing shuttle bus: $30pp
- Bike hire: $35pp half day
Activities total: $645AUD
- Aprox. total for my trip: $2055 AUD without food (as food with vary greatly between people)
- Aprox. total WITHOUT optional/Major activities: $1410 AUD
- Aprox. $2355 with food and above optional activities (eating out once or twice and mostly home cooked meals)
*Base on my personal experience, following the above itinerary AND going over the christmas/new year period. You could probably do this same Itinerary for $500-600 cheaper if you went off peak.*