Perfect North Island Winter Road Trip
Travelers looking for the perfect winter getaway filled with adventure, good food, cultural heritage, and more will love touring New Zealand’s North Island. Winter road trip? You bet! Winter is the perfect time to cruise the beaten — and unbeaten — paths of New Zealand’s North Island!
According to native Māori legend, the North Island was formed through the actions of the demigod, Māui, and his brothers. The story tells the tale of the brothers fishing together from their canoe — the South Island — when Māui hooked a great fish and pulled it from the sea. His brothers fought over the fish, chopping it into pieces which became the North Island!
Legend aside, today the North Island is a beautiful, exciting place to visit any time of year, and winter is no exception! Let’s take a look at a New Zealand North Island winter road trip you can start planning right now.
The Ideal North Island Winter Road Trip
Auckland > Waikato > Taupo
This amazing itinerary is the perfect way to see some of the North Island’s stunning natural wonders and modern-day metropolitan cities. Let’s hit the road!
Destination 1: Auckland
There’s no better place to start a North Island winter road trip than Auckland! It’s New Zealand’s largest city and home to national historic sites, performing arts, sports activities, festivals, and an array of cultural institutions, such as the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Museum of Transport and Technology.
Things to see and do in Auckland
This is one of Auckland’s iconic landmarks and a must-see part of any visit to the city. The Sky Tower is New Zealand’s tallest building at 328m and features 360-degree views.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, check out the tower’s SkyWalk and SkyJump. SkyWalk is an adrenaline-fueled walk 192m above the City of Sails. If you’ve ever wanted to jump off a building, the SkyJump is for you! Leap from Sky Tower and experience 11 seconds of pure heart-pounding adventure!
Museum of Transport and Technology
Travelers looking for something a little more down-to-earth can check out the Museum of Transport and Technology or MOTAT. It’s a science and technology museum that showcases a large collection of civilian and military aircraft along with land transport vehicles.
Don’t stop there! Auckland is home to three breathtaking harbours, beaches, wineries, exciting cosmopolitan culture, and nightlife!
Where to stay in Auckland
For the perfect place to spend your Auckland after hours, check out Sea-batical! This hip holiday home is situated on Esplanade Eastern Beach, located on the Bucklands Beach Peninsula and sleeps 4 with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath. Spend your days at the beach soaking up the sun, or hit the links for a round of golf with friends!
Destination 2: Ohakune
Ohakune, in the Central North Island region, is a quaint small town with a BIG attraction you won’t find anywhere else. Intrigued? Keep reading!
Things to see and do in Ohakune
On Ohakune’s eastern edge, stands the world’s largest replica of a carrot, known as “The Big Carrot”! It was originally constructed for a television commercial aired in the early 1980s. After filming wrapped, the carrot was donated to the town in recognition of the region’s role as one of New Zealand’s major carrot producers!
Mount Ruapehu/Whakapapa Ski Area
The North Island is home to New Zealand’s only skiable volcano — Mount Ruapehu — which is also active by the way! As you hit the second destination on our itinerary, Ohakune, you’ll be able to hit the slopes at Whakapapa Ski Area.
Seasoned skiers and snowboarders will thrill as they tackle the chutes and drop-offs on Whakapapa’s expansive volcanic terrain while the ski area’s Happy Valley is a great place for beginners to get the feel of the snow. Hop on the Sky Waka gondola and soar to a height of 2,020m above sea level to enjoy unmatched views overlooking the North Island’s Central Plateau.
Not a skier? No Worries! Non-skiers can enjoy the appetizing fare at three mountainside cafes, including New Zealand’s highest, Knoll Ridge. Relax with a hot beverage and take in the views.
Where to stay in Ohakune
If you’re looking for the perfect little Ohakune getaway, check out Kune Kingdom, a tiny holiday home that packs a big punch! With 1 bedroom and 1 bath, it sleeps 6 and is the perfect home base to enjoy a laid-back vacation. And, it’s within walking distance to Ohakune Township!
Don’t Miss Waitomo Caves!
As travelers cruise south from Auckland to Ohakune, they shouldn’t miss the chance to visit Waitomo Caves – one of New Zealand’s most amazing glowworm caves!
Destination 3: Taupō
To round out your New Zealand North Island winter road trip, head on over to Taupō — located on the north-eastern shore of Lake Taupō. This volcanic lake fills a caldera created by a supervolcanic eruption nearly 27,000 years ago! After all the snow-filled fun of Ohakune, it’s time to spend a day or two sampling everything Taupō has to offer.
Things to see and do in Taupo
Taupō is blessed with breathtaking natural beauty and an array of water activities centered on Lake Taupō, but visitors should start their time in Taupō with a visit to Huka Falls, where every second more than 220,000 liters of water cascade over an 11 meter high waterfall. Take a ride on a jet boat (or river cruise) to the foot of the Falls and feel the thunderous crush of the water.
Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings
For something a little more laid back, book your spot on a scenic Lake Taupō cruise to view the famous Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings. The carved stone face is over 10 metres high and took master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell and four assistants four summers to complete!
Craters of the Moon
Craters of the Moon National Monument lets visitors get up close to New Zealand’s incredible geothermal scenery. A wooden boardwalk traverses winds through the other-worldly countryside, allowing easy viewing of steam vents, billowing white smoke funnels, and craters pockmarking the landscape!
Still craving adventure? Taupō is a thrill seekers’ paradise! Why not check out Taupō Bungy — New Zealand’s highest cliff-top bungy jump, offering patrons a 47 metre dive to the Waikato River!
Where to stay in Taupō
With all the fun you’ll be having in Taupō, you’ll have little time to enjoy your accommodations, but you still need a stylish pad! Book a night or two at Huia Street Haven, a charming yet bold holiday home. With 2 bedrooms and 1 bath, it sleeps 4 and is located less than 150m from Lake Taupō! Better yet, it’s just a 15-minute walk along the lakefront to the main centre of Taupō!
Northern Locales Are Beckoning This Winter!
As you can see, there’s so much to see and do on New Zealand’s North Isle that one road trip could never cover it all. This itinerary is a great place to start but leaves lots of room to tailor your trip perfectly to you. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your road map and start planning your journey today. And while you are at it, take a bit of time to peruse Bachcare.co.nz. With its easy-to-use search function, you can find the right accommodations for your trip in no time!