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If you have only a short amount of time, one of these itineraries will be your best choice.

Your itinerary will be more or less determined by the cities you are flying in and out of and the time you have in NZ.

 
 
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North Island and both Island Self-Drive Itineraries

Seven day driving modules
 

Beautiful Russell in the Bay of Islands is less than an easy day's drive north of Auckland.

Part of a series on travel to and in New Zealand - click the links in the right hand column for more articles and click here for the master listing of New Zealand driving itineraries.

 

 

The suggested driving itineraries below give you some ideas about how you can structure seven days in the North Island of New Zealand.

We've tried to include the main highlight 'must see' sights of the North Island in these itineraries.  This is difficult - there is so much to see and do that even seven weeks would be easily filled.  But better to have seven days than no days, and so here are some suggestions for you.


Sample Itineraries for the North Island and both Islands, with a seven day travel time.

Here are some possible ways of spending seven days on a self-drive itinerary around the North Island (and optionally South Island too) of New Zealand.

See our separate page of seven day South Island self-drive itineraries for more suggestions.

And if you have more time to spend, consider combining itineraries, or spending more time in the places featured, and perhaps traveling shorter distances each day.

We'll also be releasing suggested driving itineraries for longer time periods in the near future.

 

Click on map to open a larger map in a new window

One Week Between Auckland and Christchurch

Day

Activities

Overnight

1

Arrive Auckland, collect rental car, city sightseeing in Auckland.

Auckland

2

Drive to Waitomo Caves then over to Rotorua.

Approx 350km/220 miles, 5 hrs driving time.

Rotorua

3

A day in Rotorua

Rotorua

4

Drive to Wellington, on SH1, perhaps stopping at Lake Taupo on the way, and Wairakei if more thermal sights are sought, otherwise, getting to Wellington early enough to do some sightseeing around Wellington.

Approx 450km/285 miles, 6.5 hrs driving time.

Wellington

5

Take the Inter-Islander this morning (either with your car or swapping cars at either end) and then drive on to Christchurch, perhaps stopping at Kaikoura on the way for whale watching.

Approx 340km/210 miles, 4.5 hr driving time plus ferry crossing (3.5 hrs plus waiting time).

Christchurch

6

A day in and around Christchurch.

Christchurch

7

Fly on from Christchurch today.

 

 

Total distance driven :  1150km/715 miles plus local touring and ferry crossing


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One Week Between Christchurch and Auckland including train

Day

Activities

Overnight

1

Arrive Christchurch, don't get rental car, city sightseeing in Christchurch

Christchurch

2

Take the TranzCoastal train from Christchurch to Picton then the Inter-Islander ferry over to Wellington.  Collect a rental car upon arrival in Wellington.

Train leaves early in the morning to connect with early afternoon ferry, arrives into Wellington mid/late afternoon.

Wellington

3

Spend the morning sightseeing in Wellington then drive up to Rotorua.

Approx 450km/285 miles, 6.5 hrs driving time.

Rotorua

4

A day in Rotorua.

Rotorua

5

Drive from Rotorua up to Auckland via the Waitomo Caves.

Approx 350km/220 miles, 5 hrs driving time.

Auckland

6

A day of sightseeing in and around Auckland - perhaps take the downtown ferry over to Devonport as part of your day.

Auckland

7

Fly on from Auckland today.

 

 

Total distance driven :  1150km/715 miles plus local touring, train and ferry crossing


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Northern North Island

Day

Activities

Overnight

1

Arrive Auckland, drive north to Bay of Islands (ie Paihia) via Dargaville and SH12.

Approx 355km/220 miles, 5 hrs driving time.

Paihia

2

Drive around Northland - perhaps to a kauri forest or up to 90 Mile Beach and the very top of NZ (Cape Reinga) or take a boat to Russell.

Paihia

3

Drive down to Rotorua, taking the SH2 route south of Auckland.

Approx 460km/290 miles, 6.3 hrs driving time.

Rotorua

4

A day in Rotorua.

Rotorua

5

Drive from Rotorua up to Auckland via the Waitomo Caves - perhaps take the long way along SH30.

Approx 370km/230 miles, 5.1 hrs driving time.

Auckland

6

A day of sightseeing in and around Auckland - perhaps take the downtown ferry over to Devonport as part of your day.

Auckland

7

Fly on from Auckland today.

 

 

Total distance driven :  1190km/745 miles plus local touring


Return to Itinerary Menu Page

 

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Central North Island

Day

Activities

Overnight

1

Arrive Auckland, drive south to the Coromandel Peninsula; stay in Whitianga or Coromandel.

Approx 170km/105 miles, 2.3 hrs to Coromandel, another 20km/15 miles and 20 mins to Whitianga.

Coromandel or Whitianga

2

Enjoy the area around the Coromandel Peninsula.  If you're staying in Whitianga, maybe visit Coromandel or vice versa.

Coromandel or Whitianga

3

Drive SH2 to Tauranga and 'the Mount' (Mt Maunganui) then over to Rotorua.

Approx 235km/145 miles, 3.5 hrs driving time from either Coromandel or Whitianga.

Rotorua

4

A day in Rotorua.

Rotorua

5

Drive from Rotorua up to Auckland via the Waitomo Caves - perhaps take the long way along SH30.

Approx 370km/230 miles, 5.1 hrs driving time.

Auckland

6

A day of sightseeing in and around Auckland - perhaps take the downtown ferry over to Devonport as part of your day.

Auckland

7

Fly on from Auckland today.

 

 

Total distance driven :  775km/485 miles plus local touring


Return to Itinerary Menu Page

 

Click on map to open a larger map in a new window

 

Auckland - East Coast - Wellington

(Fly back to AKL if needed)

Day

Activities

Overnight

1

Arrive Auckland, collect car, spend day in Auckland.

Auckland

2

Drive to Waitomo Caves then over to Rotorua.

Approx 350km/220 miles, 5 hrs driving time.

Rotorua

3

A day in Rotorua.

Rotorua

4

Drive from Rotorua to Gisborne.

Approx 280km/175 miles, 3.75 hrs driving time.

(Optional extra - drive around the East Cape on Hwy 35 - increase driving distance today to 465km/290 miles and driving time to 6.25 hrs)

Gisborne

5

Drive from Gisborne to Hawke's Bay.  Probably choose to stay in Napier; otherwise, Havelock North.

Approx 215km/135 miles, 2.8 hrs driving time.

Hawke's Bay

6

Drive from Hawke's Bay to Wellington.

About 315km/195 miles, 4.3 hrs driving time.

Wellington

7

Fly from Wellington to Auckland if necessary and on from Wellington or Auckland to your next destination.

 

 

Total distance driven :  1160km/725 miles plus local touring and possibly flight from WLG back to AKL


Return to Itinerary Menu Page
 

Part of a series on travel to and in New Zealand - click the links in the right hand column for more articles and click here for the master listing of New Zealand driving itineraries.

 

If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.

 

Originally published 22 Aug 2008, last update 02 Jul 2017

 
 
 
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