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7 Day Northland Discovery

Northland - Self Drive

Northland's warm climate is home to beautiful beaches and forests, smiling people and wide open spaces. 

Visitors will spend a lot of time basking in the sun in Northland, home to many beaches and secluded sunny spots. The ocean is an important part of Northland, from Cape Reinga –  where people can watch two oceans meet – to the plentiful opportunities to swim, dive, surf, fish or kayak. Also home to historic sites, Northland will give you a sense of New Zealand instantly. 

Over 7 days you will discover giant kauri trees, lush native forest, stunning golden beaches, charming seaside towns and a world-renowned marine reserve. The region is rich in Maori culture and European heritage, with many authenic attractions and activities allowing visitors to learn the history and culture of the area.

With a pleasant sub-tropical climate, Northland is excellent to visit anytime of the year.

Day 1

Arrive in Auckland. Spend the day exploring New Zealand’s largest city.


Surrounded by two sparkling harbours, vibrant and multicultural Auckland is the country’s largest city and commercial hub - home to 1.5 million people. Auckland offers world-class accommodation, outstanding food and wine, great shopping, and many attractions and sightseeing options.

Recommended activities:

  • Visit Auckland Museum – Tamaki Paenga Hira

  • Jump off the tallest building in New Zealand or walk on the edge 192 metres above Auckland. Try the Sky Jump or Sky Walk

  • Take a stroll around Auckland’s Viaduct and Britomart Precincts. Here you can indulge at one of the area's fine eateries and browse boutique shops

Day 2

In the morning collect a rental vehicle in central Auckland and self-drive to Hokianga, approximately 4 hours. Approximately 1 hour 40 minutes into the journey, you will pass the Kaipara Harbour and arrive at Matakohe. Here you might like to stop at the Kauri Museum to learn about the history of the kauri tree. 

Continuing north past the town of Dargaville, venture into the Waipoua Forest - home to Tane Mahuta, the largest kauri tree in the world. Take a guided walk through the forest to learn about maori legend and history in the area.

A 2 hour drive north of the Waipoua Forest will have you arrive at historic Hokianga Harbour.

Recommended activities:

  • Discover the history of the kauri tree and early pioneers at the Kauri Museum

  • Enjoy a guided tour through the Waipoua Forest and marvel at Tane Mahuta (‘The Lord of the Forest’) who stands an impressive 51 metres tall 

Day 3

Spend a relaxing morning in Hokianga. After lunch depart Hokianga and head to Rawene, New Zealand's third oldest European settlement. Here you will need to take the vehicle ferry to Kohukohu. From Kohukohu continue driving for one hour until arriving at Ahipara, the gateway to 90 Mile Beach. Keen surfers may wish to hire a board and tackle one of New Zealand's best left hand surf breaks.

After exploring Ahipara, continue driving north-east to the Karikari Peninsula, approximately 40 minutes. You may like to make a short stop en route in Kaitaia.

There is an option to drive from Ahipara to Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean - a place deeply significant to Maori. After exploring Cape Reinga you would then continue to the Karikari Peninsula. The detour will take approximately 4 hours.


Recommended activities:

Day 4

Spend a lazy morning around the Karikari Peninsula. At leisure self-drive to the beautiful Bay of Islands, approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Perhaps stop en route at Kauri Cliffs, one of New Zealand’s premier golf resorts.


There is a good range of accommodation in the Bay of Islands with Paihia and Russell are good options.

Recommended activities:

  • Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in 1840 between Maori chiefs and the British Crown

  • Enjoy a Hole in the Rock boat cruise

  • Explore the beautiful coastal waters with a dolphin viewing cruise or enjoy an incredible dolphin swimming experience

Day 5

Spend another day exploring the stunning Bay of Islands.

Recommended activities:

  • Take a trip to Cape Reinga (full day if travelling by coach, or half day by light aircraft)

  • Visit the galleries and museum in Russell

  • Enjoy a tall ship sailing experience

  • Visit the Kerikeri Mission House, the country's oldest house built in 1821, and the Mission's Stone Store dating from 1832. These buildings are regarded as the 'Cradle of the Nation'

Day 6

In the morning self-drive from Bay of Islands to Whangarei or Tutukaka, approximately 1 hour 30 minutes.


Whangarei is a modern city set in a sub-tropical landscape and offers a good range of accommodation options. Thirty minutes' drive north-east of Whangarei is Tutukaka, a bustling nautical town with beautiful coastal views. The town is also the gateway to Poor Knights Island where spectacular diving, snorkelling and fishing abounds.

Recommended activities:

Day 7

In the morning self-drive from Whangarei or Tutukaka to Auckland, approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.


You may wish to stop en route at the Matakana Coast and visit one of the region’s excellent wineries. Remember to designate a sober driver if wine tasting.


Spend another day exploring Auckland or fly home.

Recommended activities:

Please note - these are sample itineraries - they are subject to change/availability

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