We spent a week (6 days) in New Zealand’s north island. Here’s our itinerary, along with some highlights from each day, for inspiration or just entertainment!
Day 1: Auckland Airport –> Kauaeranga Valley
Arrived at Auckland Airport (from Hong Kong)
Picked up rental car (booked the cheapest option through Compare New Zealand Rental Vehicles Ltd)
Bought camping gear at The Warehouse (near the airport), a cheap department store
Drove 1 hour, 45 minutes to Kauaeranga Valley
Slept in our new tent at the Trestle View Campground, the closest campsite to the Pinnacles trail head
Day 2: Pinnacles (a.k.a. Kauaeranga Kauri Trail)
Hiked the Pinnacles (6.5 hours roundtrip). Absolutely gorgeous hike with awarding views at the top of the pinnacles. Nice bathrooms near the hut.
Slept like babies at the Trestle View Campground
- Alternate option: Sleep at the Pinnacles Hut for $15. It’s really nice with dorm-style bunk beds (fits up to 80 people) and kitchen facilities, about a 3 hour hike from the parking lot (Kauaeranga Valley Road end). Great option for bad weather, or if you don’t have a tent, but have a sleeping bag. More info here.
Day 3: Kauaeranga –> Rotorua
Drove 2 hours to Rotorua
Slept at Rock Solid Backpackers, a really nice hostel in Rotorua, for $50 (private double, shared bathroom) and utilized their glorious showers & free wifi
Day 4: Rotorua –> Tongariro National Park
Free “foot spa” in Kuirau Park (near intersection of Arawa and Ranolf streets)
Redwood Forest: hiked the green trail. Gorgeous 1.5 hour hike
- Our choice if we’d gone: Waikite Hot Pools: $16.50 NZD/$11.56 USD per person, open until 9pm. On the way to Tongariro; less touristy than pools in Rotorua
- Free: Twin Streams and Kerosene Creek are hot springs along the way from Rotorua to Tongariro. Be cautious at Kerosene creek; we heard bad stories about car theft from there
- More upscale: Polynesia Spa in Rotorua for $29 NZD ($20.32 USD). Tip: Avoid from 6-10pm, when all the folks in nearby hotels go and it gets extremely crowded
Slept at Skotel Alpine Resort, conveniently next to the Tongariro Visitor Center (called the Whakapapa Visitor Centre).
Day 5: Tongariro –> Wellington
Hiked to the Taranaki Falls (2.5 hours roundtrip)
- Tama Lakes
- Adding this onto the Taranaki Falls hike would take 5 hours total
- Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- One of the most famous day-hikes in New Zealand, if not the most famous, takes you 6-7 hours
Tent camped at Camp Elsdon in Porirua, a quick 30 minute drive from Wellington
Day 6: Wellington
Hiked to Mt Victoria; stopped at a LOTR spot for a photo
Quick stop at the Weta Cave (we only did the free “mini-museum,” which was extremely mini)
Enjoyed some craft beer tasting at Garage Project
Tent camped at Camp Elsdon
I hope you enjoyed reading about our week in the North Island! Stay tuned for our post about our South Island itinerary.
Do you have any questions? Need suggestions? Ask below!