Wellington to Wellington in 10 Days (1,521 km)Discovering the southern end of the North Island of New Zealand is best achieved by beginning and ending your journey in Wellington. Although it is the capital city of this beautiful country, it is certainly not the largest or most highly populated. However, it is the cultural, commercial and cosmopolitan heart of the North Island, which makes it the ideal place to pick up your campervan and begin your ultimate driving holiday!
From Wellington, the best route to take is to follow the west coast, through the cultural centres of Whanganui and New Plymouth. From here, head inland and you will come across Taupo, the home of one of the North Island's most stunning lakes. Continuing your journey towards the coast will bring you through to Gisborne. Double back through Wairoa until you reach Hastings and Napier. You will then make your way south through Palmerston North and Upper Hutt where you will then enter the home stretch back to Wellington! This amazing journey guarantees you non-stop action, adventure and undeniably beautiful scenery.
Day 1 - Wellington to Wanganui
193 KM (2 hrs, 49 mins)Begin your holiday by picking up your campervan from one of the specified locations in Wellington and then, let the adventure begin! Journeying north along the State Highway 1 will take you through the stunning towns of Porirua, Otaki, Levin, Foxtown and Bulls. Pick and choose from where you want to stop of these places, as each offers something unique for the interested visitor.
This particular drive is simply stunning. You can enjoy the surrounding forest parks, reserves and gardens, all from the comfort of your motorhome. The beauty about having your own vehicle means that you can feel free to stop, anywhere you like, to soak up the magnificent sights and scenes.
The coastal drive along S.H.1 will eventually take you onto S.H.3. This, after a short drive, will bring you to the coastal city of Wanganui. The city of Wanganui lies on the banks of the Wanganui River and enjoys a temperate climate. This thriving city is rich in Maori and European culture and history and is home to many historic buildings and beautiful gardens and parks. The city encompasses river, nature and heritage elements and has a vibrant arts, cultural and sport scene. Wanganui is the perfect place for you to discover relaxation, inner peace and reconnect with your soul!
Where to Stay!Wanganui Castlecliff Seaside Park
Experience Wanganui by the beach when you choose to stay at Wanganui Castlecliff Seaside Park. Located just 7 kilometres from the city centre, these 3.5 acres of park-like settings are the perfect place for you to park your campervan for the first night of your holiday. The park is adjacent to Castlecliff Beach, making it idyllic for those long walks on the beach that you have been longing to take. With excellent facilities and prices to suit all budgets, there really is no excuse not to stay here!
Wanganui River Top 10 Caravan Park
The local Top 10 Park is nestled on the banks of the Wanganui River, with powered sites backing onto the river for your viewing pleasure. Spend the night on the riverside and enjoy the hot spa pool and elite facilities on offer. With prices starting at just $25, this is the ideal place to base yourself for exploration of the Wanganui region.
Don't Miss!PS Waimarie
This historic paddle steamer is the last remaining of its kind in New Zealand. A trip on this interesting boat will give you a unique maritime heritage experience of the Wanganui River. You can enjoy tea or coffee in The Galley or opt to take a lunch or dinner cruise. This experience is so fantastic it is no wonder the PS Wamarie is known as "The Queen of the River".
Other Attractions!Wanganui Regional Museum
The regional museum in Wanganui is home to an abundance of ever-changing and constant programmes and performances. The exhibitions tell the story of the days gone by in Wanganui, offering an extensive educational experience. The vast collection of human and natural history is sure to leave you feeling somewhat more historically and culturally aware of Wanganui's history and way of life!
Bushy Park offers a unique experience that the whole family can enjoy. Explore the Edwardian Homestead, the Native Bird Sanctuary and the virgin rainforest that make this park so spectacular. Bushwalk in the forest or through the park, where you will discover hidden lagoons, native plants and untouched rainforest. Located just 20 minutes outside of Wanganui, this is the perfect place to spend your afternoon and get back in touch with nature!
Day 2 - Wanganui to New Plymouth
159 KM (2 hrs, 18 mins)Wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and get ready to start the next leg of your journey: the 159 kilometre drive to New Plymouth. Travelling north along the coast on S.H.3. will take you through quaint coastal towns, where you can stop and take in the stunning ocean views. Take a detour and explore the Whanganui National Park. Here you can soak up native heritage area and experience the sights and sounds of New Zealand's flora and fauna.
New Plymouth is the port and main city of the Taranaki region. It is home to stunning botanical gardens, a 7 kilometre walk along the Tasman Sea and is within a 30 minute drive of the surrounding mountains. New Plymouth's coastal location makes it the perfect place to discover the stunning beaches of the North Island.
Where to Stay!New Plymouth Top 10 Holiday Park
The best place to stay while you are visiting New Plymouth is the local Top 10 Holiday Park. The park features a heated swimming pool, spa, sauna and BBQ facilities which are sure to make your stay here a pleasant and relaxing one. The attractive grounds are the perfect place to park your campervan and all you have to do is sit back and take in the peaceful tranquillity of the natural surrounds.
Oakura Beach Holiday Park
Located just 15 kilometres outside New Plymouth, Oakura Beach Holiday Park is nestled on the shores of one of the area's most popular beaches. Park your campervan right on the beachfront and enjoy the swimming, surfing and native walking opportunities that present themselves.
Don't Miss!The Egmont National Park
While visiting New Plymouth, be sure to pay a visit to this national park and you will not be sorry. The park is home to Mount Taranaki (also known as Mount Egmont), a dormant volcano that is in the shape of an almost perfect cone. This mountain is the perfect destination in winter to have a go at skiing and snow boarding and offers fantastic views all year round. The National Park is also home to the Dawson Falls, which can be accessed via several walking tracks. Egmont National Park's ideal location just 30 kilometres outside of New Plymouth makes it the perfect choice for a short driving adventure while staying in the region.
Other Attractions!Taranaki Outdoor Adventures
For those extreme adrenaline seekers out there, the Taranaki Outdoor Adventure tours are just for you! Choose from dam dropping, kayaking, rock climbing or Canadian canoeing, or why not just do them all?
Day 3 - New Plymouth to Taupo
281 KM (3 hrs, 46 mins)Continue your journey along the coast on S.H.3., which will eventually take you inland onto S.H.30. The highlight of this leg of your journey is definitely the drive through the Pureora Forest Park. These stunning rainforest settings are the perfect place for you to "Stop, revive, survive!" Spend a few hours discovering the hidden jewels of this rainforest wonderland by venturing along the short walking tracks. The fresh forest air is guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the last stretch of your drive to Taupo.
The settlement of Taupo is a busy holiday destination all year round. The town centre thrives with bustling restaurants and cafes and boasts dramatic mountain views. The natural settings abound in this town, from forests to mountains, and alpine and volcanic treks to amazing lakes. There is sure to be something that grabs your eye's attention!
Where to Stay!Great Lake Holiday Park
As the name suggests, the Great Lake Holiday Park is nestled on the banks of Lake Taupo. With views of the lake from nearly every site within the park, this place is the ideal location for you to park your campervan for the night.
All Seasons Holiday Park
The All Seasons Holiday Park is located right near the centre of town and boasts spacious sites that are ideal for your campervan. An added bonus is the dividing hedges between the sites that ensure your privacy and make your stay all the more enjoyable!
Don't Miss!Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo is the largest lake (by surface area) in all of New Zealand. With a perimeter of 195 kilometres, the vastness of this spectacular natural wonder will leave you speechless. The crystal blue waters are perfect for trout fishing, along with any other water-based activity you can think of!
Other Attractions!Waitomo Caves
The Waitomo Caves are home to the Waitomo glow worm. Take the guided tour of the majestic and ornate cave decorations and discover the wonder of these living masterpieces.
Huka Prawn Park
For a family afternoon of fun and adventure, a visit to the Huka Prawn Park is in order. As New Zealand's only prawn farm, this is a popular destination all year round, and since it is situated only a 10 minute drive outside Taupo, it makes it the perfect place for you to take the kids. Enjoy a nature walk among the New Zealand bush or soak your feet in the geothermal foot bath, all while you learn all their is to know about prawns!
Day 4 - Taupo to Gisborne
329 KM (4 hrs, 10 mins)Leave the wonder and beauty of Lake Taupo behind and venture along S.H.5. in a south-westerly direction. The 329 kilometre journey to Gisborne will take you through the quaint towns of Iwitahi and Bay View, where you will then begin to venture onto S.H.2. While driving along these roads simply take in the stunning surrounds from the comfort of your campervan and stop as often as you wish to explore all that there is to see! You will eventually pass through the town of Wairoa, but there is no need to stop here, unless to stretch your legs, as you will be staying here the following night.
Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun each day. Therefore it only seems appropriate that its Maori name stands for "the coast upon which the sun shines across the water". The town was settled in 1831 and has been growing and developing ever since. The hilly country and coastal feel give the town a quaint and relaxed atmosphere and welcomes you with open arms.
Where to Stay!Tatapouri by the Sea
This park features beachfront accommodation and the generous sized sites are the perfect place for your campervan to rest up for the night. The park is located 14 kilometres outside the city of Gisborne, which allows you to escape the crowds for the night. With a close proximity to stunning local beaches, what more reason do you need to stay here?
Showgrounds Park Motor Camp
Set on 40 acres of rural tranquillity, the show ground setting of this motor camp means that you won't have to fight for space. While staying here, the area's agricultural heritage will surround you and make you feel at one with the region. The park's ideal location of just 5 minutes from the city centre of Gisborne makes it the perfect place to base yourself for exploration of the inner city.
Don't Miss!The Stone Studio
We all know that the green stone originated in New Zealand, but do you know how it is carved and shaped into those stunning pieces of jewellery you often see the Maori's sporting? Well a visit to The Stone Studio will show you just how this is done! The studio was formed in 1997 and uses only the best greenstone that New Zealand has to offer, making it one of the most highly renowned Greenstone Carving business' in the country.
Other Attractions!Stoney Horse Treks
Taking the Stoney Horse Trek adventure will allow you to experience the pine forest and native bushland of the unique area of Gisborne. Trek the city boundary and take in the views of the city, beaches and bays that surround the township. The stunning high country views will follow you throughout the entirety of the trek and will leave you in awe of the natural beauty that abounds.
The WA165 Steam Train
This historic steam train has been amazingly restored to become the last surviving WA Class locomotive in all of New Zealand. Board the train and relive the vibrant past of the steam rail transport industry. The journey will take you along the Pacific Coast of Gisborne which will allow you to soak up the magnificent views that stretches for as far as the eye can see.
Day 5 - Gisborne to Wairoa
100 KM (1 hr, 20 mins)You have now reached the mid-way point of your campervanning adventure! It is time to leave Gisborne behind and head along the coast towards Wairoa. Drive south down S.H.2., which takes you right along the east coast of the North Island. Enjoy the coastal views as you pass through the towns of Matawhero, Maranatha, Wharerata, Morere, Nuhaka, Tahanui, Whakaki and Tuhara.
After driving for just 100 kilometres, you will come into Wairoa, the most northern town of the Hawke's Bay Region. Located on the mouth of the Wairoa River, this town enjoys an abundance of water sporting activities that keep the tourists and locals happy all year round. Wairoa is most well known as a manufacturing and farming service town, yet the lifestyle of the locals is absorbed in activity, with a society rich in culture. This is the perfect base for exploration of the Te Urewera National Park!
Where to Stay!Riverside Motor Camp
The Riverside Motor Camp enjoys quiet surroundings in its position on the banks of the Wairoa River. Its close proximity to the shops and a boat ramp allows it to enjoy a contract between seaside and township living. The park is the perfect place to park your campervan if you are wishing to engage in some sea and trout fishing. The excellent facilities mean that you can enjoy a relaxed holiday in comfort and peace.
Don't Miss!Lake Waikareiti and Lake Waikaremoana
These two spectacular lakes are situated in the Te Urewera National Park and are host to a multitude of fun water sports and activities, including fishing of all sorts. Venture along some of the many hiking trails and discover the impressive valleys and unusual wildlife that call this wonderland home. This is a truly wonderful experience that allows you to explore the unseen wonder and beauty of this amazing country.
Other Attractions!Wairoa District Museum
The local museum houses some of the most impressive photo collections in New Zealand. With displays and artefacts that depict the history of Wairoa, you are sure to leave with some useful and interesting information that will help you understand the Wairoa way of life.
Morere Hot Springs
While passing through Morere on your journey from Gisborne to Wairoa, be sure to stop at the hot springs. These springs are some of the world's most rejuvenating springs and this is largely thanks to the unique mineral waters that are derived from the ocean. This relaxation abode is set in a native rainforest reserve, which makes the experience here even more magical. After visiting the Morere Hot Springs you will feel refreshed, rejuvenated and more in touch with your mind, body and soul.
Day 6 - Wairoa to Napier
118 KM (1 hr, 37 mins)The journey from Wairoa to Napier will span 118 kilometres of the coastline. Travelling along S.H.2. will take you through the small towns of Waihua, Raupunga, Kotemaori and Bay View. Pick and choose where you want to stop on the way, as each town offers something unique and exciting to the new visitor.
Napier is the port city of the Hawke's Region and is the only official city in the region. It holds the status of the second largest crossbred wool centre in the Southern Hemisphere and is one of the largest apple, pear and stone fruit producing areas in New Zealand. This popular tourist resort encompasses a well documented Maori history and draws in art deco and architecture enthusiasts' world wide. Napier enjoy some of the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand making it the perfect holiday destination all year round.
Where to Stay!Kennedy Park Top 10 Tourist Park
The local Top 10 Tourist Park is located right in the heart of the city. The holiday park enjoys relaxing, spacious, park-like settings and the campervan sites are flat and well grassed. With modern facilities, prices starting at just $18 a night and within a 5 minute proximity of all the city's main attractions, there is no reason not to stay at Kennedy Park Top 10 Tourist Park!
Bay View Snapper Holiday Park
This clean, quiet and spacious park is set on 9 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds just 8 kilometres outside the city centre of Napier, at Bay View. The sheltered, powered sites all incorporate hedges which will make your stay quiet and private. With prices starting at $17, there will be something here to suit any budget.
Marineland is situated right in the heart of Napier so you really don't have an excuse not to visit. Located on the conveniently named, Marine Parade, Marineland features some of New Zealand's most loved marine animals, such as the dolphins, sea lions, fur seals, penguins, gannets and marine birds. While you are at the park, you can choose to go for a dolphin swim, take a behind-the-scenes tour, undertake a penguin discovery workshop, enjoy a marine encounter or simply sit back and watch one of the entertaining daily shows. This entire experience will leave you with knowledge of these amazing animals and the fascinating things they can do!
Art Deco Trust
As Napier is the "art deco capital of the world", it seems only fitting that you pay a visit to the art deco trust! Explore the art deco shop or take a walk or self-guided driving tour. Discover the classic 1930's buildings that make the town of Napier so unique and marvel at the spectacular architectural features that abound.
Other Attractions!White Bay World of Lavender
The White Bay World of Lavender is set in the picturesque Esk Valley of the Hawke's Bay Region. With the valley and an American-style red barn acting as a pleasant backdrop, you can enjoy the endless rows of lavender plants that give this area such a spectacular ambience. Located just 20 minutes out of the city of Napier, this is the perfect place to escape to for a romantic lunch for two!
Day 7 - Napier to Hastings
20.4 KM (22 mins)Driving in this area will bring you into the Hawkes Bay Region. Hastings is one of the large cultural centres of this region, yet it is often overshadowed by its close neighbour, Napier. This is probably because of the unusually flat landscape and lack of natural landmarks, apart from the rivers and streams that wind through the surrounding areas. However, Hastings has a strong historical feel, and its Mediterranean climate still makes it an ideal place to base yourself for the last night of your campervanning adventure.
Where to Stay!Hastings Top 10 Holiday Park
The high standards that you have come to expect from Top 10 Holiday parks are just as high in Hastings. The park is close to the city centre and is right next to the family theme park, Splash Planet. It truly is the ideal place to base yourself for the exploration of the local theme parks, to sample the wineries, to trek the food trail or to simply relax on the sandy golden beaches.
Don't Miss!Hot Air Ballooning
This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you simply have to try! Discover the farmland, orchards, vineyards and picturesque mountain background of the Hawkes Bay region from the air and you will be guaranteed to be left speechless. Take the journey in the early morning and experience the wonder of the rising sun, lighting up the beauty that surrounds you from every possible angle. The winds are unpredictable so the idea of not knowing where you will land makes the experience even more thrilling. This adventure is sure to capture the very essence of your New Zealand adventure.
Other Attractions!Splash Planet
Splash Planet is the number one family attraction in the area and it is also the only water theme park in all of New Zealand. The park features everything from slides, mini golf and jungle jeeps to a pirate ship and fortress. This is a great way to spend the day with your kids and is the perfect and fun way to end your adventure in Hastings.
Day 8 - Hastings to Palmerston North
163 KM (2 hrs, 17 mins)Woodville is the ideal travellers stop for a bite to eat! The area is well known for its antiques and crafts and is a quaint and welcoming abode for visitors. While you are here, be sure to take a short drive out to the Tararua Wind Farm, which is the largest central power station in the Southern hemisphere. Ballance is situated just next to the wind farm and here you can take a Clydesdale Wagon Ride or horse trek through the beautiful bushland that lies on the Manawatu River.
Palmerston North is the perfect place to relax, unwind and base yourself for the night. The city landscape is unique in that the main streets are organised into a grid, known as 'The Square'. This seven hectare park is home to manicured lawns, trees, lakes, fountains and gardens and is located right in the heart of the city. The uniqueness of this city truly makes it the perfect place for exploration of the southern end of the North Island.
Where to Stay!Palmerston North Holiday Park
Situated on the West end of Palmerston North, the Palmerston North Holiday Park is the perfect place for you to park your campervan for the night. Choose from 75 powered sites and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the park's garden setting!
Don't Miss!Te Manawa Museum
Palmerston North's regional cultural centre is home to the Te Manawa Museum which is an art, cultural and science centre all rolled into one. Discover the history of this great city through displays of the days gone by and experience the cultures of the world's nations through the visiting international shows.
Manawatu Gorge Scenic Reserve
Located just 15 kilometres out of the city, is the Manawatu Gorge Scenic Reserve. Here you can take part in recreational activities such as jet boating, rock climbing, hiking and horse trekking. Or you could simply choose to take a drive around it and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the river carved rock walls.
While passing through Dannevirke, be sure to make a stop at Fantasy Cave. This man-made wonderland is home to clever displays of realistic nursery rhyme and storybook characters. The uniqueness of this attraction will keep both the kids and adults amused for ages!
Pukemarama is the perfect exhibition of a classic 19th Century English garden. Featuring a traditional Victorian homestead and with views overlooking the west coast, this is the perfect place to relax and soak up the true natural beauty of this stunning area.
Bridge Pa Vineyard
The Bridge Pa Vineyard is the Hawkes Bay Syrah specialist. The vineyard is a blend of styles and cultures and gives visitors a sense of the local legends that make this area so fascinating. Sample the area's finest wines and why not even take some home with you!
Day 9 - Palmerston North to Upper Hutt
121 KM (2 hrs)On the second last day of your campervan adventure, leave Palmerston North behind and begin your journey back towards Wellington. Travel south along S.H.57, on which you will pass through Shannon, and then double back through Levin, Wearoa, Manakau, Otaki and Waikanae. Upon arrival in Waikanae, turn left and venture onto S.H.1 which will take you through Paraparaumu, Akatarawa and Maori Bank.
Upon arrival in Upper Hutt, you will find a vibrant, spectacular city that just oozes with charm and appeal. This is the perfect place to stay for the last night of your holiday as you can escape the crowds of Wellington, while still enjoying the stunning surrounds.
Upper Hutt is all about outdoor lifestyle. This fascinating city is nestled on the Hutt River and is set amongst bush clad hills, which create a natural backdrop to this modern city. While staying here, take in the spectacular views and scenery as you explore the many parks and recreational areas that make this area a nature lover's paradise.
Where to Stay!Harcourt Holiday Park
The Harcourt Holiday Park is set on 4 and a half acres of native bushland and is just 4 minutes from the city centre of Upper Hutt. Its position on the mouth of the scenic Akatarawa Valley permits beautiful, peaceful settings, therefore the perfect place to park your campervan for the night. Give your 'home' a break for the night and enjoy the excellent facilities and settings of this stunning park!
The Lord of the Rings Film Locations
If you are a big fan of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, then staying at Upper Hutt will tantalize your fantasies and allow you to discover where it all happened! "The Great River Anduin", which was where the fellowship actually passed through while travelling through Mondoor, Gondor and the Bay of Belfalas, can be found at the Hutt River, from Moonshine Bridge to Poets Park. Discover the battles of "Helms Deep" when you venture into the Dry Creek Quarry. The Gondorian fortress, "Isengaurd"", can be found at Harcourt Park and the refuse and rallying place of the elves, "Rivendell", resides at Kaitoke Regional Park. Make sure you bring your camera along as you are not going to want to miss these incredible opportunities.
Other Attractions!Lighthouse Cinema
The Lighthouse Cinema is one of the leaders in New Zealand's cinema industry. The comfort-oriented atmosphere allows you to enjoy the diverse films on show in the style and comfort of lounge room-like settings. Immerse your body and soul in this unique experience and soak up the laid back, refreshing atmosphere that makes the Lighthouse Cinema so welcoming.
Efil Doog Garden of Art
These gardens are some of New Zealand's finest! The internationally renowned gardens were designed with imagination and humour and feature interconnected indoor and outdoor features. Discover the tranquil, picturesque settings as you wander along that many walks that flow though the gardens. The rare and unusual trees, shrubs and perennials offer something unique and will leave you feeling more in touch with nature!
Day 10 - Upper Hutt to Wellington
35 KM (38 mins)You have now reached the last day of your North Island campervan adventure. Pack up your campervan and make sure all your luggage is ready to go as you prepare the leave Upper Hutt behind and begin the 35 kilometres journey back to Wellington. Considering you have the entire day before your holiday is actually over, be sure to take your time as you cruise along S.H.2.
Along the way you will pass through Manor Park, Pomare, Kelson, Lower Hutt and Alice Town. When you reach Lower Hutt be sure to discover the panoramic views of the harbour and the Hutt River, and stop for a picnic lunch by the sea. When you feel ready, head back into Wellington, where you can spend the remainder of your day exploring the city sights and scenes.
Don't MissWellington Waterfront
Before you leave the North Island of New Zealand behind, you simply have to spend some time on the Wellington Waterfront. Mellow out as you discover one of the city's most attractive and distinctive precincts. The waterfront area separates the city from the sea and enjoys a vibrant and ever-changing atmosphere. Discover the unique features and attractions as you stroll the paths and breathe in the fresh sea breeze!
Other Attractions!Wellington Zoo
The zoo in Wellington is the oldest in all of New Zealand. Enjoy the unique experience of interacting with interesting animals such as cheetahs, red pandas and giraffes or simply take in the fantastc park surroundings. This interactive and exciting environment is sure to offer something for all and is the perfect way to end you holiday!
End of Trip!
Upon arrival into Wellington, your campervanning journey has come to a close. After further exploration of this wonderful city, return your campervan to the drop off point previously organised. Although you have to return your new 'home', the memories of it and your trip will stay with you for a lifetime.