Wellington to Wellington in 5 Days (1,118 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 Palmerston North 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 this journey will bring you through to Hastings, where you will then enter the home stretch back to Wellington! It may seem a lot to accomplish in just five days, but at least you are sure to be guaranteed non-stop action, adventure and undeniably beautiful scenery.
Day 1 - Wellington to Palmerston North
142 KM (2 hrs, 12 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, Plimmerton, Paraparaumu, Utaki, Levin, Shannon and Tokomaru. 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 motor home. 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 the S.H.1 will eventually take you onto the S.H. 56 which, after a short drive, will bring you to the inland city of Palmerston North. This 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 to start your 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.
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.
Day 2 - Palmerston North to New Plymouth
233 KM (3 hrs, 21 mins)Wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and get ready to start the next leg of your journey: the 234 kilometre drive to New Plymouth. Travelling north along the coast on the S.H.3. will take you through quaint coastal towns, where you can stop and take in the stunning ocean views. Stop for lunch in Wanganui or 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 the S.H.3., which will eventually take you inland onto the 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 Hastings
158 KM (2 hrs, 8 mins)Leave the wonder and beauty of Lake Taupo behind and venture along the S.H.5. in a south-westerly direction for 158 kilometres. You will pass through the quaint inland towns of Iwitahi, Bay View, Tamatea and Waiohiki. 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!
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 5 - Hastings to Wellington
302 KM (4 hrs, 17 mins)The final day of your North Island campervanning adventure awaits you. Spend the morning packing up your van and preparing for the final stretch of your drive. The 303 kilometre journey back to Wellington will take you through the towns of Bridge Pa, Dannevirke, Woodville and back through Levin, Otaki and Poirua. The scenery in the final stretch of your journey is simply stunning and is a pleasant way to say goodbye to the sights of the North Island.
Woodville marks the halfway point of your drive back to Wellington, which makes it the ideal travellers stop! 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.
Don't Miss!Manawatu River
The Manawatu River is one of the major rivers of the North Island and perhaps the most beautiful. Soak up the calm blue waters and the spectacular, looming gorges that line the banks of the river. Spend a few hours here just soaking up the beautiful scenery or doing a spot of trout fishing. The calmness and serenity of this natural wonderland is sure to leave you feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to re-enter the hustle and bustle of city life once again.
Other Attractions!Fantasy Cave
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!
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!
End of Trip!
Upon arrival into Wellington, your campervanning journey has come to a close. Spend the remainder of your day exploring the wonderful city and then 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.