Day – 1 & 2 – Wellington
Wellington is New Zealand's capital city and is also known as the capital of arts and culture. One of the most picturesque cities in New Zealand, it is well worth putting away a couple of days to explore. Wellington has a vibrant café scene along with restaurants, museums, galleries and shopping, and its compact size makes it easy to explore on foot. There is a large selection of Wellington accommodation spread through the CBD and surrounding suburbs catering to all types of travelers and budgets.
Day 3 – Wellington To Wanganui (195km)
The trip up the Kapiti coast to Wanganui passes many natural points of interest and charming towns. Kapiti Island off the coast of Waikanae is a nature reserve where you can experience close encounterers with rare birds. A small inland detour will take you to two stunning dune lakes, and towns along the way are home to museums, antique shops and even a gourmet cheese shop. Wanganui itself is a historic town located along the Wanganui River. There are many local attractions including jet boating, scenic drives and walks, museums and galleries. There are many Wanganui accommodation options ranging from camping grounds and back packers to hotels and motels.
Day 4 – Wanganui to New Plymouth (159km)
The road between Wanganui and Hawera is dotted with small towns featuring quirky art galleries, small museums and antique stores. Once in Hawera there are two ways to get to Plymouth, the 'surf highway' or the inland road, either choice will take you past the majestic volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki. Once in New Plymouth explore its beautiful parks and active arts scene. New Plymouth accommodation offers a variety of options suitable to singles, couple and families.
Day 5 – New Plymouth to Rotorua (297km)
Rotorua is home to one of the world's most active geothermal fields. Boiling mud fields, sky rocketing geysers and hot springs are some of the spectacular natural sights. Rotorua has many adventure activities to get the adrenalin flowing including sky diving, luge and zorbing. There are also some of the best mountain bike tracks in New Zealand in the area. The ancestral home of the Te Arawa people who settled there more than 600 years ago, Rotorua offers a variety of cultural experiences for tourists – try a traditional hangi fest, cooked under the ground, or visit a traditional Maori village. Fishing is also a popular activity along with skiing in the nearby ski fields. The range of Rotorua accommodation is extensive and again caters for all styles of travelers and all budgets.
Day 6 – Rotorua to Taupo (80km)
The unique volcanic geography along the road from Rotorua to Taupo will add interest to your drive. Take signposted side roads to see more bubbling mud pools and geysers. You will also pass by the incredible Wairakei Geothermal Power Station and the spectacular Huka Falls. Taupo itself sits on the edge of New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo, a popular trout fishing spot. There is an excellent selection of restaurants and Taupo accommodation, many of the hotels taking advantage of the underground thermal activity to offer hot mineral spas to guests.
Day 7 – Taupo to Napier (140km)
The scenic drive from Taupo to Napier passes through rugged terrain, rolling valleys, grassy plains and stunning vistas. Along the way you can stop at Tarawera and walk to the hot springs above the Waipunga River, or view the twin falls at the Wairarua Falls lookout. The town of Eskdale on the outskirts of Napier was leveled by a massive earthquake in 1931 and totally rebuilt in the style of the times, making it the Art Deco Capital of the world. The vineyards, close to Hawke's Bay, are also worthy of a visit. The Napier hotels, many Art Deco style, offer good value and varied facilities with a range of room styles and budget options.