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Posted on 09/04/2024 14:37 PM

New Zealand's beauty knows no season, and winter is no exception. We've carefully selected a range of sample New Zealand North Island winter road trip itineraries to spark your imagination for your next winter journey. From hidden gems tucked away in the lush countryside to majestic mountain vistas dominating the skyline, we'll cover adventures that promise breathtaking views, cultural insights, and unforgettable experiences. Keep reading our New Zealand campervan itinerary list for the best places to visit in the North Island in the winter.


Why is Winter a Great Time to Explore?

The winter months present the North Island of New Zealand as an ideal destination, thanks to its relatively mild climate compared to much of the world. This season reveals the island's vast diversity of landscapes, from picturesque coastal drives and rugged mountainous terrains to welcoming ski fields, catering to a wide array of winter activities.

With fewer tourists, the winter offers the luxury of exploring New Zealand's renowned attractions in relative solitude. This tranquillity enhances the visitor experience and can often lead to more attractive offers for both accommodation and activities.


Auckland to Coromandel


This North Island road trip starts in Auckland, where you can visit the Auckland Art Gallery and Butterfly Creek, check out Auckland Zoo, or take a ferry to experience the glorious Hauraki Gulf up close.


Thames is a historical town on the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand's North Island. It is a gateway to The Coromandel and offers a range of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy.

  • Visit the Thames Goldmine Experience: Explore mining history and processes.
  • Hit the Hauraki Rail Trail: This popular cycling trail starts in Thames and takes you through the Coromandel Peninsula. The trail comprises five sections and can be completed in 3-4 days or as individual day rides.


  • Relax at The Lost Spring: The Lost Spring is a geothermal mineral pool and spa complex in Whitianga. It is a popular tourist destination for its relaxing atmosphere and rejuvenating mineral pools. The Lost Spring also has a restaurant and spa on-site, offering a range of treatments and massages.
  • Explore Mercury Bay Museum: The Mercury Bay Museum in Whitianga showcases the area's history and culture. It has a range of exhibits, including displays about James Cook, Māori artefacts, records from early settlers to the area, and the region's natural history.
  • Enjoy fresh fish and chips: Whitianga is known for its delicious fish and chips. Several takeaway shops in the town serve fresh, locally caught fish and chips.

Hot Water Beach

North Island Road Trip to Hot Water Beach

Discover the extraordinary natural spectacle of hot water rising through the sands at Hot Water Beach. This renowned tourist spot, situated close to Whitianga, offers a unique experience of hot water filtering through the sand. Guests can enjoy personal hot springs by digging pools during low tide, so verifying the tide times beforehand is essential. Spades are available for rent at nearby holiday parks and general stores.

New Chums Beach

New Chums Beach is known for its stunning scenery and unspoiled beauty. You can access this secluded beach near Whitianga through a walking track that takes around 30 minutes to complete.

Driving Creek Railway

This popular tourist attraction in the Coromandel region offers a unique blend of nature, history, and engineering. The railway journey takes passengers through a regenerating native forest, with unique pottery sculptures and tile murals lining the track. Travel up the mountain to a viewing platform building 165m above the surrounding Coromandel west coast, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

The railway journey takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes (including return) and terminates at the Eyefull Tower, completed in 2004 as a lookout building.


Thermal Explorer Highway

The Thermal Explorer Highway is a scenic route that takes you from Auckland to Napier, passing through some of the North Island's most fascinating thermal and geothermal areas, like those around Rotorua and Taupō. The cooler air temperatures contrast the warm geothermal waters, creating steaming rivers, hot springs, and bubbling mud pools that are especially inviting during the colder months.

Auckland to Hamilton via Raglan

Starting in Auckland, this North Island winter road trip takes you south to the laid-back beach town of Raglan, known for its long left-hand surf breaks and Wairēinga/Bridal Veil Falls.

  • Visit the Hamilton Gardens: This themed garden collection showcases different cultures and eras.
  • Explore the Waikato Museum: Learn more about the history and culture of the Waikato region.
  • Take a trip to Hobbiton: This captivating destination brings to life the enchanting world of Hobbits from J.R.R. Tolkien's famed "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" series. Explore meticulously crafted hobbit holes, the iconic Green Dragon Inn, and many other recognisable sights from the movies.

Hamilton to Rotorua

  • Visit the Waitomo Glowworm Caves: Take a tour of the caves and marvel at the thousands of tiny glowworms illuminating the cave ceiling.
  • Explore Rotorua's geothermal attractions: Visit Kuirau Park, Hell's Gate, and Waimangu Volcanic Valley, or take a dip in a hot mineral pool at The Polynesian Spa.
  • Visit the Rotorua Museum: Housed in the iconic Bath House building, this architectural marvel is known for its Tudor-style façade and rich history. The museum offers a deep dive into the region's fascinating past, focusing on the local Te Arawa people, the area's geothermal wonders, and the history of the Bath House itself.

Rotorua to Taupō

  • Visit the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland: This geothermal park boasts an array of hot springs, mud pools, and geysers.
  • Visit the Huka Falls: View a series of waterfalls on the Waikato River.
  • Check out the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station: Located just outside of Taupō, this pioneering facility in renewable energy is one of the world's first and largest geothermal power stations.

Taupō to Napier

  • Explore the Napier Art Deco Trust: Go on guided tours of the city's Art Deco architecture.
  • Explore the Napier Prison: Step into the past in this historic prison converted into a museum.
  • Stop by Napier's wineries, beaches, and natural attractions: The Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony, Te Mata Peak, and the Ahuriri Estuary.
  • Visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand: Discover marine life, including sharks, stingrays, and seahorses.


From the City to the Ski Fields


Begin your journey in Auckland, exploring the city's highlights, including the Sky Tower, Auckland Harbour Bridge, and Viaduct Harbour.

Waiheke Island

Take a ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island, known for its stunning vineyards and beaches. Spend the day visiting some of Waiheke's best wineries, including Mudbrick Vineyard, Cable Bay Vineyard, and Stonyridge Vineyard. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the wineries, enjoying the island's stunning views and ocean.

Ohakune and Whakapapa Ski Area

Drive from Auckland to Ohakune, a small town at the base of Mount Ruapehu, one of New Zealand's most famous ski fields. Spend the day exploring Ohakune and the nearby Whakapapa Ski Area.

Enjoy a hot chocolate or a meal at one of the ski area's many cafes and restaurants.

Turoa Ski Field

Drive to the nearby Turoa Ski Field, located on the southern slopes of Mount Ruapehu. Spend the day skiing or snowboarding on the mountain's many runs, which cater to all skill levels.


Spend the day exploring the Ruapehu region, home to many hiking trails, hot springs, and other natural attractions. Visit Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with three active volcanoes.


Go Campervan Crusin’ This Winter

A winter road trip across New Zealand's North Island offers an unparalleled adventure, where the chill in the air only adds to the magic of the landscapes you'll explore.

To fully immerse yourself in this winter wonderland, consider the freedom and flexibility of renting a campervan. Visit New Zealand Motorhomes to find the perfect vehicle for your needs, ensuring a comfortable and memorable road trip. For more inspiration and to maximise your adventure, check out other campervan itineraries in New Zealand on our website!


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