The dilemma: you want to visit New Zealand, but you’re almost out of holiday? While many people favour devoting a month or more, it is possible to see the best of North Island New Zealand in a single week. You won’t see everything, of course, but you will get a flavour of what the island has to offer which will suffice until your return. Why not hire a car and follow our suggested route for a one week itinerary?
One Week Itinerary in North Island New Zealand
Day 1: Wellington
Begin your week long North Island New Zealand adventure in the Kiwi capital, Wellington. Ride the cable car up to Kelburn to admire the city from above before strolling down via the botanical gardens. The Te Papa museum, devoted to Maori history also has interesting exhibits on New Zealand’s physical landscape. End the day in buzzing Cuba Street, a part of the city packed with bars, restaurants, galleries and vintage shops.
Day 2: Kapiti Coast
It’s only an hour or so’s drive from the capital to the beautiful Kapiti Coast. There’s plenty to fill your day, including the excellent Tramway Museum in Queen Elizabeth Park near Paekakariki and the Southward Car Museum in Paraparaumu. Day visits are also possible to Kapiti Island, a protected reserve, known for its birds. Look out for little spotted kiwis and parakeets amongst others.
Day 3: Art Deco Napier
Next up of your North Island New Zealand trip is Art Deco Napier, one of South Island’s most northerly destinations. It’ll take you about three hours to reach, which means you’ll be there in time for lunch. Spend your afternoon taking a walking tour of its historic buildings, constructed in a similar style after the town was flattened in a severe earthquake in 1931. Focus on the triangle of streets that contain the greatest concentration of architectural gems: Clive Square, Dickens Street and Browning Street.
Day 4: Taupo
A couple of hours inland, you’ll find yourself in Taupo, a lakeside town with a laid back feel. Feeding the lake is the Waikato River, which is where you’ll find Huka Falls. Get your thrills on a ride on the famous Huka Falls Jet. With speeds of up to 50 miles an hour and a 360° spin, a ride on the water is an exhilarating experience. Follow this with a visit to Craters of the Moon where you’ll see the atmospheric fumaroles and mud pools of this otherworldly location.
Day 5: Rotorua
Nearby Rotorua is a mecca for those seeking a taste of New Zealand’s geothermal attractions. Spend your day at the Te Puia New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where you’ll enjoy the spectacle of a Maori show and gain an insight into their cultural heritage. Nature is at her most breathtaking here, with plopping mud pools and the dramatic eruptions of Pohutu Geyser which shoots scalding hot water thirty metres into the air.
Day 6: Hot Water Beach
Three hours north of Rotorua you’ll find Hot Water Beach. Break your journey at sleepy Katikati where the town’s walls have been livened up with a series of colourful murals and in Waihi, where you’ll find evidence of New Zealand’s gold mining heritage. Continuing to the Coromandel, explore the impressive coastal scenery of Cathedral Cove before having a soak in nature’s seaside hot tubs, dug out of the sand at Hot Water Beach, just a few minutes down the coast.
Day 7: Auckland
Where else to end your week’s trip than in New Zealand’s largest city? Cosmopolitan Auckland has much to offer. In a day, make sure you don’t miss the chance to ascend the Sky Tower to get a look at the cityscape from above. Back at street level, catch one of the frequent ferries for the short hop over to Devonport, a historic gem, before returning to the city’s marina to admire the yachts. Chill out and reflect on your week in the charming Ponsonby neighbourhood just outside the city centre.