The Pacific Coast Highway will take you through the stunning east coast of New Zealand's North Island. The journey from Auckland to Napier is very well sign posted throughout the entirety of the 3 day drive, so there's no need to worry about a GPS or rely on your phone data.
This Road trip with Auto Europe will let you experience areas of New Zealand that have remained untouched for hundreds of years. If you don't have a lot of time to spare this is an easy, extremely scenic drive that can be done in 3 days. If you are lucky enough to have more time on your hands, break the trip up and take a whole week (7 days) to discover The Pacific Coast Highway at a more leisurely pace.
Auckland - Cathedral Cove - Mount Manganui: 5 hours / 368KM
Begin the drive travelling south out of New Zealand's largest city, Auckland. In just over an hour you'll reach Thames, the entry town of the Coromandel Peninsular. The Coromandel road is a two way, winding road that clings to the coastline where at every turn there is a breathtaking view over the Hauraki Gulf dotted with small green islands. Along the way there are countless un-crowded white sand beaches to stop off and have a swim; Whangapoua, New Chums Beach, Matarangi, Opito Bay & Cooks Beach. Some unmissable highlights of this drive include Cathedral Cove which is only a short walk from Hahei to the picturesque gigantic cathedral shaped arch carved out of the cliffs right on the beach. Another must see is Hot Water Beach, an awesome geothermal beach where locals & travellers take shovels to dig in the sand creating natural hot pools. Once you've spent the day soaking up all that the Coromandel has to offer, continue on to Mount Maunganui for the evening.
Tauranga - Whakatane - East Cape - Gisborne: 6 hours / 466KM
On day two, get an early start to the day and catch the sunrise with a short walk to the top of 'The Mount' located right in town with a spectacular view over the Mount Manganui's long white sand surf beach. From The Mount, travel east along to Whakatane. Whakatane is the centre of the Bay of Plenty region home to White Island an amazing active marine volcano.
Pro Tip: We would suggest you fill up your tank in Whakatane as you are about to drive around the East Cape, a famously remote, non commercialised area of NZ, so the chances of finding an open gas station are slim to none.
Once you've filled up your tank and stocked up on your favourite road trip snacks, it's time to head to the East Cape. On the road you will quickly come to see that the East Cape hasn't changed much in the last few decades. This uninterrupted coastline is full of secluded hidden bays, surf beaches, waterfalls, lush native bush & settlements rich with cultural heritage. There's a lot to see along the cape including some Famous New Zealand film locations from 'Boy' (2010) in Waihau bay and the Oscar nominated film 'Whale Rider' (2002) in Whangara. Other must see sights include New Zealand's eastern most light house in Te Araroa and the longest concrete wharf in the Southern Hemisphere. The Tolaga Bay Wharf is an astounding 660metres long located only 55km from Gisborne.
Gisborne - Napier: 2 Hours 20 Min / 215KM
Day three starts with the first sunrise of the day in the world. Gisborne, being the eastern most city to the date line it is the first city in the world to greet the sun each morning. Just out of the city on your way to Napier are the Rere Falls, a nice spot to have a swim and a picnic before getting back on the road. Also in the area is the Rere Rock Slide, a 60 metre long natural waterslide of rocks that have been smoothed by the constantly running water of the Wharekopae River. Locals & travellers like to use inflatable mattresses, boogie boards & inner tubes to race down.
Back on the road to Napier, head south into the Hawkes bay region. The Hawkes Bay is one of three major wine producing regions in New Zealand planting 80% of New Zealand's Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah grapes making it a playground for food & wine lovers visiting any of the 72 wineries in the region. Finishing up the road trip in Napier the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand, rich with 1930's architecture, fashion and art.
If you would like to explore New Zealand's North Island in a long weekend, AutoEurope will make it happen! To book, simply speak to our friendly reservations staff on 1300 656 601 or book online on our New Zealand search engine.