You guys will know how much I want to filling my summer with adventures and day trips. My friend Jana, only has a few weekends left in the North Islands before she starts her South Island travels before heading back to Germany in January, so we really wanted to fit in a road trip together to see the very north of New Zealand.
We decided to hire a Camper Van with Wicked Campers which was great, it had everything we needed and the bed was relatively comfortable. I was a little bit skeptical when Jana came and picked me up from work because they are known for their out-there paint work on the side of their vans, but luckily we were chilling with the beetles all weekend!
Day One: (212kms, 2:45 driving hours)
We left Auckland around 5:30/6pm after work and headed North. We originally wanted towards to Paihia and camp there for the night, but as we got closer to the Bay of Islands it was getting pretty late, so we stopped off at freedom camp in Kawakawa, only a short drive away from Paihia. I wouldn’t stay at this freedom camp again purely because I felt unsafe, it’s basically a carpark at the back of the Hunderwasser toilets, there were motorbikes driving past every 5 minutes and as two girls alone in a campervan.. it probably wasn’t the best option for a place to camp for the night. But as a big group of people, I can imagine it feeling like a much better place to stay. There are no costs to stay the night and a public toilet a short walk away.
Day Two: (361km, 5 driving hours)
We got up relative early on the Saturday because the weather was amazing and we wanted to see/do as much as we could because the weather for Sunday didn’t look too appetising. Our first top was Paihaia, a small beachside town in the Bay of Islands- which was beautiful, the sun was still rising as we arrived so we stop to watch the sunrise for a little while whilst walking along the beach. Next stop; Waitangi Treaty Grounds. We didn’t have too much time at each place because we really wanted to get up to Cape Reinga around lunch time. The treaty grounds tour would of taken a couple of hours and would of cost $50, so we decided to skip this and head towards the rainbow falls in Kerikeri. This is defiantly somewhere you should stop if your driving past the Bay of Islands, the waterfall is beautiful, and there is a short bush walk to get to the waterfall so it was nice to get out of the van and walk around, and it didn’t take up too much time either.
After stopping at the waterfalls we decided to head straight to Cape Reinga. The state highway 10 takes you along the coast towards doubtless bay, before merging with the state highway 1, both are beautiful drivers through the hills of the North Island. Be careful driving these roads as a few of the turns are a bit risky if your not paying attention, we arrived at Cape Reinga just after 1pm. Cape Reinga is possibly one of the prettiest places I have ever been too and is so worth the 6 hour drive from Auckkand. After we spent time walking to the lighthouse and around the tracks that run parallel to the ocean, we decided to head to the giant sand dunes, only a short drive from Cape Reinga. It was windy so sand got EVERYWHERE!! But still fun! I think there are a few camp sites towards Cape Reinga, but you are pretty deserted and there are no big towns near by, so we decided to head towards Shipwreck Bay, which is the start of 90 mile beach, and pay for a an non-powered site for the night. We stayed at the Ahipara Holiday Park, which cost $36 for the night, with access to the cleanest campsite toilets/showers I have ever seen, the kitchen, bbq area and the main room where rugby was playing on the TV when we arrived! – I would stay here again!
Day Three: (326kms, 4 hours 30 minutes driving time)
The weather on the Sunday was pretty dire to be honest with you, it had rained pretty much all night so once we had woken up and got dressed we decided to head to Whangeri as there are a few things you can do inside e.g museums, so it didn’t matter if the weather was pretty poor. However about 1 hour into the drive the weather cleared and we had another stunner of a day. We stopped off at Whangeri falls- which were alot prettier than I thought they would be and met up with an old work friend for lunch whilst Jana visited the kiwi museum. We had lunch along the harbour which was a lovely setting for a summer lunch. After lunch we hit the road again for a short while to visit Ruakaka. Theres not a great deal to do in the town centre, but the beach was beautiful and I would probably drive the 2 hours on a summers day from Auckland to spend the day there. We dropped the camper back off in Auckland at around 6pm on Sunday had a no problems dropping if off. I loved this road trip and its one to do if you only have weekends free if you are working 9-5 Monday-Friday because you can fit so much in a short space of time!
Follow my journey here