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Auckland to New Plymouth (and back) road trip

From majestic volcanoes to mysterious underground caves, this New Zealand road trip is full of wonder and discovery! Your Auckland to New Plymouth road trip takes you through the wonderful Waikato region where some of our best hidden gems await. We’re talking bubbling mud pools, sunset cruises, glow-worm grottos, and Hobbit homes! 

Yep, if you’ve ever dreamed of a campervan holiday in New Zealand, this is one of the best! We’ve packed in all the must-do highlights on this roadie from Auckland to New Plymouth. And there really is no better way to see everything on offer than to rent a travel van. With a Mighty campervan hire, you’re all set for the holiday of a lifetime. No need to book motels, plan where to eat, or worry about check-out times. All you need to do is choose from Mighty’s great range of campervans and you’re all set. Cook your fave meals in your campervan kitchen. Forget about public loos, you’ve got your own on board! Need a nap? No worries, climb into your own comfy bed for a snooze whenever you need to. 

Ready to see what adventures await on this awesome seven-day campervan vacay? Let’s dive in!


7 days


Auckland to New Plymouth (and back)


Best Time of the Year



  • Raglan beach
  • Waitomo Caves
  • Tongariro National Park
  • Polynesian Spa
  • Hobbiton

The Journey


1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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Day 1

Ready to kick off your Auckland to New Plymouth adventure? The first step is to pick up your campervan hire from Mighty’s Auckland branch in Manu Tapu Drive, Mangere.

Before leaving Auckland, take some time to explore the Pōhutukawa Coast. This spectacular driving route is especially pretty during summer when the pōhutukawa trees are showing off their crimson blooms. Take a stroll along Maraetai Beach and treat yourself to a meal at Beach Café Maraetai.

Park up for the night at beautiful Ōmana Regional Park and take in the magical views of Rangitoto and Motuihe Islands.  

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Day 2
Auckland to Raglan

Distance 155km - Driving Time 1 hour and 50 minutes

Today, you’ll be heading to the surfing mecca of Raglan! Need to brush up on your surfing skills? Head to Ngarunui Beach and book a surf lesson. Raglan also has a bustling art scene as well as great spots for lunch and coffee. If you’re keen on a hike, head to Mt Karioi and take Wairake Track to the summit (around 2-3 hours each way). You’ll be rewarded with fabulous views across to Mt Taranaki, the local harbours, and nearby mountains. For a relaxing evening, book a sunset cruise of Raglan Harbour. You’ll learn about the history of the region as you cruise through the Whaingaroa Harbour conservation area.  

Park your campervan up for the night at Raglan Holiday Park. This great campsite is almost entirely surrounded by water making for a beautiful spot to stay!

Day 3
Raglan to Waitomo

Distance 95km - Driving Time 1 hour and 15 minutes

Before you head off on the second day of your New Zealand road trip, enjoy a hearty breakfast at The Shack. You’ve got a nice short drive today, just over an hour to one of New Zealand’s unmissable destinations, Waitomo. 

As you drive across the rolling hills of the Waikato, stop in Te Awamutu to smell the roses. As you pass through Otorohanga – the 'Kiwiana capital of NZ' – take a stroll through the slightly silly Ed Hillary Walkway. At the Otorohanga Kiwi House, you can see New Zealand's national icon in the feather.

Next, it’s on to Waitomo Caves, one of the country's most famous tourist attractions. This underground wonderland was carved from ancient limestone into caverns and passageways filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and other peculiar formations. You can float, climb, wriggle and wander through them on a Legendary Black Water Rafting trip, or take a short walking tour to see galaxies of glow worms and other subterranean highlights.

Park your Mighty Camper at Waitomo Caves TOP 10 Holiday Park, a laid back, leafy park next door to the beaut Huhu Café and King Country Brewery. 

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Day 4
Waitomo to New Plymouth

Distance 170km - Driving Time 2 hours and 40 minutes

Perched on the west coast and backdropped by the snowcapped beauty of Mt Egmont / Taranaki, New Plymouth is a vibrant, picturesque town with loads on offer. 

You won’t have to look too far for great things to do in New Plymouth. Our top recommendations include a visit to Egmont National Park where you can capture a photo of the iconic volcano that dominates the landscape. New Plymouth is well known for its beautiful gardens, including Pukekura Park. This park covers 52 hectares in the middle of the city. Wander through the fernery and display houses, see the water lily lake, and the Kunming Garden. If you’re a keen gardener, you may want to time your visit to coincide with the Taranaki Garden Festival in late October / early November.  

Book yourself in for the night at the New Plymouth TOP 10 Holiday Park. Wake up to views of Mt Egmont / Taranaki, enjoy the heated swimming pool, and relax in the sauna before heading to bed!

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Day 5
New Plymouth to Taupō

Distance 276km - Driving Time 3 hours and 45 minutes

Today, you’ll wave goodbye to one volcano, but hello to three more! Sitting smack-bang in the heart of the North Island, Taupō is famous for its stunning lake and handy proximity to Tongariro National Park. Mt Tongariro is just one of the volcanoes that look over Taupō. Mt Ruapehu (and it's awesome ski fields) and Mt Ngāuruhoe sit alongside. 

Taupō is also well known for its great cycling trails. The Waikato River Trails are divided into five sections. Choose from a gentle track or go for one that’s a bit more rugged and adventurous. If you prefer to spend your day relaxing instead, head straight to Taupō DeBretts Hot Springs for a soak in the soothing geothermal water. 

For a tropical resort experience, book yourself in for the night at Lake Taupō Holiday Resort. Relax by the lagoon pool with a cocktail and watch a movie with dinner from the Lagoon Bar & Grill.

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Day 6
Taupō to Rotorua

Distance 80km - Driving Time 1 hour 10 minutes

As you leave Taupō on your way to Rotorua, plan a stop at the Huka Honey Hive. Treat yourself to some tasty honey (or honey liqueur!), see the bees, and grab a yummy ice cream for the road. 

You'll know you're approaching Rotorua when there's an eggy smell in the air. It’s just one clue that there's something brewing under the earth's thin crust here. Head to Kuirau Park to check out the pools of bubbling mud, wafting steam, and a crater lake. Nearby is Rotorua Museum where you can find out how and why this happens and learn about the region’s fascinating Māori history.

To experience the classic Rotorua combo of crazy geothermal activity and Māori culture, head to either Te Puia or Whakarewarewa Thermal Village. The two neighbouring attractions offer tours, concerts, and short walks around geysers, silica terraces, and steamy pools. 

If this makes you feel like a hot bath, you're in the right place. Rotorua's thermal waters have drawn in travellers for generations. The historic Blue Baths are inexpensive but architecturally fabulous, with geothermally heated freshwater pools. For a therapeutic mineral bath, head to the Polynesian Spa in the Government Gardens. Relax in the private pools and treat yourself to all sorts of pampering, luxurious body treatments. 

Keen to see more of Rotorua? Check out our handy guide to the best free or cheap things to do in Rotorua

Rotorua has plenty of places to park your campervan overnight. The Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park is a popular choice with its huge grounds and on-site hot pools. There are two great camping spots within a 20-minute drive southeast of town – the Blue Lake TOP 10 (great swimming), and Lake Okareka campsites.

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Day 7
Rotorua to Auckland

Distance 227km - Driving Time 2 hours and 44 minutes

Day seven already? Let’s make it really count with a visit to one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations. Yep, we’re talking Hobbits, Halflings, and a Green Dragon! Even if you’ve never seen a single Lord of The Rings or Hobbit movie, a visit to Hobbiton is a must-do. Explore the real Middle-earth where these epic movies were made. You’ll be taken on a fully guided tour around the 12-acre set. See the most famous locations, hear some of the movie magic secrets, and enjoy a tasty beverage inside the world-famous Green Dragon Inn. 

Of course, there’s more to Matamata than just Middle-earth. Spend some time looking through the main street shops, or head to Wairere Falls – the biggest in the North Island.  

The last stop on your seven-day road trip is to drop off your campervan at Mighty in Auckland. While you’re there, have a chat with the friendly team about planning your next New Zealand road trip itinerary – there are plenty more to be had!


Time to book your own Auckland to New Plymouth adventure?

Feeling inspired to try our Auckland to New Plymouth road trip? Don’t put it off any longer! Book your Mighty campervan online today and get ready to hit the road. A campervan holiday in New Zealand gives you the opportunity to travel in total comfort at your own pace. Take those interesting little diversions that you’d normally drive past, discover hidden gems, and enjoy the holiday of a lifetime. 

For more ideas and inspiration for your next New Zealand road trip, check out more of our helpful blogs and guides: