GO HERE TO Start the ultimate North Island roadtrip
WITH ITS BURGEONING restaurant and arts scenes, Auckland is New Zealand’s up-and-coming creative hub. But don’t let your North Island adventure end there: consider the city as your launchpad for a roadtrip around the Coromandel
Peninsula and the Bay of Plenty. If you only have one night to stay in the big smoke before you hit the road, spend it at the Grand
Mercure Auckland, located a skip away from the harbour and the hip Britomart area. 8 Customs St East, Auckland, NZ. +64 9377 8920. www.mercure.com.
No car? No problem. Book a spot on an Intercity bus to take you across the Coromandel Peninsula all the way to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, known for its excellent beaches. If you’re driving, follow the Pacific Coast Highway – a scenic route that will take you off the beaten path into Hahei, a coastal town popular with
Auckland holidaymakers. www.intercity.co.nz.
If you only visit one beach in the Coromandel, make it the
Hot Water Beach, which boasts an underground river that flows up to the surface, carrying hot mineral waters. Bring a shovel at low tide and dig yourself a natural spring bath while you look out to the Pacific Ocean. Book yourself into a kayak tour of Cathedral Cove, a beach vibrant with protected marine wildlife and home to the most Instagrammed rock arch in the North Island. Head inland towards the
Karangahake Gorge, part of the Hauraki Rail Trail, where you can experience the stunning Jurassic
Park- like native vegetation and the remnants of a gold mining site. Grab a meal at the Falls Retreat, a cosy country bistro set in the middle of lush woodland. Stay at the fully equipped adjoining cottages for a bush getaway just minutes away from the waterfalls. 25 Waitawheta Rd, Waihi, NZ. +64 7863 8770. www.fallsretreat.co.nz. Experience a different kind of nightlife in Tauranga on a glowworm tour with Wairamarino Kayak Tours. The trip kicks off with some wine and cheese, then involves rowing towards a narrow canyon. When it’s dark, you’ll see the blue-green glimmer of the glowworms light up the bush. It’s a magical experience, and when the stars come out, it’s difficult to see when the bugs stop and the stars begin. 36 Taniwha Pl, Tauranga, NZ. +64 7576 4233. www. glowwormkayaking.com.
Kiwis love their holiday homes, locally known as ‘baches’. For a taste of the Kiwi bach life, the
Papamoa Beach Resort is a great holiday park with beach shacks at various price points. 535 Papamoa Beach Rd, Papamoa, NZ. +64 7572 0816. www.papamoabeach.co.nz.
Get there: Air New Zealand
flies daily to Auckland from Melbourne, with some flights operated by widebody Boeing 777 or 787 Dreamliner aircraft. These services feature Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins. You won’t get bored, with hundreds of hours of entertainment available on demand, including Shortland Street, rugby and of course, The
Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. www.airnewzealand.com.au.