6 Romantic New Zealand Destinations | Apollo Campervans NZ
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Northland & Bay of Islands

Located at the northern tip of New Zealand's North Island, Northland is a land of contrasts, with ancient kauri forests, pristine beaches, and charming coastal towns. This region is not only the birthplace of the nation, with significant historical sites like the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, but it also boasts some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the country, including the famous Bay of Islands.

Northland's climate, known for being subtropical, means warm, humid summers and mild winters, making it a perfect destination year-round. The Northland weather encourages outdoor activities and exploration, whether you're soaking up the sun on the golden sands of Paihia, sailing through the turquoise waters of the Bay of Islands, or driving up to the iconic lighthouse at Cape Reinga.

Travelling by campervan offers the freedom to explore Northland's diverse attractions at your own pace. From the historic charm of Kerikeri to the Tutukaka Coast, known for its world-class diving spots, there’s something for everyone. Take your pick of great Northland holiday parks and campgrounds along the way, ensuring comfort and convenience as you discover the stunning landscapes of this captivating region. Whether you’re interested in Māori culture, keen on adventure sports, or simply in need of a peaceful retreat amidst stunning natural beauty, Northland provides an unforgettable backdrop for a memorable campervan journey.

 

Why explore Northland & Bay of Islands by campervan

Exploring Northland by campervan is the ideal way to truly connect with the region's abundant natural beauty and rich history. With the freedom of the open road, you can navigate the diverse landscapes at your leisure. Start your day with a sunrise at Paihia, have lunch in an ancient kauri forest, and end with a sunset at Ninety Mile Beach. 

The ability to spontaneously choose your destinations each day, without the need to stick to a fixed itinerary or check-in times, means you can immerse yourself fully in whatever captures your interest. Travelling by campervan not only offers all the comforts of home, including your kitchen and bed but also supports a self-sufficient way to travel. This is a big plus in Northland, where you might want to spend several days exploring more remote areas. Plus, having your own facilities means you're never too far from a hot meal or a comfortable night's sleep, no matter where your adventures in Northland take you.

 

Things to do in Northland & Bay of Islands

You certainly won’t be short of things to do in Northland and the Bay of Islands. This popular region is bursting with activities that cater to every interest and age group. Discover Kerikeri’s historic sites, including the oldest stone building in New Zealand. Relax in the laidback setting of Russell, a charming town with a rich history. Adventure seekers can enjoy kayaking along the coast or exploring the underwater world at Poor Knights Islands. For a more leisurely pace, indulge in wine tasting at local vineyards or simply unwind on the pristine beaches of the Bay of Islands. Every corner of Northland promises memorable experiences for all.

Heather Schiller
/ Categories: NZ blog

6 Most Romantic Destinations in New Zealand.

Your guide to the ultimate romantic road trip

Marfells Beach, New Zealand

Some of the best memories are made on holidays.  If you are looking to get away from it all and reconnect with your significant other, a romantic road trip campervanning around New Zealand, driving through luscious green rolling hills, exploring hidden beaches, incredible wineries and taking in the jaw dropping views from the coast is exactly what you are looking for.

Campervan holidays around New Zealand is the best way to explore the most of this incredible destination and with Apollo locations in both Christchurch and Auckland you can fly into one location and out the other allowing you make the most of your New Zealand Trip itinerary.  New Zealand is also a free camping nation which means you can pretty much park anywhere (unless signed otherwise) making for an affordable road trip in New Zealand.

So, throw your bags in the campervan, turn up the tunes and get set for an unforgettable romantic holiday as we showcase the 6 Most Romantic Destinations in New Zealand to add to your ultimate NZ road trip!

AUCKLAND

A great place to pick up your motorhome and start your journey, Auckland has everything on offer for a romantic getaway.  Enjoy a wide range of cuisine in the city’s diverse cafes and restaurants, explore trendy suburbs like Ponsonby delving through vintage clothing boutiques, take a romantic stroll through the Parnell Rose gardens and drive along the coastal road from the CBD to Mission Bay where you can brunch at seaside cafes, relax on gorgeous beaches, paddleboard or kayak on the calm waters, explore the parks and take a stroll along the paved beach boardwalk.

Waiheke Island is an incredibly romantic spot for couples and only a short car ferry away from Auckland.  Visit the Waiheke Community Art Gallery and enjoy a romantic lunch and wine tasting at cellar doors in a gorgeous vineyard with views of rolling hills and the ocean.  Our top picks are MudbrickStony Ridge and Cable Bay.

BAY OF ISLANDS

The Bay of Islands is one of the most exquisite romantic locations in New Zealand.  A 3.5-hour drive from Auckland via scenic winding roads, Bay of Islands is world away from hustle of the city.  Encompassing 144 islands and including the popular boutique towns of Opua, PaihiaRussell and Kerikeri, here you can spend your days together exploring seaside walking tracks, watching the sun set from the many secluded beaches, snorkeling or kayaking in the crystal-clear waters.

For an extra special romantic adventure, charter a yacht for just the two of you sailing along the calm and pristine waters, pulling up at your own private beach for the afternoon, enjoying a picnic lunch and each other’s company.

COROMANDEL PENINSULA

Think pristine beaches, majestic waterfalls, trendy cafes and a friendly relaxed vibe, you can easily spend a few quality days together exploring the beauty of the Coromandel Peninsula, a 2.5 km drive from Auckland.   Walk hand in hand from the north end of the Hahei Beach as it takes you to Cathedral Cove, where a naturally formed, cathedral-like tunnel separates two secluded white sand beaches.  Hire a kayak and paddle the crystal-clear waters, just offshore you will find a protected marine reserve where you can spot seals, dolphins and colourful fish.  On the southern end you will find Hot Water Beach  where you can dig your own hot pool for 2 in the sand and relax in the bubbling thermal spring waters metres away from the Pacific Ocean – awesome!

Explore the Pinnacles on foot via the spectacular Pinnacles Track which will see you climbing through ruggedly beautiful mountain ranges on an overnight adventure giving you another aspect of the Coromandel to enjoy.  Climb to the summit early in the morning taking in the awe inspiring 360-degree views of the Coromandel as the sun rises.

QUEENSTOWN

A tourist hotspot during the ski season in winter, Queenstown, located 6 hours south of Christchurch, promotes itself as the adventure capital of the world, with an abundance of daredevil sports on offer but there is so much more to experience with gorgeous landscapes, calm blue waters and numerous walking trails to explore.

During the warmer months explore the scenic Gibbston Valley, also known as the ‘Valley of Vines’ where you can enjoy some of the world’s best Pinot Noir at over 75 boutique wineries along with delicious cheese which are a great addition to your picnic basket.  Driving to the top of the Remarkables and taking the 40-minute hike up to the picturesque snow-fed crystal-clear Lake Alta is also a well worth the trip during summer.  Enjoy a romantic picnic by the lake nestled amongst the rugged backdrop of the Remarkables Mountain range and if you are game, a refreshing dip in the icy green waters.

MILFORD SOUND

Located on the west coast of the South Island, a 4-hour drive from Queenstown, Milford Sound with its snow-capped peaks, lush green rainforests and waterfalls that dissolve into mist offers an experience that is guaranteed to leave you both lost for words and spell bound.  If you both enjoy hiking, the Milford Track, a 53 kilometre journey that begins at the head of Lake Te Anau and leads you across suspension bridges, board walks, a mountain pass to feel the misty breath of Sutherland Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand, will be a highlight.

Best travelled in the warmer months, the journey to Milford Sound is equally spectacular as you journey into the heart of the Fiordland National Park.  As you pass through the Homer Tunnel and into the Cleddau Valley you will find one of the most impressive photo spots along the Milford Road – The Chasm – a series of gushing waterfalls just a short walk from the road.

CHRISTCHURCH

The vibrant and creative Christchurch city is a great inclusion as the last leg of your journey so you can drop off your motorhome and explore the city by foot, double-decker bus or tram.  Take in the incredible street art, enjoy a bite to eat at eclectic cafes like The Caffeine Laboratory, relax in hot pools and spend a relaxing afternoon walking through the beautiful Christchurch Botanic Gardens.  Punting along the picturesque Avon River on handcrafted flat-bottomed boats is an incredibly romantic experience in any season and an enjoyable and relaxing way to enjoy Christchurch together from a different perspective.

Visit our itineraries for Christchurch to Auckland travel routes and further travel inspiration.

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Popular Northland & Bay of Islands road trips & itineraries

Northland and the Bay of Islands, situated at the northern tip of New Zealand's North Island, are ideal for campervan explorations rich in history, natural beauty, and adventure. With numerous scenic routes that lead to secluded bays and vibrant coastal towns, the journey itself becomes as captivating as the destinations. Well-equipped campgrounds along the way make it easy to park up and soak in the scenery or enjoy starlit nights away from hustle and bustle.

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Great savings on your New Zealand road trip

Apollo offers a fantastic selection of deals and specials for those looking to explore New Zealand by campervan. From hot deals and last-minute discounts to long-term hire benefits, you’re sure to find a deal designed to help you make the most of your campervan adventure.

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Apollo Campervan branches

Auckland

Departing from Apollo Auckland, you’re perfectly positioned for a half-day drive to Northland & the Bay of Islands. This route ensures a seamless blend of scenic beauty and local culture, culminating in the stunning landscapes of Northland.

Christchurch

The drive from Apollo Christchurch to Northland & the Bay of Islands sets you up for a scenic multi-day journey across the South Island, including the picturesque ferry crossing at the Cook Strait, and into the North Island. 

Queenstown

Keen to make the most of your road trip and explore as much of New Zealand as possible? Book your camper with our Queenstown branch and take your time heading northward over an epic 10-14 days taking in some of the great southern highlights along the way. 

Auckland City Skyline

Auckland

New Zealand’s multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture.

 

Christchurch City, New Zealand

Christchurch

 One of the world’s most unique destinations.

 

Queenstown

Breathtaking scenery and adrenaline-pumping adventure activities.

 

Helpful tips for visiting Northland & the Bay of Islands

 

Climate and seasons in Northland & the Bay of Islands

Northland and the Bay of Islands are renowned for their mild, subtropical climate, making them inviting destinations throughout the year. The warm Northland weather is perfect for enjoying the region's stunning coastal areas and rich cultural heritage.

  • Summer (December to February) in Northland are warm and humid, with temperatures usually ranging from 22°C to 26°C. This season is ideal for exploring the beautiful beaches, engaging in water sports, or simply enjoying the vibrant outdoor lifestyle with alfresco dining along the waterfront. Summer is also a popular time for tourists, so expect a lively atmosphere, especially in beach towns.

  • Autumn (March to May) sees slightly cooler temperatures and less humidity, making it a perfect time for hiking and outdoor activities without the intense heat of summer. The scenery remains lush, and the less crowded attractions allow for a more relaxed exploration of the region.

  • Winter (June to August) brings cooler weather, with daytime temperatures typically between 15°C and 18°C. The cooler days are ideal for visiting historical sites and museums or enjoying some of Northland’s renowned cultural festivals. Winter in Northland is generally mild, allowing for year-round outdoor activities.

  • Spring (September to November) revitalises the region with early blooms and warmer weather, gradually heating up towards summer. This is an excellent time to witness the vibrant flora and fauna as the landscapes burst into life, making it ideal for photography and nature walks.

 

 

 

What to pack?

Preparing for your campervan road trip in Northland and the Bay of Islands means packing smartly to fully enjoy the region's mild, subtropical climate and rich outdoor and cultural offerings. From sunbathing on pristine beaches to exploring historic sites and sailing in the bay, here’s what to bring:

  • Outdoor gear: The diverse environments, from the sandy beaches of the Bay of Islands to the forested walks of Cape Reinga, call for versatile outdoor apparel. Opt for lightweight, breathable clothing that will keep you comfortable during the warm days, and don’t forget a few layers for cooler evenings — perfect for cosy nights under the stars. Durable walking shoes are essential, whether you're planning to trek through the forests or stroll around the historic towns.

  • Campervan add-ons: Enhancing your campervan setup can significantly improve your travel experience. Consider packing a portable barbecue for enjoyable seaside grills. You may also like to hire extra camping chairs and a table when you book your Apollo campervan to create a comfortable outdoor living space wherever you park. These additions are perfect for relaxing after a day of adventure or for enjoying a meal with a view.

  • Sun protection: The Northland and Bay of Islands region enjoy plenty of sunshine, making thorough sun protection crucial. Include a high-SPF sunscreen, UV-protection sunglasses, and a broad-brimmed hat in your packing list. This will ensure you can safely indulge in the outdoor activities that the region is famous for, from kayaking across clear waters to lounging on the beach.

For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip.

 

 

Attractions and day trips in Northland

 

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a must-visit for anyone interested in New Zealand's history. As the site of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, it offers a deep dive into the nation's past through engaging exhibits, guided tours, and cultural performances. The beautifully maintained grounds overlooking the Bay of Islands also provide a peaceful setting to reflect on New Zealand's foundational document.

Paihia

Paihia is the vibrant heart of the Bay of Islands, known for its lively waterfront filled with cafes, shops, and galleries. It's the perfect base for exploring the surrounding islands by ferry or enjoying water sports like kayaking and parasailing. The town's relaxed atmosphere and scenic beauty make it a favourite spot for both locals and tourists.

Russell

Once known as a rowdy 19th-century whaling port, Russell has transformed into a charming seaside town. It's rich with historic buildings like New Zealand’s oldest church, and its quaint streets, waterfront promenades, and excellent restaurants offer a picturesque step back in time.

Cape Reinga

At the northern tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga offers breathtaking views where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. This spiritually significant site for Māori is accessible via a scenic drive, with opportunities to see the iconic lighthouse and the famous pohutukawa tree that marks the 'leaping-off' point of spirits into the afterlife.

Ninety Mile Beach

Despite its name, Ninety Mile Beach is actually about 55 miles long and serves as one of the country’s most stunning natural highways. It’s perfect for a day of adventure, offering activities like sandboarding down massive dunes or just enjoying a leisurely drive along its vast, sandy stretch.

Kerikeri

Kerikeri is known for its fertile soils and beautiful orchards, but it's also rich in history. Highlights include the Stone Store and Kemp House, the oldest stone and wood buildings in New Zealand. The town also hosts vibrant markets and has a thriving arts scene, making it a delightful destination for culture and cuisine.

Mangonui

Mangonui is primarily known for its historic waterfront lined with heritage buildings that now house charming cafes and shops. This small fishing village is famous for its fish and chips, offering fresh seafood with a view. It’s an ideal spot for a relaxed day soaking up local flavours and sea breezes.

Whangarei

Whangarei, the northernmost city in New Zealand, offers a mix of cultural and natural attractions, including the acclaimed Whangarei Falls and the Town Basin marina filled with galleries and cafes. It's a great starting point for trips to the nearby beaches and lush native forests.

Tutukaka

Known as the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands, Tutukaka offers some of New Zealand’s best diving and snorkelling experiences. The marine reserve's clear waters are teeming with colourful sea life and are perfect for underwater adventures. Above water, Tutukaka’s coast is dotted with secluded bays and pristine beaches to explore.

 

Where to stay in Northland & The Bay of Islands with a campervan

When it comes to finding the perfect spot to park and rest in Northland & the Bay of Islands, there's no shortage of picturesque, comfy campgrounds. Here are a few worth checking out:

Northland

Bay of Islands

 

 

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