Auckland to Coromandel Town road trip | Apollo NZ
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Wellington and the Wairarapa

Looking for great cafes, unique wildlife encounters, and boutique shopping? You’ll find it all and more in the Wellington and Wairarapa region. Wellington, the nation's capital, buzzes with an infectious energy, boasting an arts scene as vibrant as its famed coffee culture. Enjoy a relaxing breakfast overlooking Wellington’s beautiful harbour. Spend an afternoon meeting the wildlife at Wellington Zoo. And if you’re a foodie, you’ll love sampling the tasty offerings at Wellington’s renowned cafes and eateries. 

Just a short drive away, the Wairarapa region unfolds with its charming townships, renowned wineries, and lush rural landscapes. Once you’ve ticked off your list of things to do in Wellington, hit the road and start exploring everything on offer in the Wairarapa. We’re talking wineries, cycle trails, artisan producers, and spectacular coastlines boasting unbeatable stargazing.  

No matter what time of year you’re planning your campervan holiday in New Zealand, Wellington and Wairarapa stand out as year-round destinations. In summer, Wellington's waterfront comes alive, perfect for sun-drenched strolls and alfresco dining, while the Wairarapa's golden beaches beckon for lazy afternoons and vibrant sunsets. Autumn transforms the landscape into a tapestry of reds and golds; it's the best time to meander through the Wairarapa's vineyards, savouring the region's renowned pinot noir amidst the fall foliage.

 

Why explore Wellington & Wairarapa by Campervan

There’s no better way to discover Wellington and Wairarapa than with an Apollo campervan. Be as spontaneous or structured as you like. Take your time, travel at your own pace, and truly immerse yourself in everything on offer in this special region. With your own kitchen, bed, and bathroom onboard, travel by Apollo campervan is all about freedom and comfort. A road trip through Wellington and the Wairarapa in a campervan is all about the freedom to go where you want when you want. With a campervan, your plans are as flexible as your mood, allowing you to soak up moments that you'd miss if you were rushing to meet hotel or tour schedules.

Travelling by campervan isn't just about getting from A to B; it's about the experiences along the way. It's about impromptu picnics at breathtaking overlooks, morning coffees with views that beat any café, and nights spent under a blanket of stars. Fancy spending an extra day exploring a hidden gem you've stumbled upon? Go for it. Every turn in the road offers new possibilities, and with a campervan, you're in the driver's seat!

A campervan holiday in New Zealand, especially through areas like Wellington and the Wairarapa, is a journey into the heart of what makes this part of the world so special. And it's all yours to explore!

 

Things to do in Wellington & Wairarapa

Wellington and the Wairarapa are bursting at the seams with activities and sights, catering to every taste and interest. If you’re enjoying a family holiday, you’ll find plenty of great family-friendly things to do in Wellington that promise fun for all ages. And if you’re a foodie looking for a taste of something new, you’ll find no shortage of must-try food in Wellington. Venture into the Wairarapa, and you'll find a peaceful escape with wine tours, scenic hikes, and charming country towns waiting to be explored. 

Top 15 things to do in Wellington Top 15 things to do in Wellington

Top 15 things to do in Wellington

In this helpful guide, we share 15 of the must-do Wellington activities worth adding to your travel itinerary.  But first …

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Popular Wellington & Wairarapa road trips & itineraries

Positioned at the southern end of New Zealand's North Island, Wellington and the Wairarapa region are perfectly placed for unforgettable road trips. Starting from Wellington, you can easily navigate your way through the scenic routes that lead to the Wairarapa, where vineyards, coastlines, and quaint towns await. Whether you're coming from the North Island's urban centres or making the crossing from the South Island, these regions offer fantastic campervan road trip experiences with a variety of itineraries to suit every traveller’s taste. Here are a few worth checking out:

Auckland to Coromandel Town road trip
Alyssa Tresider
/ Categories: NZ Itineraries

Auckland to Coromandel Town road trip.

Keen to plan a fun North Island road trip that packs plenty of punch into a short timeframe? The road trip from Auckland to Coromandel Town ticks all the boxes! The chilled out township of Coromandel is just three hours drive from Auckland, so you can hit the road in the morning, take your time driving, and still have loads of time to explore once you get there. Even better, break up your journey with a stop in Thames along the way. To help you get started, we’ve put together this awesome three-day New Zealand travel itinerary taking you from Auckland to Coromandel. With everything from ziplining to historic walks, It’s the perfect North Island road trip for a long weekend adventure. 

 

Travel: 3 days

Route: Auckland loop

Best time of the year: Anytime

Highlights: 

  • Pohutukawa Coast scenic drive

  • Historic Thames 

  • Driving Creek Railway journey

  • New Chums Beach

  • Karangahake Gorge 

 

Day 1: Auckland to Thames

Distance: 114 km (1 hour, 30 mins). Scenic option: 128 km (2 hours)

Your adventure begins at Apollo's Auckland branch, where you'll pick up your pre-booked campervan, primed for three days of exploration and adventure. 

Today, you’ll be driving to Thames, with two route options. The direct route via SH1 offers a straightforward 1.5-hour drive without many scenic distractions – perfect if you’re eager to dive straight into your activities. Alternatively, the scenic route through Whitford and along SH 25, known as the Pōhutukawa Coast route, is especially rewarding. This driving route is adorned with beautiful pōhutukawa trees, which are strikingly vibrant during the summer months when in full bloom. It's a slightly longer drive but well worth the extra time for the breathtaking coastal views it offers. 

If you take the scenic route, consider a scenic stop at Maraetai to enjoy a quintessentially Kiwi lunch of fish and chips on the beach, soaking up the coastal views. If your travels align with a Sunday, don’t miss the Clevedon Village Farmers Market. It's an ideal spot to gather fresh, local ingredients to enjoy during your road trip. Another noteworthy detour along this drive is the Miranda Bird Sanctuary, where you can observe flocks of shorebirds that grace the coastline. To catch these avian visitors in their most active states, plan your visit around two hours either side of high tide.

Once you arrive in Thames, take time to explore its quaint town centre. The northern end, still referred to as Grahamstown, features a collection of cafés and boutique shops set against a charming colonial backdrop. A visit to the local museum is a good option if you’re keen to learn more about the area’s rich mining history. 

For your first night’s stay, park up and relax at Dickson Holiday Park. Surrounded by bush and birdsong, it’s the ideal spot to unwind and plan your next day’s adventures. 

Image: Ben Gamlin

 

Day 2: Thames to Coromandel Town

Distance: 52 km

Travel time: 1 hour

Enjoy a slow start to the day – perhaps a hot cooked breakfast and quiet coffee before you hit the road. It’s just a short one-hour drive to Coromandel Town, so take your time and soak in the scenery along the way. 

As you arrive in Coromandel Town, you'll step into a world where the rich tapestry of Māori heritage intertwines with the remnants of the 1800s gold mining era. It offers a beautifully preserved glimpse into New Zealand's historical past. Today, this quaint town serves as a sanctuary for artists and craftspeople, drawn here by the stunning natural beauty and the peaceful, inspiring atmosphere. The town's vibrant arts scene and the picturesque environment make it a perfect place for creativity and relaxation.

Here are some of the must-do activities in Coromandel Town worth adding to your travel itinerary:

  • Driving Creek Railway Tours: Experience New Zealand's only narrow-gauge mountain railway. This exceptional engineering feat carries you through a recovering native forest and up to the Eyefull Tower, offering expansive panoramic views that are truly a sight to behold. The railway's unique zigzagging and spiralling track, designed and built by potter Barry Brickell, turns this ride into a thrilling adventure through history and nature.

  • Explore local art and shops: Dedicate some time to meander through Coromandel Town’s local art galleries and boutique shops. With a community of artists celebrated for their contributions to pottery, painting, and other crafts, the town is a hub for anyone interested in the arts. Each gallery and shop offers unique pieces, many of which are inspired by the surrounding natural beauty and local culture, making them perfect keepsakes or gifts.

  • The Waterworks: Venture into an eco-friendly amusement park where creativity and conservation go hand in hand. The Waterworks features ingenious water-powered contraptions, interactive exhibits, and beautifully crafted gardens. It’s an ideal spot for an engaging, fun-filled day out, especially for those who enjoy the playful side of engineering and sustainability.

  • Go ziplining: Add a dose of adrenaline to your day by ziplining through the majestic native forest. This activity not only provides a rush of excitement but also a unique vantage point to appreciate the dense greenery and fauna of the Coromandel Peninsula. It’s an exhilarating way to experience the area’s natural beauty and an adventure that will leave you with lasting memories.

  • Historical walks and heritage sites: For those interested in history, several heritage walks around Coromandel Town highlight significant historical sites, including old mines and historical buildings. These walks provide insights into the town's past as a booming gold mining centre, allowing visitors to connect with the stories that shaped this region.

  • Waiau Falls and Kauri Grove: For a nature-filled excursion, take a short trip to Waiau Falls and Kauri Grove. The falls are a breathtaking sight, tumbling into a clear pool that invites a refreshing dip. Nearby, the Kauri Grove is a remarkable collection of ancient Kauri trees, some of New Zealand's most majestic and historically significant native trees. This area offers a serene walking trail that allows you to appreciate the grandeur of these giants up close. 

  • New Chums Beach:  Finish your day with a visit to the stunning New Chums Beach, known for its untouched, pristine beauty. Accessible only by a walking track that crosses a stream and winds through native bush, this secluded beach offers golden sands and clear blue waters—perfect for a relaxing swim or just to lounge and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.

For your stay tonight, the Coromandel TOP 10 Holiday Park is a great spot to park up, chill out, and plan your next day’s adventures.

Image: Toursim New Zealand

 

Day 3: Coromandel Town to Auckland

Distance: 169 km

Travel time: 2 hours, 30 mins

Today marks the end of your three-day New Zealand road trip, but there's ample opportunity for adventure as you head back to Auckland. 

As you head out of Coromandel, consider a slight detour to Karangahake Gorge, a spectacular natural and historical site located well worth exploring. The gorge itself is renowned for its scenic beauty, marked by the rushing waters of the Ohinemuri River cutting through steep rock cliffs. The area is also rich in gold mining history, evident in the old tunnels and railway lines that you can explore via well-maintained walking tracks. Don't miss the Windows Walk, which takes you through old mining tunnels with windows cut out to overlook the gorge – it’s an unforgettable experience. A quick tip, pack a torch for this visit – it will come in handy if you want to venture into some of the longer tunnels.

If you're a fan of antique shopping, be sure to stop in the township of Paeroa. Known as the antique capital of New Zealand, Paeroa's main street is lined with eclectic second-hand and antique stores brimming with treasures waiting to be discovered. While you’re there, take a moment to snap a photo with the iconic giant Lemon & Paeroa bottle, celebrating the home of New Zealand's beloved L&P drink.

Another cool stop on the way home is the Ngatea Water Gardens, an enchanting escape that offers a whimsical and relaxing garden experience. These expansive gardens feature quirky sculptures, water lilies, lotus flowers, and playful water features. There’s even a Can Museum featuring 10,000 different cans from all over the world. It’s a perfect spot to stretch your legs and see something just a little different! 

As you arrive back in the City of Sails, the last item on your travel itinerary is to return to Apollo’s Auckland branch to drop off your campervan. 

Ready for your next adventure? Explore more of our great New Zealand travel itineraries to plan your next great road trip across this stunning country.

READ MORE: 15 family friendly things to do in Auckland.

 

Is the Coromandel calling you?

From beautiful beaches to deep dark tunnels, this fun-filled 3-day New Zealand North Island road trip has it all. Ready to get started? Take the first step and book your Apollo campervan online today. 
Follow our easy itinerary or check out our travel blogs for more great ideas on what to see and do in New Zealand.

 

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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. 
 

Apollo Campervan branches

Christchurch

The drive from Apollo Christchurch to Wellington takes you along some of the South Island’s most scenic coastline. There’s a fair bit to see and do along the way, so be sure to take your time and perhaps plan an overnight stay in Kaikoura. This journey includes crossing the Cook Strait by ferry.

Queenstown

Keen to make the most of your road trip and explore more of the South Island? Book your camper with our Queenstown branch and spend a few days heading northward, including crossing the Cook Strait by ferry. You may even like to plan an epic road trip and continue on to Auckland. You can arrange to drop off your camper at any of our three branches. 

Auckland

The North Island is packed full of sights and experiences, so why not tick off a few with a road trip from Apollo Auckland to Wellington? The beauty of a campervan trip is that you can stop when you need to, change your route, or take a detour if you spot a signpost pointing to something you’d like to see. 

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 Wellington & Wairarapa

 

Climate and seasons in Wellington & The Wairarapa

Wellington and the Wairarapa showcase New Zealand's dynamic climate, offering a spectrum of seasonal experiences.

Wellington, known for as the ‘windy city’, presents a temperate maritime climate.

  • Summers (December to February) are pleasant with temperatures averaging around 19°C to 21°C, ideal for beach visits and outdoor cafes.
  • Autumn (March to May) brings cooler, calm days, perfect for exploring the city's vibrant arts scene.
  • Winter (June to August) sees temperatures drop to 6°C – 12°C, a time when the region's cultural events come to the forefront.
  • Spring (September to November) revitalises the city with mild temperatures and blooming gardens.

The Wairarapa, while sharing Wellington's temperate traits, often enjoys more pronounced seasonal contrasts, especially in the more rural areas. Expect crisp, frosty mornings in winter, transitioning to warm, dry summers ideal for vineyard tours. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, though June and July can be wetter, making the lush landscapes even more vivid.

 

 

 

 

What to pack

An adventure through Wellington and the Wairarapa in your campervan calls for thoughtful packing. Given the varied climates and the awesome variety of outdoor activities available, ensuring you have the right gear can make all the difference. From essential outdoor apparel to campervan must-haves and sun protection, here's what you should consider packing.

  • Outdoor gear: The great outdoors of Wellington and the Wairarapa invite exploration, so outdoor gear is important. Pack layers to adapt to the changing weather – think breathable fabrics for warm days and insulated, waterproof options for cooler, wetter conditions. Sturdy walking shoes are a must for those planning to tread the numerous trails or wander the vibrant city streets.
  • Campervan add-ons: To make the most of your campervan experience, consider packing some add-ons. A portable barbecue can elevate your dining under the stars, while extra camping chairs and a table (these can be added to your campervan hire) can make your outdoor setup more comfortable.
  • Sun protection: New Zealand's sun can be surprisingly intense, so ample sun protection is essential. A broad-spectrum sunscreen, UV-protected sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat should be on your packing list. For more helpful ideas, check out our guide to what to pack for your campervan road trip

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

 

Nearby attractions and day trips from Wellington

Paekakariki & The Escarpment Track

Just a short drive from Wellington, Paekakariki serves as the gateway to The Escarpment Track, one of the region's most exhilarating walks. This trail offers stunning views of the Kāpiti Coast and the Tasman Sea, making it a favourite among hikers. The track's challenging stair sections and swing bridges add to the adventure, providing a rewarding experience with panoramic vistas at every turn.

Kāpiti Coast & Kāpiti Island

The Kāpiti Coast, with its beautiful beaches and quaint towns, is perfect for a leisurely day trip. For a unique adventure, take a boat to Kāpiti Island, a nature reserve that's home to some of New Zealand's most rare and endangered birds. The island's rich history and conservation efforts, combined with its natural beauty, make it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

Somes Island

Located in the middle of Wellington Harbour, Somes Island (Matiu) offers a peaceful escape with a rich history. Accessible by ferry, this predator-free scientific reserve boasts a unique blend of natural and historical attractions, including well-preserved WWII-era relics. It's an ideal spot for picnics, short walks, and wildlife spotting, especially for those interested in conservation and history.

Days Bay and the Remutakas

Days Bay, accessible by a scenic ferry ride from Wellington, is known for its vibrant arts scene, cafes, and swimming beach, making it a popular spot for relaxation and recreation. For the more adventurous, a drive through the Remutaka Ranges offers breathtaking views and access to a network of trails in the Remutaka Forest Park, perfect for hiking and biking enthusiasts.

 

 

Nearby attractions and day trips in the Wairarapa

Castle Point Lighthouse

Perched on a scenic clifftop, Castle Point Lighthouse stands as a beacon of beauty in the Wairarapa region. This historic lighthouse, accessible via a short, scenic walk, offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and the vast Pacific Ocean. It's an ideal spot for photography, wildlife watching, and soaking in the serene beauty of one of New Zealand's most picturesque locations.

Pūtangirua Pinnacles and Cape Palliser

The Pūtangirua Pinnacles, with their eerie, towering rock formations, offer a landscape that feels like stepping onto another planet. These geological wonders, coupled with a visit to nearby Cape Palliser, where you can climb New Zealand's tallest lighthouse, make for an unforgettable day trip full of adventure and natural beauty.

Greytown

Greytown is a charming Victorian country village known for its well-preserved heritage buildings, boutique shopping, and artisanal eateries. Strolling through the tree-lined streets, you'll find a delightful mix of antique stores, galleries, and cafes that exude a quaint, laid-back vibe. It's the perfect destination for those looking to unwind and indulge in the slower pace of rural New Zealand life.

 

 

Where to stay in Wellington & The Wairarapa with a campervan

Exploring Wellington and the Wairarapa in a campervan offers the ultimate freedom to discover New Zealand’s diverse landscapes and townships at your own pace. When it comes to finding the perfect spot to park and rest, there's no shortage of picturesque, comfy campgrounds that cater to every need. Here are a few worth adding to your travel itinerary:

Wellington

Wairarapa

For more great family friendly campsites and holiday parks, check out our guide to the best family friendly campgrounds near Wellington.

Top 15 things to do in Wellington Top 15 things to do in Wellington

Top 15 things to do in Wellington

In this helpful guide, we share 15 of the must-do Wellington activities worth adding to your travel itinerary.  But first …

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