7 Day North Island Winter Roadie | Apollo NZ
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7 Day North Island Winter Roadie


This winter roadie will take you to the amazing and iconic NZ attractions in Rotorua, Hobbiton, Taupo and the Taranaki.

While the South Island may be home to the Southern Alps, the North Island is New Zealand’s volcanic, cultural and thermal capital, home to many adventure activities, along with one of the world’s only super volcanoes! Between the snowcapped volcanos, lakes and native forest, it is a wonderous winter road trip that this itinerary makes the most of.

With bonus visits to the Waitomo glowworm cave, Hobbiton and the Taranaki, it is a great way to spend 7 days on a winter road trip in the North Island.


Day 1: Auckland – Hamilton – Lake Arapuni

Travel time: 2hrs, 25mins

Distance: 186km

Your first day sees you pick up your camper at the Apollo branch near Auckland airport and start your journey south towards Hamilton. You’ll visit its world class gardens before taking some time to explore and meet the locals at Hamilton Zoo or visit the amazing Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari.

Starting off at the Hamilton Gardens, a stunningly unique venue that offers more than just a typical botanical garden experience. Here, you can wander through a collection of themed gardens that transport you around the world –from the zen-like Japanese Garden of Contemplation to the grandeur of the Italian Renaissance Garden. Each garden is designed to reflect a specific culture or historical period, making it feel like you’re stepping through a portal into a different part of the world. It's a perfect spot for some leisurely exploration and reflection.

After the gardens, why not dive into Hamilton’s bustling café scene? A great spot to check out is the vibrant Grey Street Kitchen, known for its delicious brunch options and excellent coffee. It’s a local favourite and a perfect place to relax and enjoy some downtime.

Then onto the Hamilton Zoo or Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. At 3,400ha, this is one of the world's largest fence protected, pest free areas and contains New Zealand's endemic species living how they did before the introduction of mammals. From bats to birds, reptiles to giant weta, take a walk back in time in our real-life version of Jurassic park - less the angry dinosaurs!



  • Pick Up your Motorhome or Camper from Auckland Apollo
  • Hamilton Zoo
  • Hamilton Gardens
  • Mountain Maungatautari
  • Lake Arapuni

Where to stay: Camp the night at one of the many campsites to be found surrounding the beautiful Lake Arapuni (just outside of Hamilton) which is a fabulous swimming lake. Arapuni Landing freedom camping area is our favorite.

Apollo hint: Grab some dinner in Hamilton before heading out. A walk along Victoria Street gives you a vast range of options as well as a nice stroll through town.

Image: Tourism New Zealand


Day 2: Lake Arapuni – Hobbiton - Rotorua

Travel time: 1hr, 38mins

Distance: 110km

Wake up to a view of Lake Arapuni while you enjoy a coffee.

Hit the road and step right into that of J.R.R. Tolkien as you take your next adventure at Hobbiton. Here is your chance to experience Middle Earth from the view of a Hobbit as you explore Bag End, The Green Dragon Inn and so much more.

Next up, arrive in Rotorua and head to Te Puia for a tour and hungi meal – what an ideal way to be greeted into New Zealand’s cultural heartland. Te Puia is home to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute and is one of the few places you can watch master carvers breathing life into their amazing works of art while also laying eyes on their geothermal park.

The nightlights tree tops walk at Redwood Forest is a great evening walk where you can explore between massive redwoods that are over a hundred years old and is a great way to finish up your night, walking off a big meal!



  • Hobbiton
  • Te Puia Maori institute and geothermal park
  • Redwoods Treewalk

Where to stay: Overnight at the Rotorua Top 10 Holiday Park or nab up one of the 3 free spaces on the waterfront at the freedom camping area at the Rotorua yacht club or the larger freedom camping area near the Polynesian spa.

Apollo hint: A lot of the activities in Rotorua have curtesy shuttles that leave from the CBD. This means you can get to the lakeside Freedom Camping Area at the Yacht club nice and early park up and explore, reserving yourself a spot for later!

Image: Tourism New Zealand


Day 3: Explore Rotorua

It’s time you fully explore the Pacific Ring of Fire! It’s a notorious mix of tectonic plate boundaries and fault lines which has provided the building blocks for both the pacific land masses and its infamous geo-thermal activity. No surprises to find that Rotorua lies right in the thick of it and with its plethora of thermal parks with bubbling hot pools, skyward shooting geysers and natural hot springs, it has earned its moniker as the thermal capital of New Zealand while also being a hub of Maori and Pacifica culture.

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a land that Papatūānuku, the earth mother, has spent thousands of years sculpting and this thermal area, complete with dazzling colors and geysers reaching for the skies is quite stunning. Just down the road, you will find the secret hot and cold pools, a confluence of one heated and one natural stream where you can pick your spot and get the temperature just right for you.

Finish off the day enjoying a Maori and Pacifica cultural show at Mitai Village along with a fabulous hangi for dinner or check out one of the fabulous eateries Rotorua has on offer.



  • Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland
  • Hot and Cold Pools
  • Mitai Maori village

Where to stay: Overnight at the Rotorua Top 10 Holiday Park or nab up one of the 3 free spaces on the waterfront at the freedom camping area at the Rotorua yacht club or the larger freedom camping area near the Polynesian spa.

Apollo hint: Check out the government gardens and Rotorua Museum, a wonderful garden to explore and a very unique colonial building, plus a great museum to get lost in!

Image: Tourism New Zealand


Day 4: Rotorua - Lake Taupo

Travel time: 1hr, 2mins

Distance: 81kms

You have a few stops to make before you even make it to Lake Taupo, so don’t sleep in! There are many short walks available in the area, with our favorite being to Kerosene creek where you can soak in the bliss under a geothermal waterfall!

Ever heard of the Golden fleece terrace? This is one of New Zealand's few remaining geo-thermal hidden gems at Orakei Korako where you will also find geysers, bubbling mud pools and one of only two geothermal caves in the entire world!

Your next stop is Huka falls on the mighty Waikato River, where you can watch over 220,000 liters PER SECOND barrel over an 11m high waterfall as the full force of the might Waikato River is forced into a raging torrent of water through a 20m bottleneck.

Then onto Taupo. Lake Taupo is the adventure capital of the north and home to some amazing experiences. After some big days skiing, feel free to have a morning soak at Otumuheke stream spa park. For thrill seekers, world class sky diving over a super volcano and white-water river rafting awaits, while those looking for a more relaxed experience can enjoy some of the best fly fishing in the world, river and lake cruises with the Mine Bay cruise or kayak a must to see the massive Maori carvings.

This is the Volcanic highway and you are now at a Super Volano. The Lake Taupo eruption around 1,800 years ago was the largest eruption to shake the world in the last 5,000 years. It’s major eruption 27,000 years ago was so large it covered the Chatham Islands with 18cm of ash and its cloud caused red skies in China!



  • Kerosene creek
  • Orakei Korako
  • Huka Falls
  • Otumuheke stream spa park
  • Sky Diving Lake Taupo
  • Tongariro river rafting
  • Fly Fishing on the Tongariro River
  • Mine Bay carving tour (boat or kayak)
  • Lake Taupo cruises

Where to stay: Motutere Bay Top 10 Holiday Park is the ONLY campsite on the shores of the stunning Lake Taupo. It’s the best of both worlds, far enough away from the town to give you some peace and quiet yet only a short drive in if you want to explore the urban area

Apollo Hint: The Lake will usually be calmer in the morning, so that’s often the best time to do a kayak or boat cruise to the Mine Bay carvings.


Day 5: Lake Taupo – Forgotten World Highway – Egmont National Park

Travel time: 4hrs, 24mins

Distance: 283km

A NZ road trip by campervan along New Zealand’s Forgotten Highway is a bucket list experience, and day 5 is just that. Mysterious, scenic, and dotted with tiny townships and cool communities, this 150 km stretch of road is New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail.

Another delightful stop is Bradley's Garden, a beautifully landscaped garden where you can play mini-golf and enjoy a traditional Devonshire Tea. The gardens provide a picturesque setting that encapsulates the essence of New Zealand's natural beauty.

A must-stop is the quirky town of Whangamomona, famous for declaring itself a republic in 1989. It’s a great place to have a break and soak up some local charm. The Whangamomona Hotel is the heart of this small community, offering refreshments and a warm welcome. Grab a bite, chat with the locals, and if you’re feeling whimsical, pick up a ‘passport’ as a unique keepsake of your visit.

As you continue towards Stratford, the Forgotten World Highway offers more than just stunning views; it’s a journey through the heart of New Zealand’s pioneering history, filled with landscapes that have remained largely unchanged over the centuries.

If you have time for a detour, you can head further south and immerse yourself in the tranquillity of nature by walking the Whanganui River Bank Track. This gentle trail along the river is perfect for stretching your legs and taking in the picturesque views. The full track is around 8 km, so do as much or as little as you like.



  • Bradleys Garden
  • Whangamomona Hotel
  • Wanganui River Bank Track

Where to stay: Park up for the night at the Stratford Motel & Holiday Park & get ready to wake up to views of Mt. Taranaki.

Apollo hint: There are multiple freedom camp carparks a little further into Egmont National Park – check out our thl Roadmap on Android or iOS to find them!


Day 6: Egmont National Park – New Plymouth

Travel time: 24mins

Distance: 22km

Breathe in the fresh mountain air! You can either hang around the Egmont National Park and explore its many routes and trails or head to New Plymouth.

Keen to take a walk into nature? You’ll find plenty of great options at Egmont National Park. The park is rich with geological and natural treasures, from the snow-capped peak of Mt Taranaki, known for its near-perfect symmetrical cone, to the lush rainforests that drape its lower slopes. Enveloping the majestic Mt Taranaki, this park offers over 300 km of walking tracks that cater to every fitness level. Whether you're up for a 15-minute scenic stroll or a challenging three-day Pouākai Circuit, Egmont is a playground for walkers and hikers.

Whenever you do reach New Plymouth, you won’t have to look too far for fun things to do and see. New Plymouth’s Coastal Walkway spans 13.2 km, offering the perfect opportunity to enjoy the scenery while getting some fresh sea air. The path runs between Port Taranaki and the eastern end side of Bell Block Beach. A highlight along the way is the captivating Te Rewa Rewa Bridge which resembles a crashing wave.

Be sure to set aside some time to explore the Pukeiti park. This botanical gem is nestled at the foot of Mount Taranaki and is home to one of the world’s biggest and most diverse collections of rhododendrons. You’ll also find a great range of rainforest walking tracks ranging from 0.7 km to 1.9 km.

Another must for garden enthusiasts is 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 keen to soak up some culture and history, New Plymouth has some excellent museums and galleries worth a visit. Top of the list is the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand's contemporary art museum and home to The Len Lye Centre. Check out Puke Ariki if you’re looking for a spot where learning comes alive for the whole family. The interactive displays make history accessible and fun for kids, while adults will appreciate the depth of information on local culture and natural history.

If you’ve got a Holden fan in the family, you won’t want to miss the Hillsborough Holden Museum. The museum has an enviable collection of Holden's ranging from early to late models as well as memorabilia. There’s also a luge, mini golf, and café.

For those who love a good hike, the Pouākai Crossing is an excellent choice. This fantastic trail offers a 7.5-hour journey through the breathtaking landscapes of Mt Taranaki's lower slopes.

Lastly, take a whimsical journey through the Goblin Forest, also known as Kamahi Walk, located on the slopes of Mt Taranaki. This enchanting forest, reminiscent of a scene straight out of a fantasy novel, features kamahi trees that have grown in twisted and gnarled forms around the trunks of other trees, creating an otherworldly atmosphere.



  • Egmont National Park
  • Coastal Walkway
  • Te Rewa Rewa Bridge
  • Pukeiti Park
  • Pukekura Park
  • Govett-Brewster Art Gallery
  • Puke Ariki Museum
  • Holden Museum
  • Pouakai Crossing
  • Goblin Forest

Where to stay: Tonight, you’ll find a welcoming spot to park your campervan at the New Plymouth TOP 10 Holiday Park. Enjoy the quiet evening after a day of discovery and driving on one of New Zealand’s most memorable roads.

Apollo hint: After a day of being on-the go, relax at one of New Plymouths many amazing eateries. Find a few of our faves here.

Image: Tourism New Zealand


Day 7: New Plymouth – Waitomo Caves - Auckland

Travel time: 4hrs, 45mins

Distance: 351km

Explore the activities you missed in New Plymouth yesterday and then continue your trip back to Auckland via the world famous and equally amazing Waitomo glow worm caves, locally referred to as “the land of the living stars. The grotto offers ambiance and gorgeous luminescence as you explore first by foot and then by small boat through this underground wonderland.

Once you get to Waitomo, step into a world of natural wonder at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Discovered over 130 years ago, these caves are not just a tourist attraction but a significant part of New Zealand's cultural and natural heritage. You’ll have the opportunity to take a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto, where thousands of glowworms illuminate the cave with their softly glowing light. This captivating display, set against ancient limestone formations, tells the story of a 30-million-year-old geological marvel.

Continue your subterranean exploration at the Ruakuri Cave, where history and nature blend beautifully. Entering through its remarkable spiral entrance, you descend into a stunning cave system adorned with stalactites, stalagmites, and intricate crystal structures. Ruakuri Cave is also rich in history, having been discovered by local Māori more than 500 years ago and still holding special spiritual significance to them. The cave offers a more extensive and immersive experience, featuring unique limestone formations, echoing waterfalls, and sacred Māori sites, allowing visitors to truly connect with the land’s ancient past.

After the amazing Glow Worm experience, jump in your van for the last leg of the journey – the 2.5 hour drive back to Auckland.



  • Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Apollo hint: If you’re in need of another nights stay, Waitomo Top 10 Holiday Park is conveniently located just a short walk from the glow worm caves making it an ideal place to spend the night while you relax with the heated pool and outdoor spa.


Plan your next adventure with Apollo

Ready to experience the best of the North Island? Book your Apollo campervan hire online today and start planning an unforgettable road trip adventure!


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