- Follow the road south through quintessential North Island scenery.
Flexible dates

North Island Discovery

New Zealand’s North Island offers adventures for everyone, from the subtropical climate and history of the Far North to the geothermal wonders of the central plateau. This is a land of active volcanoes, beautiful sandy beaches, rolling hills and sprawling farmlands.

Our North Island Discovery takes you from the “big smoke” Auckland down the west side of the island to the ‘coolest little capital in the world’, Wellington. The road trip involves some long drives so we would recommend breaking up the journey by booking extra nights at each stop!

Starts: Auckland

Ends: Wellington

4 Day North Island Self-Drive TourNorth Island Discovery Itinerary Map

Day 1: Auckland to Hamilton via Hobbiton

Day 2: Hamilton to New Plymouth via Waitomo

Day 3: New Plymouth to Palmerston North

Day 4: Palmerston North to Wellington via Martinborough



Detailed Itinerary


Day 1 – Auckland to Hamilton via Hobbiton (3 hrs)
The Hobbiton movie set is an absolute must-do for fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies, and is found in a small town called Matamata just 2 hours from Auckland. Get a picture beside an iconic Hobbit-hole and have a drink in the Green Dragon Inn before moving on to Hamilton. For your evening, there are some excellent restaurants and bars around Hood and Victoria Streets.

Day 2 – Hamilton to New Plymouth via Waitomo (3.5 hrs)
Hamilton is an easy drive to the famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Choose to explore the caves on foot, by boat, abseiling or (for the more adventurous) by black water rafting. We recommend a morning excursion so you have enough time to comfortably drive to New Plymouth after lunch. This scenic journey takes you through farmland and along the west coast under the increasing presence of Mt Taranaki, the almost perfect conical volcano that sits in the middle of the region.

The Bella Vista New Plymouth motel is close to many great local attractions such as the Len Lye Art Gallery, Puke Ariki Museum and Pukekura Park. We recommend a stroll along the foreshore where you will also find the award-winning architecturally designed Rewa Rewa Bridge and Wind Wand. The motel has bicycles which you are welcome to hire.

Day 3 – New Plymouth to Palmerston North (3.5 hrs)
Upon leaving New Plymouth, you can choose to drive either east or west of Mt Taranaki before you come to the riverside town of Whanganui. The region is best known for its river, popular with visitors for kayaking, canoeing and rafting. A short stroll from Palmerston North’s square, the Bella Vista motel provides a great stopping point before the final day of your journey. Ask your hosts for their local dining recommendations.

Day 4 – Palmerston North to Wellington via Martinborough (3.25 hrs)
Martinborough is a beautiful town in the Wairarapa region at the centre of the local wine industry. Enjoy a relaxing lunch at a local vineyard and take in the views before the final hour’s drive to Wellington. If flying out from the city, the Bella Vista Wellington motel is in an ideal location in Evans Bay away from the noise and traffic of the CBD. However we do highly recommend spending a couple of days in the city before leaving – it truly is the ‘coolest little capital in the world’.


Please note, this is a sample itinerary only providing an illustration as to how a North Island self-drive holiday using Bella Vista accommodation might look. Driving times are shown in brackets and are estimated using AA Travel calculations.