Take a road trip from Auckland to National Park in New Zealand

Posted by: Cal on 29/08/2014

Category: General

A trip over the Tasman isn't complete without a good old fashioned New Zealand road trip. Although the country isn't as large or vast as Australia, the changing environments and beautiful natural features certainly make up for it.

As most flights from Australia land in New Zealand's largest city Auckland, the city can be the starting point of a grand adventure.

Here's some information on one of New Zealand's most popular road trip routes, Auckland to National Park. It's time to get some friends together, hire a vehicle with some shiny new car tyres and hit the road. This is a road trip that could be completed in one day, however, with 345 kilometres to traverse, it is recommended to allow 2-3 days and enjoy the stops along the way.

Auckland to National Park

Start your journey by heading south on Auckland's southern motorway. No road trip heading out of Auckland is complete with a stop at Pokeno, located 50 kilometres outside the city.

The small rural town is famous for one reason - ice cream. Challenge yourself to take on the biggest ice cream in the country with 15 scoops before it melts. You can choose to have it in a small bowl, if you prefer, but you are on a road trip, live a little!

Once you are out of the hustle and bustle of the city and that sweet tooth has been settled, you will drive adjacent to the Waikato River - the country's longest at 425 kilometres.

SH1 bypasses Hamilton before heading to your east towards the quaint town of Cambridge. Populated since the 1850s and named after the Duke of Cambridge (not William!), this town is best known for its roaring thoroughbred industry.

However, in the heart of New Zealand heartland, there is plenty of beauty to go around. Spend the night at one of the bed and breakfasts on the shores of the picturesque Lake Karapiro, an artificial lake that is home to New Zealand's renowned rowing teams.

The landscape changes as your leave Cambridge heading south. The open farmland turns into beautiful pine forests before opening up to reveal the country's largest lake - Taupo. With a view to the stunning National Park in the background, it is worth taking in an afternoon at Taupo and soaking in the atmosphere.

Take a leisurely cruise out on the lake, land a hole-in-one at the famous lakeside attraction or even test your nerve at the Hukafalls Jet or Taupo Bungy. Depending on your budget, Taupo has an extensive range of accommodation options - from apartments to backpacker hostels.

If you are lucky enough to open your windows to a blue sky day, you should be able to spot the final destination of the road trip, National Park.

Next, check your car tyres to make sure they're still spic and span, and make your way south towards the mountains which are around 100 kilometres south.

The National Park village borders the dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park to the east and the Whanganui National Park to the west. Maori legend states the three mountains Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe fought with the distant Mt Taranaki over a woman many years ago which is why there is such a great distance between the four.

Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings), is a particular favourite to climb with its traditional cone volcano design.

But, the options are also limitless at National Park. You could hike the word famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, test your skiing or snow boarding skills at Mt Ruapehu or take a rough raft trip piercing the many gorges in the region.

One thing's for sure, this is a road trip to remember.