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Spectacular road trips North Island New Zealand
Explore steaming volcanos and bubbling mud pools, discover more about the island’s Colonial and Maori history. Get to the best beaches and find out how you can camp for free. Your journey begins now!
From the highlands of Malaysia to the beaches of Australia, the intrepid travel team at Budget Direct Insurance has been celebrating the magnificence of the road trip in a series of posts. Here is our all-in-one trip planner to New Zealand’s North Island.
Although New Zealand’s North Island is littered with stunning beaches don’t forget to look inland too. Rotorua is a must see town with bubbling mud pools and exploding geysers; Pohutu Geyser is 30 m tall and erupts several times a day.
Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest National Park and a World Heritage site. The trek around the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro and Ruapehu and through its strange lunar landscape makes The Tongariro Alpine Crossing possibly the best one-day trek in New Zealand.
Head for the beach, but which one?
The Bay of Islands, in the far north, has more than 140 subtropical islands to explore, with waters teaming with marine life, unspoilt beaches, Maori culture and the 19th-century whaling port of Russell - the old colonial capital.
East of Auckland is the Coromandel peninsula, with pristine beaches and a laid back vibe. While Hawke’s Bay in the south-east has huge white sandy beaches, cycle trails, golf courses and world class wine!
And if you ever tire of discovering endless beaches and staring at stunning scenery (yeah, right!) then seek out some culture at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where, in 1840, New Zealand's founding document was signed.
Combine car + accommodation
One of the greatest ways to really see New Zealand and get off the beaten track is to hire a campervan or motorhome. These are very popular at holiday times, so book early.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of designated camping grounds and holiday parks in New Zealand. Some will be family run, some big, some small and facilities will vary, but all are sure to be near a lake, mountain, river, beach or beauty spot.
Although, as the name suggest, there is no charge for these camping spots, this term actually stands for freedom camping, which means finding your own fantastic little spot and spending the night there. Once the other cars and visitors go home you may well have the place and the view to yourself.
Freecamping is allowed on public conservation land unless it says otherwise, but be sure to take all your rubbish and waste with you. Some freecamping spots do have toilets and bins, others have no amenities and you will have to rely on the cooking facilities and small bathroom in your van.
Taking to the road in New Zealand is easy. The roads are relatively quiet and parking is usually not an issue, even in a big motorhome! If you can avoid the local holiday months of January and February then you really can have the place to yourself.
Remember only 5% of NZ’s population is human – the rest are animals (with no nasty snakes or spiders to worry about). So enjoy the peace and tranquility.
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