The Forgotten World Highway, from Taumarunui to Stratford
The Forgotten World Highway is the remote stretch of State Highway 43 that links Taumarunui and Stratford. This spectacular drive winds across four mountain saddles, with stunning views of Mt Taranaki, Tongariro, Ngāuruhoe and Ruapehu on a clear day.
Start out by heading west from Taumarunui towards Tokirima, with a quick stop for a sweetly scented stroll through the fields of Lauren’s Lavender Farm.
After a short detour to marvel at Mount Damper Falls - one of the highest waterfalls in the North Island - you’ll continue on to the self-proclaimed Republic of Whangamomona, where former presidents include a goat and a poodle. Whangamomona is a town steeped in frontier history, and a great place to stop for a bite to eat and a quirky new stamp on your Passport!
Follow on through the wild, untouched scenery to Stratford. As well as being the perfect base for adventures into Egmont National Park, Stratford is home to a Shakespeare-themed clock tower which plays the balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet three times a day.
The Whanganui River Road, from Whanganui to Pipiriki
This hidden gem is one of the most beautiful ‘off the beaten track’ drives we know. The bush-lined Whanganui River Road is New Zealand’s only scenic drive that runs alongside a river, and the soaring views will make anyone feel like a true Kiwi adventurer.
On your way towards Pipiriki you’ll pass isolated rural communities and beautifully preserved Marae, many of which are visible from the road. Fans of history and literature should stop off at Jerusalem, once one of the biggest settlements on the Whanganui River and the site of Kiwi poet James K. Baxter’s 1970s community. It’s the perfect place to stop for a picnic and soak up the tranquil atmosphere.
Take it easy on this road - it’s narrow and winding in places and there are plenty of cyclists to watch out for, along with the occasional stray sheep! Besides, you wouldn’t want to miss any of the breathtaking river views.
Once you arrive at Pipiriki, add a bit of adventure to your trip with a jetboat ride to see the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’, or a guided canoe tour down a secluded part of the river.
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The East Cape route, from Gisborne to Ōpōtiki
The East Cape is rugged, remote, and feels like a step back in time. We recommend making this trip over two days; spend a night in Ruatōria, and you’ll be one of the first people in the world to see the next day’s sunrise.
After leaving Gisborne, stop for your morning cuppa at Tolaga Bay and wander down New Zealand’s longest wharf (it’s a great spot for pictures). From there you’ll take the coastal road to St Mary’s Church in Tikitiki. This church was built as a memorial to Māori soldiers who fought in the First World War, and its interior is decorated with intricate carvings and tukutuku panels. It’s a beautiful combination of culture and remembrance.
If you’re stopping for the night, book a guided sunrise tour up Maunga (Mt) Hikurangi and set an early alarm! The historic East Cape Lighthouse is also a perfect place to welcome in the new day.
Then it’s time to relax and enjoy the drive to Ōpōtiki, with a quick stop-off in Te Araroa to see New Zealand’s largest pōhutukawa tree. The final leg of your trip takes you past white sandy beaches and craggy cliffs, with plenty of hidden places to explore.
Wellington to Castlepoint through Wairarapa Wine Country
This short trip takes you on a wander through the Wairarapa, discovering hidden gems just a stone’s throw from the capital.
Head out of Wellington to Kaitoke Regional Park to explore centuries-old rata, rimu, and beech forest. Kaitoke provided the location for The Lord of the Rings’ Rivendell, and this scenic spot is only a short walk from the carpark!
Railway enthusiasts (and parents of small children) will want to stop in Featherston to see the world’s only Fell Engine; this mighty locomotive was once used on the Rimutaka Railway, and now has its own museum.
Castlepoint is one of our most-loved beaches, and home to the Castlepoint Lighthouse. This landmark was one of the last manned lights built in New Zealand - although since 1988 it’s been managed from a central control room in Wellington! Castlepoint is a lovely place to enjoy a swim and a picnic, or climb the Deliverance Track to the magnificent 162-metre-high Castle Rock.
On the drive back to Wellington, treat yourself to a stop-off at one of the region’s excellent wineries for a cheeky glass of wine (passengers only, please) and a snack platter in the early evening sun.
Auckland to the Bay of Islands
This Northland road trip is a holiday-makers’ dream!
There are plenty of places to stop along the way, from Puhoi - a cute historic town that boasts a Kiwi cheese factory and great Devonshire teas - to Warkworth, where Parry Kauri Park lets you walk among some of New Zealand’s tallest trees.
As you continue North through rolling farmland and peaceful paddocks, keep an eye out for Te Hana Te Ao Marama Cultural Centre, and pop in to experience New Zealand’s rich cultural history. If you’ve got children along for the ride, Sheep World’s petting zoo is always a hit.
Instagrammers won’t want to miss the fantastic views from the Brynderwyns Scenic Lookout, the white sand and turquoise water of Waipu’s Uretiti Beach, and the natural drama of the Whangarei Falls.
Once you arrive in the Bay of Islands you’ll be spoilt for choice. This area is a Kiwi paradise with plenty of beautiful beaches, historical sites, and great fishing and water activities on offer.
Have a fantastic summer, New Zealand - we’ll see you out there.
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5 affordable Easter getaway ideas
The Easter long weekend is almost here, which means a few extra days off, a mountain of food and time to relax. If you’ve left your holiday plans to the last minute, the good news is there’s still time to get in – but you’ll need to act quick!
To help you out, we’ve put together a list of five low-cost Easter getaway ideas to help you make the most of the long weekend. Whether you’d prefer to get away or keep it local, New Zealand has something for everyone.
Top ten South Island road trips
New Zealand’s South Island (Te Waipounamu) is a land steeped in immense beauty and history; from the prehistoric through to Māori and European settlement. Check out our top ten favourite South Island road trips below, and keep an eye out for our North Island favourites coming soon.