New Zealand is a small country which makes it the perfect candidate to get the wheels rolling for an unforgettable road trip. To make the most of our 4-weeks on the North Island we decided to travel in style with our 2001 Sirion Daihatsu which we named Kiwi for obvious reasons. A lot of visitors will rent an RV or camper van, but we quit our jobs to travel the world, so the El Cheapo was our preferred mode of transportation for our New Zealand road trip. Through out our trip we covered a lot of ground and visited the majority of the North Island in a short amount of time. So get your favorite driving song ready as we go through our North Island road trip… our personal favorite: anything Taylor Swift 😉

Coromandel Peninsula

Located a few hours north of Auckland, The Peninsula is a favorite vacation spot for local Kiwi’s and other travelers due to some well known attractions such as Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. Hot Water Beach get it’s name from the natural thermal spring that runs underneath the sand. For $5 we hired a shovel and tried digging our own hot tub. Little did we know that the hot water areas can only be accessed during low tide. Unfortunately, we started digging right when the tide was coming in…oops! At least Nick looked good digging those holes ;)! If you scroll down to our picture of Cathedral Cove, we’re sure you can instantly see how this place got it’s name. We’re surprised they don’t have gospel singers breaking it down 24/7 here. Cathedral Cove, although a tourist hot spot, was a great place to spend the afternoon and enjoy a picnic lunch. The Coromandel Peninsula is also home to some of the best green lipped mussels we had while in New Zealand. The Mussel Kitchen is a little bit of drive from Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach, but the food alone is worth the trip! Let us start with a few words: Parmesan, Bacon, Cream, and Garlic. Now add those green lipped mussels and throw it all into pot and you get the most delicious meal ever! When the mussels were all gone, we were scooping the sauce up with our empty shells and drinking it…bottoms up!





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No road trip through New Zealand would be complete without a visit to The Shire! In fact, in our case no Valentines Day would be complete without a visit! Out of all the Lord of the Rings sites we stopped at, Hobbiton was by far the most impressive and our favorite. This it the real deal ladies and gentlemen…it’s home to 44 “Hobbit Holes”, The Party Tree, and The Green Dragon. All we needed was Gandolf and Frodo to show up and we could have left for Middle Earth! The tour was a 3-hour walkthrough where our guide dropped some interesting LOtR knowledge on us, and just when we thought things couldn’t get better we completed the experience with a free beer at The Green Dragon! Nothing like a free beer on Valentine’s Day! For any LOtR fans making a trip to NZ, this should definitely be on the top of your list!


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We knew we got to Rotorua when the smell of sulfur was overwhelming…woof! The powerful smell comes from the surrounding geo-thermal mud pools, geysers and hot springs. If you’re sensitive to smells (like Justine is) this might not be the best place to spend more than a few days. However this is an adventure activity hot spot, with white water rafting, sledging, sky diving and more easily accessible. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of time in Rotorua so we just quickly checked out some of the mud pools.


Lake Taupo

Before making our way to the Northern Circuit we spent a day in Lake Taupo, which is beautiful little town situated along Lake Taupo (hence the name). We wish we spent an extra night here instead of Rotorua. It is also an adventure activity hub, but way more beautiful!


As you can see from our map at the top, we drove nearly all of the North Island but only included the places we spent less than two days in our road trip post. If you’d like to read about what we did during the rest of our time up north you can use the below links:

MatakanaThe Tongariro Northern Circuit, The Whanganui River, Wellington