Roadtripping at AUT

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Every semester, I hear about and sometimes join weekend road trips or day trips out of Auckland to other areas in the North Island.

If you are reading this, chances are you are also based in Auckland. Here are some of the most popular trips.

Weekend Trips


The entire area of New Zealand north of Auckland can be explored in a weekend.

Duration2 nights (1 weekend)
Major AttractionsCape Reinga (Northernmost point of New Zealand)
Bay of Islands (some great kayaking here!)
90 Mile beach drive
Te Paki sand dunes
Other beaches
Other AttractionsHauru Falls – near Paihia
Abbey Caves
Four Sisters (Kauri trees) – north of Paihia
AccommodationPaihia – Hostel, AirBnB or campsite
SeasonYear round

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

This challenging day hike is widely considered a must-do trip for anyone visiting New Zealand and is suitable for a weekend.

Duration2 nights (1 weekend)
Major AttractionsTongariro Alpine Crossing hike
Other AttractionsTaranaki Falls
AccommodationTongariro area – AirBnB or campsite
SeasonSummer recommended

Tauranga, Rotorua & Taupo

All three of these towns can be visited in a single weekend, along with the Lord of the Rings set at Hobbiton and the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland.

Duration2-3 nights (1 weekend)
Major AttractionsTauranga
Mt. Maunganui
Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland
Other AttractionsKerosene Creek
Rainbow Mountain hike
AccommodationRotorua – AirBnB or hostel
SeasonYear round

Mt. Taranaki

This is the most challenging day hike on the North Island, and makes a good weekend trip. The total elevation gain is 1,500m from trailhead to summit – it is possible to stay on a mountain lodge 1/3 of the way up the night before the summit climb.

It is essential to complete this trip before the mountain snows over as it becomes a completely different climb – requiring ice gear and experience.

The Pouakai Circuit is another great trail in the area (and can be done year round), although this one is an overnight trip. I would highly recommend doing both hikes – one group I know of did so on a single 3-night journey, although it is probably more convenient to do them on separate trips.

Duration1-3 nights (1 weekend)
Major AttractionsMt. Taranaki hike
Pouakai Circuit hike
Other AttractionsNorth Egmont Visitor Center walks
Dawson Falls Visitor Center walks
New Plymouth
Paritutu Rock
AccommodationMt. Taranaki summit – Tahurangi Lodge ($40/night)
Pouakai Circuit – multiple on-trail huts
New Plymouth – AirBnB
Before the mountain snows over:
Usually early-mid April


This peninsula contains a huge amount of beaches including the famous Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach and can be explored in a weekend.

The Pinnacles hike can be done at the same time, however it is usually more convenient to do this on a separate weekend.

Duration2-3 nights (1 weekend)
Major AttractionsCathedral Cove
Hot Water Beach
Pinnacles hike
Other AttractionsNew Plymouth
Paritutu Rock
Countless beaches
AccommodationHostel, campsite or AirBnB
Pinnacles – Pinnacles hut
SeasonYear round

Day Trips


Usually one of the first experiences of the “real New Zealand” – relatively close to Auckland. Activities range from sunbathing and swimming to scrambling up the rocks on the large secondary beach to the south.

DurationDay trip
Major AttractionsPiha Beach
Katikati Falls
SeasonYear round

Rangitoto Island

Only a ferry ride away from Auckland, this is usually a trip that happens in a large group at the beginning of the semester.

DurationDay trip
Major AttractionsRangitoto Island Summit
Other AttractionsMcKenzie Bay
Boulder Bay
Lava Caves
SeasonYear round
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