Pacific Coast Highway, New Zealand
Auckland to Hawkes Bay via the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty and East Cape
Come and enjoy some of the best coastal scenery anywhere in New Zealand, or even the world! The spectacular Pacific Coast Highway runs along the east coast of North Island from Auckland in the south to Hawke’s Bay in the north and will take you from one superb marine playground to the next. This is a wonderful holiday trip for the entire family with activities to suit everyone as you visit beaches, inlets and coves all along the coastal road, stopping off wherever the mood takes you to enjoy the freshest seafood, award winning local wines as well as history, art and other cultural highlights. A good 5 day itinerary would go something like this:
Day One – Auckland to Coromandel (166kms)
Avoid the motorway and rather drive all along the coast visiting the seaside villages of Kawakawa Bay, Orere Point and Kaiaua on your way to Thames, a former gold-rush town built in 1928, which certainly warrants a visit. From here the road continues to hug the coastline as you pass a succession of charming beaches all the way to Coromandel. The advantage of having a motor home is that you can stop for a quick swim wherever the urge takes you!
Day Two – Coromandel to Tauranga (214kms)
This stretch of the drive is just brimming with quaint and unspoilt villages to visit and beaches where you can surf or swim. At Whitianga there is a permanent fishing fleet and you can get brilliant fresh seafood, while at Hot Water Beach you can enjoy the unique geothermal heated water that bubbles up through the sand. If you enjoy surfing you must visit Whangamata to enjoy the laid-back surfside atmosphere. At Tauranga you can book a dive or fishing charter or go dolphin watching.
Day Three – Tauranga to Whakatane (112kms)
Today’s shortish drive takes you along yet more of the stunning coastal scenery past White Island, an active volcano that you can visit by motor launch or helicopter. In Whakatane there are Maori historical sites to see and if you visit in summer, dolphin swimming is very popular.
Day Four – Whakatane to Gisborne (386kms)
Now your scenic drive will take you around the edge of East Cape, where there is once again plenty of water-based sports to enjoy on the Motu River – jet boating, rafting and kayaking. From here drive on to Gisborne for a great combination – brilliant wines and marvellous surfing beaches – all you need for a great holiday. There is also some history here – Kaiti Beach was the place where Europeans first landed in New Zealand.
Day Five – Gisborne to Napier (342kms)
On this last leg of the journey you have the difficult decision of whether to take the inland route, SH36 which will take you past Hackfalls Arboreum and Te Reinga Falls, or the coastal route which gives you access to Morere Hot Springs and yet more beautiful beaches – it’s a tough choice! Stop in at Urewere National Park, Lake Tutira and the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers before ending the drive in Napier, the Art Deco capital of the country.