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Tane Mahuta in Waipoua Forest, Northland

Twin Coast Discovery Highway, New Zealand

Auckland to the Bay of Islands via West and East Coasts

New Zealand is a country with amazing scenic diversity just waiting to be discovered; one of the best ways to see the country is to get out there on the road and choose one of the many scenic drives; it is the perfect country to explore by motorhome rental or campervan hire with beautiful places to stay overnight all along the way.   Driving the Twin Coast Discovery Highway in Northland will give you a great overview of the beauty of the North Island.  The route starts (and ends) in Auckland, and includes the beautiful Bay of Islands, the sub-tropical far northern part of the country and then loops back south along the west coast of Northland.

You will want to spend some time enjoying all the attractions of Auckland before you head north; Auckland has a strong Maritime heritage and the city’s harbour offers several opportunities for day cruises around the near-by islands.  There are great restaurants and plenty of activities to occupy you for a few days.

Heading north you will soon reach the seaside town of Orewa; a good place to stop and have some fun in the sun and visit the Waiwera thermal reserve.  Further north, Whangarei is the major city of the Northlands where you can visit some art galleries and craft studios or head straight up to Tutukaka for some excellent dive spots.

Next up is the beautiful Bay of Islands where the breath-taking scenery attracts visitors from all over the world.  The area features literally hundreds of beaches, bays and inlets and you really need to spend a few days here to enjoy all the water-based activities as well as see some of the historic sites.  Fishing, diving, snorkelling, dolphin swimming and kayaking are just some of the activities you can enjoy here all year round in the warm sub-tropical climate.

Once you have thoroughly enjoyed all that the Bay of Islands has to offer, your route will take you inland, as you cross over the centre of the far north through some beautiful wooded areas on your way to Kaitaia, on the West Coast.  From here you have the option of heading north up Ninety Mile Beach (only suitable for 4X4 RV’s) or turning south to Hokianga and the Kauri Coast. 

The route south along the west coast is steeped in Mauri tradition and folklore.  Visit some of New Zealand’s oldest European settlements along this stretch of the drive and then make your way to Waipoua Kauri Forest to see some of the centuries-old Kauri trees.  The main centre on this part of your route is Dargaville, which has good beaches and a museum to milling.  From here the highway will turn inland again and join up to the east-coast route just south of Whangarei.  You can easily drive the route in 5 days, but if you have a little more time you can turn your scenic drive into a proper beach holiday.

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