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Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

Singapore, Singapore
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Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

Hi Tripadvisors,

I'm driving with a teen from Auckland to Wellington over two days and would love some advice on where to stop en route and what to see. The plan is to arrive in Auckland on a Monday morning, start the drive on Tuesday, stop somewhere that night and arrive in Wellington by the evening of the Wednesday. Any suggestions welcome!

25 replies to this topic
Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

I don't think you've given enough time to properly sightsee.

The total drive Auckland to Wellington is a minimum of 8 hours, but of course you need breaks being the sole driver.

If you are able, you might consider Hobbiton movie set tour (duration 3 hours, including getting there 30 minutes before tour starts, bookings at a particular time slot highly recommended) which is about 2-3 hours drive from Auckland. An alternative with a shorter stop is to visit Matamata I-site which is in the shape of a hobbit hole and has souvenirs.

Another drive for about 90 minutes to Rotorua, to see a Maori village perhaps (eg Whakarewarewa - The living Maori village). The tour of the village would take maybe 2 hours. I've not found it booked out so turning up for the tour without booking should be ok.

Have lunch at Hobbiton shop (called Shire's cafe) or the Maori village depending on time.

Drive for another 1 hour to Taupo or 90 minutes to Turangi. Depending on time visit Huka falls for up to an hour. Stay Taupo or Turangi overnight. Turangi is closer to halfway.

Next day, you have up to 5 hours drive ahead before Wellington if you went direct.

It might be a detour, but I like the views from Mt Ruapehu across to Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro. Have a coffee at a cafe on the Mountain. It's about an hour from Turangi.

From Mt Ruapehu, drive about 2 hours to Whanganui. Have lunch there.

Then finally a three hour drive from Whanganui to Wellington.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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2. Re: Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

Having arrived in Auckland, the day before, your best plan is to take SH1 all the way, with Taupo being the mid-way stop-over. I wouldn't go deviating far off this route to sightsee or soak up a few hours.

SH1 has you driving through Hamilton, so you could stop at the Hamilton Gardens on SH1/Cobham Drive for morning tea and a breather. Then head for Taupo, which will give you a chance to view Huka Falls, and possibly one thermal area mid afternoon.

The longer drive is Taupo via Taihape to Wellington. Apart from short stops, and a lunch break in Taihape, aiming for Wellington so as you dont arrive there late in the day is my recommendation. If it's a fine day you can see the volcanic mountains in Tongariro NP. If it's wet/cloudy then it's likely the mountains will be shrouded in cloud or showers. By day 2, you will just want to reach the end of the road so as to allow some time if you wanted to see something of Wellington itself.

You don't mention what time of year your trip takes place, or where you are heading for next after arriving in Wellington?

Tauranga, New...
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3. Re: Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

I'm with frangipani on this one, drive to Taupo (Hamilton Gardens would make a nice stop if you want one, otherwise you can stop for a coffee in Cambridge. Taihape is good to stop for lunch on the second day for lunch and there are some nice little cafes there. I'm assuming this is a trip to get from A to B rather than a sightseeing trip? By all means, you could go to Hobbiton, but this will add substantial time onto your day. There are some nice hot pools in Taupo, your teen might enjoy a soak, depending on what time of year you are coming and how warm the weather is at night.

If you were leaving fairly early you could pass the first night at Turangi (and have a longer drive the first day) but there is not a lot to do there, it's really just a stop for the night.

Edited: 11 November 2017, 03:43
Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

I’m generally fine with the alternative that has been suggested by others, but I personally would want to bypass Hamilton. Sometimes it’s weird how long traffic is through Hamilton on SH1. Use SH1B unless you want to see something in Hamilton.

Singapore, Singapore
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5. Re: Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

Thank you so much for your responses! This helps me plan so much more effectively. Yes, I'd rather split the drive into two days and so Turangi sounds a better stop even though I wish I could stay at Taupo! And yes, very happy to pass a busy town (Hamilton) unless it adds substantial value to the trip.

The trip is scheduled for next week ;) !!!

And we plan to stay on in Wellington for a couple of days. We also have flight tickets from Auck to Well but are planning to forsake them in order to get a little more of the country in.

Singapore, Singapore
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6. Re: Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

Also, would you all suggest we drive to Taupo, stay the night and go back to Auck before taking a flight to Wellington?

Christchurch, New...
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7. Re: Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

What are your interests? Taupo wouldn't be my first choice for a 2 day trip out of AKL. Rotorua has many more things to do.

Singapore, Singapore
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8. Re: Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

I was hoping to take in Rotorua and another place nearby. And if possible, stay somewhere pretty nearby.

Rarotonga, Cook...
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9. Re: Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

Cambridge is bypassed by the Waikato Expressway. You only glimpse the town from the western outskirts from the main road. Need to plan in your exit if you are stopping there for morning tea. There are road-works taking place near Gordonton which is part of the SH1b, for the Expressway to continue from north Hamilton, to link into the existing Expressway south of Hamilton. Progress on this main route has been great to see.

Turangi is more functional than scenic, but it has motel accommodation to suit your purposes. I wouldn't go detouring to Rotorua just for a night. Some of the thermal parks are nearer Taupo anyway - Wai O Tapu, Waimangu and Orakei Korako. Rotorua is a big city, but excellent if you intend to stop and sightsee for a day or more. I consider the 'pretty nearby' to be a good fit with Taupo.

Edited: 12 November 2017, 01:31
Christchurch, New...
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10. Re: Auckland to Wellington Drive route and stops

I think there are two alternatives being discussed at cross-purposes here. Am I right, wandering, that you are trying to decide between:

Option 1:

Day 1. Drive AKL to Taupo or Turangi;

Day 2. Drive to WLG ... OR

Option 2.

Day 1. Drive to Rotorua or Taupo;

Day 2. Drive back to AKL

Day 3. FLY to WLG. (as per your post #6)

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