Where to road trip along the East Coast of New Zealand

Here are some spots to add to your NZ East Coast adventure.

The East Coast of Australia isn't the only one holding some amazing road trip treasures. Along the eastern edge of New Zealand's North Island you'll find plenty to do and see. Grabbing your hire car from Auckland airport, head to the coast and check out these great locations!

Whakatane

For a small, lesser-known town, Whakatane has a lot to offer.

Beaches and sand dunes are a common theme. One of the most popular sunbathing and swimming spots is Ohope Beach. If you're wanting to stretch your legs a little head up to the western end of the beach. Up and over the native pohutakawa-covered headland is a short 20-minute walk that leads you to another small beach. Only accessible by foot or kayak, the sand is made up of beautiful crushed shells, and there's plenty of rock pools to explore. Hidden away from the rest of the world, it'll only be you, the water and the beautiful red blossoms of NZ's well-loved pohutakawa tree hanging out over the sea. 

Or, for something more adventurous, take a tour out to White Island. How often do people get to say they've set foot onto an active volcanic island? Almost alien in its appearance, White Island is a land of sulfur, strange outcroppings, varied colourings and drifting steam. It's an experience you won't forget. Grab a hot drink from Peejay's cafe before jumping on board a boat. Once out on the water keep an eye out for the whales and dolphins – these marine mammals aren't strangers to the tours and often make appearances. 

East Cape

Be the first people in the world to see the sun rise. As you might have guessed from the name, the East Cape is the most eastern point in New Zealand and so is the first to greet the sun each day. However, that doesn't just hold for the country – this spot on NZ's coast is the first in the world to watch the sun crest over the waves. While a sleep in might sound nice, can you really miss an opportunity like that? Take a walk out to the East Cape lighthouse with a thermos of coffee and watch the skies change colour. 

This area of NZ is a great place to experience Maori culture as well. One of the first places the Polynesian canoes landed, the influence is still very strong in the region. Jump in your hire car from Auckland airport and take the Pacific Coast Highway (a classic rite of passage in NZ) around the eastern-most point. Remote and beautiful, East Cape is an unmissable part of your road trip.

Gisborne

Consider spending a day or two in Gisborne. With so much to do you'll need the time! Here are a couple of options to consider. 

  • Head to Kaiti Beach. The first landing place of Captain Cook, a stroll along these sands is a walk through history. Look out for the obelisk Cook Monument marking this event. 
  • Go surfing. With beaches for beginners and pros alike, you'll find this is a popular spot to hit the waves
  • Take the time to taste. Wine, beer or cider, you decide. Leaving your hire car behind (or choosing a sober driver) head out for a tasting at a place of your choice. You'll find plenty of great vineyards, as well as a brewery and cidery, to decide between! Gisborne is well-known for these three types of drinks. 
  • Check out Eastwoodhill Arboretum. Loose yourself in over 135 hectares of land and wander through the largest collection of northern-hemisphere trees and shrubs in the southern side of the world. A peaceful retreat, a day spent out under under these boughs will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
  • Get your slip on at Rere Rockslides. Choose your weapon of choice (air mattress, body board, or anything else you can think of). Outside of Gisborne, you'll find a natural slide where rocks covered in water speed you down into a huge pool. 

Napier/Hastings

Described as the twin cities, you can't really visit one without seeing the other as well.

For all buildings Art Deco, Napier is the place to be. Following an earthquake and fire in 1931, this city decided to rebuild in a style that sets it apart from the rest of the country. Quirky and lively, it's only sensible that the 1920's and 30's are celebrated in style here! Stick around for old cars, fancy suits and great jazz music that all make an appearance during the famous Art Deco festival. 

Only a short drive away is Hastings, yet the architecture separates it by countries. Instead of Art Deco, loosely think Spanish missionary. Swap out your hire car for a bike for the day and take a tour of the many wineries in the area. 

Try out the East Coast Car Rental's East Coast edition of a New Zealand road trip. Book your vehicle today!

About the Author

Chester is a foodie and loves to explore the great land of Australia. He is currently blogging for East Coast Car Rentals.

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