Getting your Auckland car hire sorted is the easy part, planning a route is not so simple. New Zealand has so much to offer, from volcanoes and mountains, to Lord of the Rings attractions and vineyards. How do you decide where to go? Luckily for you, we have a pretty good answer: The Bay of Plenty. Located on the east coast of the North Island, the area has such a variety of attractions it can keep you and all your car buddies entertained for several days at a time. 

Here's what we like about the Bay of Plenty.

1) Mount Maunganui – With a summit commanding excellent views to the sea but only around a 40 minute walk from the base, anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can enjoy the hike. There are two routes to reach the top and a pleasant loop track around the bottom as an alternative or extra.

2) Tauranga – The largest city in the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga has a vibrant waterfront area in the centre of the CBD with refreshments, entertainment and accommodation all close by. All sorts of tours can be arranged from the city – try sailing or dolphin spotting if the weather's sunny.

3) White Island – For the only active marine volcano in the country, head over to White Island by boat from Whakatane. It's a raw landscape with steam rising from various vents serving as reminder of what lies beneath.

4) Waimarino Glow Worms – In a canyon situated just off Lake McLaren, when it gets dark outside, there's plenty glowing inside. Take a kayak tour across the lake at sunset and be guided through the canyon with commentary around the New Zealand glow worm.

5) Beaches – Papamoa beach is popular for its good surf and white sand. There's fishing, kite and wind surfing to keep the energetic entertained and safe swimming for those who like a slower pace of life. Another well-loved option is Pukehina Beach. The 10 kilometre stretch is also good for swimming and fishing, with several places to grab a meal or a coffee and views of Motiti and Moutohora Islands. 

6) Katikati – The township around 40 minutes from Tauranga is known for having started mural street art. The town's walls have been painted since some time in the 1990s and it now hosts an annual mural festival. Check out the paintings on a slow stroll around the town and pick up some supplies for your onward journey.

7) Hiking – Aside from the Mount Maunganui, there's an abundance of walking tracks to investigate in the region. Lengths and difficulty are wide-ranging, so there's something to suit whether you want to be out for a couple of hours or several days. Check out the Papamoa Hills Regional Park for a selection of tracks and the Orokawa Bay walk, or if you're willing to drive a little further, tackle one of New Zealand's Great Walks – the Lake Waikaremoana Track, starting from nearby Hawke's Bay.

8) Water activities – We've already mentioned several fun water-based adventures, but it's worth listing a few more. As well as spotting dolphins, you can head out to swim with the estimated 40,000 that live in the area on guided trips. Jet boat on the Kaituna River, or go white-water rafting on the Wairoa River and its grade five rapids – but get your timing right as the latter is only open for part of the year.

So organise your car hire straight out of Auckland airport and get on the road to the Bay of Plenty for a few days of adventure, relaxation or both.