The Most Scenic Drives on New Zealand North Island

Most travelers that venture to New Zealand boast about the amazing sites of the South Island—until they see the North Island.

The scenery is unparalleled and the roads to and from are remarkable. The rugged, mountainous backdrops, heavenly views, captivating farmland, and perfect white beaches all tell the chronicles of what is New Zealand, North Island.

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Waterfall New Zealand North Island

North Island, New Zealand

Although the North Island is smaller compared to the South Island, most of the town’s people reside in the center of the island. The culture and heritage are evident as you pass the many grand Euro-Polynesian attractions.

As you travel around the island, you’ll encounter some of the most scenic views like Lake Taupo which was created by an erupting volcano almost 2,000 years old.

The lake’s beaches offer warm waters through thermal energy that are perfect for swimming, skiing, kayaking, and sailing. Getting to each attraction is its own individual experience, so why not travel around the North Island by car?   

Flying is always the most convenient option to reach a destination, but when it comes to actually exploring New Zealand, I would highly suggest renting a car. Even if you arrive by plane, you can easily access car rentals in Takapuna, North Shore to ensure that you get the most of your time on New Zealand’s North Island.

New Zealand is the perfect spot to camp out, fish, trek the hills, or dive into the crystal waters. The country is full of magnificent sites, so it’s understandable that many visitors want to return. With everything to see and explore, we recommend taking it slow and easy, and remember to take your camera!

The reactions between wildlife, nature, and natural occurrences are sometimes best captured when left unattended. Keep reading to find out where the most scenic drives on New Zealand’s North Island are!

Murupara to Wairoa

If you’re looking for a scenic pathway to visit Wairoa, you may find one by way of the State Highway 38. It’s known as a quiet road, and traffic is not something you’ll see often.

The road is thin and twisted, but once you arrive, you will want to stop and take in the spectacular views of the landscapes.

Most locals travel by horseback through this stunning, untouched land. During the winter, onlookers are mesmerized by the breathless view of Lake Waikaremoana.

Beach New Zealand North Island

Taihape to Napier

Gentle Annie is midway between Napier and Taihape and is one of New Zealand’s grandest slopes.

Described as sheep country, this side of New Zealand’s North Island offers plenty of nature’s umbrellas (tree tops) so the path to the Rangitikei River is a pleasant and usually dry one.

Serene are the crawling hills, but be careful during the winter months. It can be a bit windy, but the snow-capped volcanoes and clusters of dark green scenery are spellbinding.

Stratford to Taumarunui

Glimpse the North Island from the Forgotten World Highway and meet the autarkic town of Whangamomona.

The pioneers declare its settlement independent but welcomes unhurried travelers to witness the North Island primitive paradise and historic hotel. The village embraces a one-lane burrow and quatern mountainous saddles.

Hua Falls New Zealand North Island

Maungatapere – Kaikohe

Heading to the Bay of Islands? Avoid the major roadways if you want to discover the back roads lined with subtropical orchards, volcanic sketches, and stone bulwark. It’s a scenic drive you’ll remember for a long time if you’re expecting adventure and pleasure.

Not only are the roads noted for its gorgeous landscapes, but you can add savoir-faire by immersing into the Wairua River and Wairua Falls. It’s northbound, just about 15km of Maungatapere.

Westport to Kohaihai

Westport, seen through the Karamea Highway, is an arresting view of the prolific rainforests. Untamed animals sit on-top a memorial observing the lives taken by the sea alongside the stone seawall of the ocean’s stretch.

The North Island beach, disguised by a collection of driftwood, is a treat for adrenaline seeking surfers and for those who just want to stop and view the crystal blue water. The townspeople are as rugged as its coastal waters, however, visitors are very welcome.

Volcano New Zealand


Waikato is 425km of liquid sunshine, the longest water stream in New Zealand. It starts at the incline of Mount Ruapehu, interlocking with Lake Taupo and ending where the Tasman Sea begins.

Waikato River hands over a vivid and colorful boat ride plus some of the best trout on the island. In addition, the scenic route has some of the most conspicuous landscapes along the Hakarimata Scenic Reserve and the Kauri Loop Track.

Want pleasure and adventure? Take a relaxing walk or bike or climb up Karioi Summit Track. This old volcano is perfect for the thrill seeker.

New Zealand North Island

The Temperature Around North Island

The temperatures throughout the warm weather months, November – March, generally run around 58° F during the day and drops to roughly 45° F at night.

The highest temperature recorded in the month of June was approximately 69° F while the average humidity stands at 80%. During this time, you can expect the sun to shine for an average of five hours a day.

Plan your days and drive times so that you’re able to take full advantage of the sites without getting warm. Bring items suitable for your comfort level—a rain jacket, shorts or light clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Don’t forget trekking boots suitable for long hauls and flip flops for the beach.


  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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One Comment

  1. I am sure New Zealand would be in travel plan of many people given its beautiful land, mountains and other tourist attractions. It seems you have also enjoyed your travel there.

    Happy travelling!

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