Winter in New Zealand is all about getting some time on the ski slopes! But just because the temperature’s down, there’s no reason you can’t go on the road trip of a lifetime too. We’ve come up with a basic itinerary for the Ultimate North Island Road Trip to get you started. And the best part? There’s only ten hours’ total driving time involved, so you could do this road trip in a few days or stretch it out over a couple of magical weeks — you decide. Here’s how it shapes up.
Hit the road in Auckland
Auckland is the perfect jump-off point for your winter road trip, so it’s time to grab your hire car from the airport, load up some classics into the Spotify playlist and make sure the stereo is cranking. But before you hit the road, take some time to explore our City of Sails. Winter in Auckland is relatively mild, so you won’t need to put on your ski pants just yet. A visit to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium or an adrenaline fix at Rainbow’s End theme park are great daytime options. The high streets in Ponsonby, Parnell and Newmarket offer plenty for the keen shopper, and heaps of cool cafés and restaurants to dive into. Then it’s time to hit the road to Rotorua!
Heat things up in Rotorua
Rotorua is perfectly placed for your first stop on your winter road trip, as it’s less than three hours’ drive from Auckland. Watch the famous geysers let off some steam at Te Puia, and there’s no better way to warm up your muscles than with a dip in the exfoliating hot mud pools at Hell’s Gate. Ever done that on a ski trip before?
Time to hit the slopes at Mt. Ruapehu
The main event. Choose your Mt. Ruapehu ski field — Tūroa or Whakapapa — Tūroa boasts perhaps the best panoramic views in the North Island, and Whakapapa is our largest ski field, and the village is home to the elegant Chateau Tongariro. Whakapapa and Tūroa both offer plenty to explore for the beginner and the advanced skier alike, including terrain parks for those looking to get air. Tūroa’s wide, open bowls and trails are great for tuning up your skills or learning the ropes, while Whakapapa’s trail maps show off its enormous range of runs with plenty of chute runs to challenge the advanced skier or snowboarder. Ski lessons are available on both mountains for kids and adults, in a group or private setting.
It’s the end of the road, but not the end of your adventure. Wellington is NZ’s cosmopolitan capital, with heaps to explore on the Waterfront and backstreets alike. Head to Cuba Street for the cool cafés and eclectic shops and feel Wellington’s cultural heartbeat. Check out the Beehive and play spot the politician, or get schooled up on everything kiwi at the inimitable Te Papa, it’s not your average museum…
Seems like it’s time to book that epic winter road trip in New Zealand. Want to learn more? Snap up a great deal on the ultimate North Island winter road trip!