Although there are a number of incredible road trips throughout New Zealand, those who want to take in as much coastal scenery as possible often choose the 375-kilometre journey from Hawke’s Bay to Whakatane.
Along the way, you will be able to see incredible historical landmarks, charming towns and even a handful of wineries, but the real highlight is simply the chance to view some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Car hire from Europcar can be arranged from cities like Hastings or Napier in Hawke’s Bay, and driving your own vehicle will allow you to tailor your itinerary to your own interests and hobbies. Here some of the top places to stop, dine and take in the scenery while driving from Hawke’s Bay to Whakatane.
Start the Adventure by Exploring Hawke’s Bay
The best way to get to Hawke’s Bay for the beginning of this incredible road trip is to arrive at Hawke’s Bay Airport or the Napier Airport, both of which offers frequent flights to most major cities in New Zealand. After hiring your vehicle, you can explore all the great attractions in the immediate area. In the town of Napier, you will want to take in all of the Art Deco architecture, spend some time in the amazing National Aquarium of New Zealand or even visit one of the major wineries in the area that specialise in Merlot, Suavignon Blanc and Chardonnay. In the nearby town of Hastings, you can visit dozens of art galleries and museums, get soaked at the Splash Planet water park or soak up the sun at Waimarama Beach.
Enjoy Unparalleled Scenery on the Mahia Peninsula
Roughly 90 minutes north of Napier is the Mahia Peninsula, which you will definitely want to see. This peninsula was once a separate island, but a sand bar now connects it to the mainland of New Zealand. The area is steeped in traditional legends, and you will absolutely want to take some photos of the breathtaking cliffs of the peninsula. If you want to enjoy some time in the sea, parts of the Mahia Peninsula are also home to calm and beautiful beaches, many of which are ideal for relaxing, swimming, kayaking and even boating.
Head North to Gisborne
Just 45 minutes north of the Mahia Peninsula is the coastal town of Gisborne. You might not be in need of another stretch just yet, but it is well worth a quick stop. Gisborne is actually the first place in the world that the sun hits each morning, which makes it very popular with international travellers. With Gisborne’s Mediterranean climate, there are very few times throughout the year when you can’t hop into the sea, join the locals on the Rere Rockslide or just spend time tanning on the sandy coastline. This area is also known as the Chardonnay capital of the world because more than half of the grapes planted in regional vineyards are of the Chardonnay varietal.
Be Amazed in Rotorua
About halfway between Gisborne and Whakatane is the incredible thermal spa destination of Rotorua. The town is built over a geothermal hot spot, which means that there are countless spas, geysers and natural steam eruptions throughout the area. Some of the incredible attractions you will want to visit include the Motutara Sulphur Bay, the giant redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forest, the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, the Maori cultural programs in Te Puia and the Buried Village, which was covered and therefore preserved by a volcanic eruption in the 19th century.
Whether you want to experience traditional Maori culture, relax in a heated spa or spend time exploring the great outdoors, you won’t want to miss the stop of Rotorua.
Finish Off the Journey in Whakatane
The last stop in this incredible road trip through New Zealand is Whakatane, which is also known as the sunniest town in the country. The highlight of a visit to this town is the amazing scenery and the opportunities for outdoor recreation. Finish off your adventure with a hike along the Nga Tapuwae o Toi Walkways, fishing, horseback riding or even kayaking with the dolphins.
If you are looking for even more information on planning the ultimate holiday in New Zealand, this resource offers more great tips for both Hawke’s Bay and Whakatane.
Image courtesy of Razvan D. M.