When it comes to North Island driving holidays, we can provide an affordable, comfortable and reliable vehicle that is spacious enough to fit all of you in style – whether there are just two of you or a larger group. And when it comes to where you’ll go during your North Island road trip, the range of choices is just as extensive as our vehicle fleet. The most popular places include the Bay of Islands, Coromandel, Rotorua, Waitomo, Hawkes Bay wine regions, and Wellington.
However, while we love all of those destinations, we recommend that you drive the road less travelled sometimes. It’s often less crowded and can surprise you with some hidden gems. One of those places is Taranaki. The Surf Highway is a stretch of coastal road between New Plymouth and Hawera and it packs a lot of highlights into its relatively short 105-kilometre stretch. For example, Lake Rotomanu near New Plymouth is a man-made lake with a lovely scenic trail around it but the main reason for stopping here is to capture a postcard-perfect shot of Mount Taranaki in the background.
The Waiwhakaiho River is another must-see on any Taranaki excursion. There are surf breaks on either side of the river mouth and you can access the award-winning Coastal Walkway from here. On the way, you’ll see the striking Te Rewa Rewa Bridge; it’s shaped like a whale skeleton or a breaking wave, depending on which way you look at it.
Just off the Surf Highway, and right in the heart of New Plymouth is the Taranaki Thermal Pools, and at a cooler time of year, they’re the perfect place to unwind and warm up after a day on the road. If you’re feeling a little more energetic, nearby Paritutu Rock lets you climb to the top for incredible views all along the wild and rugged Taranaki coast.
A little further out of town, heading southwards, the Surf Highway has several access points to walks in Egmont National Park, with Mount Taranaki always at the centre of things. For example, Sefton Track is a two to three-hour loop that leaves at Lucy’s Gully just south of Oakura and the longer Waimoku Track is renowned for its views of the North Island’s West Coast as well as the iconic cone-shaped mountain. While you’re in the Oakura area, check out the SS Gairloch shipwreck just off the beach at Timaru Road. This coastal steamer ran aground in 1903 and is a stark reminder of how punishing the Taranaki coast can be.
These are just a few reasons why the ‘Naki should be on your list of places to visit when you rent a car from us in Auckland and head away on your North Island motoring holiday. You’ll be pleased you headed west!