A fun-filled road trip in New Zealand doesn’t have to be a lengthy, The-Lord-of-the-Rings-worthy undertaking. If crisscrossing a nation on a multi-day adventure isn’t your thing, you’ll likely get a kick out of the many shorter jaunts available here, all of which are still packed with exciting attractions.
Rent a car in Auckland, pop down to Tauranga and try this mini-experience on for size.
Get your adrenalin flowing
From the Bay of Plenty’s highlight city, take State Highway (SH) 36 south en route to Rotorua. You’ll weave along a gentle, undulating landscape swathed in green, which offers vast scenic vistas looking towards distant volcanic mountain ranges. About 30 minutes down the road, pull into Adrenalin Forest (opens 10 a.m.) to add a little monkey-like fun to your journey.
There are six rope courses here, ranging in heights of 1 metre up to a staggering 20 metres in the air! There are swings, nets and flying foxes, so prepare for a little physical fun.
Somewhere over the rainbow
A further 20 or so minutes back on SH36 and you’ll begin to see the sparkling Lake Rotorua, which means you’re closing in on an epic North Island hot spot. You could have multiple NZ holidays all in this one place, so we recommend coming back after you complete our itinerary to explore it properly.
However, for now, pop over to Rainbow Springs to enjoy a sample of what’s on offer. This sanctuary is an ideal place to see some of our native wildlife, including the endangered kiwi bird. You can also jump on board the Big Splash, a nine-minute-long aquatic adventure through NZ history, from dinosaurs to moa to humanity itself. Spoiler alert – it’s also called ‘Big Splash’ for a reason. You’ll see why at the end!
Tango in Taupo
Finish the day by staying overnight in Taupo, on the shores of the country’s biggest lake. Both Taupo All Seasons Kiwi Holiday Park and Great Lake Holiday Park make for comfortable, affordable accommodation options – one in the town itself, and one just outside, by the beach. You’ll find all the amenities you need in these locations, including self-contained units and even tent spaces, as well as swimming pools, kitchen facilities and more.
If you don’t have time on the same day, try out a jet boat experience with Rapids Jet in the morning. This is the only attraction of its kind in the country that operates on white water rapids, and serves up exhilarating views of the Waikato River and Huka Falls.