Auckland to Tauranga

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Auckland City and Harbour

Auckland to Paeroa

As you head south from Auckland towards Tauranga, you will be taking the Southern Motorway which seamlessly becomes the Waikato Expressway. Just south of the first Pukekohe exit, you enter Franklin district.

From the beginning of the Waikato expressway, it is about 80 km to Hamilton and 68 km to the Coromandel Peninsula.

As you come over the Bombay Hills, you will notice the lush pastures of Waikato ahead of you as you leave Auckland. To get to the Coromandel and Matamata towards Tauranga and Rotorua, take exit 477 onto SH2. This is a pretty drive through farmland with lots of native-bush clad hills surrounding you. The landscape is lush and on a fine day the colours are vivid with the different greens of the different trees contrasting with the bright blue of the sky.

The road is mainly single land and it's important to be careful here as accidents are common especially in the vicinity of Maramarua.

Shortly after Maramarua, you will come to the turn off to SH25 which heads to the Coromandel Peninsula - to the east you will see the bush-clad mountains of the Coromandel rising up. Stay on SH2 to Tauranga.

The day we were travelling there was a lilac flower covering the fields on the side of the road which was very pretty. Ngatea is a pretty town - the hub of the Hauraki Plains but across the plains you will see mountains rising up in the distance. The Hauraki Plains were settled in the 1900's by returned servicemen from WW1 and WW2 which is probably why you will see so many RSA (Returned Serviceman Association) buildings in the region.

Next large town is Paeroa (which calls itself "Antique Town of New Zealand"), which is well known in New Zealand as the home of L&P (lemon & paeroa) - a lemon drink made with local sparkling spring waters - look out for the giant L&P bottle! L&P is a New Zealand Campervan Holidays favourite.

  • If you are a keen ornithologist or just interested in nature, take a left onto Kaiaua Rd and head to Miranda on the Firth of Thames to view migratory birds a the Miranda Birdlife Sanctuary. While you're in Miranda indulge in the largest mineral hot pool in the country
  • Visit the Water Gardens at Ngatea - it's a good break for children with surprises for them as well and takes about an hour to see everything. There's even a can museum!

  • Refuel at the Pukeko's Nest cafe near Maramarua- you can also get gifts here
  • Cafe on 2 is a quaint cafe on SH2
  • Have a meal at the Copper Kettle Cafe and Tearooms - this is in Ngatea. The staff are very friendly. The New Zealand Campervan Holidays team had a great breakfast here
  • Stop for an ice cream in the Ice Cream Parlour in Paeroa

  • Stop for refreshments on the Waihou River
  • Paeroa Campground is a good place to stay overnight. There are several other places you can park overnight in Paeroa as well, inluding the Maritime Park

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Paeroa to Tauranga

Hahei art GalleryHahei art Gallery

From Paeroa on to Tauranga you travel through farmland with lots of native bush all around which adds to the lushness of the landscape. You travel through the Karangahake Gorge which is at the base of the Kamai-Mamuka Forest Park which is beautiful and then you head to Waihi (New Zealand "heart of gold" according to local signage), a reasonably large town on the way to Tauranga and home of gold - it was a busy gold mining town at the turn of the 20th century and there's still gold here today.

The road into Tauranga passes through Katikati (known as the Mural Town) where there are several options for overnight stays including the domain. Look out for thermal pools and natural hot springs as you head towards Tauranga, now a major and growing New Zealand city.



See and Do

  • Take a detour from SH2 and head to Waihi beach for a swim. You can go for bush walks nearby as well
  • Visit one of the many hot springs / thermal pools in the area, including Waihi Beach and Katikati
  • Take a detour and visit the Waihi Water Lily Gardens on the Old Tauranga Rd
  • Take one of the Karangahake Gorge walks - there is the 7km Historic Walkway that explores the gold-mining history of the gorge, or try one of the adventure walks which include abseiling and canoeing

Eat and Drink

  • Have a drink of L&P in Paeroa - it's a really refreshing drink
  • Stop at Waikino cafe (the old railway station) at the end of the Karangahake gorge - you can have a train ride at the same time
  • Look out for fruit and vegetable stalls on the side of the road, particularly locally grown avocados
  • Stop at the Burrowing Bully cafe in Waihi - look out for the turn of the century (20th century) buildings
  • Stop at the Flip'in Bear Cafe near the Athenree Gorge - you can stay here as well at the Athenree Lavender Holiday Park
  • Katikati has several good cafes

Stop Awhile

  • Stop for refreshments at the Karangahake Gorge rest area overlooking the river
  • Stay at the award winning Waihi Beach Top 10 Holiday Park - you have to leave SH2 and head to the beach but it's a diversion worth making. Even if you don't stay, Waihi is a great place to stop and just beach-watch
  • There is a large rest area at Athenree Gorge to stop overnight
  • Stay at Sapphire Springs Holiday Park and Thermal Pools at Katikati at the foot of the Kamai Ranges
  • The New Zealand Campervan Holidays van stayed at Tanners Point which had a lovely outlook towards Matakana Island

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Tauranga

Cabbage TreeCabbage Tree

Tauranga is a growing city and has lots to offer. The beaches are beautiful and the surf is great as well.


See and Do

  • Walk around Mount Maunganui - it is a significant site in Maori culture
  • Take a dolphin safari or if you are more adventurous, try swimming with dolphins in Tauranga harbour
  • Visit Historic Village on 17th (17th Ave West, Tauranga) to experience early Tauranga life - there are lots of gift shops as well as cafes. You can also just wander round the grounds

Eat and Drink

  • Get fish and chips and park up looking over the harbour and just soak up the atmosphere. This was what we did and it was very relaxing
  • Visit Mills Reef Winery and Restaurant - enjoy some free wine tasting or indulge in the works with gourmet meal with wine
  • Have some manuka honey ice cream at the Comvita Visitor Centre - watch bees at work in the hives and buy all sorts of bee related products

Stop Awhile

  • Stay at Mt Maunganui Beachside Holiday Park - here you are right in the action with the harbour on one side and the ocean on the other
  • Stay at Papamoa Beach Top 10 Holiday Resort - this is a beautiful and safe swimming beach and the holiday park has beach front sites

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