Auckland to Port Waikato, the Black and White Tour

Port Waikato - Photo by Mark von Nagy, www.vonnagy.comPort Waikato - Photo by Mark von Nagy,

Auckland to Port Waikato can also be described as potentially the shortest road trip on the island.  At only 206 Km door to door the whole trip could be completed in a leisurely four hours, but in a motorhome rental or campervan hire vehicle you should take at least a few days!

Why the black and white tour?  Well, that’s due to the beaches, white, fine and sandy to the northeast, and rugged, black, and beautiful to the west.  Start your New Zealand roadtrip in Auckland and head out to the island of Wainheke, famous for its top class wineries.

Waiheke is also great for beach lovers, the fine white sand and sheltered beaches near Oneroa make safe places for swimming and water sports, its also home to some incredible places to eat.  Travel from Oneroa to Man O’War Bay where Captain Cook dropped anchor for lunch, why not do the same.  Spend time appreciating the rugged coastline, native bush, and deep estuaries of the metal Loop Road to the east with its lavender farms, wineries, and Stony Batter Reserve with its WWII tunnels and gun placements.  Then there’s the west coast with its regional parks, great for bird watching, horse riding  and both sailing and kayaking.  One thing you must do is have a night out at the community theatre in Oneroa.  Join the locals, take a bottle of wine and a curry from the Indian restaurant next door, and make yourself comfy on the sofas which have been donated for a real ‘at home’ with a take away night out.

If you thought the wild west was in the US think again, today get back on the ferry to Auckland and then take the road west to Titirangi where you’ll have to stop for a bite to eat in one of the best eateries around, don’t eat too much though as the west coast with its black sand is the place to visit if you enjoy surfing.  The best place, and where you’ll find the locals is Piha, this is also the place to come for some fantastic sunsets.  Next stop has to the gannet colonies of Muriwai, and Parakai for a dip in the natural hot pools, a welcome bathing opportunity if you’ve not found a site with suitable showering facilities!  Inevitably you will also pass some great wineries such as Westbrook and Soljans, and if wines not your thing then maybe try the brewery at Hallartau.  Its not just about relaxing and drinking there’s lots of adventure too, visit the Woodhill Forest where you can take your pick from loads of activities both sedate and more invigorating.

Today take the four hour ferry ride to ‘The Barrier’, or Great Barrier Island, the land that time forgot.  There’s no mains electricity here and don’t bother asking the locals the time as most of them don’t use a watch; it’s the ultimate island for relaxation.  Two thirds of the island is conservation land with walking trails to places such as Mount Hubson and Kaitoke Hot Springs, best leave the motorhome rental or campervan hire in a suitable sport and explore on foot.  Whilst driving around look out for signs of early Maori settlements, as well as some unique bird and plant life along the coastline.  If sports are your thing then there are plenty of opportunities for water sports, fishing, mountain biking and for the ultimate nature experience take an off road Argo tour of the dunes, wetlands, and bush lands.

Back on the mainland again and it’s a short drive down to Port Waikato, one of the top ‘must see’ places to visit for visitors and locals alike.  Port Waikato is the place to visit for sand, surf, and sunsets.  For surfers the main attraction is Sunset Beach, no points for guessing why, but there’s also the Waikato, New Zealand’s longest river, the unspoilt Nikau Glowworm Caves, and the rock formation used in Lord of the Rings for ‘Weathertop Hollow’.  

From here you can either make your way back up to Auckland or continue your journey to who knows where, but whatever you decide you can be sure that your motorhome rental or campervan hire adventure has got off to a flying start on the black and white trail.

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