Hamilton to New Plymouth

Explore Hamilton

The city of Hamilton is situated by the banks of the Waikato River and is famous for its thriving restaurants, award-winning gardens, and vibrant nightlife. It’s a perfect city to explore and enjoy before setting off on a beautiful North Island road trip.

Begin your visit to Hamilton with breakfast or lunch in one of the town’s cafes, followed by a stroll along the beautiful banks of the Waikato River. After, take in the sights on board one of the river boat cruises.

After meandering downriver, make your way to Hamilton Gardens – one of the undoubted highlights of the city – and famous throughout New Zealand. Each garden is themed, focusing on different cultures, themes and history from around the world. The gardens are a must-see when visiting Hamilton.

Other highlights from Hamilton include the Waikato Museum and the Hamilton zoo – the latter of which plays host to many of New Zealand’s exceptionally unique native birds.

After a day of exploring, spend an evening enjoying Hamilton’s restaurants and bars before setting off the next day.

Scratch below the surface at the Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Caves region is famous for the brilliance that lurks beneath the surface. Underground in this ancient limestone region lies a series of vast cave systems, each featuring impressive stalactites, stalagmites and glowworms. Some caves are open to the public and are easy to walk through, while others require specialised caving equipment and guidance.

A slight detour from Waitomo towards the west coast will take you to Kawhia where hot water bubbles up through the sand on the beach. At low tide, Kawhia's hot water beach offers the rare experience of soaking in a sandy spa pool – all for free.

Kawhia is also great fishing spot for holiday makers, with fishing tours available year-round. For much of the year, Kawhia is a peaceful, quiet place, with an increase in beach-goers arriving over summer. Also in summer, be sure to visit the town of Te Awamutu to admire the roses.

Go adventuring in New Plymouth

On the western edge of New Zealand’s North Island, halfway between Auckland and Wellington, lies New Plymouth – one of NZ’s best-kept secrets, and the final stop on this road trip.

New Plymouth is a pretty town, framed by Mount Taranaki off in the distance – a culturally significant landmark, often referred to as New Zealand’s answer to Mount Fuji.

The city enjoys a sunny climate, which makes it perfect for those seeking outdoor adventure. Running for approximately 13 kilometres along the Taranaki coastline, the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway is a must for all visitors. For more hiking, jump in your rental car and head for the trails of Egmont National Park, just a short drive away.

Aside from enthralling natural beauty, New Plymouth is also home to a thriving food and arts scene, as well as world-class festivals, art galleries and parks.

If your visit to New Plymouth happens to coincide with rhododendron season, there is simply nothing more pleasant than a stroll through some of the city’s famous parks and gardens when the flowers bloom and bring new life and colour.

A road trip around New Zealand’s North Island offers beauty at every turn. Wherever you choose to adventure, you’ll get there in a rental car from Hertz.