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map of Drive Auckland to Ruapehu

Best Advice Guide to Driving From Auckland to Ruapehu Region

We are often asking for itinerary stop suggestions when driving south on the 3½ to 4-hour journey from Auckland to the Ruapehu region.

Here are some fab en-route ideas:

  • HAMPTON DOWNS GO-KARTS: Excellent 530m track, going up to 70kpm, and even 2-seater kart options available. Adrenaline heaven. [Open Thu-Sun]
  • TE KAUWHATA GREENSTONE SHOP: This is a quick little stop at a “museum” that sells taonga (highly priced) pounamu (greenstone) at excellent prices. [Open Mon-Sat]
  • RANGIRIRI PAA: Scene of the 1863 Battle of Rangiriri, which was the first major conflict of the Waikato Invasion by British forces. This symbolic reinterpretation of the Pā is well worth a stroll around.
  • RANGIRIRI HOTEL: This historic pub is a great place to stop for lunch or just a drink in the garden bar.
  • VILLAGE CAFÉ, WHATAWHATA: Nice indoor-outdoor café with pop-up boutiques next door. [Mon-Fri closes 2ish, and a bit later on the weekends]
  • BACKYARD GASTROPUB, WHATAWHATA: A chillaxing place to stop for a pint.
  • FIVE STAGS, PIRONGIA: Gourmet pub with kids’ playground, a great village to stop in a wee own full of history. [Pirongia Heritage & Info Ctr open Tue-Sun 10.30 – 3.30]
  • KIWI HOUSE: Located in the Kiwiana town of ŌTOROHANGA, and open daily 10 am-4 pm, this is a most personal wildlife experience of seeing Kiwis up close and active, including Keeper talks and feeding displays [timetables online]. The Kiwi House is also not far from the KIWIANA LEISURE PARK mini-golf & paintball [open Sat-Sun].
  • WAITOMO GLOW-WORM, ZIP-LINE CAVES & BLACK-WATER RAFTING: Just 5-10 mins after Ōtorohanga is a giant apple where Waitomo Homestead is (which is a “basecamp” HQ to Waitomo). The caves are a truly stunning stop on your itinerary.
  • TE KUITI: This sheep-shearing capital of the world is worth a stop specially to visit the colourful Shoppington gift and toy shops that also specialise in garden water features, plus seeing the town’s large Statue of Shearer (253 Rora St). A great local café is Stoked Eatery at the railway station, right by the Sir Colin Meads statue.
  • NEVALEA ALPACAS: Lovely stop to hand-feed and take an alpaca for a walk (you can pre-book tours online). Also, a shop onsite selling yarn and knitwear (& coffees).
  • NEW WORLD, TAUMARUNUI: Last supermarket before our place, the century-old Ōwhango Post Office Lodge holiday home.

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