GISBORNE – NAPIER (via Urewera National Park)

Driver Information
New Zealand ItinerariesTravel distance is approximately 342kms (214 miles).
Allow at least 4.30 hours drive time (not including stops).

After a pleasant stay in Gisborne sampling the good wines available at many of the award winning vineyards in the area, you will hopefully awaken fresh and invigorated for another fabulous day of self-drive touring around this awesome part of the New Zealand’s North Island – just remember that you have to decide if you are going to take the inland route or the coastal route towards to Waikaremoana (Urewerea National Park) on the way to Napier.

The inland route follows State Highway 36 and offers the opportunity to view the largest private collection of trees in New Zealand at Hackfalls Arboratum as well as Te Reinga Falls Scenic Reserve. The coastal route boasts the fabulous beaches of the stunning Mahia Peninsula as well as the thermal pools at Morere Hot Springs.

From Urewera National Park you journey down to Wairoa before crossing the Mohaka River and then past Lake Tutira before arriving in the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand… Napier.

Some notable stops along the route to Napier include:

New Zealand ItinerariesDescribed by the Department of Conservation as “remote, rugged, immense”, Te Urewera National Park has more than 650 species of native plant while much of the park is remote with limited access areas. Bird lovers will rejoice at the huge range of North Island native forest birds found within the park, including threatened species such as Kiwi, kokako, kaka, falcon and the distinctive whio or blue duck. This is the place that people come to come here to kayak, hike, fish and hunt. However even if you are just planning a quick stop-off you can still enjoy the beauty of this national park via one of the many walking tracks, including The Lake Waikareiti Walk will is a 2 hour return trip. Beginning 200 m from the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre on the road to Rotorua, this is an easy to moderate walking track that showcases rare flora and fauna along with endangered New Zealand parrots such as the Kaka and the Kakariki. For longer tramps we recommend the 46 kilometre Lake Waikaremoana Track which is listed as one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.

The Onepoto Caves range from small cavities and rock over-hangs, to deep recesses and tunnels up to 20 metres long, some with multiple entrances. A great opportunity to try and find infamous New Zealand Cave weta, which are harmless insects but pretty ugly! The Onepoto Caves Track is located close to State Highway 38 and approximately 10km south of the Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre.

Located in the Wairoa township, the museum provides an interesting historical display of the Maori and European history of the surrounding district, including an impressive collection of Maori artefacts and a photographic collection that presents a pictorial history from the 1890s through to the present day.

Located between Wairoa and Napier, the area is considered a wildlife refuge and is renowned for its prolific bird life, including Grey Ducks, Black Swans, Shags, Herons, Pukeko, Fantails, New Zealand Wood Pigeons and more.

The winery and restaurant is located in Bay View, which is on the Northern route into Napier and is only 200 metres from the Pacific Ocean. This beautiful family winery oozes rustic charm and is where you can sample a fabulous selection of Hawke’s Bay wines and enjoy deli style local gourmet foods.

Renowned at the Art Deco City, Napier is located in the heart of the Hawke’s Bay wine country and is a truly lovely place to stay. Along with award winning wineries, golf courses, aquatic centres and a superb cafe scene, Napier is a truly sunny region and the ideal leisure location of the North Island.

Highly recommended Napier tourist attractions include…

Napier Wineries – Take a visit to one of the many award winning vineyards and wineries located in the sunny Hawke’s Bay. Alternatively, arrange a Wine Tasting Tour with one of the local tour guides.

Hawke’s Bay Museum – This is where you can experience the best of Culture, Heritage and Art in the Hawke’s Bay region. From fascinating collections to excellent exhibitions and displays of New Zealand treasures. This is a must do.

National Aquarium of New Zealand – Spend a couple of hours or an entire day! Very ‘family friendly’, everyone will enjoy a tour of the National Aquarium, which can include handling of some animals. Watch the divers feed the fish in the Oceanarium, dive with the sharks or buy some cool stuff in the gift shop.

Cape Kidnappers Gannet Reserve – The Plateau and Saddle Colonies can be viewed by taking an easy 20 minute walk from the Department of Conservation Rest Shelter. We recommend you take a guided tour that includes informative commentary.

Art Deco Walks – Take a daily guided Art Deco Walk with an accredited guide. Enjoy an easy stroll through the Art Deco Quarter and learn more about the fascinating architecture of the area. All walkers receive an informative Art Deco Walk booklet. Complimentary refreshments and a video screening are available afterwards.

Napier is a truly fantastic place to stay for a night, couple of days or a week or two! The combination of unique architecture, fabulous, balmy weather, ocean views and attractions that rival those elsewhere, you have a great selection of accommodation options as well as some superb restaurants, swanky cafes and superior inner city shopping.
New Zealand Itineraries: North Island Suggested Itineraries

Our modern self-drive travel Itineraries have routes specifically for the North Island as well as the South Island, ranging from 5 to 11 days, plus there are some travel routes that take in both the North and South Island’s. Our range of travel itineraries include information regarding travel distances and time to ensure that you can make the best of your time in New Zealand, no longer how short your visit!

  • 5 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
  • 6 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Coromandel, Coromandel – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua and Rotorua – Auckland
  • 6 Day Itinerary (route 2): Auckland – Dargaville, Dargaville – Kaitaia, Kaitaia – Paihia, Paihia – Whangarei and Whangarei – Auckland
  • 7 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Napier and Napier – Wellington
  • 8 Day Itinerary: Wellington, Wellington – Masterton, Masterton – Wellington, Wellington – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim and Blenheim – Christchurch
  • 9 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Coromandel, Coromandel – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Gisborne, Gisborne – Napier, Napier – Taupo, Taupo – Rotorua, Rotorua – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
  • 9 Day Itinerary (route 2): Auckland – Whangarei, Whangarei – Paihia, Paihia – Hokianga, Hokianga – Auckland, Auckland – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
  • 11 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua, Rotorua – Gisborne, Gisborne – Napier, Napier Taupo Napier, Napier – Wellington, Wellington – New Plymouth, New Plymouth – Waitomo and Waitomo Caves – Auckland