7-Day Food Itinerary for the North Island
You probably don’t need a lecture on how spending one week on the North Island is not nearly enough time to enjoy what this island of New Zealand has to offer… With that in mind, we’ll help you crack on with this North Island food itinerary for one week (7 days).
Wineries, manuka honey, traditional Maori hangi, foodie tours of the North Island’s two largest cities: the list goes on for exciting food-related antics you can get up. Start planning your trip, including foodie activities and accommodation, with this North Island food itinerary for 7 days (one week).
Oh, and don’t forget to bookmark The Food Guide to New Zealand – you’re definitely going to need that.
North Island Food Itinerary for One Week: Overview
- Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Auckland
- Day 2 – Explore Auckland
- Day 3 – Auckland to Rotorua
- Day 4 – Explore Rotorua
- Day 5 – Rotorua to Napier
- Day 6 – Napier to Palmerston North
- Day 7 – Palmerston North to Wellington Airport
How to Get Around the North Island in One Week
This 7-day food itinerary for the North Island is a self-drive itinerary. However, skip to the second point to see an alternative way to get around if you don’t want to drive.
- Rental car or campervan – There’s an abundance of rental cars and camping vehicles on the North Island. As we recommend hotels, motels and B&Bs in this itinerary, we recommend using a car rather than a campervan. Plus, use a rental company that has depots in both Auckland and Wellington where this itinerary begins and ends. Get started on your research with our guide, Travel By Car in New Zealand: The Ultimate Guide.
- Escorted tours – If you would rather not drive around the North Island yourself, escorted bus tours provide an easy alternative. The downside is that these guided tours won’t focus as much on foodie experiences as this itinerary does. Check out a range of fully-guided tours on The Best 7-Day Tours of the North Island.
How to Get Back to Auckland from Wellington
Most travellers arrive and depart the North Island from Auckland International Airport. There are three main ways to make the journey back to Auckland from this itinerary’s endpoint in Wellington.
- Domestic flight – The quickest way to travel between Auckland and Wellington is via domestic flights. They occur daily taking approximately 1h10mins. Find out more in our guide to Domestic Flights in New Zealand.
- Train – Train trips between Wellington and Auckland depart three times a week taking approximately 11 hours. Find out more on Viator or Tripadvisor or in our Train Network in New Zealand.
- Bus – Buses provide the cheapest transport for getting between Wellington and Auckland. They depart daily (and nightly via the Sleeper Buses). Find out more using the Bus Networks in New Zealand guide.
Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Auckland
Travel time: 25-40 minutes (depending on traffic)
Welcome to the North Island of New Zealand! Before you shoot off, we recommend spending today and tomorrow in Auckland. Not only will it be less tiring if you’re jet-lagged, but Auckland just happens to be a cultural melting pot and foodie hub in itself. Head to the city by picking up your rental car or by taking one of the other airport transfer options. If you do the latter option, just pick up your vehicle on Day 3 of this itinerary.
You have plenty of time to explore Auckland tomorrow. For now, try the fantastic coffee scene of the CBD (we recommend The Shelf on High Street) or seafood fine dining at Harbourside in the city centre. Check out more recommendations in The Foodie Guide to Auckland. We’ve also listed hotels with awesome restaurants, which are our recommended accommodations for foodies.
The Best Accommodation in Auckland with Restaurants
- SkyCity Grand Hotel
- Stamford Plaza
- Cordis, Auckland
- Grand Mercure Auckland
- Grand Millennium Auckland
Find out more about each accommodation in our list of 10 Best Accommodations in Auckland for Foodies.
Day 2 – Explore Auckland
Auckland’s foodie scene is spread from the city centre to the outer islands. You could be hopping on a ferry to the winemaking island of Waiheke Island for a diverse wine tour (read reviews and book tours with Ananda Tours on Viator and Tripadvisor). Alternatively, stick to the city and do a tour specially designed for you with The Big Foody (on Viator and Tripadvisor). Inspire yourself with more activities using the list below.
Food Experiences in Auckland
- Tour Waiheke Islands’ wineries and vineyards (more info on Klook, Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Join a culinary tour of Auckland’s city centre (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Treat yourself to a fine dining experience at Harbourside, Kazuya and more
- Try out the Auckland cheap eats
- Discover Auckland’s bar culture on a cocktail tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
For more information on each activity, see our 8 Best Things to Do in Auckland for Foodies.
Day 3 – Auckland to Rotorua
Travel time: 2h50mins
If you haven’t already, pick up a rental vehicle in Auckland before making your way to New Zealand’s Maori and geothermal hotspot. Rotorua has a strong Maori presence, making a hangi buffet experience an absolute must! Hangi is a Polynesian style of cooking where food is slow-cooked in an underground oven. Both Tamaki Maori Village (on Klook, Viator and Tripadvisor) and Te Puia (on KKday, Klook, Viator and Tripadvisor) serve hangi buffets in their evening tours including cultural performances and an insight into their traditions and customs.
The Best Accommodation in Rotorua
- Prince’s Gate Hotel
- Rydges Rotorua
- Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua
- Regent of Rotorua
- Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort
For more information on our top picks, check out the 10 Best Accommodations in Rotorua for Foodies.
Day 4 – Explore Rotorua
If you haven’t tried Maori food yet, head to Whakawerawera Living Maori Village to see how they cook food using the village’s geothermal vents (more info on Klook, Viator or Tripadvisor). Otherwise, you might be interested in diving into the New Zealand farming industry at Agrodome (more info on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday). See more experiences listed below, as well as dining recommendations in The Foodie Guide to Rotorua.
Food Experiences in Rotorua
- Try a traditional Maori hangi (more info on Klook, Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Do the Mamaku Blue Orchard Tour
- Learn about New Zealand farming on the Agrodome Farm Tour (on Viator, Tripadvisor and KKday)
- Mingle with the locals at the Rotorua Farmers’ Market and Rotorua Night Market
- Taste wine and craft beers at the local winery and craft beer pub.
For elaboration on each activity, check out the 8 Things to Do in Rotorua for Foodies.
Day 5 – Rotorua to Napier
Travel time: 2h45mins
Continue your North Island journey by stopping in Taupo to try manuka honey at the Huka Honey Hive for fish for your own prawn lunch at the Huka Prawn Park (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). Check out other recommendations in the 7 Things to Do in Taupo for Foodies.
Then, it’s over the hill to the east coast where you’ll arrive in Napier, which is the hub of the Hawke’s Bay region. Dive into the winery experiences of Hawke’s Bay with Prinsy’s Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), Vines and Views Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor) or others. They’ll handle the driving and the cellar door tasting fees while you handle the tastings.
For dinner, take your pick of restaurants like the art deco-interiors of the Emporium Eatery & Bar, fresh seafood from Hunger Monger, and an eclectic mix of flavours at the Indonesian-Dutch fusion restaurant of Restaurant Indonesia. As always, more information and recommendations can be found in our Foodie Guide to Napier.
Food Experiences in Napier
- Do a wine tour of the Hawke’s Bay wineries (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Do a self-guided cycling tour of the wineries (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Check out the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market
- Visit the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre
- Do a chocolate tour at Silky Oaks Chocolates.
For more information on each experience and more, check out the 10 Things to Do in Napier for Foodies.
The Best Accommodation in Napier with Restaurants
Check out the 10 Best Accommodations in Napier for Foodies for more information on our top picks.
Day 6 – Napier to Palmerston North
Travel time: 2h25mins
Continue your way south today towards Palmerston North. If you haven’t already, travel via Hastings to sample its charming eateries. Then it’s a journey through the rural heart of Hawke’s Bay where you could stop by Oruawharo Homestead for high tea?
After passing through the dramatic scenery of the Manawatu Gorge (and perhaps walked off your high tea on the Tawa Loop Walk), you’ll have more cool cafes to experience in Ashhurst, such as The Herb Farm which uses its herb garden to create all sorts of herbal products.
Finally, you’ve reached Palmerston North, or as the locals know it, “Palmy”. If you have time, jump on a coffee roastery tour to experience the passion behind the coffee bean with Arrosta Coffee.
Food Experiences in Palmerston North
- Experience the vibrant farmers’ markets in Palmerston North or the surrounding rural towns
- Take a tour of a coffee roastery with Arrosta Coffee
- Browse honey products and taste honey ice cream at Waireka Honey
- Take a tour of the Tui Brewery
- Learn about all things dairy at the Robotic Dairy Farm Tours.
Take a look at the 7 Things to Do in Palmerston North for Foodies for information on all these experiences and their locations.
The Best Accommodation in Palmerston North with Restaurants/Meals/Breakfasts
- Copthorne Hotel Palmerston North
- Distinction Coachman Hotel
- Distinction Palmerston North Hotel
- Aspree Motor Inn
For more information on our top recommendations, see the 10 Best Accommodations in Palmerston North for Foodies.
Day 7 – Palmerston North to Wellington Airport
Travel time: 2 hours
Leave Palmerston North early today so you arrive in Wellington with time to do a couple of more food-related fun stuff before you leave the North Island. For instance, dive deeper into the flavours of Wellington with a guided food tour. Zest Food Tours will take you to experience the hidden artisanry gems of the city. Find out more about Zest Food Tours, read reviews and book tours on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Wellington also has a thing for craft beer, so either guide yourself using the 14 Breweries & Craft Beer Bars in Wellington or jump on a brewery-hopping tour (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Food Experiences in Wellington
- Join Zest Food Tours for a culinary walking tour of the city (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Check out the local craft beer breweries and brewbars
- Do the Wellington Chocolate Factory tour
- Try out the local street eats
- Take a tour to the Wairarapa wine region with Zozo Travel (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).
For more information on each activity, see our 9 Things to Do in Wellington for Foodies.
Then, it’s goodbye to Wellington as you catch your flight to your next destination or take the train or bus back to Auckland International Airport.
More About a North Island Foodie Itinerary for One Week / 7 Days
That’s it for our North Island food itinerary for one week (7 days). If this itinerary didn’t quite suit you, perhaps you’d be more into these alternatives:
- North Island in One Week: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
- North Island Budget & Backpacking Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days
- North Island Family Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days
- North Island Honeymoon & Romance Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days
- North Island Luxury Itinerary: One Week / 7 Days
- The Best Way to Spend 7 Days on the North Island
- How to Create the Perfect New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
Finally, get more advice for planning an entire trip to New Zealand surrounding culinary experiences in The Foodie Guide to New Zealand.