14-Day Foodie Itinerary for the North Island
If your tastebuds are what have brought you to the land of New Zealand/Aotearoa, then you’re in the right place choosing the North Island. The North Island has been New Zealand’s most populated island for centuries. With that, a diverse range of cultures and flavours have arisen between Maori cuisine, fruit and dairy production, winemaking and much more. Dive into the flavoursome side of New Zealand with this North Island foodie itinerary for two weeks.
This North Island foodie itinerary for 14 days includes food-related activities, accommodation and travel tips to help you plan a tasty trip.
How to Get Around the North Island in Two Weeks
This 14-day foodie itinerary for the North Island is a self-drive itinerary. Skip to the second point, however, 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. Use a rental company that has depots in both Auckland and Wellington where this itinerary begins and ends. Get started on your research with The Guide to Renting a Car or Campervan in New Zealand.
- Escorted tours – If you would rather not drive around New Zealand yourself, escorted bus tours provide an effortless alternative. The downside is that these guided tours don’t focus on foodie experiences. Check out a range of fully-guided tours on The Best 10-12-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, Wellington.
- Domestic flight – The quickest way to travel between Auckland and Wellington is via domestic flights which occur daily and take approximately 1h10mins. Find out more in our guide to Domestic Flights in New Zealand.
- Train – Train trips between Wellington and Auckland occur three times a week taking approximately 11 hours. Find out more on Viator or Tripadvisor.
- Bus – Buses provide the cheapest transport for getting between Wellington and Auckland. They depart daily, as well as 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! Your first stay will be in Auckland, which you can get to by picking your rental car up or by taking one of the other airport transfer options. The latter can save you on your car daily rental rate. Then, just pick up your vehicle on Day 3.
Because you have plenty of time to explore Auckland tomorrow, check out Auckland’s dining scene! Try the native cuisine of The Maori Kitchen on Queen’s Wharf or the fine Pacific seafood dining of Harbourside in the city centre. Check out more recommendations in The Foodie Guide to Auckland. We’ve also listed hotels with excellent restaurants, which are our recommended accommodations for foodies.
The Best Accommodation in Auckland with Restaurants/Meals/Breakfasts
- SkyCity Grand Hotel
- Grand Millennium Auckland
- Stamford Plaza
- Cordis, Auckland
- Grand Mercure Auckland
Find out more about each accommodation in our list of 10 Best Accommodation in Auckland for Foodies.
Day 2 – Explore Auckland
Auckland’s foodie scene takes you in several directions. You could be hopping on a ferry to the winemaking island of Waiheke Island for a diverse wine tour (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). Alternatively, stick to the city centre 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
- Join a culinary tour of Auckland’s city centre (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Tour Waiheke Islands’ wineries (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Discover Auckland’s bar culture on a cocktail tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Treat yourself to one of the 10 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Auckland
- Try out the street eats
For more information on each activity, see our 8 Best Things to Do in Auckland for Foodies.
Day 3 – Auckland to The Coromandel
Travel time: 1h25mins to 2h30mins (depending on Coromandel accommodation)
If you haven’t done so already, pick up your rental vehicle in Auckland city centre so that you can hit the road and start exploring the real New Zealand. Set your sights on the glorious beaches, seafood mecca and artisans’ paradise of the Coromandel Peninsula. On your way there, stop by the Cheese Barn in Matatoki to sample a variety of locally made cheeses. As you reach Hahei, take a self-guided tour of Cathedral Cove Macadamias and get a taste of a real Kiwi boutique winery at Mercury Bay Estate or Purangi Estate.
Food Experiences in The Coromandel
- Hit the foodie places on the Hauraki Rail Trail
- Experience a unique hiking food tour with Nature & Nosh (find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Try wine and other locally made beverages at a local winery
- Pick up artisan cheese, chutneys, honey and more
- Mingle with the locals at a farmers’ market
For more information on each activity, check out 7 Things to Do in the Coromandel for Foodies.
The Best Accommodation in the Coromandel
The Coromandel’s best accommodations for breakfasts, meals and/or restaurants are scattered throughout the peninsula, so drive times from Auckland will depend on where you stay.
- Lady Bowen Bed & Breakfast, Thames
- Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort, Pauanui Beach
- Coghill Cottage, Whitianga
- The Church Accommodation, Hahei
- Rapaura Watergardens, Thames
For more information on our top picks, take a look at the 10 Best Accommodation in the Coromandel for Foodies.
Day 4 – The Coromandel to Tauranga
Travel time: 1h40mins to 2h40mins (depending on Coromandel accommodation)
Today you take a stunning coastal journey down the east coast passing through quaint towns like Whangamata and Waihi. Your final destination today is Tauranga, the hub of the Bay of Plenty, so-called for its productive fruit-growing. There’s also plenty of wineries, cideries and breweries, which are best visited on tours so you don’t need to worry about nominating a designated driver.
We’ll go more into what you can do in Tauranga tomorrow. For now, see why Kiwis love Asian cuisine by booking a table at Rice Rice Baby in Mt Maunganui or The Rising Tide, also in Mt Maunganui. Check out more recommendations in The Foodie Guide to Tauranga. Otherwise, the following accommodations have excellent meals involved with their hospitality.
Whether you want to learn all about fruit, beverages or get a comprehensive tour of everything the Bay of Plenty produces, Tauranga is here to serve. Taste of Plenty offers tours surrounding sourdough, cheeses, coffee, olive oils, smoked fish, green-lipped mussels, kiwifruit, avocados, manuka honey, gelato, beer, wine, ciders and/or New Zealand savoury pies! Otherwise, keep it simple with some drink at The Cider Factorie for tasting paddles and their small-plate menu.
Food Experiences in Tauranga
- Do tastings on a wine tour with Tauranga Tasting Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Taste award-winning ciders and more at The Cider Factorie
- Get “off the eaten track” on a food tour with Taste of Plenty
- Learn about the kiwifruit industry with Kiwifruit Country Tours
- Mingle with the locals at the Tauranga Farmers’ Market
Take a look at 9 Things to Do in Tauranga for Foodies for more details on each experience.
The Best Accommodation in Tauranga
For more information on our top recommendations, take a look at the 10 Best Accommodation in Tauranga for Foodies.
Day 5 – Tauranga to Rotorua
Travel time: 50 minutes
With just under an hour’s drive to Rotorua, you have time to do anything you might have missed in Tauranga before making your way to New Zealand’s geothermal hotspot. Rotorua also 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 Mitai Maori Village (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) and Tamaki Maori Village (on Viator and Tripadvisor) serve hangi buffets in their evening tours.
The Best Accommodation in Rotorua
- Prince’s Gate Hotel
- Rydges Rotorua
- Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua
- Regent of Rotorua
- Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort
Check out the 10 Best Accommodation in Rotorua for Foodies for more information on our top picks.
Day 6 – Explore Rotorua
This morning, head to Whakawerawera Living Maori Village to see how they cook food using geothermal vents (more info on Viator or Tripadvisor). Otherwise, you might be interested in learning about the New Zealand farming industry at Agrodome (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor). 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 Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Experience Kiwi farming on the Agrodome Farm Tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Visit the Rotorua Farmers’ Market and Rotorua Night Market
- Do the Mamaku Blue Orchard and Winery Tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Relax with a beverage 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 7 – Rotorua to Whakatane
Travel time: 1h15mins
After you’re satisfied that you’ve done everything you want to do in Rotorua, it’s a reasonable drive to Whakatane. We like their pick-your-own berry farms, as well as fudge tastings at Tui Aotearoa and chocolates from Scilla Chocolates.
An almost obligatory experience, however, is sitting on Ohope Beach with some fresh Kiwi-style fish and chips. Recommendations include Fisherman’s Wharf, Ohiwa Oyster Farm, Wally’s on the Wharf and others listed in The Foodie Guide to Whakatane.
Food Experiences in Whakatane
- Taste craft beers at the Mata Brewery & Tasting Room
- Indulge in authentic Maori food at Mataatua or with NATIVConnectioNZ
- Do a fudge tasting at Tui Aotearoa
- Pick your own berries at one of the berry farms
- Sample some Bay of Plenty chocolates at Scilla Chocolates
For more information on each experience, take a look at the 9 Things to Do in Whakatane for Foodies.
The Best Accommodation in Whakatane with Restaurants/Meals/Breakfasts
Take a look at the 10 Best Accommodation in Whakatane for Foodies for more information on our top picks.
Day 8 – Whakatane to Gisborne
Travel time: 2h45mins
Take the stunning journey from Whakatane through the Waioeka Gorge to Gisborne. Follow Opotiki to Gisborne via The Waioeka Gorge: 8 Epic Stops! for things to do along the way.
Then you’ll arrive in the cool little wine region of Gisborne, where we recommend a guided wine tasting at the Gisborne Wine Centre for a comprehensive experience. Or, if beer is more you thing, the Sunshine Brewery is well worth a sit-down.
For dinner, we recommend the French-inspired cuisine of the Marina Restaurant or the casual yet elegant fine dining establishment of The Works. See more suggestions in The Foodie Guide to Gisborne.
The Best Accommodation in Gisborne with Restaurants/Meals/Breakfasts
For more information on our top picks, take a look at the 10 Best Accommodation in Gisborne for Foodies.
Day 9 – Explore Gisborne
Today could be the day that you explore the wineries around Gisborne, including Millton Vineyards & Winery, Matawhero Wines and Bushmere Estate. Otherwise, watch the cidery at work through the display windows (and have tastings, of course) at the Harvest Cidery. Yes, it’s all about the drink here!
Food Experiences in Gisborne
- Visit the wineries around Gisborne
- Try craft beer at the Sunshine Brewery
- Taste cider and watch it being made at the Harvest Cidery
- Try it all at the Gisborne Wine Centre
- Hit one of Gisborne’s wine or beer festivals
Check out the 8 Things to Do in Gisborne for Foodies for elaboration on each experience.
Day 10 – Gisborne to Napier
Travel time: 2h55mins
Continue down the east coast today to New Zealand’s oldest wine region, Hawke’s Bay. It’s not just all about the wine though, as the region hosts one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the country, while attractions surrounding manuka honey and chocolate are also on the menu.
Speaking of the menu, 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 restaurant of Restaurant Indonesia. As always, more information and recommendations can be found in our Foodie Guide to Napier.
The Best Accommodation in Napier with Restaurants/Meals/Breakfasts
Check out the 10 Best Accommodation in Napier for Foodies for more information on our top picks.
Day 11 – Explore Napier
Let’s waste no time diving into the winery experiences of Hawke’s Bay. Tours like Prinsy’s Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), Vines and Views Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor) and others can handle the driving and the cellar door fees while you handle the tastings.
If you’re lucky enough to be around on a weekend, head to the Napier Urban Farmers’ Market or the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market. Whatever the day, we recommend diving into the world of honey-making at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre.
Food Experiences in Napier
- Join a driven wine tour of the Hawke’s Bay wineries (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)…
- … Or a self-guided cycling tour of the wineries (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Explore the stalls of the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market
- Visit the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre
- Tour the Silky Oaks Chocolates’ factory
For more information on each experience and more, check out the 10 Things to Do in Napier for Foodies.
Day 12 – Napier to Palmerston North
Travel time: 2h25mins
Continue your way south today as you make your way to your next city destination. 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 high tea at Oruawharo Homestead is highly recommended.
After passing through the dramatic scenery of the Manawatu Gorge and perhaps walking off your high tea on the Tawa Loop Walk you’ll have more cool cafes to experience in Ashhhurst, such as The Herb Farm which uses its herb garden to create all sorts of herbal products.
Finally, you’ve reached Palmerston North that the locals fondly call “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
- Take a tour of a coffee roastery
- 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
- Experience the vibrant farmers’ markets across Palmerston North and its surrounding towns
For information on all these experiences and their locations, take a look at the 7 Things to Do in Palmerston North for Foodies.
The Best Accommodation in Palmerston North with Restaurants/Meals/Breakfasts
- Copthorne Hotel Palmerston North
- Distinction Coachman Hotel
- The Cobb Hotel
- Distinction Palmerston North Hotel
- Aspree Motor Inn
See the 10 Best Accommodation in Palmerston North for Foodies for more information on our top recommendations.
Day 13 – Palmerston North to Wellington
Travel time: 2 hours
You’ve finally reached the capital city and your final destination on this North Island foodie itinerary for one week. Wellington has an eclectic mix of eateries to suit a range of tastes. If you want something classically Kiwi, pick up a New Zealand-style savoury pie from the likes of Caffee L’affare, Clareville Bakery and Midnight Espresso. Iconic fish & chips can be found at the Wellington Seamarket and The Mt. Vic Chippery, while a more fancy twist of the sea fare can be found at Ortega Fish Shack and Shed 5.
The Best Accommodation in Wellington with Restaurants/Meals/Breakfasts
For more information about each activity, see 10 Best Accommodation in Wellington for Foodies.
Day 14 – Wellington to Wellington Airport
Book your flight for this evening (or wait to take the night bus) because you’re going to want the time to 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, which you can find out more about on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Food Experiences in Wellington
- Join Zest Food Tours for a culinary walking tour (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Check out the local craft beer breweries and brewbars
- Take a tour to the Wairarapa wine region (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Do the Wellington Chocolate Factory tour
- Try out the local street eats
For more information on each activity, see our 9 Things to Do in Wellington for Foodies.
Alternatively, if you need to travel back to Auckland, spend the day on the Northern Explorer train for a more scenic, less polluting journey to Auckland with Kiwi cuisine served onboard. Find out more on Viator or Tripadvisor.