Best places to stop Auckland to Paihia

Best places to stop when driving from Auckland to Paihia

Paihia is only a few hours’ drive from Auckland, yet it feels like you’re miles away from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. Heading up north is a great way to maximise a long weekend – or longer break if you’re lucky, and what better way to start off your adventure north, than to make the car ride a journey in itself.

Follow our road trip stop guide below to discover some of the many worthy break stops on the drive to Paihia:


Pie stop: Is it even a road trip if you don’t eat a pie? Make sure you tuck into an award winning pie from Champion Bakery in Wellsford. We recommend the bacon and egg pie, and so do the Bakel’s Pie Awards, with this little number recently taking out a highly commended accolade.


Coffee stop: La Nonna Italian Bakery, not only does great food, but the coffee, dear we say it, is even better. Stop here in Kaiwaka to get your caffeine fix!


Lookout Stop: Stopping to stretch the legs is an important component to a road trip. If you’re going to take time out of your journey though, you want there to be a view! There are two great lookout spots along the way. The first you’ll come across is approximately 1 hour into the journey, called the Dome Valley Lookout. It’s a 40 minute one way walk that takes you through native bush to a lookout platform looking back out to the Mahurangi Peninsula and Hauraki Gulf. If you’d rather not stop for a long period of time, another great lookout stop is approximately 2 hours from Auckland called the Brynderwyns Scenic Lookout – this is definitely worth stopping at to take in the stunning Instagram-worthy view.


Beach Stop: Uretiti Beach, in Waipu has white sand and turquoise water for days. It's a lovely long stretch of beach where you'll feel like you have the place to yourself. It's a great place to get a bit of fresh air, have a picnic, and if you fancy, go for a swim! 


Glow worm stop: This stop is definitely off the beaten track a little, but to see glow worms for free, it's worthwhile getting your feet a bit wet. Just follow the signs to Waipu Caves off State Highway One to a car park where you’ll disembark on foot for 100m to find these magical little luminous larvae. Make sure you're prepared and put safety first, this is a cave system after all! 


Toilet Stop: Whangarei i-Site toilets are great if you just want a quick stop. There’s plenty of parking for cars / campervans / trailers and you just need pull in to the left as you come into Whangarei, you can’t miss it. There’s also the famous Hundertwasser Toilets in Kawakawa, worth a visit even if you don’t need to go. Designed by the famous Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasse, these decorative toilets are the only project designed by Hundertwasser in the Southern Hemisphere and was the last project completed by him in his lifetime.


Nature Stop: Different nature stop to the one above, this break recommendation is to stop and be-one-with-nature and view some mighty Kauri trees. Kauri trees are native to New Zealand, and have to be seen to be believed. They are one of the longest-living tree species in the world and grow to dizzying heights. Stop off at Parry Kauri Park in Warkworth to visit the two large resident Kauri trees. You can also go on a quick loop track walk through the bush and if you have time, make sure you visit the museum on site to learn more about the history of the area.


Pizza stop: Thanks to a recent recommendation, we've added the iconic McLeod's Pizza Barn to our list of must-stops. A little hidden gem just off State Highway 1 in Waipu, this stop is worth the slight diversion. Their pizzas are no joke, and they certainly don't skimp on the toppings! And for the non designated driver, you can wash down your pizza with an award winning craft beer from the McLeod's brewery. Dream combo!


We hope you enjoy your trip north, drive safe, and if you discover any other great stops along the way, let us know – we’d love to hear!

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