The Road from Wellington to Taupo


State Highway 1 : enjoying the road from Wellington to Taupo

The driving time is around 5 hours (385km).  But why take it that fast?  Read on to find out top attractions along State Highway 1.

Waikanae (60km from Wellington / 318km from Taupo)

This pretty town of around 10,000 is on the Kapiti coast with river and mountain backdrop.  Good beach for swimming, surfing and beachcombing or visit the Nga Manu Sanctuary?- This 15ha bird sanctuary is an interesting place to visit with numerous species of birds, including pied stilts, kea, wood pigeons and parakeets. A 1.5km loop track leads walkers through a variety of habitats from scrubland to coastal forest. There is also a nocturnal house containing kiwi and tuatara, and some pleasant picnic spots. Located on Ngarara Road and open daily.

Waikanae River - the river winds its way from the township on SH1 to the sea and there is an easy grade, well-formed track that follows the riverbank, suitable for walking or biking.  The track has lots of entry/exit points as well as river access points to safe swimming spots.

Otaki  (86km from Wellington / 301km from Taupo)

Another Kapiti Coast town that also borders the Otaki River.

Attractions include Family Rafting with Captivate Adventures – Grade 2 river or try out their land adventures including ropes course and flying fox.

Levin  (107km from Wellington / 281km from Taupo)

A town of approx 20,000 and gateway to the Manawatu region – the Tararua Ranges through to rugged Tasman beaches. Popular set-off point for hiking and fishing holidays. Just ten minutes from Waitarere Beach – wide, sandy beach surrounded by forest with walking and biking tracks.

Foxton  (126km from Wellington / 262km from Taupo)

This small town has the neighbouring coastal settlement of Foxton Beach.  Look out for the authentic, full size Dutch windmill. (Fully operating and open to the public). 

Also home to historic sites and museums including the Flax Stripper Museum, Horse-drawn tram (operates weekends or by arrangement), Audio Visual and Trolley Bus museums as well as in/outdoor swimming pool.

Foxton Beach is popular with kitesurfers and paddleboarders and a great place for family activities.  Wind Warrior hire paddleboards for the whole family – start off with a lesson and then stand up and paddle the calm and flat Manawatu Estuary.

Bulls (163km from Wellington / 224km from Taupo)

The Southern gateway to the Rangitikei District. They do play on their name – look for all the pun signs around the town, not to mention the giant bull.

Mangaweka (224km from Wellington / 163km from Taupo)

Tiny township of just over 200 people, close to the Rangiteki River and ideal base for a family rafting trip on easy Grade 2 water. The river is also popular for kayaking, fishing and swimming. As you enter the township look out for the elevated DC-3 aircraft which you can visit. Underneath is a café and the local rafting base.

Taihape (244km from Wellington / 143km from Taupo)

Known as Gumboot Capital of the World. Base for Gravity Canyon – operators of New Zealand’s highest bridge bungy jump (80m) Minimum age 10 / minimum weight 45kg. Also the Swing - Minimum age 10 / minimum weight 45kg, Flying Fox - Minimum age 10 / minimum weight 35kg and Hydrolift – minimum age 5.

Waiouru (273km from Wellington / 115km from Taupo)

Small town on the North Island Volcanic Plateau, 25km south east of Mount Ruapehu and base for the New Zealand Army. Main attraction is the National Army Museum – includes lots of interactive stuff and and all-terrain vehicle ride.

Turangi (336km from Wellington / 52km from Taupo)

Southern end of Lake Taupo and 40 minutes drive from Taupo, on the banks of the Tongariro River. Great base for exploring the nearby national parks, the Tongariro Crossing, hot pools, skiing.






Map of New Zealand
  • Queenstown
  • Northland
  • Bay of Plenty
  • Wanaka
  • Fiordland
  • Taupo
  • Coromandel
  • Gisborne
  • North Canterbury
  • Waikato
  • Hawkes Bay
  • South Canterbury
  • Manawatu
  • Rotorua
  • Nelson & Golden Bay
  • Taranaki
  • Marlborough Sounds
  • Southland
  • Central Otago
  • Dunedin
  • West Coast
  • Whangarei
  • Bay of Islands
  • Tauranga
  • Gisborne
  • Hamilton
  • Napier
  • Kapiti
  • Palmerston North
  • Whanganui
  • New Plymouth
  • Arrowtown
  • Te Anau
  • Akaroa
  • Ashburton
  • Hanmer
  • Kaikoura
  • Methven
  • Mt Cook
  • Oamaru
  • Tekapo
  • Timaru
  • Abel Tasman
  • Motueka
  • Nelson Lakes
  • Blenheim
  • Picton
  • Catlins
  • Gore
  • Stewart Island
  • Central Plateau
  • Invercargill
  • Cromwell
  • Greymouth
  • Hokitika
  • Westport
  • Glenorchy

Our favourite destinations…

Auckland destination2


New Zealand’s economic heart and biggest city is also an exciting family visitor destination, situated on a sunny harbour with city beaches just minutes away from the CBD. Orientate yourself by heading down to Viaduct Harbour, wandering the waterfront, checking out the super yachts or enjoying the waterfront restaurants. Nearby is the must-visit Sky Tower along with excellent and kid-friendly museums and tons of exciting activities!


Wellington is New Zealand’s capital. Here you will find New Zealand's parliament buildings, including the 'Executive Wing', more well-known as 'The Beehive' due to its distinctive shape. Another icon to look out for is the Wellington Tram, which was the main means of public transport between 1878 and 1964.


With a population of around 400,000 Christchurch, in Canterbury, is the South Island ’s largest city, yet much of it has the feel of a small town. Perhaps that’s why it’s known as the Garden City but with the expansive Hagley Park, Botanic Gardens, Port Hills, River Avon and numerous beaches the city certainly has an open, relaxed feel that’s hard to beat.


With its well-deserved reputation as New Zealand’s activity adventure capital you’ll never run out of activities and things to do in Queenstown, but you may run out of time! With breathtaking scenery, activities and festivals, cafes and restaurants, skiing and snowboarding, shopping and wineries, this lakeside alpine resort rates as one of the world’s top vacation destinations for all ages and seasons.


Rotorua sits on the shore of Lake Rotorua, one of sixteen lakes in the area formed by hundreds of thousands of years of eruptions from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. The area is renowned for its geothermal activity and top of any activity list is to see the bubbling mud pools that are around the region for yourself. The Waimangu Volcanic Valley offers a first hand insight into the devastation caused by the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera and is a great place to discover steaming volcanic craters and bubbling, spitting  pools of mud!

Nelson and Golden Bay

The Nelson and Golden Bay regions, at the top of the South Island, boast enviable sunshine hours, glorious sandy beaches, safe swimming spots, lots of wildlife to look out for, and Abel Tasman National Park - an absolute must to explore, on foot, by kayak, your own craft or watertaxi.  Nelson is home to a vibrant arts and crafts community with a fabulous Saturday market, and is close to award-winning wineries and family-friendly bike tracks to take you around the coast.

Hawkes Bay

Napier was rebuilt after the 1931 earthquake and is now known as NZ's Art Deco City.  The Art Deco influence has created a unique city – nowhere else can you see such a varied concentration of art deco style. With over 2,200 sunshine hours a year, Napier is a year-round holiday destination with countless activities to entertain the kids – there's days of entertainment on Marine Parade alone, plus numerous other family-friendly trips and activities.  Add to that the beaches, walks and flat cycle paths, outdoor cafes and entertainment, and you have a perfect holiday destination!


Beautiful, unspoiled beaches, fishing, historic gum fields, kauri forests – the Far North has it all. With subtropical temperatures, it's often known as ‘the Winterless north', with warm, humid summers and mild winters.
Gateway to the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a pretty, lively beachside town and a perfect base for your family holiday. It’s your start point for Bay of Island adventures including day cruises, sailing, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and reef or wreck diving.