Auckland to Rotorua

Our guide to the best ways to get to Rotorua from Auckland


Getting There - Auckland To Rotorua:

Many visitors to New Zealand will travel from Auckland to Rotorua, either as a day trip or, as part of a longer intinerary that sees them travel around the country. Our guide provides the details on the best way to do this. 

Choose Your Transport

  • By Car: Driving time - 2 hours 45 minutes 
  • ​​By Bus: Depart from either downtown Auckland or Manukau. Approximately 3.5 hours travelling time.
  • ​By Air: Air New Zealand operate daily flights from Auckland to Rotorua Airport. Flying time is approximately 40 minutes.


Day Tours To Rotorua From Auckland:

  • If time is short, visitors can book a day return tour from Auckland to Rotorua. The tour typically includes seeing the glow worms of Waitomo Caves which are fairly close to Rotorua, before taking visitors to the sights of Rotorua. Rotorua highlights will include a geothermal attraction and Maori experience
  • ​Day tours will typically depart from downtown Auckland at around 7.30am and return at around 8.30pm. 
  • Alternative day tours can take you to the Hobbiton Village in Matamata, the movie set of the Shire Hobbit Village used in the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit movies. These tours will not usually not include Rotorua. There is also an option for a day tour that combines both Hobbition and Waitomo Caves.
  • View our Tours section for a list of operators.  For smaller groups, FlexiTours is a great option.

Driving Routes - From Auckland To Rotorua:

1. Direct Route: Auckland to Rotorua via Matamata

  • Allow 3 hours drive time.
  • ​Drive south along State Highway 2, SH25 and onto SH5 that leads into Rotorua.
  • ​Matamata is a good place to stop for a coffee (just under 2 hours). It is at this point that you can take a detour and visit Hobbiton Village, 10 minutes’ drive away. It’s advised to book a tour rather than just turn up. Allow a couple of hours for the tour.

2. Scenic Route: Auckland to Rotora via Bay of Plenty

  • Allow 3.5 hours’ drive with more time for stops.
  • ​Drive south along SH1, then head east along SH2 and continue south all the way to Tauranga. You wil pass by the historic gold mining area of Karangahake Gorge which is a good place to stop for a walk along the swing bridges. It's also a chance to grab a coffee in the quirky cafe on the other side of the road.
  • Continue on SH2 and you'll pass by the gold mining town of Waihi and onto Tauranga, If you have time, we'd recommend staying a night in Mount Maunganui, a suburb of Tauranga and probably the best beach resort in New Zealand.
  • Otherwise, continue along the SH2 past Tauranga and take either the Toll road or the slightly longer (and free) road through Te Puke and continue along SH33. Another good place to stop is Okere Falls.This natural attraction features a series of waterfalls including the seven metre Tutea Falls - which lays claim to being the highest commercially rafted waterfalls in the world.
  • From here, it's just another 20 minutes along SH30 and you’ll reach Rotorua.

Karangahake Gorge

Mount Maunganui

Okere Falls

More information: