Top Romantic Scenic Drives in New Zealand’s Subtropical Regions

Posted by: Michele - Posted on:

Top Romantic Scenic Drives in New Zealand’s Subtropical Regions

Planning a romantic getaway in New Zealand’s subtropical regions offers couples the chance to explore breathtaking landscapes, charming towns, and hidden gems along scenic drives. 

Whether you’re seeking secluded beaches, lush forests, or quirky small towns, these routes promise unforgettable experiences. 

Let’s embark on a journey through some of the most romantic scenic drives, addressing common questions and offering detailed tips to enhance your adventure.

Common Questions and Concerns

What Makes a Drive Romantic?

A romantic drive is not just about the destination—it’s about the journey itself. Couples often look for routes that offer stunning natural beauty, opportunities for intimate moments, and unique experiences that create lasting memories together.

Are These Drives Safe and Accessible?

Safety and accessibility are crucial considerations. We’ll highlight routes that are well-maintained and suitable for most vehicles, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience for all travellers.

How Can We Maximise Our Experience?

From essential packing tips to recommended stops and activities, we’ll provide practical advice to help you make the most of your romantic getaway along these scenic drives.

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway is a picturesque route that spans the northern tip of New Zealand’s North Island. 

Starting from Auckland, this drive takes you through a diverse landscape of ancient forests, stunning coastlines, and charming coastal towns.


  • Waipoua Forest: Home to ancient kauri trees, including Tane Mahuta, the largest kauri tree in New Zealand. A short walk through this mystical forest feels like stepping into a fairy tale.
  • Bay of Islands: A paradise of 144 islands with secluded bays and crystal-clear waters. Take a boat trip to explore the islands or enjoy a romantic picnic on one of the pristine beaches.
  • Mangonui Fish Shop: A historic fishing village known for its fresh seafood. Stop here to indulge in fish and chips by the water, a perfect way to experience local flavours.

Tips for a Romantic Experience

  • Pack a Picnic: Visit a local market to gather fresh produce and pack a picnic basket. Find a secluded spot along the route to enjoy a romantic meal surrounded by nature.
  • Sunset Viewing: Plan your drive to catch a breathtaking sunset from one of the many scenic viewpoints along the coast. The Bay of Islands offers particularly stunning sunset views.

Additional Attractions

  • Kerikeri: Known for its historic sites and vibrant arts scene, Kerikeri is a delightful town to explore hand in hand.
  • Hokianga Harbour: Experience the tranquillity of New Zealand’s second-largest harbour, offering spectacular views and opportunities for serene moments together.

The Coromandel Peninsula Loop

The Coromandel Peninsula Loop is a scenic drive that winds along the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, known for its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and geothermal wonders.


  • Cathedral Cove: Accessible via a short hike, Cathedral Cove is famous for its natural rock archway and crystal-clear waters. It’s an ideal spot for a romantic stroll or a memorable photo together.
  • Hot Water Beach: Dig your own hot pool in the sand during low tide, a unique experience that allows you to relax in naturally heated mineral water while surrounded by stunning coastal scenery.
  • Driving Creek Railway: This narrow-gauge railway offers panoramic views of the Coromandel Peninsula. Hop aboard for a scenic ride through native forest and innovative art installations.

Tips for a Romantic Experience

  • Early Morning Serenity: Arrive early at popular spots like Cathedral Cove to enjoy the tranquillity and capture stunning photographs before the crowds arrive.
  • Local Cuisine: Indulge in fresh seafood and local delicacies at seaside cafes and restaurants along the route. Coromandel Town is particularly renowned for its culinary offerings.

Additional Attractions

  • Whitianga: A charming seaside town known for its marine activities and relaxed atmosphere. Consider taking a boat tour to explore nearby islands and marine reserves.

The Forgotten World Highway

The Forgotten World Highway offers a journey through rugged landscapes, historic sites, and quirky small towns in the heart of the North Island.


  • Whangamomona: A remote village known for its unique history, including its self-declared republic status. Visit the Whangamomona Hotel, where you can get your passport stamped as a souvenir.
  • Moki Tunnel (Hobbit’s Hole): This historic tunnel, also known as the Hobbit’s Hole, adds a touch of whimsy to your journey. Stop here to explore and capture memorable photos.
  • Mount Damper Falls: A short hike leads to Mount Damper Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the North Island. The journey through lush native bush adds to the sense of adventure.

Tips for a Romantic Experience

  • Overnight Stay in Whangamomona: Immerse yourself in the local culture by spending a night in Whangamomona. Accommodations range from historic lodges to cosy bed and breakfasts.
  • Historical Exploration: Take time to explore historical sites and learn about the rich heritage of the Forgotten World Highway, including old railway relics and Maori cultural landmarks.

Additional Attractions

  • Stratford: A gateway town to Mount Taranaki and Egmont National Park. Consider extending your journey to explore the volcanic landscapes and lush rainforests of this region.

Making the Most of Your Scenic Drive

Essentials to Pack

  • Comfortable Clothing: Pack layers to accommodate changing weather conditions, especially if you plan to explore on foot.
  • Snacks and Water: Keep hydrated and energised with healthy snacks and plenty of water, especially during longer stretches between towns.
  • Camera and Binoculars: Capture breathtaking views and spot local wildlife along the way. Binoculars can enhance your experience of spotting birds and marine life.
Top Romantic Scenic Drives in New Zealand’s

Engaging with the Content

  • Share Your Experiences: Have you travelled any of these scenic drives? Share your stories and tips in the comments below to inspire fellow travellers.
  • Ask Questions: Planning your own romantic getaway? Ask questions about specific routes, accommodations, or activities, and let’s create a personalised itinerary together.
  • Social Sharing: Found this guide helpful? Share it with friends and fellow travellers on social media to spread the joy of exploring New Zealand’s subtropical regions.


Embarking on a romantic scenic drive through New Zealand’s subtropical regions promises unforgettable moments and cherished memories. 

Whether you choose to explore ancient forests, pristine beaches, or quirky small towns, these routes offer an ideal blend of adventure, relaxation, and romance. 

Pack your sense of adventure and embark on a journey through some of the most beautiful landscapes New Zealand has to offer. Happy travels!

frequently asked questions 

What are some of the most romantic scenic drives in New Zealand’s subtropical areas?

Some of the most romantic scenic drives in New Zealand’s subtropical regions include:

  • The Coromandel Peninsula coastal drive, offering stunning ocean views and access to secluded beaches
  • The Bay of Islands loop in Northland, featuring picturesque coastal scenery and charming seaside towns
  • The East Cape drive along the North Island’s eastern coast, with its remote beaches and Maori cultural sites
  • The Surf Highway 45 along Taranaki’s coast, showcasing black sand beaches and views of Mount Taranaki

What’s the best time of year for a romantic scenic drive in New Zealand’s subtropical areas?

The best time for a romantic drive in New Zealand’s subtropical regions is during the summer months of December to February. 

This period offers warm temperatures, long daylight hours, and the best weather for enjoying coastal views and outdoor activities.

 However, spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) can also be lovely, with milder temperatures and fewer crowds.

Are there any unique stops or attractions along these scenic routes?

Yes, there are many unique attractions along New Zealand’s subtropical scenic routes:

  • Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, where you can dig your own hot spring pool in the sand
  • The iconic Cape Reinga lighthouse at the northernmost tip of New Zealand
  • The historic Tolaga Bay Wharf on the East Cape route
  • The quirky Cardrona Bra Fence along the Crown Range Road (though not subtropical, it’s worth mentioning)

How long should we plan for these scenic drives?

The duration can vary depending on the route and your pace:

  • The Coromandel Peninsula loop can be done in 2-3 days
  • The Bay of Islands loop typically takes 3-4 days
  • The East Cape drive is best enjoyed over 4-5 days
  • The Surf Highway 45 can be driven in a day, but 2-3 days allows for more stops and exploration

Are these roads suitable for all types of vehicles?

Most of the main scenic routes in New Zealand’s subtropical regions are well-maintained and suitable for standard vehicles. 

However, some remote areas or unsealed side roads may require a 4WD vehicle. 

It’s always a good idea to check road conditions before setting out, especially during winter months or after heavy rainfall. 

Rental companies can provide advice on the most suitable vehicle for your planned route.