The country above Auckland is a place that isn’t highlighted by most guidebooks: Northland. This area is replete with beaches and forests as well as historic towns and modern resorts. In this podcast episode, buy a campervan or a car in Auckland then head north and get happily lost with Craig Martin. The fishing, kayaking, surfing and hiking and — being New Zealand — natural splendour will blow you away.
There are a couple of good information websites to help you plan further. Try Northland Naturally for general information, whilst Northland has a great listing of contact details for all sorts of things. Most of the Northland hostels I’ve enjoyed don’t have a strong web presence, but check Accommodation New Zealand for hostels and private camping along with the Department of Conservation for simple campsites.
If you’re looking at buying a car try trade me for e-bay style auctions, the (reputable) Auckland Car Fair or the (irreputable) backpacker’s car fair (no website). The Backpacker Board has plenty of links for hiring vehicles, even spaceships! along with lots of great advice for independent travel in New Zealand.
One of Matador’s newest contributors, Craig Martin has been living on the road since leaving Auckland, New Zealand in February 2006. In fact, he hasn’t slept in the same bed for more than two weeks all year! He podcasts at the indie travel podcast.