For many holidaymakers, the trip from Auckland to Tauranga is something to be endured, rather than enjoyed. But if you look a little closer, there are pockets of greatness dotted along this well-worn route.
Once you are safely on SH2, get comfy because you're not making too many changes from here. Instead, it's what's along the iconic strip of road that is of interest.
Ngātea, just over an hour from Auckland's CBD (on a very good day) is a must-stop for a quick coffee and a treat from the cabinet at The Glory Company.
Back on SH2, and you are just minutes away from Paeroa. Obviously, being the home of L&P means there is a very large bottle crying out for a selfie, but beyond the gimmicks, Paeroa is an antique-lovers paradise with vintage and second-hand shops aplenty.
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Just up the road, you'll find one of the under-rated wonders of New Zealand. The Karangahake Gorge winds its way through curves and corners, with the road clinging to the rocky sides of the ravine as the Ohinemuri River glides (or thunders) below. Rather than drive on through, take some time to see the area.
There are many picnic spots to enjoy a sandwich and the views, but real adventurers will want to explore more than the grassy banks. There are walking and cycle trails along the river and deeper into the hills around. And the Windows Walk is short (about an hour), but stunning, and boasts suspension bridges, and spectacular mining remnants including disused gold-mining tunnels and rail tracks - kids will love it. It starts and ends in the Karangahake Reserve car park.
And if that all sounds a bit strenuous, then maybe a visit to the Karangahake Winery Estate, just off SH2, is more your style.
Onwards, Waihī and its own gold mining history is just a few minutes down the highway. (You can also catch the vintage train from Goldfields railway in Waikino if you fancy). Take a tour of the Waihī Gold Discovery Centre for a taste of what really goes into mining in this, the richest gold mine in the country. Or hit the trail - the Hauraki Rail Trail - exploring the lush farmlands on two wheels.
Back in the car, and, you guessed it, it's SH2 all the way. Pass through Katikati, with its artful mural walls and delicious fresh produce, before arriving in Tauranga, with its beaches, restaurants and shopping, and gentle laidback lifestyle.