A winter journey through Central North Island

Go New Zealand Go New Zealand 10 months ago
A winter journey through Central North Island

This seven-day tour will take you from amazing underground cave formations to picturesque lakes, geothermal sites, and snowy summits with breath-taking vistas of the North Island.

Day 1: Fly into Auckland

Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand

Three magnificent harbours, beaches (including famous black-sand surf beaches), 48 extinct volcanoes, wineries, and an interesting international culture await you in Auckland, which is only a three-hour flight away. To sample top drops, take a short ferry ride from Auckland's city center to Waiheke Island, or visit one of the city's many vantage points, such as the Sky Tower or Rangitoto for a spectacular view.

Day 2: Auckland to Taupō via Waitomo

Waitomo, Waikato, New Zealand

Drive south through fertile countryside to Taupo, stopping at Waitomo Caverns, one of New Zealand's most beautiful glowworm caves with amazing limestone cave formations and an opportunity for thrill seekers to slide down underwater rivers in gigantic black rubber tubes, popularly known as black water rafting. Continue south to Taupo, your next stop on this New Zealand winter vacation, after exploring this subterranean wonderland, which includes a relaxing boat ride through the gigantic glowworm grottos.

Day 3: Hit the slopes on Whakapapa Ski Field

Mount Ruapehu
Mount Ruapehu, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand

Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand's only skiable volcano, is located in the Central North Island. Today, head to Whakapapa Ski Area, just over an hour's drive from Taupo, for some north-west facing slopes. The chutes and drop-offs on this expansive volcanic terrain will delight experienced skiers and snowboarders, while Happy Valley(opens in new window) will serve as a playground for beginners. Non-skiers can relax and take in the views at one of three cafes, including New Zealand's highest. Enjoy lakeside dining in Taupo that evening, with selections to suit every taste.

Day 4: Turoa Ski Field, Taranaki Falls or Rafting on Tongariro River

One day at the ski field is never enough, so we return to the mountain — this time to Turoa on the mountain's south-western flank. Turoa has New Zealand's highest chairlift, which descends 722 meters vertically. If you're traveling with a beginner, we recommend going to Whakapapa. A two-hour trek through beech woodland to Taranaki Falls in Tongariro National Park, or a rafting experience on the Tongariro River with Tongariro River Rafting(opens in new window) or Rafting New Zealand, are both good alternatives to skiing. Another evening is spent exploring Taupo's culinary pleasures and nightlife, which is brimming with après-ski fervor.

Rafting New Zealand
Rafting New Zealand Ngawaka Place, Tūrangi, New Zealand
Taranaki Falls
Taranaki Falls Tongariro Northern Circuit, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand
Turoa Skifield
Turoa Skifield Ohakune Mountain Road, Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand

Day 5: Explore Taupō

Taupo is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and offers a diverse range of activities centered on and around a beautiful lake. Begin your day by visiting Huka Falls, one of the country's most popular attractions. Feel the thunder by taking a jet boat (or a river tour) to the base of Huka Falls. Taupo is a thrill-dream, seeker's with opportunities to bungy jump, swing off a cliff, or even leap out of a plane! A sailing cruise on Lake Taupo to see the famed Mine Bay Mori Rock Carvings is a more tranquil option. Relax with a dip in the geothermal waters at Wairakei Terraces or Taupo DeBretts Spa at the end of the day.

Lake Taupo Hospice Trust Inc
Lake Taupo Hospice Trust Inc Huka Falls Road, Rangatira Park, Taupō, New Zealand

Day 6: Taupō to Rotorua

Rotorua, an hour's journey north, is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so volcanic activity has always been a part of the city's history and present. To begin, get your adrenaline racing by participating in one of Rotorua's many thrilling activities. Would you prefer to Zorb down a hill in a plastic ball or Luge down a hill on a sled? Perhaps you prefer ziplining through natural woodland or a mix of adventure activities at Agroventures. Hells Gate, home to the Southern Hemisphere's largest hot water waterfall and one of Rotorua's most active thermal parks, is a terrific place to rest after a day of excitement. Their spa cuisine is incredible!

Hell's Gate Geothermal Reserve and Mud Spa
Hell's Gate Geothermal Reserve and Mud Spa State Highway 30, Tikitere, Rotorua, New Zealand

Day 7: Explore Rotorua

A morning walk in Whakarewarewa Forest, or mountain biking for the more adventurous, is a terrific way to start your final day in Rotorua. Head to Te Puia after exploring the enormous Redwoods and perhaps taking a gondola ride. Here you may experience Maori culture's warm embrace, witness the famed Pohutu Geyser, and visit a live kiwi bird sanctuary. Head to Eat Street in the evening for a variety of food alternatives. The next day, fly to Auckland.

Lake Rotoiti
Lake Rotoiti, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

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