North island explorer

On this 17-day round-trip vacation beginning in Auckland, see the best of the North Island. This voyage takes you from the top to the bottom of the North Island, including many of sites in between, and includes everything from urban joys to long sandy beaches, geothermal wonders, and subterranean mysteries.

Go New Zealand Go New Zealand 1 month ago
North island explorer

Day 1 - 2: Auckland to Paihia

Leave Auckland and travel to Whangarei, a subtropical city on the shores of a lovely harbour. Tutukaka, the Poor Knights Islands' entryway, is not far away. As you travel north, you'll pass through Kawakawa, a small town known for its public toilet. The last building built by Austrian artist Frederick Hundertwasser, it was made of mosaics, copper, and cobblestones. Paihia is a great place to start exploring the Bay of Islands. Take a trip to the outer islands or take a ferry to Russell, a picturesque village. The historic Treaty House in Waitangi commemorates New Zealand's birth as a nation.

Paihia
Paihia
Paihia, New Zealand

Day 3: Paihia to Kaitaia

Spend the day exploring the North Island's highest summit. Travel to Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide. A white line of foam spreads across the ocean on a clear day, indicating the point where the two bodies of water meet. This site is important to Maori because it is here that the ghosts of the deceased leap into the sea to return to their ancestral land. Make your way to Ninety Mile Beach from Cape Reinga, where you can sandboard down gigantic sand dunes and dig for fresh shellfish before continuing on to Kaitaia for the night.

Northland
Northland
Northland, New Zealand

Day 4 - 5: Kaitaia to Auckland via Dargaville

The backcountry road to Dargaville passes through the magnificent Waipoua Forest, which is home to New Zealand's tallest kauri trees. Kai Iwi Lakes, not far from Dargaville, are picturesque dune lakes that are a favorite camping area. From Dargaville, go over the river plain to Matakohe's kauri museum, where you'll learn about the history of kauri mills and gum diggers. Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, is surrounded by 48 extinct volcanic cones and is positioned between two harbours. Marine experiences, wine trails, forest treks, and urban elegance may all be found here.

Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island, Auckland, New Zealand

Day 6 - 7: Auckland to Rotorua via Hobbiton

On your way to Matamata from Auckland, you'll pass through verdant countryside. It's clear why Peter Jackson chose this location to portray The Shire in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Visit the Hobbiton Movie Set to see how this fantastical world was created. Rotorua is reached by driving southeast through woodland and farms. Volcanic activity is a component of the city's past and present, as it sits smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Explore the geothermal sites, learn about Maori culture, or participate in one of the many adventure activities available in the town. Rotorua is a fun place to visit at any time of year.

Waikato
Waikato
Waikato, New Zealand

Day 8: Rotorua to Whakatāne

Today you have the option of spending the day in Rotorua taking part in one of the various activities available before driving to Whakatane. Mountain biking, rafting, and emerging adventure sports like zorbing are also popular pastimes. Alternatively, travel to Whakatne to see endangered native animals on a journey to the island refuge Moutohor (Whale Island). You can travel to this pest-free haven by motorboat or sailing catamaran and learn about the conservation initiatives that conserve this valuable piece of New Zealand. Then, at the island's quiet hot water beach, dig yourself a peaceful geothermal spring pool.

Whakatane
Whakatane
Whakatane, New Zealand

Day 9 - 10: Whakatane to Gisborne

Today you have the option of spending the day in Rotorua taking part in one of the various activities available before driving to Whakatane. Mountain biking, rafting, and emerging adventure sports like zorbing are also popular pastimes. Alternatively, travel to Whakatne to see endangered native animals on a journey to the island refuge Moutohor (Whale Island). You can travel to this pest-free haven by motorboat or sailing catamaran and learn about the conservation initiatives that conserve this valuable piece of New Zealand. Then, at the island's quiet hot water beach, dig yourself a peaceful geothermal spring pool.

Gisborne
Gisborne
Gisborne, New Zealand

Day 11: Gisborne to Napier

The travel to Napier can be approached in two ways. The inland route passes through Hackfalls Arboretum, one of New Zealand's greatest private tree collections. The coastal path leads to Morere Hot Springs and the Mahia Peninsula's beautiful beaches. Both roads go to Wairoa, which is known for its lighthouse on its main street. Napier is well-known for its unique architecture. The city was reconstructed in the Art Deco style after the terrible earthquake of 1931. Many of the structures have Maori elements, giving them a particular New Zealand flavor. Hawke's Bay is known for its vineyards and orchards outside of the city.

Napier
Napier
Napier, New Zealand

Day 12 - 13: Napier to Wellington

As you travel south, take in the beautiful, green Wairarapa countryside. Greytown offers several stunning specimens of Victorian architecture and a quaint museum, while Carterton is a nice spot to shop for paua shell souvenirs. Wellington is a compact, cultured city with a lot of personality. The downtown area is suitable for walking tours. Wellington features a diverse range of cafes, restaurants, museums, and live music venues. Te Papa Museum, the Cable Car, Weta Workshop, and Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary are all popular attractions.

Wellington
Wellington
Wellington, New Zealand

Day 14: Wellington to Tongariro National Park

The Kapiti Coast to Whanganui route has a lot to recommend it. Kapiti Island, located off the coast of Waikanae, is a natural reserve where visitors may get up up and personal with uncommon birds. Whanganui has a rich and illustrious history. Take a stroll through the restored heritage regions or go on a river trip. To get to the top of Durie Hill, you can take the vintage elevator. Continue on to Tongariro National Park's volcanic plateau. Turangi is a little town with a great location for park activities. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, in particular, is recognized as one of the world's top day hikes.

Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand

Day 15: Turangi to Taupo

To get to Taupo, follow the eastern edge of the lake from Turangi. The drive is beautiful, and there are plenty of places to stop for a picnic along the way. Anglers frequently test their luck where streams flow into the lake. Taupo is located on the edge of New Zealand's largest lake and offers a diverse range of water and land-based sports. Visit the awe-inspiring Huka Falls, unwind in the hot springs, or take a boat or kayak journey to Mine Bay to see the Maori rock carvings. Taupo, like neighbouring Rotorua, is geothermally active; view steam vents and boiling mud pools at Craters of the Moon or Orakei Korako.

Taupō
Taupō
Taupō, New Zealand

Day 16: Taupo to Waitomo Caves

Farmland, lake land, and forest along the road to Waitomo. Pureora Forest Park is a great place to walk, and trout fishermen can try their luck at Lake Whakamaru. After passing through Te Kuiti, turn left towards Waitomo. The Waitomo Caves are known for their subterranean beauty. A succession of huge cave systems ornamented with stalactites, stalagmites, and glow-worms lie beneath the surface of this ancient limestone region. Choose from guided walks and easy boat rides to blackwater rafting, caving, and abseiling into the abyss.

Waitomo Caves
Waitomo Caves
Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

Day 17: Return to Auckland via Hamilton

Stop by the kiwi house in Otorohanga on your way back to Auckland to meet New Zealand's national symbol. If you're looking for a change of scenery, drive west to Raglan, a magnificent black-sand beach popular with surfers. You might also spend your time in Hamilton, a river city. Hamilton Zoo includes a fantastic free-flight bird aviary and gorgeous botanic grounds. Turn off State Highway 1 just north of Te Kauwhata to visit the Jade Museum, where you may stock up on New Zealand Greenstone (pounamu) jewelry and presents before heading home.

Raglan
Raglan
Raglan, New Zealand

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