North Island Wineries and Wilderness
This round route across the wine country of the North Island offers a spectacular range of landscape contrasts. In Napier, see the wild and gorgeous Lake Waikaremoana and a swath of wineries before driving to Taupo for a variety of water activities. Rotorua, with its strange and amazing geothermal sights, eccentric adventure, and unique Maori culture, is the perfect place to end your journey.
Day 1: Rotorua to Gisborne
The road from Rotorua to Waikaremoana is surrounded on both sides by forest. The native forests of Whirinaki and the Urewera Ranges accompany Kaingaroa Forest (one of the world's largest pine plantations). You'll travel through Murupara, a forested village popular with hunters and anglers, along the way. Lake Waikaremoana, formed by a landslide about 2,200 years ago, is now the entryway to the Te Urewera wilderness area. There are many options for exploring, including horseback riding, kayaking, and hiking - the Lake Waikaremoana Track is one of New Zealand's Great Walks. The Onepoto Caves are also a must-see, and Aniwaniwa has a tiny museum that chronicles the region's story.
GisborneGisborne, New Zealand
Day 2: Gisborne to Napier
The town of Wairoa will feel like a bustling metropolis after the wilds of Te Urewera. Wairoa boasts an attractive museum as well as a lighthouse on its main street. You'll pass the Mohaka River on your way south, which is noted for its fishing, kayaking, and rafting opportunities. The final stage of your journey takes you past Lake Tutira and the Waipatiki Beach turn-off. Napier is the largest city in the Hawke's Bay region, which is home to New Zealand's oldest wine-growing region and an Art Deco design hotspot. Explore the region's wineries on the Hawke's Bay cycle routes, or visit Cape Kidnappers, home to the world's largest mainland gannet colony, for a fantastic wildlife experience.
NapierNapier, New Zealand
Day 3: Napier to Taupo
The variety of stunning views on the drive from Napier to Taupo today will wow you. Rugged hills, magnificent valleys, calm plains, and vast vistas are all present. Along the route, visit Waiarua Falls Lookout to see the twin waterfalls and soak in the natural hot springs above the Waipunga River. Taupo is an ideal location for getting out on the lake. Take a boat ride to Mine Bay's massive Maori rock sculptures, or rent a kayak and explore the lake on your own. On the ground, the region has numerous hiking and mountain biking trails. In the afternoon, pay a visit to Huka Prawn Park and sample some delectable self-caught prawns.
TaupōTaupō, New Zealand
Day 4: Taupo to Rotorua
The short trip to Rotorua is jam-packed with things to do. Huka Falls, a world-renowned golf course, and the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station are all located just outside Taupo. If you have time, pay a visit to Orakei Korako Cave & Geothermal Park, which contains some of the country's most amazing geothermal features. Rotorua is alive with geothermal activity, with boiling mud, steaming vents, and erupting geysers in every direction. The region also has a plethora of unique and odd adventure activities for adrenaline addicts. Finish your tour with a soak at the Polynesian Spa and a night at Tamaki Village, which features Mori culture, storytelling, and traditional hngi (earth oven).
RotoruaRotorua, New Zealand
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