North Island trips

Rotorua to Wellington

4 Days
602km
375mi

Route

Rotorua Central to Wellington Central

Highlights

  • Geothermal Rotorua
  • Waitomo Caves
  • Botanical Gardens

Best time of year

All year

This inland route to Wellington reveals some of New Zealand’s most interesting geological features. You’ll begin in the astounding city of Rotorua, where the earth’s inner heat hisses out to create spectacular geothermal attractions. Waitomo provides another kind of natural phenomenon – a labyrinth of limestone caves dripping in stalactites. At National Park you’ll stay under the shadow of three immense volcanoes – walk around them or ski on them, depending on the time of the year. From Whanganui you can discover the secrets of the Whanganui River – New Zealand’s longest navigable waterway. Finish this adventurous journey with your choice of Wellington’s cultural attractions.

Day 1

Rotorua - Waitomo Caves

1 hr

53 mins

148 km

92 mi

Rotorua

The city of Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so there’s evidence of volcanic activity everywhere you look. Explore the geothermal areas and discover the unique culture of New Zealand’s Maori people. Rotorua is entertaining in any weather, at any time of the year.

Your journey to Waitomo Caves will take you through a mixture of farmland, lakeland and forest. There are no major towns along the way, so stock up on picnic supplies in preparation for the drive. The hydro power station at Atiamuri is an interesting stop. Trout fanciers can try their luck at Lake Whakamaru. The beautiful Pureora Forest Park, which is home to several rare bird species, has a number of well marked walking tracks.

At the town of Te Kuiti you’ll turn north, towards Waitomo Caves. Beneath the surface of this ancient limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms. Some caves open to the public, and are easy to walk through, others require specialised caving equipment.

Steaming lakes and boiling mud in Rotorua

Start in Rotorua Central

Entertaining in any weather, Rotorua will captivate you with its shooting geysers, intriguing Maori villages and thrilling adventure activities.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

End in Waitomo Caves

Under the green hills of Waitomo lies a labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The area's name comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole).

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