Combine early New Zealand history with emerald isles and fascinating marine wonders on this four-day itinerary. From Auckland, visit Tutukaka and snorkel or dive the impressive Poor Knights Islands that lie just offshore. In the Bay of Islands swim with the dolphins, admire a huge, intricately-carved waka (maori canoe) and soak up the history of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Take the scenic route back to Auckland to visit Tane Mahuta in Waipoua Forest, the ‘Lord of the Forest’ and the largest Kauri Tree in New Zealand.
Begin your holiday by travelling north from Auckland to the beautiful Tutukaka coast. Gateway to the renowned Poor Knights Islands, Tutukaka is a haven for lovers of the sea. Since it was founded as a Marine Reserve in 1981, this living treasure has attracted divers and snorkelers from around the world. Take a guided snorkeling or diving tour out to the islands to discover coral gardens, kelp forests, rare fish and huge underwater cliffs.
Begin the day with a scenic drive north to Paihia and the Bay of Islands – a subtropical micro-region of beaches, islands and marine life. The area is rich in early New Zealand history and natural beauty. Spend the afternoon on a boat cruise out to the islands to spot the many pods of dolphins that call Bay of Islands home. If conditions are right, you may even get the chance to swim with them.
Learn how Waitangi - a short drive from Paihia - set the stage for a defining moment in New Zealand’s history. Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, making New Zealand a British colony. Admire the intricately carved marae (meeting house) as well as the mighty waka ( Maori canoe). Before leaving, stroll the manicured lawns that overlook the Bay of Islands.
Scenic roads await as you begin the journey south back to Auckland. Take the Twin Coast Discovery Highway – a road studded with grand views, charming towns and old-fashioned, genuine kiwi hospitality. You’ll pass Opononi and Omapere before coming to the Waipoua Forest, a place where giants live. Tane Mahuta (the Lord of the Forest) is the biggest living tree in New Zealand – a spectacular old kauri that has watched over this forest for 2000 years. Continue through Matakohe, home to The Kauri Museum, and through Wellsford before arriving back in Auckland and its vibrant cityscape.