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For any die-hard rugby fan on this planet, New Zealand tops the bucket-list as an absolute essential. This humble mass of land rooted deep in the South Pacific is a fanatic sporting nation steeped in rich rugby history and, of course, home to the legendary All Blacks.
If you’re visiting New Zealand for the upcoming 2017 British Lions Rugby Tour, or just simply enjoying a vacation, we’ve complied the ultimate ‘rugby fans’ itinerary across the North Island.
Experience cultural and geological attractions, whilst getting amongst the rugby fever over a 3-week itinerary. Includes a visit to the New Zealand Rugby Museum!
A word of advice that you’ll find limited campervan and/or motorhome designated parking areas in Auckland, so be sure to sort your accommodation early. Alexandra Park have dedicated facilities available specifically for Lions Tour supporters.
Day 1: Auckland to Waitomo
You don’t want to miss the enigmatic underground wonderland of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. As an incentive, the campervan driver goes free! Take some time to explore the three majestic caves of Waitomo, Ruakuri or Aranui and their enchanted living light displays.
Days 2 and 3: Matamata to Tauranga
Are you a ‘Lord Of The Rings’ fan? Then treat yourself with a visit to the Middle Earth on day two. Travel through lush green pastures reminiscent of ‘The Shire’ from Peter Jackson’s epic Hollywood saga, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’.
For Tolkein fans, a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set is a must-do. This charming village is a permanent fixture of the landscape, so meticulously crafted that you’ll feel like you’re in another sequel! A hugely popular highlight for tourists alike to the area.
Just a short drive from Matamata is a kiwi favourite, Tauranga. This quaint seaside resort city delivers the best of both worlds, from trendy harbour cafes and shopping precincts, to one of the North Islands most beautiful surf beaches, Mount Maunganui.
If you have time on Day-3, get up-close-and-personal with native bush and wildlife on a Scenic Lake McLaren Kayak Tour.
Day 4: Auckland British and Irish Lions Tour Test Game 1
Band together with your fellow British Lions fans at the Lions Supporter Village before experiencing the much anticipated British & Irish Lions vs. The New Zealand All Blacks in test one at Auckland’s iconic Eden Park Rugby Stadium.
Days 5 and 6: Auckland to Rotorua
Make your way south-east again to New Zealand’s lively geothermal centre, Rotorua (or ‘Roto-Vegas’ as its known by locals). You’ll find so much to see and do in Rotorua, from the Thermal Wonderland of Wai-O-Tapu, to a myriad of adrenaline-fuelled activities. Find out more about what Rotorua has to offer here.
While visiting Rotorua, visit Tamaki Maori Village for an authentic cultural experience, which includes an unrivalled encounter with Maori traditions set in an ancient forest just outside of Rotorua.
Days 7 and 8: Rotorua to Taupo
There’s no better way to experience and appreciate the beauty of Taupo than a 1.5hour scenic lake cruise. For those looking for something more exhilarating, challenge yourself to a tandem skydive or a Bungy jump!
Day 9: Taupo: Palmerston North to Martinborough
Palmerston North is home to the New Zealand Rugby Museum, a must-see for rugby fanatics alike. For the wine connoisseur, enjoy an overnight stay at the Coney Wines maui Winery Haven. Treat yourself to exclusive accommodation at the vineyard, including a gourmet hamper for two and a bottle of wine – yes please!
Day 10: - Wellington British and Irish Lions Tour Test Game 2
Game day! Get our and support the lads for test two, kicking off in Wellington’s Westpac Trust Stadium.
Day 11 - Wellington
New Zealand’s Capital, Wellington. Explore the sights and sounds of the wonderfully diverse cultural atmosphere that is Wellington. Enjoy a coffee from the numerous seaside cafés, visit New Zealand’s national museum and art gallery, Te Papa Tongarewa, take in a theatre show, and much more. There’s so much to see and do in the nation’s capital, so get up early and spend a full day exploring what Wellington has on offer.
Day 12 – Wellington to Napier
Napier, set amid the renowned wine-producing region of Hawke's Bay, is a time capsule of the Art Deco era. Spend the night either beachside or at Linden Estate Winery Haven, the second maui Winery Haven, nestled into the slopes of Esk Valley hills.
Day 13: Napier to Ohope
Pay a visit to the abundant sunshine and warm waters of Ohope Beach, recently voted ‘New Zealand’s Most Loved Beach’. Feed your Instagram profile with the picturesque vistas of this beautiful treasure.
Day 14: Ohope to Waihi
Although known for its rich history as a gold mine town, Waihi is also home to one of New Zealand’s safest surf beaches. While visiting, check out the new Gold Discovery Centre and take a tour ‘inside the fence’ of the Martha Mine to observe for yourself the colossal procedure of gold and silver extraction.
Day 15: Waihi to Whitianga via Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove
Take in the sights of one of New Zealand’s most iconic beach spots, Cathedral Cove. From Cathedral Cove, head over to Hot Water Beach and experience the sensation of the natural thermal hot springs bubbling up as you dig your own beach jacuzzi!
Day 16: Whitianga to Coromandel Town
Discover New Zealand’s postcard: misty forests, tranquil beaches and a plethora of quaint hideaways for a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle.
Day 17: Coromandel Town to Miranda
If you haven’t already had your fill of lazing about, visit the Miranda Hot Springs and rest your weary legs in the thermally heated mineral water pools.
Day 18: Auckland - British and Irish Lions Tour Test Game 3
Get pumped up for the final test between the British and Irish Lions and the New Zealand All Blacks. Take a detour via Kawakawa Bay to enjoy a short, scenic walking trail before getting ready for the big game.
Day 19: Auckland to Whangarei
Beer anyone? If you’re keen on a cold one or simply love good music in an informal atmosphere, then check out Brauhaus Frings in Whangarei, where you’ll find a selection of beers brewed on-site using traditional German beer making methods.
Day 20: Whangarei to Russell / Paihia
Fancy a 360-degree panoramic view of stunning landscape? Well, if you don’t mind a 2.5 km walking track loop from the main town centre, then check out Flagstaff Hill Summit. Stunning.
Take the ferry across to Paihia, and snorkel among the colourful sea life that inhabit the clear waters of this relaxed town. Paihia is also home to New Zealand’s most historic site, Waitangi, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, an agreement between the British Crown and Maori.
Day 21: Paihia to Dargaville
It’s about a 3.5-hour drive back to Auckland from Paihia, so talking a break in Dargaville is a good way to break up the distance. While there, and if you’re not on a tight schedule, take some time to explore the Kauri Coast for an encounter with the world’s most ancient and largest kauri trees.
Day 22: Drop-off in Auckland
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