Discover the diversity of the North Island with an itinerary rich in contrasting natural wonders. From Hobbiton before venturing to Rotorua, where mud pools bubble and the warmth of Māori culture awaits. Explore the waters of Lake Taupō, New Zealand’s largest lake, and admire thousands of twinkling glow worms amidst ancient limestone formations in Waitomo.
New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland combines urban delights with a glistening harbour, emerald islands and beautiful beaches. The result is a city that promises to impress in every way. Get out on the Hauraki Gulf and journey to nearby Rangitoto Island on the Rangitoto Volcanic Explorer Tour to enjoy lava fields, native bush and city views from this ruggedly beautiful volcanic island. Spend the afternoon discovering the cultural heart of Auckland; the Auckland Museum is home to an extensive Māori Collection, and the Auckland Art Gallery offers an impressive visual experience of New Zealand art work.
A popular holiday destination for locals and visitors alike, journey from Auckland to The Coromandel. Soak up the relaxed, laid back kiwi vibe; stroll pristine beaches and admire galleries of local artists. Head to the welcoming surf town of Whangamata, take a dip in the Pacific and feast on fresh seafood. Further north lies Cathedral Cove, where a naturally formed cathedral-like archway joins two secluded coves. This natural wonder sits on the edge of a marine reserve – join the Cathedral Cove Classic Tour and experience it for yourself with a local guide.
Head inland, through the rolling green hills of Waikato farming country to Hobbiton Movie Set. Embark on a true Middle‑earth experience with a guided tour through the original Hobbiton Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Continue on to Rotorua, famous for its compelling blend of Māori culture and geothermal wonders. Visit Hell’s Gate and get up close to bubbling mud pools, steaming fumaroles and a hot waterfall. Enjoy a Hell’s Gate Mud Bath & Spa Mud Bath & Spa – Rotorua’s geothermal mud is famous for its healing powers – before visiting Te Puia for an evening of Māori culture, storytelling and a traditional Hangi (earth oven).
Drive to Lake Taupō, a body of water the size of Singapore that was created from a volcanic eruption 2,000 years ago. Scenic and picturesque, stroll the lakeside or enjoy coffee with a view. Take the Mine Bay Scenic Tour round to the huge, intricate Māori rock carving, located in the scenic Western Bays of the lake. The carving depicts Ngatoroirangi, a visionary Māori navigator, and was carved in the late 1970’s over a number of summers. The Mine Bay carvings can only be reached by boat.
Journey north-west to Waitomo, where a labyrinth of limestone caves lies beneath the green hills. Embark on a Waitomo Glowworm Cave Tour and venture into the caves, decorated with galaxies of New Zealand native glowworms. Learn about the historical and geological significance of the caves to local Māori from your guide. Afterwards, drive on to Hamilton, a city nestled on the banks of the Waikato river. Enjoy quality dining in the central city precinct.
Drive north back to Auckland, and spend a relaxed day soaking up Auckland’s cosmopolitan city culture. Explore the art galleries and quirky boutiques of inner-city suburbs Ponsonby or Parnell, or head to Britomart and High Street for a dose of New Zealand designer fashion. Visit the Sky tower observation decks for views across the city, or discover the world-class eateries and bars of Wynyard Quarter and Viaduct in the city centre.