A winter journey through Central North Island

7 Days

870km

Puntos destacados

  • Geothermal wonders & hot pools
  • Jet boating & relaxing lake cruise
  • Skiing on volcanic terrain

Proximidad

Discover North Island’s unique winter experiences on this seven-day itinerary that takes you from stunning underground cave formations to beautiful lakes, geothermal attractions and snowy peaks with views to die for.

Day 1: Fly into Auckland

more than just a city
Auckland
Waiheke Island vineyard, Auckland

By Camilla Rutherford

Auckland

AUCKLAND

An urban environment in the lap of nature.

Proximidad

  • By plane: 3hr flight from Australia's eastern cities

Recommended experiences in Auckland

Find out more

A short three-hour flight gets you to Auckland, home to three stunning harbours, beaches (including famous black-sand surf beaches), 48 extinct volcanoes, wineries and an exciting cosmopolitan culture.

 

Head to Waiheke, a short ferry ride from Auckland's city centre, to taste top drops or visit one of the city’s many vantage points like the Sky Tower or Rangitoto for a fabulous outlook.

Day 2: Auckland to Lake Taupo via Waitomo

Cruise under living constellations
Hamilton - Waikato
Discover the Waitomo Glowworm Cave, Hamilton - Waikato

By Discover Waitomo

Hamilton - Waikato

HAMILTON WAIKATO

Enjoy subterranean wonders in Waitomo.

Puntos destacados

  • Discover large glowworm grottos
  • Explore stunning limestone caves
  • Thrilling black-water rafting

Proximidad

  • By car: 2hrs 30min | 195km | Auckland to Waitomo
  • By car: 2hrs | 150km | Waitomo to Lake Taupo

Drive south through rich farmland towards Lake Taupo, stopping at Waitomo Caves – one of the finest glowworm caves in New Zealand with stunning limestone cave formations and an opportunity for thrill seekers to slide down underwater rivers in giant black rubber tubes – also known as black water rafting.

After you’ve explored this subterranean wonderland, including a tranquil boat ride through the giant glowworm grottos, continue your journey south to Lake Taupo – your next stop on this New Zealand winter adventure!

Day 3: Whakapapa Ski Field

Glide through frozen playgrounds
Ruapehu
Happy Valley Beginners Area, Ruapehu

By Visit Ruapehu

Ruapehu

RUAPEHU

The North Island's winter playground.

Puntos destacados

  • Whakapapa - NZ's largest ski field
  • Happy Valley for learners
  • Beautiful views of volcanic terrain

Proximidad

  • By car: Lake Taupo to Whakapapa
  • By car: 1hr 15mins | 97km

The Central North Island is home to New Zealand’s only skiable volcano – Mount Ruapehu. Today hit the north-west facing slopes at Whakapapa Ski Area, just over an hour’s drive from Lake Taupo.

 

Experienced skiers and snowboarders can revel in the chutes and drop-offs on this expansive volcanic terrain while Happy Valley serves as a playground for beginners. For non-skiers, there’s three cafes, including New Zealand's highest, where you can relax and soak in the views.

 

Back in Taupo that evening enjoy lakeside dining with options to suit every taste.

Day 4: Turoa Ski Field, Taranaki Falls or Rafting on Tongariro River

Discover Hidden Gems On Easy Day Walks
Ruapehu
Taranaki Falls, Ruapehu

By Graeme Murray

Ruapehu

RUAPEHU & LAKE TAUPO

Have fun on and off the snow.

Puntos destacados

  • Taranaki Falls - North Island's highest
  • For ski enthusiasts - Turoa Ski Field
  • River rafting on Tongariro River

Proximidad

  • By car: To Tongariro National Park
  • By car: 1hr 24 min | 103kms

One day is never enough at the ski field, so we head to the mountain again – to Turoa on the south-western side of the mountain. Turoa offers a massive 722m of vertical descent on New Zealand's highest chairlift. If you’ve got a beginner with you, we suggest heading to Whakapapa instead.

 

An alternate to skiing could be an invigorating two-hour walk through beech forest to Taranaki Falls, located in the Tongariro National Park or a rafting trip on the Tongariro River.

 

Another evening is spent exploring the dining delights and nightlife of Taupo, buzzing with après-ski excitement.

Day 5: Explore Taupo

Enjoy the ride of a lifetime
Lake Taupo
Huka Falls, Lake Taupo

By Destination Great Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo

TAUPO

Accesible ancient glaciers.

Puntos destacados

  • Experience the thundering Huka Falls
  • Bungy or skydive in Taupo
  • Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

Proximidad

  • By car: 5kms | 10mins to Huka Falls

Taupo is blessed with breath-taking natural beauty and a wide array of activities centred on and around a stunning lake. Start the day by visiting of the country’s most popular attractions – Huka Falls. Take a jet boat (or river cruise) to the foot of Huka Falls and feel the thunder. Thrill-seekers’ paradise, Taupo is a prime spot to bungy or swing off a cliff, or even jump out of a plane!

 

For something more relaxing, enjoy a sailing tour on Lake Taupo to view the famous Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings. Wind down your day with a soak in the geothermal waters at Wairakei Terraces or Taupo DeBretts Spa.  

Day 6: Lake Taupo to Rotorua

revitalise your soul
Rotorua
Hells Gate, Rotorua

By Fraser Clements

Puntos destacados

  • Hells Gate - most active geothermal park
  • Thermal mud baths & hot pools
  • Maori culture

Proximidad

  • By car: Lake Taupo to Rotorua
  • By car: 1hr | 85km

An hour’s drive north gets you to Rotorua, which sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so volcanic activity is part of the city’s past and present.

 

First, get your adrenaline pumping with one of Rotorua’s many thrilling adventures. Would you like to roll down a hill in a plastic ball with Zorbing or on a sled with Luge? Perhaps you prefer ziplining through native forest or head to Agroventures for a cocktail of adventure activities.

 

Hells Gate, home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest hot water waterfall and one of the most active thermal parks in Rotorua, is a great spot to unwind after your day’s adventures. Their spa menu is extraordinary!

Day 7: Explore Rotorua

Wander Thermal Wonderlands
Rotorua
Pohutu Geyser in Te Puia, Rotorua

By Shaun Jeffers Photography

Rotorua

ROTORUA

The heart of New Zealand's geothermal wonders.

Puntos destacados

  • Te Puia geothermal park - Pohutu Geyser
  • Discover a rich Maori culture
  • Kiwi bird sanctuary

Proximidad

  • By car: Rotorua CBD To Te Puia
  • By car: 4kms | 10mins

A morning walk, or mountain biking for those keen on it, in Whakarewarewa Forest is a great start to your last day in Rotorua. Having explored the giant Redwoods, and perhaps a gondola ride later, head to Te Puia. Here you can feel the warm embrace of Maori culture and see the iconic Pohutu Geyser as well as visit a live kiwi bird sanctuary.

In the evening, head to Eat Street for your pick of dining options. Depart for Auckland the next day.

Where to next?

Road Trips →

Recommended Trips →

North Island trips →