5 - 6 Days


  • Hobbiton Movie Set
  • Geothermal attractions
  • Glowworm caves


  • by car:

    Total driving time 9 hrs

  • Total distance 767 kms

Discover another world as you journey deep into the heart of the North Island along the Thermal Explorer Highway.

Explore majestic caves filled with glittering glowworms, feel the thrill of a spine tingling jet boat ride or watch in awe as a mighty geyser erupts before your eyes.

Day 1: Auckland

Lion Rock, Piha, Auckland, Auckland


  • Explore the West Coast beaches
  • Enjoy delicious food and wine
  • Soak up Auckland's vibrant nightlife

Recommended experiences in Auckland

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With outstanding food, natural attractions, and plenty of adventure, Auckland makes for a unique urban experience.

Spend the day on one of the wild West Coast beaches where giant waves crash onto black sand. Renowned for their legendary surf, you'll be spoilt for choice.

As the sun goes down head back to town for a delicious meal at one of the city's many eating precincts in Britomart, Viaduct, or Wynyard Quarter, before soaking up the city's vibrant nightlife.

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Day 2: Auckland - Rotorua via Hobbiton

Hobbiton Movie Set, Waikato


  • Discover the real Middle‑earth™
  • Watch geysers erupt and mud boil
  • Learn the how to perform a perfect haka


  • by car:

    2 hrs 15 mins Auckland to Hobbiton

  • by car:

    1 hr Hobbiton to Rotorua

Begin your journey south, traveling through green meadows and rolling green hills to Hobbiton.(opens in new window) A guided tour of The Lord of the Rings' original movie set, will take you past the famous party tree, through a village of hobbit holes to Bag End, Bilbo and Frodo's iconic home.

Sample a specialist craft brew at Green Dragon Inn, before continuing on to Rotorua where geothermal wonders await.

After a luxurious soak at the Polynesian Spa, you will be ready to settle in for a night of Māori culture, storytelling and a traditional hāngi (earth oven) at Tamaki Village.

Day 3: Rotorua - Taupo

Tamaki Maori Village, Rotorua


Discover more about Rotorua


  • Explore the forest canopy on a Treewalk
  • Take a downhill ride via OGO or Luge
  • Discover hidden mirror pools and geysers


Top 10 must-do experiences in Rotorua

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Rotorua has a spine tingling array of adventures on offer. Hurtle downhill in the luge or climb aboard an OGO for a true adrenalin rush. For more adventure visit Agroventure Park, home to the shweeb and swoop.

In Redwood Forest, you can explore the forest floor with the network of mountain bike trails then climb into the forest canopy and discover a whole new world above ground with a Redwood Treewalk. At night, 30 specially designed lanterns light your way.

After lunch, head south towards Lake Taupo and visit the magnificent Orakei Korako Cave & Geothermal Park. One of New Zealand's best-kept secrets, the park boasts some of the country's most active geysers and a remarkable 'Pool of Mirrors' hidden within a thermal cave.

Day 4: Lake Taupo

Huka Falls, Taupō


  • Eat delicious prawns at Huka Prawn Park
  • Discover Maori rock carvings in Mine Bay
  • Navigate raging water at Huka Falls


  • by car:

    1 hr Rotorua to Taupo

Lake Taupo is the largest freshwater lake in Australasia and a great place for water activities of every kind. Begin the day with a boat cruise to the giant Maori rock carvings in Mine Bay or hire a kayak and discover the lake for yourself.

For lunch, head out the Huka Prawn Park, where you can treat yourself to delicious self-caught prawns.

End the day with a thrilling jet boat ride through the raging waters of the Huka Falls. Up to 220,000 litres of water gushes over the Huka Falls every second, as the 200m wide Waikato River forces itself through a 20m gap creating a torrent of stunning blue foam.

Day 5: Taupo - Hamilton via Waitomo

Waitomo, Waikato


  • Gaze on thousand of glittering glowworms
  • Meet kiwi at Otorohanga Kiwi House
  • Wander through tranquil gardens


  • by car:

    2 hrs Lake Taupo to Waitomo Caves

  • 1 hr Waitomo to Hamilton

Continue your journey north to Waitomo, where a labyrinth of limestone caves lie hidden beneath rolling green hills. Venture underground and enter a majestic world lit by galaxies of glittering glowworms. For the ultimate caving thrill journey deeper when you abseil into the abyss. 

After your subterranean tour travel on to the city of Hamilton, and enjoy a relaxing afternoon exploring the beautiful Hamilton Gardens, with its display of themed gardens from Grand Italy to tranquil Asia. 

Day 6: Hamilton - Auckland via Raglan

Raglan, Waikato


  • Surfing Raglan's left hand break
  • Culture & history at Waikato Museum
  • Free-flight aviary at Hamilton Zoo


  • by car:

    45 mins Hamilton to Raglan

  • by car:

    1 hr 40 mins Hamilton to Auckland


Discover the top things to do in Hamilton

More about Hamilton

Travel out to the coast and the laid-back beach town of Raglan, which boasts one of the longest left-hand surf breaks in the world. The relaxed bohemian vibe will soon make you feel right at home. Spend the day learning to surf or explore the town with its many cafes, surf shops and galleries.

If you want to stretch your legs the short walk to Bridal Veil Falls is well worth it or for a longer walk try climbing to the top of Mount Karioi - on a fine day you can see all the way to Mount Taranaki.

From Raglan, it is a leisurely drive back to Auckland through the rolling countryside of the Waikato and the end of your journey.