Volcanic Loop Highway

7 DAYS

747 km

Highlights

  • Cosmopolitan Auckland
  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Geothermal Rotorua

Proximity

INCLUDES CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

From beautiful vineyards and exhilarating adventures to glittering glowworm caves and geothermal wonders, this itinerary introduces you to some of New Zealand's most spectacular attractions.  

Walk the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, skydive from 15,000ft and visit the famous Hobbiton Movie Set when you journey through the North Island via the Volcanic Loop.

Day 1: Spend the day in Auckland

Auckland
Rangitoto Summit Track , Auckland

By Fraser Clements

Auckland

AUCKLAND

Lively city vibe and stunning natural landscapes.

Highlights

  • Climb the volcanic Island of Rangitoto
  • Board a thrilling harbour jet boat ride
  • Indulge in a little inner-city culture

MUST-DO EXPERIENCES IN AUCKLAND

Metropolitan delights, natural landscapes and adventure.

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Spend the day getting to know the vibrant ‘City of Sails’. With outstanding food, natural attractions, and plenty of adventure, Auckland is the perfect place to start your holiday.

Climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge and take in the vistas of New Zealand’s biggest city, from the city centre to the island dotted Hauraki Gulf. While you’re there, bungy jump off the bridge to touch the water below.

Nature lovers should kayak across the harbour to hike the iconic Rangitoto volcanic cone. 

If luxury and relaxation is what you're after, take the ferry to Waiheke and explore the island's many secluded beaches, wineries and walking trails.

Day 2: Hamilton & Waitomo Caves

Hamilton - Waikato
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Hamilton - Waikato

By TIME Unlimited Tours

Hamilton - Waikato

HAMILTON - WAIKATO

Magical caves, surf beaches and Hobbits.

Highlights

  • Explore caves lit by glowworms
  • Blackwater rafting
  • Bucolic Hamilton Gardens

Proximity

  • By car: 2 h 40 min | 199 km to Waitomo via SH1 & SH39
  • By bus: 4 h 10 min | by Intercity or NakedBus
  • By : Visit a local iSITE for Waitomo tour info.

Make your way south to Hamilton. Spend the morning with a visit to Hamilton Zoo, home to New Zealand's largest free-flight aviary. Discover a plethora of unique native birds around every corner, including the endangered Blue Duck.

Beyond Hamilton, Waitomo is an underground world of stalactites, stalagmites and glittering glowworms. Explore this extensive network of caves, from a relaxing boat ride through the glowworm grotto or for the more adventurous take a 4-hour abseil journey deep into a lost world.

If you have time after your caving adventure, stop at Otorohanga Kiwi house and meet our national bird. 

Stay in Waitomo for the night or return to Hamilton.

Day 3: Pureora Forest & National Park

Lake Taupo
The Timber Trail, Lake Taupo

By Sven Martin

Ruapehu

RUAPEHU

Volcanic cones, tussocked desert and wild rivers.

Proximity

  • By car: 1 h 45 min | 143 km via SH3 & SH4
  • By bus: 2 h 30 min | by Intercity
  • By : Stop at Ongarue to access Pureoa Forest Park

PUREORA FOREST PARK

One of the largest tracts of native forest in the North Island.

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Journey on to the beautiful Pureora Forest Park, taking time to explore some of the small towns you pass on the way.

At Pureora hire a bike and spend the day cycling though ancient forests and across graceful suspension bridges, as you follow old logging roads to Piropiro. The full Timber Trail route from Pureora to Ongarue crosses 35 bridges and includes a fascinating array of timber industry relics along the way.

For non-cyclists, an abundance of walking tracks, swimming spots and native wildlife, make this park a must-do for nature lovers.

Spend the night in National Park village or the nearby town of Turangi.

Day 4: Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Ruapehu
Forgotten World Adventures, Ruapehu

By Craig Balme

Highlights

  • Forgotten World Adventures
  • Discover the Bridge to Nowhere
  • Journey down the Whanganui River

Proximity

  • By car: 3 hrs Pureora Forest Park to Ohakune

One of the best ways to see this part of the country is with a Forgotten World Adventure tour. With railcarts and jet boats, the combo tour will give you the best of both worlds.

Depart Taumarunui and journey down a decommissioned railway line, through picturesque valleys, hidden townships and deep into the Whanganui National Park. Along the way you will discover a fascinating mixture of nostalgia and adrenalin. A jet boat up the Whanganui River returns you to Taumarunui. For something a little different try a tour to the famous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’, a stunning stone bridge with a strange history. 

Spend the night in Ohakune, gateway to Tongariro National Park.

Day 5: Explore Taupo

New Zealand
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

By Graeme Murray

Highlights

  • Traverse the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Stand beneath the Taranaki Falls
  • Whitewater rafting

Proximity

TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING

A challenging journey across a remarkable volcanic landscape.

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Just a trip from National Park is Tongariro Alpine Crossing, widely considered New Zealand's best day walk.

The walk traverses the stark volcanic terrain between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. Taking in lava flows, steam vents, emerald-coloured lakes and an active crater this walk is an unforgettable experience.

If the Crossing isn't for you try whitewater rafting on the Whanganui River or take an easy stroll to the stunning Taranaki Falls.

End the day with relaxing spa at DeBretts Hot Springs in Taupo.

Please note: The Department of Conservation recommends that visitors access the Crossing via a shuttle, a full list of local operators can be found here.

Day 6: Spend the day in Rotorua

Lake Taupo
Skydiving above the Central Plateau, Lake Taupo

By Taupo Tandem Skydiving

Lake Taupo

TAUPO

Teeming with outdoor activities and water sports.

Highlights

  • Skydive from 15,000ft
  • Kayak to the Mine Bay Maori carvings
  • Take a thrilling Hukafalls jet boat ride

Proximity

The volcanic eruption that created Lake Taupo nearly two thousand years ago is said to be so big the effects were seen in Europe and China. Today it is New Zealand's largest lake and a haven for water based activities.

Spend the morning exploring the lake by kayak. Float through secluded inlets and paddle to Mine Bay where you will discover stunning maori designs carved into the cliff-face.

Change pace in the afternoon with a thrilling jet boat ride in the raging waters of Huka Falls, or jump out of a plane at 15,000ft and experience the adrenalin pumping sensation of freefall.

Continue your journey on to Rotorua, where you will spend the night.

Day 7: Return to Auckland via Hobbiton

Your journey back to Auckland takes you though rolling countryside and unique geological features. It's easy to see why Peter Jackson chose this area to play The Shire in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

Visit Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata to see how Middle‑earth was brought to life. 

As you travel, take time to explore the variety of quintessential kiwi towns on the way and get to know a piece of rural New Zealand. 

Putaruru is an easy walk to the famous Blue Springs or pause to check out Tirau's many fascinating corregated iron constructions. 

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