Thermal Explorer Highway

4 DAYS

454 km

Highlights

  • Geysers, bubbling mud and hot springs
  • Adventure in Taupo
  • Art Deco Napier

Proximity

INCLUDES CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

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 to Hamilton via Raglan

Hamilton - Waikato
Raglan, Hamilton - Waikato

By Chris McLennan

Hamilton - Waikato

HAMILTON - WAIKATO

Rolling green hills and surf beaches.

Highlights

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

Proximity

  • By car: 2 h 45 min | 196 km via SH1 & SH23 to Raglan
  • By bus: 2 h 5 min | to Hamilton by Intercity
  • By : Visit Busit for Hamilton - Raglan services

From Auckland travel south through suburban scenery and rolling green hills of Waikato to Hamilton, where a myriad of attractions await. 

Visit the beautiful botanic gardens or get up close to some of our native birdlife in the giant free flight aviary at Hamilton Zoo.

For those interested in New Zealand culture and heritage the Waikato Museum is well worth a visit.

Or visit the laid-back beach town of Raglan, home to one of the longest left-hand surf breaks in the world. Spend the day learning to surf or explore the town with its many cafes, surf shops and galleries.

Day 2: Hamilton to Rotorua

Rotorua
Tamaki Maori Village, Rotorua

By Destination Rotorua

Rotorua

ROTORUA

Bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and hot pools

Highlights

  • Antiques and art in Cambridge
  • Watch geysers erupt and mud boil
  • Learn the how to perform a perfect haka

Proximity

  • By car: 1 h 25 min | 106 km SH1 & SH5
  • By bus: 2 h | via Morrinsville by Intercity .
  • By : Visit Rotorua iSITE for local activities

Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire and geothermal activity breathes through every part of the region.

This area is also a hub for adrenalin junkies, try one of the quirky and bizarre adventure activities such as the lugeOGO and shweeb

Explore the Whakarewarewa Forest via a network of bike trails, then climb into the forest canopy and discover a whole new world with a Redwood Treewalk. At night, specially designed lanterns light your way.

End the day with a soak at the Polynesian Spa and a night of Māori culture, storytelling and traditional hāngi (earth oven) at Tamaki Village.

Day 3: Rotorua - Taupo

Lake Taupo
Huka Falls, Lake Taupo

By Destination Great Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo

TAUPO

Teeming with outdoor activities and water sports.

Highlights

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

Proximity

As you journey towards Taupo take time to visit the magnificent Orakei Korako Cave & Geothermal Park home to some of country's most remarkable geothermal features.

As the largest freshwater lake in Australasia Lake Taupo is a great place for all kinds of water activities. Take a boat cruise to the giant Maori rock carvings in Mine Bay or hire a kayak and discover the lake for yourself.

At Huka Prawn Park, 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, where the 200m wide Waikato River forces itself through a 20m gap creating a torrent of stunning blue foam.

Day 4: Taupo - Napier

Hawke's Bay
Napier's Art Deco Festival, Hawke's Bay

By First Light Travel

Hawke's Bay

HAWKE'S BAY

Wineries, fresh produce and art deco design

Highlights

  • Cape Kidnappers gannet colony
  • Art Deco heritage architecture
  • Winery tours and renowned golf courses

Proximity

  • By car: 1 h 45 min | 141 km via SH5
  • By bus: 2 h 5 min | by Intercity
  • By : Visit Napier iSITE for local activities

The road from Taupo to Napier takes you through fantastic scenery with rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and huge vistas. 

Once in the Hawke’s Bay you will discover a fertile wine-growing region that boasts one of the world’s best collections of Art Deco architecture. 

Nearby Cape Kidnappers is home to the world’s largest gannet colony which can be reached on foot, by kayak or on a tractor. The Cape also happens to have one of the country’s best golf courses.

End your journey with a visit to region's many wineries on a self-drive, chauffer driven or bicycle tour.

Driving in New Zealand

Important things you need to know about driving in New Zealand.

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