Volcanic Loop Highway

6 - 7 DAYS

Highlights

  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Forgotten World Adventures
  • Bridge to Nowhere

Proximity

  • By car: Total driving time 11 hr 50 min
  • By : Total distance 963 kms

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

Walk the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, skydive from 15,000ft and cycle along historic trails when you journey through the North Island via the Volcanic Loop.

Day 1: Auckland

Auckland
Auckland Bridge Climb, Auckland

By Auckland Bridge Climb and Bungy

Highlights

  • Climb the Auckland Harbour Bridge
  • Board a thrilling harbour jet boat ride
  • Visit secluded beaches on Waiheke Island

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Arrive in Auckland and 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 in New Zealand's only ocean touch bungy. 

If luxury and relaxation is what you're after, head out to Waiheke and explore the island's many secluded beaches, wineries and walking trails. Waiheke's Delamore Lodge is a great option for true luxury accommodation.

 

Day 2: Auckland - Hamilton & Waitomo Caves

Hamilton - Waikato
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Hamilton - Waikato

By TIME Unlimited Tours

Hamilton - Waikato

Hamilton - Waikato

Hamilton accommodation

Highlights

  • Explore caves lit by glowworms
  • Blackwater rafting

Proximity

  • By car: 1 hr 36 mins Auckland to Hamilton
  • By car: 1 hr Hamilton to Waitomo

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

Further south lays Waitomo, an underground world of stalactites, stalagmites and glittering glowworms. There is a variety of ways to explore this extensive network of caves, from a relaxing boat ride through the glowworm grotto to the more adventurous 4-hour journey by abseil deep into a lost world.

If you have time after your caving adventure, stop at Otorohanga Kiwi house and meet our national bird, before returning to Hamilton for the night.

Day 3: Hamilton - Timber Trail

Lake Taupo
The Timber Trail, Lake Taupo

By Sven Martin

More about the Timber Trail

Deep in Pureora Forest, follow a path of old logging roads and tramlines.

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Highlights

  • Ride cycling and mountain bike trails
  • Nature walks and swimming spots
  • Explore historic bush tramways

Proximity

  • By car: 1 hr 45 mins
  • By : Hamilton to Pureora Forest Park

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

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.

Day 4: Timber Trail - Ohakune

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: Tongariro Alpine Crossing

New Zealand
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

By Graeme Murray

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo

Taupo accommodation

Highlights

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

Proximity

  • By car: 1 hr 40 mins Ohakune to Taupo

Just a short drive from Ohakune 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, two of the North Island's most significant active volcanoes. With lava flows, steam vents, emerald-coloured lakes and an active crater this walk is an unforgettable experience.

Alternatively, you can try whitewater rafting on the Whanganui River, take an easy stroll to the stunning Taranaki Falls, or enjoy a guided walk to the Ruapehu Crater, before ending the day with relaxing spa at DeBretts Hot Springs in Taupo.

Day 6: Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo
Skydiving above the Central Plateau, Lake Taupo

By Taupo Tandem Skydiving

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo

Discover more about Lake Taupo

Highlights

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

Proximity

  • By car: 45 minutes
  • By : Turangi to Lake Taupo

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 when you take 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.

Day 7: Return to Auckland

Your journey back to Auckland takes you though rolling countryside and unique geological features. As you travel, take time to explore the variety of quintessential kiwi towns you discover on the way and get to know a piece of rural New Zealand.

Other journeys you might like

Pacific Coast Highway →

Twin Coast Discovery in Northland →

Thermal Explorer Highway →