This straight-down-the-middle route lets you experience the volcanic heart of the North Island. Auckland’s sea and city attractions get you in the holiday mood before you visit the subterranean labyrinth of Waitomo Caves, followed by Rotorua’s spectacular geothermal and Maori attractions.
At Lake Taupo there are more geothermals to see, as well as hot spas to soak in. Follow the lake’s edge to Turangi, a renowned trout fishing mecca. The volcanic plateau gives way to farmland on the way to Palmerston North. The Kapiti coast provides entertainment on the last leg of your journey.
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Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is situated between two enormous harbours and dotted with 48 extinct volcanic cones. It’s a place to enjoy marine adventures, wine trails, forest walks and urban sophistication.
The mighty Waikato River brings a unique beauty to Hamilton city. As well as river boat cruising, local attractions include gardens, museums and a giant free flight aviary. At the southern end of the city’s main street you’ll discover a wide variety of excellent restaurants and cafes.
The trip south takes you through prime Waikato farmland. In summer, you can pause in the town of Te Awamutu to admire the roses. A detour towards the coast will take you to Kawhia, where hot water bubbles up through the sand - you can dig a pool between low and mid tide. Just before the turn off to Waitomo, you’ll come to Otorohanga. The kiwi house in this town is a chance to meet New Zealand’s national symbol.
The Waitomo Caves region is famous for its subterranean splendour. Beneath the surface of this ancient limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms. Some caves open to the public, and are easy to walk through, others require specialised caving equipment.
Start in Auckland Central
This is the heart of Auckland, with a relaxed coastal living vibe by day and a night-time energy shared by the inner-city suburbs that surrounds it.
End in Waitomo Caves
Under the green hills of Waitomo lies a labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The area's name comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole).
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