This straight-down-the-middle route takes you through the volcanic heart of the North Island.
Explore the subterranean labyrinth of Waitomo Caves and the spectacular geothermal and Maori attractions in Rotorua and Taupo. Travel through Turangi as the volcanic plateau gives way to farmland. Discover beautiful Kapiti Coast before ending your journey in the city of Wellington, New Zealand's vibrant capital.
The inland city of Hamilton is dominated by the mighty Waikato River running through its centre. River boat cruising, walking trails, botanical gardens and a giant free flight aviary are just a few of the attractions the city has to offer.
Further south, Waitomo is famous for its subterranean splendour. Beneath the surface resides a vast network of caves. There are many ways to explore this underground world from a relaxing boat ride through a glowworm grotto, to a more adventurous journey deep into a lost world.
Your journey to Rotorua will take you through a mixture of farmland, lakeland and forest. Along the way stretch your legs with a walk in the beautiful Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park, the southern-most range of the native kauri tree.
Rotorua is a town alive with volcanic activity. Explore the region's fascinating geothermal areas from bubbling mud to erupting geysers and learn more about the region's history with a trip to Te Wairoa - the Buried Village.
The city is also a hub for adventure, so if thrills are what you're after there's plenty to choose from with top mountain biking trails and a growing range of quirky and bizarre adventure activities such as the OGO, shweeb or luge.
As you near Taupo you will pass the Huka Falls, where the Waikato River enters a shallow ravine of hard volcanic rock, turning it into a torrent of raging water. Stop to admire the falls from above or climb aboard the Huka Falls jet for a thrilling ride into the foaming blue water.
Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake, making it the perfect spot for water activities of every kind. Spend the afternoon exploring the lake by kayak or paddleboard.
Make your way along the eastern edge of Lake Taupō to Tūrangi, New Zealand's trout fishing capital and home to some famous fishing spots, including the ‘Tailrace’ (believed to contain the world’s fattest trout). If fishing isn't for you, spend the morning exploring nearby Tongariro National Park or rafting the Tongariro River.
As you continue your journey south the landscape changes from volcanic plateau to dramatic river valley and finally farmland. Along the way, small rural towns each display their own unique personality. End the day in Palmerston North, home to a wide array of galleries, gardens, and theatres. Rugby fans, in particular, won't want to miss the New Zealand Rugby Museum.
Today's journey south is rich with natural wonders and wildlife encounters. First stop Shannon, home to the Owlcatraz Wildlife Park, a sanctuary for the shy native Ruru owl, often called 'Morepork' for the sound it makes.
An easy detour from nearby Levin takes you to beautiful dune lakes, surrounded by wetland and lush native forest. Further south you'll find Kapiti Island nature reserve, where many of New Zealand's endangered species can be found.
Your journey ends in lively Wellington, where you can enjoy the myriad of cafes, restaurants, museums and live music venues that Wellington has to offer.
Getting around New Zealand is easy with a great range of transport options available.
There are plenty of accommodation options for every budget and travel style.
No matter the season, the majority of our main attractions are open year-round.
More information on basic costs for accommodation, travel and food.