North Island Traveller
SELF DRIVE TOUR
AUCKLAND | PAIHIA | MATAKANA | COROMANDEL PENINSULA | ROTORUA | TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK | NAPIER | WELLINGTON
Active Volcanoes, island sanctuaries and history all top the list when visiting New Zealand’s North Island and can all be found on this comprehensive self-driving tour. From the far north where New Zealand’s political history began, journey through landscapes that blend magnificent beaches, sprawling farmlands and geothermal wonders. Maori culture is rich and ever present in many parts of the North Island.
• Discover geothermal Rotorua
• Explore the beauty of the Bay of Islands
• Witness the sunset over Tongariro National Park
• Kayak to Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel
• Enjoy wine tasting in Napier
• Take a unique behind the scenes movie experience at Weta Workshop in Wellington
North Island Traveller
Day 1 : Arrive Auckland
Arrive in Auckland and make your own way to your hotel. Relax and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure in the ‘City of Sails’. Auckland city extends over a narrow isthmus between the Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean, and the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea. Auckland has spectacular natural features, including 49 dormant volcanoes. This cosmopolitan city has a population of around 1.4 million and the city’s subtropical climate, lush vegetation and easy access to the coast and outdoor activities consistently earns it a place in the top five rankings in international lifestyle surveys.
Day 2 : Auckland - Paihia (227km)
This morning, pick up your rental car in Auckland and drive north to Paihia. Located in the Bay of Islands on the east coast of Northland, it is an idyllic section of irregular rock and golden sanded coastline that circles a sea encompassing 150 islands; the mild climate, good fishing, beautiful beaches and islands and the laid-back nature of the picturesque small townships make the Bay of Islands a popular holiday destination.
Day 3 : Paihia
Today’s exciting excursion is a full day tour exploring this region. This journey will take you to Cape Reinga, where according to Maori legend, spirits depart on their journey to the homeland - Hawaiki. Along the way, visit the ancient Puketi Kauri Forest with a 20 minute boardwalk past 1,000 year old Kauri trees and native bush. Stand on the northern most tip of New Zealand and watch the Pacific Ocean collide with the Tasman Sea. Take the opportunity to try sandboarding down the massive sand dunes on boogie boards at Te Paki Stream. Your trip along the vast and empty Ninety Mile Beach will provide striking contrasts to the busy and populated East Coast. Feel the sand between your toes as you help your driver guide dig for shellfish (conditions permitting) on Ninety Mile Beach.
Day 4 : Paihia - Matakana (178km)
Enjoy a relaxing drive from the Bay of Islands to Matakana today. The picturesque Matakana region is a foodie’s heaven known for its weekend farmers market, boutique food shops and spectacular vineyards. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure.
Day 5 : Matakana - Coromandel Peninsula (251km)
Drive south today taking in some of the stunning scenery of the Coromandel Peninsula. As you approach rising up is the jagged Coromandel Range, which runs down the interior of the Peninsula and is cloaked in regenerating native bush. Once exploited for timber, gold and kauri gum, one third of land in the region is now administered by the Department of Conservation, ensuring the natural beauty of the Coromandel is preserved. Visit art & craft studios, walk on numerous scenic tracks in the area or experience Hot Water Beach, where hot springs seep through the sands which can be scooped out for an individual thermal pool!
Day 6 : Coromandel
A half day kayak tour is included today taking in the iconic Cathedral Cove. The Marine Reserve opens up a sea kayaking paradise full of beaches, islands and rock gardens that are just waiting to be explored. Today, you will paddle through sea caves, interact with the local marine life and discover the thrill of kayak sailing with the wind on your back. Land at Cathedral Cove where you will be treated to cappuccinos and hot chocolates on the beach!
Day 7 : Coromandel - Rotorua (217km)
The scenery changes from rugged natural bush scenery to vast kiwifruit and dairy farming country as you journey to the Bay of Plenty. Drive past Mount Maunganui with its famous ocean beach and distinctive volcanic cone. On a clear day, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the smouldering marine volcano of White Island. Continue your journey to the geothermal wonderland that is Rotorua. This evening attend a traditional Maori Hangi meal and Cultural show.
Day 8 : Rotorua - Tongariro National Park (141km)
As you depart Rotorua, visit Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park (admission included). Sculptured out of volcanic activity and thousands of years in the making, Wai-O-Tapu is considered to be New Zealand’s most colourful and diverse geothermal sightseeing attraction. View bubbling mud and see a geyser erupt! Travel past New Zealands largest lake, Lake Taupo and continue onto Tongariro. Enjoy a 2 hour sunset guided walk, experiencing an unforgettable sunset lighting in a majestic Alpine setting with a glass of wine!
Day 9 : Tongariro National Park – Napier (194km)
Today drive back to Taupo and on through the Kaingaroa Forest and into the Kaimanawa Ranges before descending into the fertile wine growing region of the Hawkes Bay and the city of Napier. After 1931’s violent earthquake and subsequent fires most of Napier’s commercial heart was destroyed. Napier’s harbour sustained a massive upheaval and 4000 hectares of new land was formed. The people of Napier rebuilt their city which has lent an art deco flavour to the downtown area. Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s; Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and above all Art Deco.
Day 10 : Napier
Today enjoy a half day guided sightseeing & wine tasting tour. Discover the unique City of Napier with its wonderful Art Deco architecture and historic buildings. Learn about the massive earthquake just 87 years ago and see the changes first hand. As a direct result of the 7.9 earthquake, Napier is known world wide as the Art Deco capital of the World! View the vast areas of now residential and commercial land that was recently a sea bed and is now rich farm lands and occupied by housing. Visit one of the areas wonderful wineries and enjoy some wine tasting.
Day 11 : Napier - Wellington (329km)
Head south today climbing out of Hawkes Bay and into the rolling sheep and cattle farmland that characterises much of your journey today. The road eventually converges on the rugged Rimutaka Ranges before joining the motorway system into Wellington, New Zealand’s Capital - a truly energetic, cosmopolitan city set around the shores of a pretty harbour.
Day 12 : Wellington
A real treat today as you visit and Weta Workshop. A 2.5 hr movie-based experience which provides a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse of Weta Workshop, most famous for its props and models in Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit along with numerous others. Follow the story of the creative process told by crew members, using the props, models and weapons they helped make. See the work being done inside one of the world’s leading movie effects operations through windows into the workshop. The remainder of your day is free to explore the Capital, whether it be heading up the Cable Car, visiting Parliament Buildings, absorb the rich food and café scene, or strolling the city, the choice is yours!
Day 13 : Wellington
13 Day tour: Your tour ends today with the check out of your hotel and the return of your rental vehicle.
14 day tour: Check out of your hotel today and drive to Wellington Airport, drop off your rental car and board your flight to Auckland. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel on the included shuttle, the rest of the day is free to explore Auckland.
Day 14 : Depart Auckland
Check out of your hotel this morning and head to Auckland Airport on the included shuttle bus where our tour comes to an end.