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Experience the best of the island with a New Zealand North Island road trip package. Make a loop from Auckland to Auckland, visiting highlights such as Rotorua, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, and the Bay of Islands.
Comfortably-paced and filled with exciting activities, this itinerary is perfect for couples, families, and groups. Most of the highlights of the North Island are located close together, which means this itinerary minimises driving time.
Read on for the full details of the 14 Day North Island Explorer Holiday Package.
Arrive in Auckland – the “City of Sails” is New Zealand’s largest city, set beside two stunning harbours. Collect your rental car from the airport, then make your way to your accommodation.
Relax and explore downtown Auckland in the afternoon and evening. Your options include visiting the Sky Tower, the Auckland Zoo, or Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World; venturing to one of Auckland’s stunning beaches or West Auckland wineries, or doing a spot of shopping.
Stay 1 night in Auckland City.
Driving time Auckland to Bay of Islands 219 km / 136 miles, 4 hours
Drive to the Bay of Islands, renowned for its 144 islands and surreal maritime park where an abundance of marine life includes whales, penguins and dolphins. In the afternoon relax on one of the many warm secluded beaches and explore the area.
Stay 3 nights in Paihia, Bay of Islands.
Today, board the premium Discover the Bay Cruise and see for yourself the best of what the Bay of Islands has to offer. Journey to the Hole in the Rock and if weather permits, sail through it. See marine wildlife including Dolphins and stop off at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island to have a swim, go for a walk and relax.
In the afternoon option to experience Maori culture by visiting Waitangi’s treaty house, gardens and national marae (meeting house).
Relax and enjoy your day in the Bay of Islands. For a great day trip, hop on the ferries from Paihia (passenger ferry) or Opua (vehicle ferry) to Russell. Russell is a significant place in New Zealand’s history, being New Zealand’s first European settlement and sea port, while Okiato, near Russell, was New Zealand’s first capital. Russell is also home to the Duke of Marlborough, New Zealand’s first licensed hotel and pub, which has been refreshing rascals and reprobates since 1827! The pub is located on the waterfront in Russell—why not sit back and relax on the verandah overlooking the bay?
Other options include experiencing a spectacular scenic flight over the Bay of Islands in a plane or helicopter.
Driving time Bay of Islands to Auckland 219 km / 136 miles, 4 hours
Journey back to Auckland. Relax in Auckland for the day exploring the city’s attractions such as Sky Tower, Auckland Zoo and Viaduct Harbour.
In the evening enjoy a unique dining experience on Auckland’s magnificent Waitemata Harbour. An on water dining experience is not to be missed in any harbour city especially in Auckland, the ‘City of Sails’. Enjoy great sailing and as the sun sets watch the night lights of this photogenic city come alive. Your experienced crew talk about Auckland’s unique features and there is plenty of opportunity to participate in the sailing or sit back and enjoy the sights. Choose from a set menu served by the crew during the dinner stop at a sheltered mooring. Compliment your meal from the selection of locally produced wine or beer and make a toast to a fantastic holiday!
Stay 1 night in Auckland City.
Driving time Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula 178 km / 110 miles, 3 hours
Renowned worldwide as a spectacular holiday destination, with warm white sandy beaches, misty rainforests and wilderness a-plenty, the Coromandel is the ideal place to relax and unwind. Relax on the coastline, exploring beaches, volcanic reefs and the world famous Cathedral Cove!
Stay 2 nights in Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula.
Today, join the Glass Bottom Boat for a unique boat cruise. Depart from the Whitianga Wharf to explore the breathtaking volcanic coastline, including the famous Cathedral Cove. See the stunning Champagne Bay, plus a range of blow holes and sea caves, including Orua’s Sea Cave, the second largest sea cave in New Zealand! See what lies above and below the surface in the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and be amazed by all the marine life to be seen. You can choose your own level of fun. Either sit back and enjoy the amazing marine life through the glass boat, or take the plunge and snorkel amongst the fish. All equipment supplied and no experience necessary. Blue penguins are a common sight year-round.
Driving time Coromandel Peninsula to Tauranga 170 km / 106 miles, 2.5 hours
The Bay of Plenty is one of the most popular summer holiday destinations in New Zealand. Located along the idyllic Pacific Coast Highway it offers a great mix of activities, beaches and dining experiences. Tauranga is the main centre, whilst the coastal suburb of Mount Maunganui is the region’s seaside resort.
Stay 2 nights in Tauranga.
Relax in the Bay of Plenty for the day. Around Tauranga are hectares of orchards and gardens producing everything from kiwifruit and citrus fruit to avocados. Add to this bounty the local wines and the plentiful fresh seafood and you just know that this is a place where you will dine well. Mount Maunganui, a short distance from Tauranga, has spectacular beaches which are a magnet for surfers all year round and voted New Zealand’s best by TripAdvisor.
Driving time Tauranga to Matamata 48 km /29 miles, 1 hour
Make your way to Matamata to discover the real Middle-Earth on the most picturesque private farmland near Matamata to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy in a fascinating two-hour guided tour. The set has been completely rebuilt and will remain as it was seen in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. There are spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges from the rolling green hills of the movie set, which is still a working sheep and beef farm. You can relax and soak up the unique atmosphere with a great cup of coffee or a light meal in The Shire’s Rest Café.
Driving time Matamata to Rotorua 68 km / 42 miles, 1 hour
Enjoy the scenic journey to Rotorua, distinguished by Maori culture and geothermal activity. This diverse city will put on a display as you encounter geysers, mud pools, steaming craters and 16 beautiful lakes.
In the evening enjoy a Maori Cultural Experience including a Hangi Dinner. Hear stories and learn how Maori traditions live on today. Experience an authentic Maori welcome. Watch a challenge by the Maori warriors, a karanga (call) from the Maori women welcoming you onto the marae, and a whaikorero (welcome speech). Relax and enjoy the beautiful waiata (songs), the world renowned haka (challenge), and the elegant poi dance. Learn Maori customs including Maori musical instruments, haka and poi. The dining experience is a culinary opportunity like no other. Following dessert, you will be transported down into the valley to conclude your evening beside the awe inspiring Pohutu geyser.
Stay 2 nights in Rotorua.
Relax in Rotorua for the day.
In the evening enjoy dinner at Rotorua’s most spectacular location – Skyline Restaurant. Sit back and relax as the views from the gondola unfold while you journey to the Skyline complex. The Skyline Restaurant will then serve you a mouthwatering taste of New Zealand, a buffet of legendary proportions. Feast on mouth-watering fresh soups and salads and seafood specialties such as mussels, queen scallops, sushi and sashimi. Enjoy carvery roasts of beef, lamb or pork with specialty sauces to match, with live cooking from your friendly chefs. Add to that mouth-watering desserts, and you’ve got yourself a unique dining experience not to be missed. Tiered seating guarantees stunning views from every table! After dinner enjoy the scenic ride back down on the gondola.
At the top of the gondola you also have the option to add-on a thrilling Luge Ride, enjoy nature walks and visit the Jelly Belly Shop and Volcanic Hills winery and tasting room.
Driving time Rotorua to Waitomo Caves 150 km /93 miles, 2.5 hours
Venture to the Waitomo Caves, where you will enjoy the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and Ruakuri Caves Combo! Deep underground in the heart of the Waikato are a series of unique caves that will take your breath away. At the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, thousands of tiny glowworms cling to the cave ceiling, creating a starry sky within the underground night. Nearby, the Ruakuri Cave is home to an innovative spiral entrance, echoing waterfalls, and limestone that flows into delicate shawl-like formations.
Driving time Waitomo Caves to Hamilton 73 km / 45 miles, 1 hour
After your Waitomo Caves adventure journey to Hamilton, New Zealand’s largest inland city, situated on the banks of the Waikato River. As Hamilton is located in the hub of the central North Island, visitors have easy access to iconic attractions such as Raglan’s surf coast and Te Aroha Mineral Pools.
Stay 2 nights in Hamilton.
Relax in Hamilton for the day exploring attractions such as the Raglan’s surf coast, Te Aroha Mineral Pools, the chocolate and candy factory, Hamilton Gardens and the weekly markets.
With a young, smart and innovative population, Hamilton’s warm and welcoming spirit, rich history and contrasting splendours ensure visitors are spoilt for choice for places to relax and enjoy. From magnificent parks and gardens to a thriving cultural precinct, the city offers a vibrant combination of fine dining and nightlife options as well as an eclectic mix of leisure, lifestyle and activity choices.
Driving time Hamilton to Auckland 126 km / 78 miles, 2 hours
Drive back to Auckland at your leisure. Relax in Auckland for the afternoon or join the crew and enjoy an America’s Cup Sailing experience, a must do attraction in Auckland, spend 2 hours out on the harbour on an actual America’s Cup yacht!
Stay 1 night in Auckland City.
Drop your rental car off at Auckland Airport and depart Auckland.
This holiday package is fully customisable. In other words, you can change the inclusions, the schedule, or the accommodation level. Your personal travel consultant will work with you to tailor the itinerary to match your interests and preferences.
As you begin planning your New Zealand North Island road trip, you may wish to browse our full range of itineraries for inspiration. We offer 7 Day, 10 Day, 14 Day, and 21 Day North Island holiday packages.
Contact New Zealand Travel Organiser today to begin planning your North Island road trip.