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Experience the best of the island on this 21 Day New Zealand North Island Tour. From must-see destinations to hidden gems, this New Zealand North Island tour includes it all. Make a loop from Auckland down to Wellington, visiting Rotorua, Taupo, Hobbiton, and more along the way.
With accommodation, activities, and a rental car included, this New Zealand North Island tour package is the perfect option for hassle-free travel.
Read on for more details on the 21 Day North Island Explorer Holiday Package.
Arrive in Auckland – the “City of Sails” is New Zealand’s largest city and is bordered by two stunning harbours. Collect your rental car from the airport, explore the city and then make your way to your accommodation.
This evening, if you would like to dine with a spectacular view, you might like to visit the Sky Tower. You are spoilt for choice with three restaurants and cafés up the Sky Tower, including the Orbit 360 degree dining revolving restaurant; The Sugar Club, which is superbly chic and elegant; or the Sky Café, where you can relax with a coffee, cheese board or ice cream. You have the opportunity to overlook the city from 328 metres above street level, with views stretching up to 80 kilometres in every direction. Spot the key landmarks, including a number of volcanoes and historical locations within the greater Auckland area.
Stay 2 nights in Auckland City.
Relax in the city for the day. You could explore attractions such as the Auckland Zoo and Viaduct Harbour or do a bit of boutique shopping.
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, which is defined by its two harbours. Enjoy great sailing and, as the sun sets, watch the night lights of this photogenic city come alive. Your experienced crew will talk about Auckland’s unique features. In addition, 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!
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. Here you will find an abundance of marine life that includes whales, penguins and dolphins.
Paihia is the perfect base if you would like to discover the coves and beaches of the Bay of Islands! Paihia is also of historic importance to New Zealand, as this is where the historic Treaty House on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is located, which marks the beginning of New Zealand as a nation. Just west of Paihia is Haruru, where you’ll find an impressive waterfall and a boardwalk.
Stay 3 nights in Paihia, Bay of Islands.
Today, board the premium Discover the Bay Cruise and experience the best of the Bay of Islands. 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, you have the 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.
Visit the top of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and venture to Cape Reinga via 90 Mile Beach. This full day trip takes you to one of the most northern points of New Zealand where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide.
On the way to Cape Reinga you could visit Gumdiggers park where ancient Kauri forest was buried thousands of years ago. A giant 100,000 year old Kauri tree has been exposed for viewing and is part of a vast forest buried beneath Gumdiggers Park.
To finish your day, you could visit the world famous Mangonui Fish Shop and grab the freshest fish and chips as the sea washes gently beneath your feet.
Driving time Bay of Islands to Coromandel Peninsula 406 km / 252 miles, 6 hours
Renowned worldwide as a spectacular holiday destination, with warm white-sand beaches, misty rainforests and wilderness aplenty, the Coromandel is the ideal place to relax and unwind. Relax on the coastline, exploring beaches, volcanic reefs and the
Whitianga is the main settlement of Mercury Bay, an attractive township with a deep-water harbour. Now a vibrant coastal town, Whitianga is evolving into a delightful place to visit. Whitianga has an excellent selection of restaurants and cafés, and the thriving retail community provides an interesting collection of outlets.
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.
In the afternoon, you may wish to visit Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own hot pool. You could also relax in naturally heated mineral waters at The Lost Spring Geothermal Spa in Whitianga. Surrounded by tropical plants and soothing waterfalls, the thermal waters flow from a spring deep within the earth’s surface. For a real treat, indulge in a pampering session at the on-site day spa.
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.
Downtown Tauranga has several historically significant areas to view during a scenic walk around the area. The Strand waterfront area is modern and always buzzing, and is home to a number of cafés, restaurants and pubs.
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, 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 films. 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. You have the option to visit the Redwoods Treewalk, which features 23 suspension bridges through 115-year-old redwood trees, or explore the Government Gardens and Museum, located on the waterfront of Lake Rotorua.
In the evening, enjoy dinner at Rotorua’s most spectacular location – Skyline Restaurant.
Sit back and relax as the views from the gondola unfold on your 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, 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 a range of sumptuous 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 Taupo 76 km / 47 miles, 1 hour
Enjoy the short drive south to Taupo, rich in natural beauty and filled with attractions such as the Huka Falls, relaxing boat cruises, and bungy jumping.
Enjoy a Peek at the Lake Scenic Floatplane Flight, which takes off from Taupo Bay and continues past Acacia Bay to Rangatira Point, viewing the crystal clear waters of Whakaipo Bay. Climb up through Mapara Valley, view red scoria quarries, then discover the headwaters of the Waikato River. Fly over the Craters of the Moon and over the Borefields of the Wairakei Power Station, followed by a circuit of the Huka Falls, before returning over Taupo to land on the lakefront (approximately 20 minutes).
Stay 2 nights in Taupo.
Relax in Taupo for the day. Taupo is a great lake for water-skiing, sailing and kayaking. The Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, which can only be seen from the water, make for a great boat trip or kayaking excursion. The forests surrounding the lake offer hiking and mountain biking to suit all levels of experience. Just north of Lake Taupo you’ll find New Zealand’s most visited attraction, the magnificent Huka Falls, where more than 220,000 litres of water thunder over the cliff face every second.
Driving time Taupo to Napier 142 km / 88 miles, 2 hours
Head to the East Coast and discover Napier, the Art Deco capital of New Zealand. Set within the country’s oldest and second largest wine growing region, Hawke’s Bay, Napier is surrounded by picturesque vineyards and wineries.
Explore the Napier and Hasting wine region in the afternoon if you wish, and visit vineyards and cellar doors at your leisure.
Stay 2 nights in Napier.
Enjoy the drive along the scenic coast from Napier to Te Awanga, and visit the world’s largest, most accessible gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Gannet Safaris has been guiding visitors over Cape Kidnappers for over 35 years. The safaris are the only way to approach within a few feet of these remarkable birds. There is absolutely no walking required.
You will travel in comfort in the air conditioned 4 x 4 Mini Coach through Cape Kidnappers Station – traversing riverbeds, broad rolling pastures, stands of native bush, steep gullies and breathtaking inclines. There is a stop on the way at a spectacular cliff top with panoramic views of Hawke Bay right across to the Mahia Peninsula. The amazing geology of the area can also be taken in. The 36km, three hour trip includes commentary by your tour guide / driver on the farming operation at Cape Kidnappers Station and an introduction to the gannets. On arrival at the gannet colony, you can stretch your legs and take in the spectacular scenery from your position at the brink of the cliff’s edge – 100 metres above the ocean. Here your guide will serve you light refreshments whilst you enjoy watching the gannets perform around you.
Driving time Napier to Wellington 319 km / 198 miles, 4 hours
Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, has so much to offer. Set on the edge of a stunning harbour, surrounded by rolling hills, it’s a city rich in culture waiting to be explored. From shopping and picturesque walks to concerts, live theatre, exhibitions, festivals, Te Papa Tongarewa: the Museum of New Zealand and more – Wellington has something for everyone.
Wellington’s top attractions include Te Papa, Weta Workshop, Wellington Cable Car, Mt Victoria Lookout and Wellington Zoo.
Stay 2 nights in Wellington.
Relax and explore Wellington today, with the option to add on a Wellington Lord of the Rings Tour!
You may like to visit Zealandia, located a 10- minute drive from downtown Wellington. Hidden in a suburban valley, this project aims to return a 225-hectare section of bush to its pre-human state. Take a walk and hear the songs of the flourishing native bird population.
This afternoon you may like to try the visually stunning Makara Peak track, as well as the City to Sea walk where you can experience the best of Wellington’s waterfront. Ride the cable car up the hill to Kelburn for amazing views over the city and enjoy an ice cream at the top.
Driving time Wellington to New Plymouth 351 km / 218 miles, 4.5 hours
As a popular tourist destination, New Plymouth is well-known for its black sand beaches, which offer some of the best surfing in the country. Other attributes include Mount Taranaki and the Egmont National Park, a Mecca for trampers. In contrast with the outdoors lifestyle, New Plymouth also has an artistic side as it is home to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (Len Lye Centre), New Zealand’s only contemporary art museum with a permanent collection.
Stay 2 nights in New Plymouth.
Explore New Plymouth’s beaches, famous walkway and unique city.
The conical shape of Mount Taranaki provides a dramatic backdrop to the city, a constant reminder that the hiking trails of Egmont National Park are just a short drive away. You may also like to stroll along the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, a 10 km promenade with stunning views. Expect good shopping and an impressive selection of restaurants.
Driving time New Plymouth to Waitomo Caves 180 km / 111 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,
Stay 2 nights in Hamilton.
Relax in Hamilton for the day, exploring attractions such as Raglan’s surf coast, Te Aroha Mineral Pools, the chocolate and candy factory, Hamilton Gardens and the weekly markets.
Enjoy your last night in Hamilton and raise a glass to a fantastic New Zealand North Island tour!
Driving time Hamilton to Auckland 126 km / 78 miles, 2 hours
Drive back to Auckland at your leisure. Drop your rental car off at Auckland Airport and depart Auckland.
Our New Zealand North Island tour packages are designed for hassle-free travel. Fully customisable and open-dated, these self-drive tour packages provide a starting point as you begin planning your holiday.
Once you enquire about your holiday, one of our travel consultants will be in touch to discuss your interests and preferences. After that, you will receive your custom itinerary, which we will continue to tailor until it matches exactly what you are interested in.
From planning through to booking your holiday, we will be with you every step of the way. In addition, our team is on the ground in New Zealand to help in case you have any questions during your travels.
Contact New Zealand Travel Organiser today to begin planning your New Zealand North Island tour.
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