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12 Day Northern Centre & Tongariro Experience

11 nights, Auckland to Auckland

12 Day Northern Centre & Tongariro Experience

This tour focuses on the contrasting landscapes of the volcanic plateau in the central North Island and the beaches and forests of the Coromandel Peninsula.   

You’ll enjoy 4 days exploring the peaks and alpine forests of Tongariro National Park, including the world renowned Tongariro Crossing.  In the Coromandel, local guide Kiwi Dundee will take you into the forest-clad ranges to discover the history and natural wonders hidden within.  This tour rewards you with remarkable scenery and the satisfaction of accomplishing some great walks.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Polynesian Spa Rotorua
Taranaki Falls Tongariro National Park
Lake Taupo, Central North Island
Walkers on Tongariro Crossing
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Arrive Auckland, transfer to hotel

Private transfer Auckland airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Itinerary information by APP & in country support

Access to our exclusive New Zealand Touring APP. The APP includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

Welcome to Auckland

Welcome to Auckland
Welcome to Auckland
Welcome to Auckland
Welcome to Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand's self-proclaimed "City of Sails" is the country's largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor
Accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor
Accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor
Accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: valet paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 2 - Your rental car is delivered then drive Auckland to Lake Taupo

Driving distance and time: 267 kms / 166 miles : 3.1 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Collect your rental car

Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car
Collect your rental car

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. Insurance is included with a small excess or deductible. All airport fees, additional driver fees and unlimited kilometres are also included. To help you navigate your way around New Zealand all rentals also come with GPS. Our range included small compact cars to mid-size saloons to large 4WD and people movers.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Auckland to Taupo

Auckland to Taupo
Auckland to Taupo
Auckland to Taupo
Auckland to Taupo

Heading south from Auckland you'll go through the lush pastures of Waikato king country. Choose to bypass Hamilton or if you've got the time, stop in to visit the renowned Hamilton Gardens - a detour we highly recommend. Continue on, following the Waikato River through the small township of Cambridge to eventually arrive in Taupo, which sits on New Zealand's largest lake - Lake Taupo - and is actually a giant volcanic caldera.

Accommodation: Lake Taupo Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Lake Taupo Lodge
Accommodation: Lake Taupo Lodge
Accommodation: Lake Taupo Lodge
Accommodation: Lake Taupo Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Dinner service available
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 3 - Begin your Guided Tongariro National Park Hiking Tour

Tongariro 3.5 Day Hiking Tour

Tongariro 3.5 Day Hiking Tour
Tongariro 3.5 Day Hiking Tour
Tongariro 3.5 Day Hiking Tour
Tongariro 3.5 Day Hiking Tour

Tongariro National Park - a dual listed World Heritage Area - boasts diverse landscapes for visitors to discover. With arid badlands, crater and alpine lakes, sparkling rivers, breath-taking lunar landscapes, lush rainforest and alpine meadows to be explored, a summer hiking vacation is an utterly unique experience not to be missed! The itinerary below is a basic outline. Your experienced local guide will choose the best walks to suit weather conditions and fitness levels, to ensure you get the most from your time in this special region. Difficulty: Moderate to hard

Trip includes: All meals, snacks, hot and cold drinks; NZ wine and beer with evening meals; 3 nights lodge accommodation; full linen; Rotorua or Taupo return transport (door-to-door); transport to all walks; park fees; chair lift tickets; hot pool entry; knowledgeable and experienced guides. Dinners are delicious 2 course meals with a focus on NZ style cuisine, with generous pre-dinner nibbles and drinks. Breakfasts have cooked and continental options. Packed lunches are made fresh daily.

Day 1 – Arrive into Tongariro National Park and welcome dinner

Arrive at The Chateau in Tongariro National Park, with breathtaking views of the volcanoes and park. Settle in with a glass of New Zealand wine & cheeses, while your guide briefs you on tomorrow's walk - The Tongariro Alpine Crossing - one of the world's best day hikes, and the primary objective of this hiking tour. Enjoy a delicious restaurant dinner with your small group of hiking friends.

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 4 - Today you tackle the Tongariro Crossing

Day 2 – The Tongariro Crossing

Day 2 – The Tongariro Crossing
Day 2 – The Tongariro Crossing
Day 2 – The Tongariro Crossing
Day 2 – The Tongariro Crossing

The track runs through the Mangatepopo Valley (900m) to the saddle between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe Mountains. Two steep climbs lead to Red Crater (1886m), then a scree slope drops down to the vivid Emerald Lakes. After passing the Green and Blue lakes the track sidles around the northern slope of Mount Tongariro, before the long descent of switch-backs and many steps to the end (600m). Fair weather and a good level of fitness are required to undertake this hike. Today's walk is 17km and will take between 7 and 8 hours.  Afterwards return to the Chateau and revive your weary muscles in the plunge pool and sauna, before meeting in the delightful lounge for pre-dinner aperitifs. Tonight you'll head out to a local pub/restaurant for a casual meal with the locals.

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

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Day 5 - With the help of a chairlift you'll climb Mt Ruapehu to its Crater Lake

Day 3 – Ruapehu Crater Lake

Day 3 – Ruapehu Crater Lake
Day 3 – Ruapehu Crater Lake
Day 3 – Ruapehu Crater Lake
Day 3 – Ruapehu Crater Lake

The climb to the Mt Ruapehu Crater Lake is equally as stunning as the Tongariro Crossing, but offers a different array of landscapes and is crowd-free. Take a chair lift up to 2000m, then hike up to the Crater Lake near the summit (approx 2 hours up to 2660m). There is no formed trail; the guide will choose the best route through boulder fields, old lava flows and patches of snow. The climax is reaching the active acid Crater Lake, whose waters reach temperatures of up to 60°C, not to mention the unforgettable 360 degree views from near the summit of the North Island's highest mountain. (This walk is very weather dependent, and may not be possible early or late season due to snow and/or chairlift being closed). If you fancy a more relaxing day you will have the option of joining a guide to do some of the shorter walks in the area, perhaps to the Tama Lakes.  Duration of walking today is 6 to 8 hours. Tonight enjoy a final celebration dinner with your group in the Chateau’s elegant Ruapehu Restaurant.

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro
Accommodation: Bayview Chateau Tongariro

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Day 6 - Explore the forests and lowlands of Tongariro National Park before returning to Taupo

Day 4 – Taranaki Falls

Day 4 – Taranaki Falls
Day 4 – Taranaki Falls
Day 4 – Taranaki Falls
Day 4 – Taranaki Falls

After another delicious cooked breakfast pack up and leave the lodge. Today’s walk may lead to the Taranaki Falls, tumbling 20 metres over the edge of an old lava flow, which erupted from Mt Ruapehu 15,000 years ago. The falls plunge into a boulder-ringed pool – a great spot for a picnic. The track passes through an interesting range of alpine meadows and beech forest. In total contrast to the previous walks there is also a perfect temperate rainforest to explore, and an historic Maori fortress. Duration of walking today is 3 to 5 hours.

Accommodation: Lake Taupo Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Accommodation: Lake Taupo Lodge
Accommodation: Lake Taupo Lodge
Accommodation: Lake Taupo Lodge
Accommodation: Lake Taupo Lodge

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Day 7 - Travel the Geothermal Highway to Rotorua

Driving distance and time: 76 kms / 47 miles : 0.9 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Taupo to Rotorua

Taupo to Rotorua
Taupo to Rotorua
Taupo to Rotorua
Taupo to Rotorua

The drive today takes you through the city of Rotorua, famous for its bubbling mud pools and Maori culture. Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and the Waimangu Volcanic Valley are well signposted on the highway between the two towns. On Rotorua's lakefront Volcanic Air Safaris offer scenic flights over Mt. Tarawera, an impressive volcanic crater.
The Rotorua Museum and Blue Baths in the Government Gardens offer one of the best displays of any museum in the country. Focussing on local history the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886 is brought to life.

Accommodation: Wildwood Lodge

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Wildwood Lodge
Accommodation: Wildwood Lodge
Accommodation: Wildwood Lodge
Accommodation: Wildwood Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 8 - Today is your rest day, give your body a treat at the Polynesian Spa

Polynesian Spa Thermal Mud Polish & Aix Spa Massage

Polynesian Spa Thermal Mud Polish & Aix Spa Massage
Polynesian Spa Thermal Mud Polish & Aix Spa Massage
Polynesian Spa Thermal Mud Polish & Aix Spa Massage
Polynesian Spa Thermal Mud Polish & Aix Spa Massage

Rotorua's Polynesian Spa offers a unique thermal spa experience on the shore of Lake Rotorua. Voted a World Top Ten Spa (medical and thermal spas) by readers of the prestigious Conde Nast Traveller magazine 2004-2007, this is the ultimate in relaxation and regeneration. Begin your spa treatment with a pre-therapy soak in the deluxe lake spa. Enjoy tranquil bathing and lake views in four shallow alkaline rock pools, each with different temperatures (36˚C to 42˚C). Here you are surrounded by revitalising native New Zealand flora, natural rocks, the sound of two waterfalls and a grotto. The pools are filled with soothing alkaline mineral water leaving your skin soft and supple.  You will then be treated to the popular 'mud massage' a signature service of Polynesian Spa. Your therapist will exfoliate your body with the unique Rotorua mud polish to remove dry skin. You'll then rinse off the polish under a warm shower followed by a massage using organic coconut oil while the water is running, leaving your skin feeling soft and hydrated and your body relaxed.  You can then return to the deluxe lake spa for a post treatment soak.

Explore Rotorua

Explore Rotorua
Explore Rotorua
Explore Rotorua
Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. Geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to one of the Maori Villages should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Spike your adrenaline at Velocity Valley Adventure Park on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.

Accommodation: Wildwood Lodge

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Wildwood Lodge
Accommodation: Wildwood Lodge
Accommodation: Wildwood Lodge
Accommodation: Wildwood Lodge

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Day 9 - Drive north to the idyllic seaside town of Tairua

Driving distance and time: 190 kms / 118 miles : 2.9 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Rotorua to Pauanui via Tauranga

Rotorua to Pauanui via Tauranga
Rotorua to Pauanui via Tauranga
Rotorua to Pauanui via Tauranga
Rotorua to Pauanui via Tauranga

Enjoy the short scenic drive through the Rotorua suburb of Ngongotaha and the Pyes Pa Scenic Reserve today as you head to the coast. Tauranga is the main centre of the Bay of Plenty and is located at the entrance to one of the largest natural harbours in New Zealand and nestled beside the magnificent Mauao (Mount Maunganui). Downtown Tauranga has several historically significant areas to view during a scenic walk around the area. The Strand waterfront area has undergone a major redevelopment in the past few years, and the changes include a children’s play area with water feature, seating areas and cultural artwork.
From Tauranga, head north to New Zealand's surfing mecca, Whangamata. In addition to lazing on the beach or surfing, Whangamata offers big game fishing, walking and mountain biking in native and exotic forests.
Continue onto your final destination Pauanui, situated on the edge of the Tairua Harbour.

Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 10 - Today you'll explore the inland rainforest of the Coromandel Peninsula

Kiwi Dundee Wilderness Adventure day walk

Kiwi Dundee Wilderness Adventure day walk
Kiwi Dundee Wilderness Adventure day walk
Kiwi Dundee Wilderness Adventure day walk
Kiwi Dundee Wilderness Adventure day walk

This day is a challenging hiking journey into tranquil and remote pristine rainforest surrounded by giant rock faces, rugged volcanic peaks, and ancient Kauri, Rimu and Rata trees. Wonder at the world’s largest tree ferns, crystal clear rivers and rock pools. Enjoy the fascinating history and learn about the flora and fauna within this magnificent forest.
Includes a picnic lunch to enjoy by the river or up in the mountains.

Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

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Day 11 - A beautiful road trip today takes you around peninsula before heading back to Auckland

Driving distance and time: 141 kms / 88 miles : 1.8 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Pauanui to Auckland

Pauanui to Auckland
Pauanui to Auckland
Pauanui to Auckland
Pauanui to Auckland

Your journey begins by following the Tairua River away from the east coast and past the Southern Coromandel Ranges.
If time is on your side and you feel like a scenic route, instead of travelling inland you can head north and follow the scenic Highway 25 with fantastic stopover opportunities, such as Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove.
Once on the other side of the Coromandel Peninsula, you will pass Thames and the town of Miranda, a famous haven for shorebirds.
You will then pass through the Hauraki Plains and rolling green Waikato countryside before arriving into New Zealand's largest city, Auckland.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor
Accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor
Accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor
Accommodation: Hotel Grand Windsor

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Day 12 - Depart Auckland today

Driving distance and time: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.4 hours

Times are based on averages for this specific route and allow for stops. Use these times as guidelines and to assist in the planning for your day.

Depart Auckland today

Explore more of vibrant Auckland city before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

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