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7 Day Central North Island Explorer Tour

6 nights, Auckland to Auckland

7 Day Central North Island Explorer Tour

This tour takes you through the heart of the North Island, highlighting its incredible diversity. Begin with a local’s favourite, the Coromandel Peninsula – here you’ll explore Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve.  Then it’s on to Rotorua to experience the rich culture of the area with a visit to Mitai Maori Village and Rainbow Springs, plus a full day to explore the thermal wonders. Next stop is Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand where you’ll ride the thrilling Huka Falls Jet Boat.  Returning to Auckland you’ll stop at the world famous Waitomo Glow Worm Caves for an underground adventure.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

A view of Auckland City from the Waterfront by night
A quiet cove on the Coromanel Peninsula
A profile of the Government Building in Rotorua
Mt Ngauruhoe profile in the Tongariro National Park
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland

Personal meet and greet, and private transfer to your accommodation

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland accommodation.

Your tour documentation pack and support

Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support
Your tour documentation pack and support

Once you touch down in New Zealand your detailed tour pack will be hand delivered by one of our trusted representatives. The pack contains everything you need for the duration of your stay. It will include a comprehensive, printed and bound version of your itinerary as well as clear driving instructions and maps for each leg of your journey. It also contains all the reservation details for your accommodation and activities - along with relevant brochures and information. While in New Zealand we offer 24 hour support - details on how to contact us at any time will be well documented.

Welcome to Auckland City

Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City
Welcome to Auckland City

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.

Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore - suggested

Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore
Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore
Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore
Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore

See Auckland after dark with this amazing on-water dining experience, not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Take in the sights of the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this photogenic city come alive with twinkling lights. Your experienced crew will talk about Auckland’s highlights and there will opportunity try your hand at steering.

At our sheltered mooring you'll be served delicious New Zealand fare - choose from a delectable three course menu catered for by a renowned Viaduct Restaurant.

Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments
Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments
Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments
Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: offsite paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room paid access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: In room
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking
  • Apartments serviced weekly

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Day 2 - From Auckland cross the Hauraki Plains and skirt the Firth of Thames to the Coromandel Peninsula

Driving distance and time: 207 kms / 129 miles : 3.0 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 Whitianga via Coromandel Township

Auckland to Whitianga via Coromandel Township
Auckland to Whitianga via Coromandel Township
Auckland to Whitianga via Coromandel Township
Auckland to Whitianga via Coromandel Township

As you leave the Auckland city boundary the landscape changes to lush farmland. You'll cross the fertile Hauraki Plains - one of New Zealand's largest dairy producing regions. Pass the Thames Estuary, a haven for wildlife and shore birds.Take a short detour to nearby Miranda (well sign posted)  to see the large flocks of godwits and oystercatchers. Arriving into the old gold mining town of Thames, there are two different routes to the east coast of the Coromandel. Directly over the Coromandel Ranges will deliver you to the coast in a snappy 45 minutes or if you're after more leisurely route, head North to the Coromandel Township along the Pohutukawa Coast (part of the Pacific Coast Highway). This is one of the most spectacular drives in the region and not to be missed. Continue down the coast to arrive in the picturesque town of Whitianga.

Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour - suggested

Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour
Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour
Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour
Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour

Driving Creek Railway and Potteries has become a Coromandel icon. The dream of Barry Brickell was to establish a pottery workshop on his land. Using a railway he would have access to the clay on the land and the pine kiln fuel. Over the next 15 years the railway developed until in 1990 it was finally licensed to carry fare paying passengers and ever since thousands of visitors have made the trip to Coromandel to experience this unique attraction. The 1 hour return train trip on the innovatively designed trains takes you through replanted native kauri forest and includes 2 spirals, 3 short tunnels, 5 reversing points and several large viaducts as it climbs up to the mountain-top terminus. The pottery is still producing and you can watch the artists at work as well as purchase items.

Accommodation: Oceans Resort

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: Oceans Resort
Accommodation: Oceans Resort
Accommodation: Oceans Resort
Accommodation: Oceans Resort

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Laundry facilities: In room
  • Swimming pool
  • Childrens playground
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 3 - This morning explore Cathedral Cove, then drive to the Maori heartland of Rotorua

Driving distance and time: 220 kms / 137 miles : 3.4 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.

Coves, Caves and Coastline Cruise from Whitianga

Coves, Caves and Coastline Cruise from Whitianga
Coves, Caves and Coastline Cruise from Whitianga
Coves, Caves and Coastline Cruise from Whitianga
Coves, Caves and Coastline Cruise from Whitianga

Explore the volcanic coastline with its many caves, blowholes and golden beaches all from the comfort and safety of an ex coastguard 28 ft cruiser. Departing from Whitianga Wharf journey past the towering Shakespeare's Cliffs and historic Cooks Beach. Visit Cathedral Cove and the islands in the marine reserve. There is also a chance to swim with the abundant fish in the reserve (on board snorkel gear provided - dont forget your swimsuit and towel). For those who prefer to stay dry an underwater camera relays images to an onboard TV.

Whitianga to Rotorua via Tauranga

Whitianga to Rotorua via Tauranga
Whitianga to Rotorua via Tauranga
Whitianga to Rotorua via Tauranga
Whitianga to Rotorua via Tauranga

Heading south from the Coromandel Peninsula you pass through the seaside town of Whangamata - a popular location for Kiwi holidaymakers and home to one of the best beaches in the region.  Next you come to the old mining town of Waihi which still has an operating open cast gold mine (Martha Mine) that can be viewed from a vantage point just above the town centre.

For rail enthusiasts the Goldfields Railway operates passenger trains along a scenic and historic section of track towards Waikino. The route now takes you into the Bay of Plenty and the port town of Tauranga before you head along the scenic Pyes Pa Road to Rotorua. For Lord of the Rings fans a detour to Matamata is recommended as this is the location of the Hobbiton film set. Arriving into Rotorua from the north you are welcomed by the spectacular view of the lake.

Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central
Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central
Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central
Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite paid parking NZ$10-NZ$15 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: In room
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 4 - Explore Rotorua and experience the Maori culture this evening at Mitai Maori Village

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. But geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to the Mitai Maori Village should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Live on the edge when you hop aboard a helicopter bound for White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano. Spike your adrenaline at Agroventures on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Go up the 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.

Rotorua Canopy Tours: The Original Canopy Tour - suggested

Rotorua Canopy Tours: The Original Canopy Tour
Rotorua Canopy Tours: The Original Canopy Tour
Rotorua Canopy Tours: The Original Canopy Tour
Rotorua Canopy Tours: The Original Canopy Tour

Embark on a three hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees.
In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it. 

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua - suggested

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua

Discover the real Middle-earth when you take this two hour guided tour of Hobbiton. Beginning with a drive through a picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm, you'll experience stunning views over the Kaimai Ranges. You'll then be escorted through the 12 acre movie set learning memorable anecdotes about the shooting of the films. You'll see Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and The Party Tree, as well as learning how this piece of Waikato farmland was turned into the Shire.

Mitai Māori Village & Rainbow Springs Beauty By Night Combo

Mitai Māori Village & Rainbow Springs Beauty By Night Combo
Mitai Māori Village & Rainbow Springs Beauty By Night Combo
Mitai Māori Village & Rainbow Springs Beauty By Night Combo
Mitai Māori Village & Rainbow Springs Beauty By Night Combo

An evening at Mitai will give you an authentic introduction to Māori culture leaving you amazed and in awe. Be enthralled by the natural bush setting, see warriors in traditional dress who paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream, and don't miss your only opportunity in the Rotorua area to see glow worms in their natural habitat. Marvel at the crystal clear water full of eels and trout, flowing directly from the earth at the sacred Fairy Spring. See your traditionally cooked hāngi meal being lifted from the ground. During the cultural performance, you'll learn about Māori history, carvings and tā moko (tattoo art). Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat, coupled with the grace and beauty of the poi dance. You'll be amazed by the spine tingling haka finale. The Mitai family is proud to have created a sacred and spiritual place that offers you an indigenous cultural experience like no other. You'll also enjoy a fully guided tour of Rainbow Springs under lights including a walk through the Kiwi enclosure and bird aviaries. (Rainbow Springs tour is approximately 45 minutes)

Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central
Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central
Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central
Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

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Day 5 - Rotorua to Taupo and a thrilling jet boat ride at Huka Falls

Driving distance and time: 75 kms / 47 miles : 0.8 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.

Rotorua to Taupo

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

Your drive today takes you through the Central North Island volcanic plateau. See thermal hotspots Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu Volcanic Valley before arriving into the town of Taupo Just north are the Huka Falls and a short detour to view is highly recommended. Go close to the spray with a thrilling jet boat ride or see the nearby Craters of the Moon geothermal reserve with its boiling pools and steaming vents.

Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride

Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride
Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride
Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride
Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride

The Huka Jet is 30 minutes of pure fun and exhilaration, skimming close to cliffs, sliding past trees, feeling the adrenalin of full 360 degree spins. The excitement continues right up to the base of the foaming Huka Falls, where you get a spectacular water level view to New Zealand's most visited natural attraction. Nothing compares to watching 220,000 litres per second tumbling over the cliff face towards you.
The water from the mighty Huka Falls runs down the Waikato River through a series of Hydro Power Stations. You'll get a view of the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station in the comfort of a powerful Chevrolet V8 jet boat. This unique Geothermal Power Station uses underground geothermal activity to produce hot steamy water. The Waikato Rivers beautiful environment is varied and unique and is New Zealand's longest river flowing north from our largest lake - Lake Taupō.

Accommodation: Beechtree Motel

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Beechtree Motel
Accommodation: Beechtree Motel
Accommodation: Beechtree Motel
Accommodation: Beechtree Motel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • Childrens playground
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 6 - Taupo to Waitomo and a tour of the famous cave system, then on to Auckland

Driving distance and time: 411 kms / 255 miles : 5.0 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 Waitomo via Tongariro National Park

Taupo to Waitomo via Tongariro National Park
Taupo to Waitomo via Tongariro National Park
Taupo to Waitomo via Tongariro National Park
Taupo to Waitomo via Tongariro National Park

Skirting Lake Taupo you arrive into the trout fishing capital of New Zealand, Turangi before heading into Tongariro National Park and its famous peaks.  Rich farmland of the King Country accompanies you to the limestone region of Waitomo.

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Explore a 30 million year old cave network spread across three levels. You'll travel deep underground through the limestone caves viewing stalactites and stalagmites as well as and hearing about the caves historical and geological significance. You'll then hop into a boat and glide silently through the glow worm grotto - a galaxy of tiny living lights.

Waitomo to Auckland City

Waitomo to Auckland City
Waitomo to Auckland City
Waitomo to Auckland City
Waitomo to Auckland City

The lush farmland of the Waikato and the limestone hills of the Waitomo region provide some great scenery as you head north. Visit the Otorohanga Kiwi House en route for a great look at some of New Zealand's native birds in particular our famous flightless namesake.

Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments
Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments
Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments
Accommodation: Waldorf Stadium Apartments

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Day 7 - Depart Auckland

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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