Call us in NZ (freecall): 1855 979 6659 1855 979 6659 Enquire Now

8 day Northern Highlights

7 nights, Auckland to Auckland

8 day Northern Highlights

Explore the highlights of the North Island including the Bay of Islands and Rotorua, 2 of the most popular destinations.  In the Bay of Islands you’ll take a cruise amongst the many islands home to an abundance or marine wildlife, including dolphins which you might be lucky enough to see.  In Rotorua you’ll enjoy a thrilling cultural encounter at Mitai Maori Village and you’ll return to Auckland via the fascinating limestone formations and glow worm caves of Waitomo.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

An aerial view of the Bay of Islands Hole in the Rock formation
A hobbits house with a blue door in the Hobbiton Movie Set
a geothermal pool in Rotorua with steam coming off it
looking up at the canopy in the Rotorua Redwood Forest
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland, transfer to accommodation

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.

Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise - suggested

Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise
Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise
Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise
Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise

Head out on the sparkling Waitemata Harbour and gain an insight into the city surrounds. This Cruise includes a complimentary return ticket to Devonport and a you'll also stop over at dormant volcano Rangitoto. Highlights of this tour include the iconic Harbour Bridge, the city skyline and Devonport’s historic naval base. You'll also see Bean Rock Lighthouse while enjoying morning or afternoon tea (a hot drink and a muffin). The harbour cruise lasts one and half hours and departs daily from the Downtown Ferry Terminal at 10:30am and 1:30pm.

Your free return ticket to Devonport can be used whenever you like - it doesn't have to be the same day.  Hop across the harbour to Auckland's ‘marine suburb' and spend some time exploring its delightful shops, cafes and galleries.

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

Page top

Day 2 - Collect rental car, drive Auckland to Bay of Islands

Driving distance and time: 226 kms / 140 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.

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 Paihia, Bay of Islands

Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands
Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands
Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands
Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands

The trip from Auckland to the Bay Of Islands takes around 3.5 hours but give yourself some leeway for stops and sightseeing. As you go through Puhoi, take in the bohemian atmosphere of this historical township. Stop for a breath of fresh salty air in Whangarei and take another break at Kawakawa - home to the world famous Hundertwasser toilets. Enjoy the native bush surrounds and marvel at the endless golden beaches as you arrive into central Bay Of The Islands, Paihia.

Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking

Page top

Day 3 - Enjoy a Bay of Islands cruise, free time to explore

Explore the Bay of Islands

Explore the Bay of Islands
Explore the Bay of Islands
Explore the Bay of Islands
Explore the Bay of Islands

Made up of over 140 subtropical atolls, New Zealand's Bay of Islands is commonly known as the ‘winterless north.’ Renowned for its untouched beaches, abundant marine life and idyllic climate this tropical paradise is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Spend some time on a remote stretch of beach, or cool off during a ‘swim with dolphins’ ocean safari. If diving is your thing, take the morning to descend the Rainbow Warrior - The Greenpeace flagship sunk by French saboteurs in 1985. Wander around Russell, a whaling port founded in 1843. Learn about our culture in historic Waitangi, the site where The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the Maori and European settlers dictating the terms by which New Zealand would become a British colony. Before you leave take a travel day to Cape Reinga the very top of the North Island.

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights

Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights
Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights
Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights
Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with GreatSights

Take a glimpse into New Zealand's earliest European history as your luxury catamaran passes by the township of Russell (Kororareka) and many of the historic and culturally significant islands in the Bay, before heading out into open sea. Enjoy the views as you cruise past the Cape Brett Lighthouse, before arriving at the stunning Motukokako Island, home of the majestic Hole in the Rock. As we venture into the dramatic Hole in the Rock (conditions permitting) hold your breath as the skipper navigates through the narrow space and admire the rock walls which soar above you. Watch out for water drops if you are seated on the top deck! Take in the Grand Cathedral Cave before heading back into the sheltered waters of the Bay. Keep an eye out for bottlenose and common dolphins along the way.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance - suggested

Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance
Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance

Waitangi is one of New Zealand's most historic sites where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the local Maori and the British Government. This two day pass allows you access to the Treaty of Waitangi Grounds and includes admission to the Museum of Waitangi, a guided tour and a Maori Cultural performance. During your guided tour, you'll learn about the history of the treaty and discover the stories and events that shaped New Zealand. The cultural performance inside the carved meeting house includes waiata (singing), poi, a display of Maori weaponry and the haka - a war dance New Zealand is known for.

Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites
Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Page top

Day 4 - Drive Bay of Islands to Snells Beach via Waipoua Forest and the ancient Kauri Trees

Driving distance and time: 295 kms / 183 miles : 3.8 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.

Bay of Islands to Snells Beach via Waipoua Forest

Bay of Islands to Snells Beach via Waipoua Forest
Bay of Islands to Snells Beach via Waipoua Forest
Bay of Islands to Snells Beach via Waipoua Forest
Bay of Islands to Snells Beach via Waipoua Forest

From the Bay of Islands you will head west, leaving the Pacific Ocean for the wilder shores of Hokianga and the Tasman Sea. Small towns Omapere and Opononi are reminiscent of days gone by with a vintage seaside feel - and are the perfect place to stop for an ice cream in a hot day.

Stretch your legs and take the short walking track at the mouth of the Hokianga Harbour, which offers a unique vantage point to view the harbor and rolling sand dunes. To the south is the Kauri coast - which you're about to explore. Head south into the Waipoua Forest, home to giant Kauri trees.  Allow time for one of a number of short walks available in the area. Not to be missed is the five minute loop to view the largest Kauri in New Zealand, Tane Mahuta.

Backtrack cross-country to the Matakohe Kauri Museum - an award winning museum with extensive historical displays. Continue on the road to Snells Beach, a lovely little township close to Warkworth. If you arrive in plenty of time, head into Matakana Wine Country for some great dining options. Another must do while you’re here is a day excursion to one of many deserted beaches in the Tawharanui Marine Reserve.

Accommodation: Snells Beach Motel

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

Accommodation: Snells Beach Motel
Accommodation: Snells Beach Motel
Accommodation: Snells Beach Motel
Accommodation: Snells Beach Motel

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Breakfast service available
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Swimming pool
  • All rooms non smoking

Page top

Day 5 - Drive Snells Beach to Rotorua, enjoy a visit to Mitai Maori Village this evening

Driving distance and time: 287 kms / 178 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.

Snells Beach to Rotorua

Snells Beach to Rotorua
Snells Beach to Rotorua
Snells Beach to Rotorua
Snells Beach to Rotorua

Heading South, you’ll pass Auckland on State Highway 1 before heading through the rolling green farmland and rich dairy pasture of the Waikato. This is hobbit country and the route takes you through the town of Matamata where you can still visit the film locations made famous in the Lord of the Rings trilogy at Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours. Continuing on you’ll pass several small farming communities before telltale signs of steam and other geothermal activity signal your arrival into Rotorua.

Mitai Maori Village

Mitai Maori Village
Mitai Maori Village
Mitai Maori Village
Mitai Maori Village

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and see warriors in traditional dress who paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. Enjoy a traditionally cooked hangi meal and round your evening off with a spectacular cultural performance that tells the story of the Maori people, their past, carvings, and ta Moko -Tattoo art. Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat and be amazed by the spine tingling Haka finale. Truly an experience to remember.

Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Accommodation type: Apartments

Meals included: Speciality Dinner

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

Page top

Day 6 - Full free day to explore Rotorua and surrounds

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.

Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter - suggested

Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter
Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter
Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter
Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter

At Rainbow Springs you'll have the chance to see some of New Zealand's native flora and fauna within the majestic forests of Rotorua. Wander the beautiful tree-lined park and take in the flourishing bush, ferns, flowers and plants. Come face to face with, and learn more about, New Zealand’s precious wildlife. See the spring-fed pool with rainbow, brown and tiger trout, then visit the on-site aviaries - home to New Zealand species such kea, kaka, tui, kereru and kiwi. The tuatara, known as New Zealand's living dinosaur can also be seen here.
Go behind the scenes with New Zealand's national animal at the purpose built Kiwi Conservation Centre - created solely to try and stop the extinction of this unique species. Here you will gain first hand insight into the conservation efforts being made to increase the numbers of kiwi eggs being hatched and returned to the wild.

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. 

Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane - suggested

Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane
Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane
Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane
Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane

Combine the experience of a 4WD hiking tour on Mount Tarawera by Kaitiaki Adventures. Your journey begins with an off road 4WD experience through native New Zealand bush, transporting you to the craters edge. After a 1.5-2 hour hike your 4WD will drop you at the remote shores of Lake Rerewhakaaitu when you will return to Rotorua by Floatplane. Enjoy a spectacular aerial overview of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Mount Tarawera and our hidden lakes district. This stunning flight completes the Tarawera experience and returns you to your departure point on the shores of Lake Rotorua at our downtown city floatplane pier.

Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Accommodation type: Apartments

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

Page top

Day 7 - Drive Rotorua to Waitomo, visit the Glow Worm Caves, then to Auckland

Driving distance and time: 389 kms / 241 miles : 4.6 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 Waitomo via Taupo

Rotorua to Waitomo via Taupo
Rotorua to Waitomo via Taupo
Rotorua to Waitomo via Taupo
Rotorua to Waitomo via Taupo

Today you'll make your way through the volcanic valleys of Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu before reaching the town of Taupo, located on New Zealand's largest lake - Lake Taupo. A little further north you'll come across the Huka Falls, well worth the short detour. Continuing on, you'll arrive in the trout fishing capital of New Zealand, Turangi, before passing through Tongariro National Park - known for its peaks. End your driving today by traversing the rich dairy pastures preceding the limestone region of Waitomo - your destination for the night.

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

Page top

Day 8 - 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.

Page top