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Classic 13 day Auckland to Wellington touring route

12 nights, Auckland to Wellington

Classic 13 day Auckland to Wellington touring route

Take 13 days to explore the North Island. This classic driving route covers renowned destinations at a pace you will enjoy.

Time to relax or explore some wonderful activities and attractions. Stay in a superb selection of  lodges and hotels and really immerse yourself in New Zealand.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

  • This New Zealand holiday starts at price per person (see details)
  • 13 days / 12 nights from Auckland to Wellington
  • Accommodation is Boutique lodges & hotels (can be customised)
  • A superb range of rental cars to choose from
  • Rental car insurance with full coverage (variable excess/deductible)
  • Unlimited kilometres, GPS navigation, airport and ferry fees
  • Comprehensive tour pack on arrival
  • Can be fully customised to suit you
  • 1 dinner
  • All breakfasts
  • Private airport transfers
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland, transfer to your accommodation and rest of day at leisure

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

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.

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

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$35-NZ$45 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre

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Day 2 - Collect your rental car then head north to the 'big trees' of Waipoua Forest

Driving distance and time: 221 kms / 137 miles : 2.7 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 Waipoua Forest

Auckland to Waipoua Forest
Auckland to Waipoua Forest
Auckland to Waipoua Forest
Auckland to Waipoua Forest

The drive north to Waipoua Forest and the Kauri Coast takes you along the remote West Coast of the North Island and around one of the world's largest natural harbours, the Kaipara Harbour. The region was worked by immigrant Dalmatians who toiled to make a living from the gum fields. A visit to the Kauri Museum at Matakohe tells the story of their hardships and pioneering spirit and of the remarkable impact this tree had on the region and the wider world - and is a must do. You'll have plenty of opportunity to stop along this spectacular route, so be sure to leave time for sightseeing.

Accommodation: Waipoua Lodge

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Waipoua Lodge
Accommodation: Waipoua Lodge
Accommodation: Waipoua Lodge
Accommodation: Waipoua Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Includes dinner
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 3 - Cross to the east coast and the wonderful Bay of Islands

Driving distance and time: 135 kms / 84 miles : 2.2 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.

Waipoua to Russell, Bay of Islands

Waipoua to Russell, Bay of Islands
Waipoua to Russell, Bay of Islands
Waipoua to Russell, Bay of Islands
Waipoua to Russell, Bay of Islands

From Waipoua Forest continue north to the Hokianga Harbour and the historic townships of Omapere and Opononi. A short detour to Rawene (signposted) is worthwhile to view the wooden buildings on the harbour. Crossing from the West Coast to the East you soon arrive to the subtropical Bay of Islands. Kerikeri, famous for its crafts and fruit orchards is the largest township in the region and is also home to some fine historic buildings. Paihia sitting on the western side of the harbour is a busy little tourist town while Russell on the eastern side offers a more tranquil escape.

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2:30 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Hairdryer
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 4 - Explore the 144 islands in the Bay!

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.

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

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Day 5 - Enjoy a scenic drive from Bay of Islands to Auckland

Driving distance and time: 220 kms / 137 miles : 2.8 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 Auckland

Bay of Islands to Auckland
Bay of Islands to Auckland
Bay of Islands to Auckland
Bay of Islands to Auckland

Today leave the Bay of Islands behind as you head south towards Auckland, City of Sails. You'll go through Kawakawa, famous for its unique Hundertwasser toilets, before passing the port-side town of Whangarei. Continue on through Warkworth and take a side trip to Matakana, renowned for its beaches and boutique vineyards. As you near the outskirts of Auckland, stop for a breather in Puhoi, New Zealand's only Bohemian settlement, before passing through the North Shore and into the heart of Auckland City.

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour
Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

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Day 6 - Today head south to the limestone caves of Waitomo

Driving distance and time: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.1 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.

Auckland to Waitomo

Auckland to Waitomo
Auckland to Waitomo
Auckland to Waitomo
Auckland to Waitomo

Leaving Auckland you'll journey through the Bombay Hills and into the rich dairy pastures of the Waikato. Marvel at the limestone hills of the Waitomo countryside before arriving in Waitomo itself, home to a huge underground network of caves.

Accommodation: Kamahi Cottage

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Accommodation: Kamahi Cottage
Accommodation: Kamahi Cottage
Accommodation: Kamahi Cottage
Accommodation: Kamahi Cottage

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 30 mins +
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Dinner service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
  • Apartments serviced weekly

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Day 7 - Cross the central Plateau to the cultural centre of Rotorua

Driving distance and time: 139 kms / 86 miles : 1.9 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.

Waitomo to Rotorua

Waitomo to Rotorua
Waitomo to Rotorua
Waitomo to Rotorua
Waitomo to Rotorua

Today cross the lush farmland of the Waikato as you make your way inland to Rotorua. Pass through several small farming towns such as Otorohanga and Putaruru, before the region’s geothermal activity signals your arrival into the city of Rotorua.

Accommodation: Peppers on the Point

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Peppers on the Point
Accommodation: Peppers on the Point
Accommodation: Peppers on the Point
Accommodation: Peppers on the Point

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Please note: Check in is ONLY between 2-5pm unless otherwise arranged
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Dinner service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: Drycleaning service available
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 8 - Enjoy a full day exploring Rotorua's cultural and geothermal attractions.

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.

Live on the edge when you hop aboard a helicopter bound for White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano.
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: Peppers on the Point

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Peppers on the Point
Accommodation: Peppers on the Point
Accommodation: Peppers on the Point
Accommodation: Peppers on the Point

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Day 9 - Continue your journey south through Lake Taupo and onto the art deco city of Napier

Driving distance and time: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 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.

Rotorua to Napier

Rotorua to Napier
Rotorua to Napier
Rotorua to Napier
Rotorua to Napier

This drive will take you through the thermal region just south of Rotorua. Home to a plethora of unique geothermal attractions including boiling mud pits, natural hot springs and steaming geysers, this area is a must do before you move on to Napier. Notable attractions are Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Craters of the Moon.
Continue on to Taupo and marvel at the lake - a giant crater formed following a volcanic eruption in the year 180 CE. As you approach the city, be sure to stop at Huka Falls to view the spectacular sight of hundreds of cubic metres of water spilling every second down the narrow 11 metre drop.
For an extra thrill take a jet-boat ride to the base of the falls. Leaving Taupo, follow the road as it climbs the rugged Ahimanawa Range before descending back down the Pacific Coast to art deco Napier.

Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 30 mins +
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Includes continental breakfast
  • Includes cooked breakfast
  • Hairdryer
  • Swimming pool

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Day 10 - Explore the city this morning and perhaps tour the wineries this afternoon

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

With is Mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday prospect. As the nation's first winemaking region, a visit to one of its 30 wineries is a must. A trip to Mission Estate touted as the birthplace of NZ wine, can't be missed. For the truly enthused, head out on a tour of the vines. We recommend the to make the most of what's on offer. Those into Gatsby will enjoy the chance to view prominent Art Deco landmarks on a 1930s Vintage Car Tour. Passengers will spend just over an hour learning about the history of the city's architecture - including the Napier Municipal Theatre, one of the top ten Art Deco Buildings in the world. If you're after some fresh air, hire a bike and take your pick of one of over 200km of cycling trails or head on down to one of the many beaches that ring the area. Ocean or Waimarama beach are good choices, and both are patrolled by surf lifeguards during the summer. Indulge in some local produce and head out on a cheese, chocolate, honey or orchard tour. End on a high with another ride, this time in a comfortable trailer pulled by a tractor en-route to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony - the largest of its kind in the world.

Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

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Day 11 - Explore the Wairarapa as you head towards the capital city of Wellington

Driving distance and time: 322 kms / 200 miles : 4.1 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.

Napier to Wellington City via Masterton

Napier to Wellington City via Masterton
Napier to Wellington City via Masterton
Napier to Wellington City via Masterton
Napier to Wellington City via Masterton

The rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay leads you into some of New Zealand’s richest farmland, located around the Manawatu region. Passing along the Manawatu Gorge the Wairarapa welcomes you. Masterton is home to the golden shears sheep shearing competition while just further south Greytown boasts the largest concentration of historic wooden buildings in the country.

Nearby Martinborough is home to dozens of boutique wineries. The route takes you over the Rimutaka Range and along the magnificent natural harbour that the capital city of Wellington sits upon.

Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 3 pm
  • Check out time: 11 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 2-5 mins
  • Parking: valet paid parking NZ$20-NZ$30 per 24 hrs
  • Internet facilities: In room free access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • Hairdryer
  • Swimming pool
  • Gym/fitness centre
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 12 - A full day to explore the 'coolest little capital in the world'

Wellington City

Wellington City
Wellington City
Wellington City
Wellington City

Wellington, home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini-Melbourne’, this (self described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.

Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay - the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique fashion wander through Cuba St to sample some of the city's best vintage stores. Break for coffee at a hipster cafe and be sure to snap a pic outside the ‘Beehive,’ New Zealand’s parliamentary debate chamber.

Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. We recommend a 45 minute guided tour through both the Workshop and Weta Cave. If you're a foodie at heart, a two hour round trip to Martinborough is a must do. Take your time as you wind through spectacular wine country, and be sure to stop in at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough. For a educational day out, learn about New Zealand's native species at Zealandia - the world's first fully fenced eco-sanctuary and home to over 40 types of endangered and native birds.

Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Accommodation type: Hotel 4 star

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

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Day 13 - Depart Wellington today

Driving distance and time: 6 kms / 4 miles : 0.1 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.

Depart Wellington today

Choose to explore more of Wellington's sights before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

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