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

North Island 5 day highlights

4 nights, Auckland to Wellington

North Island 5 day highlights

Travel through the heart of the North Island on this short 'highlights' New Zealand self-drive tour. From Auckland journey south through the Waikato countryside to Rotorua, the Maori culture capital of New Zealand. It’s then on to the Art Deco city of Napier in the Hawkes Bay, home to New Zealand’s oldest vineyards.  The final leg of your whirlwind tour of the North Island takes you past sheep farms and wineries as you travel through the Wairarapa region to your final destination, the capital city of Wellington.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

  • This New Zealand holiday starts at price per person (see details)
  • 5 days / 4 nights from Auckland to Wellington
  • Accommodation is Motels (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
  • Private airport transfers
A view of Auckland City from Mount Eden
A row of burnt orange vines in the Hawke's Bay
Lush green fields in Waikato
A geyser erupts into the air at Waiotapu in Rotorua
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Arrive in Auckland City and spend the day exploring

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 your rental car and head south through the lush Waikato farmland stopping to visit Hobbiton on your way to Rotorua

Driving distance and time: 220 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 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.

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 Rotorua

Auckland to Rotorua
Auckland to Rotorua
Auckland to Rotorua
Auckland to Rotorua

The drive south from Auckland takes you past the Bombay Hills and into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of the Waikato. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of greater Auckland area and it's here you turn inland to central Waikato. You’ll soon go through the town of Matamata where you can visit the fully intact Hobbiton film set used in the shooting of the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies. Continuing on, you’ll pass several small farming communities before telltale signs of steam and other geothermal activity signal your arrival into Rotorua.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour - suggested

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Today visit the actual Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. In the heart of the Waikato farming region, take a two hour tour through Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and The Party Tree - all the while hearing behind-the-scenes tales and learning about the making of the films. You'll also have the opportunity to tour a picturesque sheep farm for an insight into New Zealand's most notorious animal resident. 

Mitai Maori Village - suggested

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

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 3 - Pass through Lake Taupo before travelling east to Hawke's Bay

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.

Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour - suggested

Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour
Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour
Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour
Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour

The Grape Escape Half day wine tour visits some of the Hawke's Bay's famous wineries and is designed for casual imbibers and wine aficionados. Meet like - minded people and share an appreciation of Hawke's Bay's fantastic wines. Taste great wines made with passion and learn of the areas unique growing conditions. Take home great tasting wines and memories. Visit 4 - 5 local wineries and taste Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and much more. Also try some of New Zealand's finest cheeses matched with wine. Walk amongst the vines and learn about Terroir.

Accommodation: Bella Vista Napier

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Bella Vista Napier
Accommodation: Bella Vista Napier
Accommodation: Bella Vista Napier
Accommodation: Bella Vista Napier

Accommodation features

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

Page top

Day 4 - Drive through the Wairarapa region and over the Rimutaka Ranges to 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.

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour - suggested

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour

Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.

Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost.

Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley - so your chances of seeing one is very good.

Accommodation: CityLife Wellington

Accommodation type: Apartments

Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington

Accommodation features

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

Page top

Day 5 - Explore Wellington City before you depart today

Driving distance and time: 6 kms / 4 miles : 0.2 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.

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.

Rental car drop off Wellington Airport depot

Drop your vehicle at the Wellington Airport rental car depot today before continuing your onward journey.

Page top