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Northern Explorer Family Adventure

11 nights, Auckland to Auckland

Northern Explorer Family Adventure

Explore Auckland City with a spectacular full day tour before heading north to the tropical Bay of Islands. Includes a swim with the dolphins (age restrictions apply) and a full day tour to Cape Reinga. Head south through the magnificent giant Kauri trees of the Waipoua Forest and onto the beaches of Matakana. Then the adventure capital of the North Island. A Maori concert and hangi dinner, a day trip to the Lord of the Rings site at Hobbiton plus much more. Explore the Waitomo Caves before heading back to Auckland City.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Experience the amazing Hobbiton movie set
Auckland city by night
Rotorua lake front at sunset
Explore the coastal landscape of the Bay of Islands
Tour map
 

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland city

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

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Day 2 - Enjoy a Spectacular Auckland half day tour

Auckland Morning Highlights Tour Including Sky Tower with GreatSights

Auckland Morning Highlights Tour Including Sky Tower with GreatSights
Auckland Morning Highlights Tour Including Sky Tower with GreatSights
Auckland Morning Highlights Tour Including Sky Tower with GreatSights
Auckland Morning Highlights Tour Including Sky Tower with GreatSights

Experience the best of Auckland's city highlights with a half-day scenic tour, followed by a trip up the famous Auckland Sky Tower. Travel around the city centre and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge with its stunning views of the harbour and city skyline. Visit the Viaduct Harbour and Auckland's famous Queen Street, and enjoy the lush grounds of the Auckland Domain, the city's oldest park. Pause for morning tea in charming Parnell Village, a historic suburb which has been transformed into a unique boutique shopping experience. The tour continues along the waterfront to the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park, named after a much-respected Prime Ministers of New Zealand. With panoramic views of the harbour and beautiful formal gardens, it's a great spot to take photos. After a scenic trip back along Tamaki Drive to the city, arrive at Auckland's Sky Tower, the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand at 328 metres high. Prepare yourself for breathtaking 360 degree views from the observation deck of this Auckland landmark. On a clear day you'll be able to gaze as far as 80 kilometres in all directions – it's the perfect way to get to know the city of Auckland and its surroundings.

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 3 - Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to the balmy 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

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Day 4 - Swim with the Dolphins and explore Bay of Islands

Dolphin Eco Encounter

Dolphin Eco Encounter
Dolphin Eco Encounter
Dolphin Eco Encounter
Dolphin Eco Encounter

Dolphins are fascinating creatures, and in the Bay of Islands we are blessed with their presence all year round. This eco cruise gives you the chance to get into the water and swim with dolphins as they play in their natural environment (conditions permitting). You'll also cruise the many secluded islands of the Bay and gain an insight into this historically significant region. This intimate half-day cruise seeks out the many playful dolphins within the sheltered waters of the Bay You will look out for bottlenose and common dolphins, baleen whales, orca, seals, fish, penguins and other sea and bird life. The experienced crew have specialist knowledge of dolphin behaviour - join them in searching for those tell-tale splashes from our purpose-built dolphin watching boat Tutunui.

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.

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

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Day 5 - Full day tour to Cape Reinga with Dune Rider

Driving distance and time: 0 kms / 0 miles : 0.0 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.

Dune Rider to Cape Reinga with Explore

Dune Rider to Cape Reinga with Explore
Dune Rider to Cape Reinga with Explore
Dune Rider to Cape Reinga with Explore
Dune Rider to Cape Reinga with Explore

This full day tour in the unique Dune Rider vehicle is the best way to explore the Far North. Let the driver immerse you in the culture and history of the area, while taking in the amazing scenery. The Dune Rider vehicle is purpose built to go off-road in comfort with air conditioning, reclining seats, plenty of leg room and sloping floors for great viewing. Your full day tour begins with an early morning pick up at your accommodation, and includes a freshly prepared buffet style lunch, a visit to Cape Reinga lighthouse to view the meeting of the two oceans, a beach stop on 90 Mile Beach, boogie boarding down huge sand dunes at Te Paki stream and time at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom.

Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Accommodation type: Motels - premium

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

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Day 6 - Cross Northland following the aqua blue waters of the Hokianga before travelling down the Kauri Coast

Driving distance and time: 286 kms / 177 miles : 3.7 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.

Bay of Islands to Waipoua Forest to Matakana

Bay of Islands to Waipoua Forest to Matakana
Bay of Islands to Waipoua Forest to Matakana
Bay of Islands to Waipoua Forest to Matakana
Bay of Islands to Waipoua Forest to Matakana

Heading west from the Bay of Islands you leave the Pacific Ocean and soon and arrive into the Hokianga and the wilder seas of the Tasman.
The small townships of Omapere and Opononi have a great seaside feel and the perfect place to stop for an ice cream. The route now heads south and into the Waipoua Forest, home to the massive Kauri trees. Make sure you allow time to take a few short walks that are signposted as you pass through the region. Not to be missed is the 5 minute loop to view the largest of all the trees Tane Mahuta. 
Heading back across country the Matakohe Kauri Museum is an award winning museum and has extensive displays of the regions logging, farming and social history. Just a short drive from Warkworth towards the coast is the small township of Matakana and a little further you will find the often deserted beaches of 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

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Day 7 - After passing through Auckland you'll reach the rich green Waikato countryside then the Rotorua lakes

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.

Matakana to Rotorua

Matakana to Rotorua
Matakana to Rotorua
Matakana to Rotorua
Matakana to Rotorua

Continuing south through Auckland, State Highway 1 quickly takes you into rolling green farmland and the rich dairy pasture of the Waikato. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of great Auckland and its here you turn inland to central 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.

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: Bella Vista Rotorua

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua

Accommodation features

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

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Day 8 - Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides

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. 

Agrodome Farm Show and Farm Tour Combo - suggested

Agrodome Farm Show and Farm Tour Combo
Agrodome Farm Show and Farm Tour Combo
Agrodome Farm Show and Farm Tour Combo
Agrodome Farm Show and Farm Tour Combo

Set on a 350-acre working sheep and cattle farm with 1200 sheep and 120 beef cattle, the Agrodome gives its visitors a hands-on, live farming experience. The Farm Show stars a cast of talented animals – not just sheep! The remarkable farm dogs will amaze you, as they demonstrate their ability to respond to commands and keep those sheep (and ducks!) in line. Then pop across to the herding area to watch a free live dog trial after the show! Explore the farm and learn the history of New Zealand agriculture on custom designed farm trailers. Along the way, there are fascinating things to learn - and a few laughs too! You’ll get to hand-feed and take photos with all sorts of friendly animals, including Romney sheep, cattle, deer, llamas, ostrich, pigs and alpacas. Explore the fruit orchard and olive grove and have the chance to taste natural kiwifruit juice and delicious sweet honey that comes from the farm.

Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua

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Day 9 - Day tour to Hobbiton Village

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour from Rotorua

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.

Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua
Accommodation: Bella Vista Rotorua

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Day 10 - Rotorua to Waitomo where you'll venture underground to explore the Waitomo Caves

Driving distance and time: 212 kms / 131 miles : 2.5 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.

Accommodation: Palm Court Motel Otorohanga

Accommodation type: Motels - economy

Accommodation: Palm Court Motel Otorohanga
Accommodation: Palm Court Motel Otorohanga
Accommodation: Palm Court Motel Otorohanga
Accommodation: Palm Court Motel Otorohanga

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Walk time to shops/restaurants: 1-2 mins
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: On site paid access
  • Breakfast service available
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Kitchen/kitchenette in room
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 11 - Follow the Waikato River north back to Auckland

Driving distance and time: 178 kms / 110 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.

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.

Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb - suggested

Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb
Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb
Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb
Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb

The ultimate way to take in the city sights, this AJ Hackett bridge climb is the only one of its kind in New Zealand, and a spectacular way to experience the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge. Each of its gently curving walkways are custom engineered for a safe and enjoyable experience - meaning this activity is suitable for all ages. As you're guided along the curving archways you'll be greeted with a 360 degree, panoramic view of the sparkling  Waitemata harbour. See the best of the city from above and learn all about the secrets of the bridge!

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 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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