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The Essential North Island

13 nights, Auckland to Wellington

The Essential North Island

Take 14 days to explore the North Island. This itinerary covers the premier locations at a pace you will enjoy. Time to relax with the 'must see' activities taken care of. Stay in a superb selection of 5 star hotels, luxury and boutique lodges.

Tour map

Included in this New Zealand self drive holiday

Visit to the gannet colony, Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay
Exploring the scenery of Hawkes Bay
Matakana vineyards north of Auckland
Explore and enjoy Moari culture in Rotorua, New Zealand
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

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.

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 - Enjoy a full day exploring Auckland's wild side

Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour

Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour
Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour
Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour
Bush and Beach Coast and Rainforest Full Day Tour

Your full day excursion takes you first to the Arataki Visitor Centre - gateway to the Waitakere Ranges and a short drive from Auckland Central. Enjoy panoramic views - extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean - as you absorb the area's history and admire the magnificent traditional Maori carvings. Walk the regenerating rainforest where your experienced guide will detail local flora and fauna. Take in the giant tree ferns, bubbling streams and cascading waterfalls before venturing onto a wild west coast beach. Enjoy a picnic lunch before your eco-tour ends in an area of untamed original rainforest. Here, mature 1,000 year old kauri trees have developed separately from the rest of the world for millions of years and this part of the rainforest is particularly rich in bird life due to a successful programme to eradicate pests.

Accommodation: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

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 3 - Collect your rental car then head north to the 'big trees'. This evening enjoy a twilight tour

Driving distance and time: 254 kms / 158 miles : 3.1 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.

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 Hokianga via Waipoua Forest

Auckland to Hokianga via Waipoua Forest
Auckland to Hokianga via Waipoua Forest
Auckland to Hokianga via Waipoua Forest
Auckland to Hokianga via 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 must do. You'll have plenty of opportunity to stop along this spectacular route, so be sure to leave time for sightseeing.

Twilight encounter

Twilight encounter
Twilight encounter
Twilight encounter
Twilight encounter

Experience the Waipoua Forest at night on this spectacular 4 hour tour. Learn about the rich birdlife and fauna that inhabit the forest, including the carnivorous kauri snail. You'll also get to experience the deep spiritual respect the Maori people have for this place. Your Maori guide will brief you on the protocols for your visit and you once formal greetings have been made you will be allowed to meet the giant Tane Mahuta, or Lord of the Forest - the oldest Kauri tree in the world.

Accommodation: The Heads Luxury Villas

Accommodation type: Boutique lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation: The Heads Luxury Villas
Accommodation: The Heads Luxury Villas
Accommodation: The Heads Luxury Villas
Accommodation: The Heads Luxury Villas

Accommodation features

  • Check in time: 2 pm
  • Check out time: 10 am
  • Parking: onsite free parking
  • Internet facilities: In room paid access
  • Restaurant on site
  • Breakfast service available
  • Bar on site
  • Tea/coffee facilities in room
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • Swimming pool
  • All rooms non smoking

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Day 4 - Cross to the east coast and the wonderful Bay of Islands

Driving distance and time: 98 kms / 61 miles : 1.7 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.

Hokianga to Russell, Bay of Islands

Hokianga to Russell, Bay of Islands
Hokianga to Russell, Bay of Islands
Hokianga to Russell, Bay of Islands
Hokianga to Russell, Bay of Islands

Heading east from the Hokianga, a detour to Rawene is recommended (signposted) to view the historic wooden buildings on the harbour and stop for a break at the Boatshed Cafe, sitting on the water with fantastic views, the nearby boardwalk through the Mangroves is also interesting. Crossing from the west coast to the east you pass through the township of Kawakawa, home to the remarkable Hundertwasser public toilets, designed by the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.  Kawakawa is also known as the ‘Train Town’ as the train tracks run through the centre of town with the vintage trains running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the middle of town.  Continue east to Opua where you’ll board the car ferry to Russell.  The historic village of Russell sits on the waterfront and is the launching point for many marine encounters, swim with the dolphins, kayak or cruise the beautiful Bay of Islands - there are many ways to experience this paradise.

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

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Day 5 - Explore the bays today

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.

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: 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 6 - 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 7 - 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.

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: 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
  • Room service available
  • Hairdryer
  • Laundry facilities: On site
  • All rooms non smoking
  • Apartments serviced weekly

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Day 8 - 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

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Day 9 - Enjoy a full day exploring Rotorua's geothermal attractions. This evening visit 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.

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.

Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane - suggested

Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane
Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane

On this spectacular scenic flight you'll take a floatplane over the Crater Lakes District and the volcanic rift of Mt Tarawera. You'll then continue south via the Waimangu and Waiotapu Thermal Park to land in the Hidden Valley of Orakei Korako. Transfer by boat across the lake to explore the hot springs, gushing geysers and natural beauty of this geothermal wonderland before rejoining your aircraft for the return trip to 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: Peppers on the Point

Accommodation type: Luxury Lodges & hotels

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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 10 - 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.

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner - suggested

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner
Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner
Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner
Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

Take a scenic drive through the vineyards as you learn about the region and its wines. Enjoy a full interactive wine tasting alongside gourmet platters at Vidal. Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from Te Mata Peak while enjoying a glass of bubbles as the sun sets from 399m above sea level (overlooking the glimmering lights of the Twin Cities in winter).

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 11 - Explore the city this morning and then sit back and enjoy a tour of some local wineries

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 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 comfortable trailer pulled by a tractor en-route to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony - the largest of its kind in the world.

Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures - suggested

Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures
Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures

On this unique four hour eco-adventure you will get to experience one of the largest and most accessible mainland gannet colonies in the world. You'll be pulled on a trailer from the back of a vintage tractor along the beach to the Black Reef Colony - where you'll have the chance to see the birds in their natural habitat. Depending on the season, visitors can witness new-born chicks through to four month old gannets preparing for their first ever flight, which will take them all the way to Australia. Continuing on to the Cape, you'll break for 90 minutes which enables visitors the chance to picnic, swim or enjoy a scenic walk to the Plateau Colony.

Hawke's Bay Wine Experience half day tour

Hawke's Bay Wine Experience half day tour
Hawke's Bay Wine Experience half day tour
Hawke's Bay Wine Experience half day tour
Hawke's Bay Wine Experience half day tour

Discover the delights of Hawke's Bay on this 4-5 hour afternoon winery tour. You'll visit 4 local wineries including the oldest vineyard in New Zealand. You'll have the chance to taste award winning wines, learn about the winemaking process and the history of the region. Take a tour of the Church Road Wine Museum, the only one of its kind in new Zealand and home to over 3000 years of paraphernalia dating back 3000 years. Explore the old wine vats, study the wax figures and discover the 'cuve' room. Following the tour you'll return to Napier via the famous Oak Avenue on the outskirts of Hastings.

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 12 - 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

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Day 13 - Spend the morning strolling the capitals streets. This afternoon venture out with a Lord of the Rings tour

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.

Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour

Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour
Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour
Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour
Middle Earth Film Locations Half Day Tour

In a small group, you will head out to the Valley to explore the filming locations for Rivendell where Frodo recovered from his knife attack; the River Anduin where the Fellowship voyaged to Amon Hen; the Gardens of Isengard, where Gandalf rode to see Saruman and the site of the orcs felling the trees; see the quarry used for the filming of Helms Deep in Rohan and Minas Tirith in Gondor. Then back to the City to visit the Mount Victoria lookout and Buckland Forest where you can take a "shortcut to mushrooms", "get of the road" and hide where the Hobbits hid from the Black Riders before taking a run to the Buckleberry Ferry and discovering Dunharrow Rohirrim encampment along the way.

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: 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 14 - Explore Wellington, then depart for your onward journey

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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