Cultural New Zealand: North Island road trip

Trip ideas
Duration (in days): 8

From: Auckland

To: Auckland



Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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Discover the Maori culture of the North Island on this short self-drive in New Zealand. Starting in Auckland, you’ll explore the city before driving north to Paihia, on the shore of the beautiful Bay of Islands. Here, you will visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the history of New Zealand was changed forever with a pact between the British and Maori people. Heading south, you’ll spend a night on the Coromandel Peninsula and walk along windswept beaches before arriving in Rotorua to spend a few days enjoying this fascinating, fun region. Watch the haka at a Maori village, tuck into a delicious hangi feast and admire traditional art in Te Puia, before finishing your New Zealand North Island road trip back in Auckland with a real sense of Maori history. 

This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements, so please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.


  • Visit the bustling city of Auckland              
  • Enjoy beautiful sea views in the Bay of Islands      
  • Learn about Maori British relations at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
  • Explore the golden beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula        
  • Dig a spa hole on Hot Water Beach
  • Watch the haka at a Maori village in Rotorua
  • Gaze at the geysers and hot springs at Te Puia


Itinerary in brief:

  • 1 night Auckland              
  • 2 nights Bay of Islands    
  • 1 night Coromandel        
  • 2 nights Rotorua              
  • 1 night Auckland   


Day 1: Arrive Auckland

On arrival in Auckland, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel, where you will check in for one night. Spend the rest of the day exploring the city – why not take a walk down to the harbour for a walk up or head up the Sky Tower for views over Auckland? If you feel ready to dive straight into Maori culture, head to the Auckland Museum, where you’ll find the largest collection of ‘taonga’ (treasures) in the world, from small artefacts to full-size canoes and meeting houses.

Day 2: Drive to Bay of Islands      

This morning, you’ll pick up your rental car and make your way out of the city, heading north towards the Bay of Islands. On arrival, you’ll check into your hotel for two nights and spend the afternoon enjoying the waterfront town. Stretch out on the beach and, later, enjoy a seafood dinner by the shore at sunset.

Day 3: Bay of Islands     

Today is free for you to explore the area at your own pace. We’ve included a day pass to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where you can learn about Maori-British relations and the deal that changed the course of New Zealand’s history. In the afternoon, why not set out on the water? We can book you a cruise to the natural Hole in the Rock or arrange a trip for you to swim with dolphins. If you would like to add either of these experiences, just ask!

Day 4: Drive to Coromandel         

After breakfast, you'll head south towards the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. It’s a long driving day, but definitely worth the journey. Coromandel is composed of golden beaches backed by lush forests, making it perfect for a stopover on your way south. Two of the most popular areas are Hahei Beach, a curved stretch of sand ending at the arched Cathedral Cove, and Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own hole and bathe in the natural springs. It's a unique experience!

Day 5: Drive to Rotorua        

Leaving the Coromandel behind you, today you can visit Hobbiton, home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Wander amongst hillsides dotted with hobbit holes, where real vegetables grow in the plots, and even enjoy a pint of cider at The Green Dragon. It's a charming, unforgettable place. Afterwards, drive onwards to Rotorua, where you’ll check into your hotel for two nights before heading out for an evening of Maori culture. Starting with a haka at the edge of the village, you will be welcomed in to experience Maori crafts and dancing. You'll even learn to do the haka yourselves! Finish the evening with a delicious hangi feast, cooked under the ground by the geothermal heat and enjoyed in the big hall alongside traditional Maori entertainment.

Day 6: Rotorua       

Today is yours to explore Rotorua and the surrounding area, but we’ve included entrance to Te Puia, a centre of Maori art with bags of geothermal activity on its grounds. Here, you can wait for the geyser to erupt and watch the bubbling mud pools before exploring the cultural centre, where you can see traditional Maori architecture and learn about their way of life. There is also a small exhibit where you can meet a brown kiwi, known to the Maori as the ‘hidden bird’ of Tanemahuta, god of the forest. Afterwards, you can grab a 'steambox' lunch, cooked under the ground in a similar fashion to your dinner last night. As you have your rental car at your disposal, you could also venture out of Rotorua to visit Wai-o-tapu, home to bizarre, colourful thermal pools.

Day 7: Drive to Auckland      

This morning, you’ll make your way back to Auckland. It's up to you whether you drive straight there or stop off along the way. On arrival, you’ll check into your hotel for one night and spend the rest of the day exploring the city. Why not make your way over to Devonport for a wonderful view back over the city or take the ferry to Waiheke Island, home to vineyards and sandy beaches. End your night by the harbour with a glass of New Zealand wine, toasting a wonderful trip through the North Island.

Day 8: Depart Auckland        

Today is your final day in New Zealand – drive over to the airport in time for your onward flight.  



New Zealand is a year-round destination. Whatever time you decide to travel, there is always something to enjoy. High season runs from December to February (summer), when the weather is sunny and warm. Just bear in mind that prices will be at a premium at over these months and availability is limited, so it is advisable to book well in advance. March/April and September to November can both be great times to travel, as the weather is still fine but the crowds have thinned. Low season runs from May to August (winter) for most of New Zealand, so you'll need to prepare for very chilly nights! However, this is the by far the best time for winter sports, so ski towns such as Queenstown will be buzzing.

Are you looking for more New Zealand ideas?

We’re experts in planning tailor-made holidays, so whether you’re looking for a luxury New Zealand holiday, ideas for a road trip or multi-stop flights to New Zealand with stopovers – let us help you with the planning. Our experts can tailor-make precisely the trip you’re looking for – this itinerary is purely a suggestion, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.

What's included: 

  • Accommodation for 7 nights       
  • Car hire
  • Entrance to Waitangi Treaty Grounds      
  • Tamaki Village Evening with Hangi Feast
  • Entrance to Te Puia with lunch
  • Daily breakfast  

Not included: 

  • Fuel       
  • Personal expenses and gratuities


Seven nights in 4* boutique-standard accommodation.

Hotels in this category include:

  • Hotel DeBrett

  • Allegra House

  • Harbourview Lodge Tairua

  • Regent of Rotorua


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