Itinerary in brief:
- 1 night Auckland
- 1 night Coromandel Peninsula
- 1 night Rotorua
- 2 nights Lake Taupo
- 1 night Napier
- 2 nights Wellington
Day 1: Arrive in Auckland
Collect your car on arrival at the airport and make your way to your accommodation (9 days rental car hire included).
Spend the remainder of the day at leisure in Auckland City. The vast harbour, urban cityscape and nearby islands mean Auckland has plenty to offer!
Day 2: Auckland to the Coromandel Peninsula
Depart Auckland this morning and make your way to Cooks Beach, Coromandel Peninsula. Cooks Beach is situated just south of Whitianga and is a 3 km crescent of fine golden sand with safe waters flanked by Shakespeare Cliff to the west and the picnic spot of Purangi River to the east.
The nearby town of Whitianga can be accessed via a short ferry ride from Ferry Landing. Also nearby are the well-known tourist spots of Hahei and Hot Water Beach.
Hahei is home to Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve and the Cathedral Cove walkway – an excellent interpreted coastal walk (2 hours return) with spectacular scenery.
At Hot Water Beach you can dig out your own natural spa on the beach either side of low tide. Shovels can be hired at the dairy situated at the end car park.
Day 3: Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua
Depart the Coromandel and make your way to Rotorua. New Zealand’s tourism icon, Rotorua is spiritual home to the Maori of Te Arawa and is set amongst a myriad of crystal clear crater lakes. Here you will experience nature’s awesome earth forces – bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and hot water beaches.
This evening a Mitai coach will pick you up from your accommodation to commence an evening tour that provides an authentic introduction to Maori culture. Upon arrival at the village enjoy a Hangi meal, cultural performance and guided bush walk and see warriors paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream, plus the opportunity to see glow worms in their natural habitat.
Day 4: Rotorua to Lake Taupo
Make your way to Taupo today. The Lake Taupo region in New Zealand's volcanic heartland is rich in Maori tradition. It also has some of the country’s finest untouched, uncrowded and unique landscapes.
The lake itself is the size of Singapore! Spend your time cruising or kayaking around the secluded coves, fish for Rainbow Trout, explore the geothermal mud pools or walk through ancient rainforest. You won't be short of activities!
Day 5: Taupo
Today is open for you to join one of the many activities in the area, here are 3 of our favourite (not included in the tour price, but can be added):
Tongariro Full Day Guided Walk ex Taupo: This trek covers much - but not all - of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and allows you to enjoy spectacular views of the National Park. The track leads up to the saddle between Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro and then diverts over Mt Tongariro. Total walking time is 7-8 hours, with approximately 1 hour of scheduled stops and photo opportunities. Tour concludes at approximately 5.00pm, back at Taupo.
Hukafalls Jet: This half hour of thrills, fun and excitement takes you along a beautiful river environment, lined with native bush, sheer rock cliff face and natural hot springs. It combines 360° spins and passing nature at disorientating speeds before reaching the awe-inspiring Huka Falls. From the unique vantage point on the boat, you have the best water level view of New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction.
Chris Jolly Lake Taupo Scenic Cruise: Cruise to the Maori Rock Carvings and around the picturesque bays of Lake Taupo. The scenery is simply stunning. A full commentary is given on the volcanic history and Maori mythology surrounding the Lake as you take in the fabulous views of secluded bays and the spectacular mountain peaks of the distant World Heritage Tongariro National Park: on a clear day the majestic volcanoes of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro can be seen at the Southern end of the lake. This scenic cruise is the smoothest, fastest and most comfortable way to see the Maori Rock Carvings and all the fabulous sites.
Day 6: Taupo to Napier
Depart Taupo today and make your way to Napier. The major entertainment today is the scenery – from rugged hills and beautiful valleys to gentle plains and huge vistas. It’s stunning, New Zealand in all its glory!
On the way, you can stop at Tarawera and walk to the hot springs, or at Waiarua Falls lookout, to view the twin waterfalls.
Napier is one of New Zealand's most attractive cities now, although it had to be re-built completely after a devastating earthquake in 1931. It took almost two years and the style of the time is prominent – beautiful Art Deco buildings given Maori motifs to offer unique NZ character!
Located at the south of the Hawkes Bay, the area is famous for its vineyards so be sure to stop and sample some of their produce!
Palm trees line the inner-city streets and the wonderfully sculpted Marine Parade, as the name suggests, runs along the shore of the city. Along Marine Parade various parks, gardens and memorials give the water’s edge its distinct character.
Day 7: Napier to Wellington
Today, make your way to Wellington. New Zealand’s capital city offers an unforgettable urban experience in a stunning natural setting.
Set between a sparkling harbour and rolling green hills, this compact city has great shopping, professional theatre, memorable arts, culture and heritage and great cafés and restaurants all close to untouched nature spots.
Day 8: Wellington
Spend a day at leisure in the Wellington region. Wellington is the cultural capital of New Zealand, full of cafes, restaurants and galleries, and it's nestled amongst rolling hills and a sparkling harbour.
It is also home to Te Papa, the country’s national museum. Te Papa has been described by the Washington Post as "one of the most ambitiously eclectic museums in the world" and is certainly a place not to be missed.
Day 9: Depart Wellington
Today make your way to Wellington Airport and return your rental car prior to checking-in for your departing flight (or if you're really lucky, you can head to the ferry terminal and cross to the South Island for more exploring, activities and breath-taking scenery!)