21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour
21 day North Island Self Drive, from Auckland to Auckland
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour

This fabulous tour of the North Island captures everything that is special about the region. You’ll visit beautiful beaches and bays in Northland and the Coromandel, the wine regions of Hawke’s Bay and Martinborough and the cultural heartland of Rotorua. There is also time to explore our two largest cities, both vibrant but offering very different experiences. In Auckland you’ll sail a yacht on the harbour and in Wellington visit the wildlife sanctuary within the city, home to some of our rarest wildlife. There is so much to see and do during this holiday and when you’re tired after a day exploring, you’ll be greeted by your hosts at the welcoming lodges and bed and breakfasts that make up this package.

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North Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$8,380 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Auckland

21 days/20 nights

Boutique Lodges & Hotels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 35 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

Day 1: Upon arrival in Auckland you’ll be transferred to your hotel and have the rest of the day at your leisure
Accommodation: Airedale Boutique Suites

Day 2: Explore Auckland by land and water
Accommodation: Airedale Boutique Suites

Day 3: Cross the Harbour Bridge and head north to the balmy Bay of Islands
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 230 kms / 143 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 4: Discover the gems of the Bay of Islands or the culture at Waitangi
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Day 5: Explore Northland on a flying and driving scenic tour
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Day 6: Head cross country to the Hokianga Harbour and down the Kauri Coast
Accommodation: Woodhouse Mountain Lodge Warkworth
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 286 kms / 178 miles : 3.7 hours

Day 7: Mangawhai to Hahei on the Coromandel Peninsula
Accommodation: Hahei Bed & Breakfast
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 144 miles : 3.0 hours

Day 8: Explore the iconic Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach
Accommodation: Hahei Bed & Breakfast

Day 9: Travel along the Bay of Plenty before turning inland towards the lakes of Rotorua
Accommodation: Pullman Rotorua
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 203 kms / 126 miles : 3.1 hours

Day 10: Explore Rotorua and discover the unique Maori culture at Te Puia
Accommodation: Pullman Rotorua

Day 11: Rotorua to Napier
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 12: Explore Hawkes Bay and visit the Gannet Colony
Accommodation: McHardy Lodge

Day 13: Drive south through the Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa region to the boutique vineyards of Martinborough
Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 271 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 14: Explore the Wairarapa and Cape Palliser
Accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel

Day 15: Travel over the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 73 kms / 45 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 16: Explore Wellington and this evening visit Zealandia wildlife sanctuary
Accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

Day 17: Wellington to Tongariro National Park
Accommodation: Ruapehu Country Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 322 kms / 200 miles : 4.0 hours

Day 18: Explore the many short walks in the area
Accommodation: Ruapehu Country Lodge

Day 19: Drive north through the King Country to the limestone rock formations of Waitomo
Accommodation: Abseil Inn
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 151 kms / 94 miles : 1.8 hours

Day 20: Explore the Glow Worm Caves this morning, then drive to Auckland
Accommodation: Airedale Boutique Suites
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 110 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 21: Depart Auckland today

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.4 hours

Detailed itinerary - day by day
Tour full itinerary
21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 1
Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland Accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland airport by the driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Welcome to Auckland

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 28 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

Your accommodation: Airedale Boutique Suites

Airedale Boutique Suites Auckland is located on a landmark site on Queen Street in the heart of Auckland City. This superb art deco style hotel is conveniently located in the city's vibrant cultural, shopping and central business district.

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 2
Choose from our great range of late model rental cars for your driving holiday

Today you’ll take to the road for your New Zealand Self Drive holiday, so take a look through the great selection of late model vehicles available and take your pick.

Explore Auckland City

Surrounding a natural harbour, New Zealand's largest metro area offers the best of both worlds. Sandy beaches, native bush and lush rainforests meld with a lively urban culture. Grab a coffee downtown and watch the sailboats glide from the Viaduct or head harbourside and take the helm of an America's Cup Yacht.
Catch the Quickcat to nearby Waiheke Island for a gourmet food and wine experience. Clear the cobwebs with a little exercise and hike the summit of Mt Eden,  Auckland's highest volcano. Pack a picnic and choose one of 800 regional national parks to explore. If relaxing is more your style, find a good book and head out to a deserted beach. Try Orewa located an hour north of the city or stay a little closer and head to Cheltenham Beach in Devonport.
Make time to ascend the Sky Tower or The Harbour Bridge and spike your adrenaline by bungy jumping off either (or both!). Finish on a high with dinner at one of the many trendy eateries to be found on Ponsonby Road.

America's Cup Sailing Experience with Explore

The world's oldest and most prestigious sporting trophy, the America's Cup is the ultimate yachting regatta. Usually reserved for billionaires and professional yachties, you now have the opportunity to partake in this elite sport. During your two hour sailing adventure you’ll become part of the crew. Either take the helm, try your arm strength on the grinders or simply sit back and enjoy the action as you tack and gybe your way across the harbour. No experience is required for this trip, however children under 10 years are not recommended.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Auckland Sky Tower Admission

Standing at 328 metres (just over 1000 feet) - the Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand and offers panoramic views of the Auckland landscape. Travel in the glass-fronted lift to one of three spectacular viewing platforms, or for a little more excitement do a SkyWalk - an outside loop around the pergola 192 metres (just over 600 feet) above ground. If you're really bold, Take the quick way down and SkyJump off the tower - a controlled free fall to the base.
Inside, the Sky Lounge offers coffee and light meals while the iconic Orbit Restaurant is Auckland's only 360 degree revolving dining experience.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - All Blacks Experience

See what it takes to make, shape and be an All Black. Experience first-hand the excitement and emotion of game day. Discover the stories behind some of world rugby’s most famous players, moments and matches.
This guided experience introduces you to the game of rugby before being lead through state-of-the-art displays combining sound, images, interactive technology and hands-on activities. Discover New Zealand’s deep passion for our national sport, experience the full force of the All Blacks haka, tackle interactive zones where you can try out your kicking, catching, line-out and accuracy skills against legendary All Blacks.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wētā Workshop Unleashed

Explore worlds of horror, sci-fi and fantasy in the making. An exciting, realistic, and authentic experience, with three fully developed and original film concepts: A nail-biting horror Fauna, a fantasy epic Age of the Ever-Clan, and the mind-bending sci-fi Origins.
A 90-minute guided experience through fully themed environments, including immersive horror, fantasy, and sci-fi story worlds. Be immersed by a specially-created unique sweeping cinematic soundtrack, animatronic creatures, physical and digital interactives, hyper-realistic sculpted giants and characters, a horror house experience, and much more.

Your accommodation: Airedale Boutique Suites

Airedale Boutique Suites Auckland is located on a landmark site on Queen Street in the heart of Auckland City. This superb art deco style hotel is conveniently located in the city's vibrant cultural, shopping and central business district.
Meals included: Breakfast

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 3
Auckland to Russell, Bay of Islands

The drive from Auckland to the Bay of Islands normally takes around three and a half hours, but plan to take a little longer for there are many things to see along the way. Stretch your legs in Puhoi, New Zealand's only Bohemian settlement. Go through Warkworth, and Whangarei and see the world famous hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa. Arriving into Russell via the Opua Ferry, you'll be greeted by lush bush-clad hillsides dropping to golden sandy beaches.

Your accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Arcadia Lodge is a Russell landmark, a turn of the century home and luxury bed and breakfast overlooking Russell's tranquil Matauwhi Bay.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 230 kms / 143 miles : 3.3 hours

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 4
Explore the Bay of Islands

Made up of over 140 subtropical atolls, New Zealand's Bay of Islands is renowned for its untouched beaches, abundant marine life and idyllic climate. Commonly known as the 'Winterless North' this tropical paradise is the ideal holiday destination. 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. Finally, before you leave take a travel day to Cape Reinga, the very top of the North Island.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - R. Tucker Thompson Full Day Sailing

Experience the Bay of Islands the old-fashioned way with a cruise on the R. Tucker Thompson, a traditional gaff-rigged schooner with her own unique history. On the Full Day Sail, be as active as you like – take the helm, help set the sails, ride the bowsprit and climb the rigging – or simply relax while the crew command this impressive ship as she sails across the Bay. During your sail, the crew will share some of the rich history of the area with you. Step ashore and explore a secluded island or take a swim while your barbeque lunch is prepared.
About the R. Tucker Thompson - Built from 1970-1985, the R. Tucker Thompson’s design is based on the halibut schooners of the North West American coast. With a lofty rig of varnished oregon spars, Kwila decks and bulwarks and brasswork features, she looks the part of a 19th century working ship: purposeful and square-shouldered, but fast enough to out-run the law!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Hole in the Rock Cruise with Fullers GreatSights

Board your cruise and take in the stunning views as you glide out through the islands and along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse keeps watch over and Piercy Island/Motukōkako, or as it is popularly known as the Hole in the Rock. According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space. Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales, and other marine life during your cruise, and have your camera ready as you get up close to the action. Stop off at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island where you have time to relax, take a walk, have a swim, or enjoy a bite to eat and drink from the on-site fully licensed café. The purpose-built catamaran is licensed by DOC (the Department of Conservation) for dolphin viewing and the crew has years of experience locating dolphins in these waters. 

Your accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Arcadia Lodge is a Russell landmark, a turn of the century home and luxury bed and breakfast overlooking Russell's tranquil Matauwhi Bay.
Meals included: Breakfast

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 5
Cape Reinga Scenic Aeroplane Flight and Guided Tour

Today experience the beauty of the North from both air and land. Take a spectacular scenic flight to Cape Reinga over Whangaroa Harbour and the Rangaunu Harbour as well as Coopers Beach, Doubtless Bay and Ninety Mile Beach. The tour also includes a visit to the Cape Reinga lighthouse.

Your accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Arcadia Lodge is a Russell landmark, a turn of the century home and luxury bed and breakfast overlooking Russell's tranquil Matauwhi Bay.
Meals included: Breakfast

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 6
Bay of Islands to Waipoua Forest to Warkworth

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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Ngawha Springs

Bathe in the healing waters at Ngawha Springs and let the ancient energy revitalize your senses while the minerals from deep in the earth permeate your body. The mineral-rich hot waters of Ngawha Springs bubble up from deep within the Earth. Nestled in the heart of Te Tai Tokerau, Northland, the springs have a long history of being a restorative and healing place to visit. The people of Ngapuhi have attended the natural springs to replenish wairua (spirit), alleviate the sensation of pain, and repair common ailments. 

Your accommodation: Woodhouse Mountain Lodge Warkworth

Contemporary secluded villa accommodations in paradise-like grounds are set high above surrounding land, meaning privacy is guaranteed and views extend as far as the Hauraki Gulf. Our facilities include a restaurant, outdoor pool, sauna, day spa treatments, cocktail bar, and extensive grounds to explore.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 286 kms / 178 miles : 3.7 hours

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 7
Mangawhai to Whitianga

Leaving the idyllic Warkworth region, head south on State Highway one towards Auckland. The drive takes you through farming regions, and down through the bustling center of Auckland City. From there it’s across the fertile Hauraki Plains towards the Thames Estuary, a haven for wildlife, in particular, the shorebirds at Miranda. You then cross the Southern Coromandel Ranges through to the wonderful east coast of the peninsula and the harbour town of Tairua. From here, head north to Whenuakite before turning off to head back towards the Pacific Ocean and your final destination, Hahei.

Your accommodation: Hahei Bed & Breakfast

Hahei Bed & Breakfast, you will be able to look forward to quiet surroundings, large swimming pool and subtropical gardens. Relax into this idyllic environment, and prepare for the perfect beach holiday! You’ll be able to enjoy the comfort of this peaceful, fresh-styled property.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 233 kms / 144 miles : 3.0 hours

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 8
Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach derives its name from the geothermally heated water that continually seeps in through the sands. At low tide you can dig a hole and create your own mineral pool. The beach itself is golden, fine sand and is an ideal place to relax. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Cathedral Cove Classic Sea Kayak Tour

Considered one of the best sea kayaking trips in the country the Cathedral Cove Classic has got it all. The Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve opens up a sea kayaking paradise full of beaches, islands and rock gardens that are just waiting to be explored. Paddle through sea caves, interact with the local marine life and discover the thrill of kayak sailing with the wind on your back. To top it off you land at Cathedral Cove where you will be treated to the 'world famous' cappuccinos and hot chocolates on the beach! Cathedral Cove Sea Kayaking use very stable double sea kayaks and quality safety equipment. No experience is necessary and a qualified guide accompanies throughout and offers full instructions and assistance.

Your accommodation: Hahei Bed & Breakfast

Hahei Bed & Breakfast, you will be able to look forward to quiet surroundings, large swimming pool and subtropical gardens. Relax into this idyllic environment, and prepare for the perfect beach holiday! You’ll be able to enjoy the comfort of this peaceful, fresh-styled property.
Meals included: Breakfast

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 9
Hahei to Rotorua via Tauranga

Today you'll be leaving the Coromandel Peninsula and passing through the town of Whangamata, a popular tourist destination for Kiwi holidaymakers and home to one of the best beaches in the region. Stop in Wahi to view its operational open cast gold mine - just follow the signs to a unique vantage point overlooking the Martha Mine. For rail enthusiasts, be sure to take a trip on the Goldfields Railway along its historic and scenic track. Continue on through the Bay of Plenty and the portside city of Tauranga. Your driving route now takes you along the Pyes Pa Road to Rotorua. If Lord of the Rings is your thing take a detour along State Highway 29 to Matamata, home to the fictional Tolkien village, Hobbiton. As you arrive into Rotorua take in the spectacular lake views along with clouds of steam rising from multiple geysers across the region.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Orakei Korako Hidden Valley with Volcanic Air Safaris by floatplane

From above Mount Tarawera impressive views include vast volcanic rifts, distant national parks and our treasured lakes. Flying south on a floatplane, you will gain an appreciation of what local Maori refer to as the ‘Sisters of Fire’. Here, volcanic activity has pierced the earth surface across the fault-line forming the reserves of Waimangu and Wai-O-Tapu which, when viewed from above, dismay a spectacular palette of natures most vibrant colours. Landing at Orakei Korako, ‘the Hidden Valley’, is an amazing opportunity to experience hot springs, gushing geysers and the natural beauty of this geothermal wonderland.

Your accommodation: Pullman Rotorua

Pullman Rotorua is surrounded by surreal scenery and iconic attractions. Discover shooting geysers, bubbling mud, natural hot springs and magical forests.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 203 kms / 126 miles : 3.1 hours

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 10
Te Puia: Te Ra Guided Experience, Cultural Experience and Hangi Buffet Lunch

Embark on a guided tour through the heart of Māori craftsmanship and heritage at the New Zealand Māori Arts & Crafts Institute. Explore the renowned schools of greenstone carving, wood carving, and flax weaving, where master artisans and students bring ancient techniques to life. Your journey continues at Rotowhio Pā, a living Māori village, and the Kiwi Conservation Centre, where you'll get a rare glimpse of New Zealand's iconic and endangered Kiwi bird. As you delve into Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley, marvel at the dramatic landscapes shaped by geothermal activity, including the awe-inspiring Pōhutu Geyser, the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere. After your explorations, indulge in Te Puia's world-famous hāngī buffet lunch, served in Pātaka Kai Restaurant, Bar & Café. Enjoy a delectable array of traditional Māori cuisine, though menus are subject to change to highlight seasonal specialties. The cultural highlight of your visit will take place in the beautifully carved meeting house, Te Aronui a Rua. Here, you’ll be welcomed with a pōhiri (traditional welcome), followed by a captivating cultural performance featuring waiata (song), mōteatea (traditional chant), poi, and the powerful haka. This immersive experience at Te Puia offers a deep connection to Māori culture, artistry, and the natural wonders of New Zealand.

Your accommodation: Pullman Rotorua

Pullman Rotorua is surrounded by surreal scenery and iconic attractions. Discover shooting geysers, bubbling mud, natural hot springs and magical forests.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 11
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.

Walking tracks in and around Hawkes Bay

There are some excellent walks in and around the Hawkes Bay region. The information below is provided by the Department of Conservation. Listed below are a selection of short walks but check with the Department of Conservation information centre for weather conditions, track suitability and conditions first.

Tangoio Falls Scenic Reserve Tracks
Discover Te Ana or Tangoio Falls on a short, easy walk suitable for kids, or take a longer walk through native bush on the Tangoio Walkway. .
Distance: 2 - 4.4 km one way. Completion Time: 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on which track you choose.

White Pine Bush Scenic Reserve
Experience New Zealand's remaining coastal forest on these short, easy walks that are good for children.
Distance: 1.6 km loop. Completion Time: 40 minutes.

Ahuriri Estuary
View a community of wading birds, fish, mud dwellers and aquatic plant life from the estuary track and boardwalk. Over 70 species of resident and migratory waterbirds use the estuary as a feeding and resting area.
Distance: 2.8 km one way. Completion Time: 1 hour.

Te Mata Park
Te Mata Park has a rich human and geological history, and is home to a range of unique plants and native birds. The park has five different walking options varying in difficulty and distance.
Distance: 1.3 km - 5.4 km. Completion Time: 40 minutes - 1 hours 15 minutes.

Lake Tūtira
There are two main walks at Lake Tūtira, a short walk along the edge of the lake or a longer loop through the reserve. Both offer great views of the lake as well as native and introduced plant species.
Distance: 1.3 km - 5.4 km. Completion Time: 40 minutes - 1 hours 15 minutes.

Cape Kidnappers/Te Kauwae-a-Māui Walking Track
Follow the beach from Clifton to Cape Kidnappers/Te Kauwae-a-Māui alongside cliffs that show fragmented fault and tilt lines, recording the gradual rise of New Zealand. Black Reef is the first gannet nesting site, 7.5 km from Clifton. A 1 km climb takes you from the shelter on the beach to a benched area on the hill where you can view the second colony, and spectacular views of Hawke's Bay.
Distance: 19 km loop. Completion Time: 5 hour return.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Triple Chocolate Dipper Tour with the Silky Oak Chocolate Company

A true chocolate indulgence combining chocolate tasting at Silky Oak Chocolate factory shop, entry into the Chocolate "Thru' the Ages" Museum, a Chocolate drink (or tea/coffee), chocolate muffin/ slice, served with liquid chocolate and cream at their Café.  You'll be presented with a bonus take-home gift - chocolate of course! This is chocolate overload for serious chocoholics!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is a spectacular showcase of New Zealand’s most colourful and unique geothermal elements sculpted by thousands of years of volcanic activity. You are introduced to a uniquely different natural landscape – the key to what you see lies below the surface – one of the most extensive geothermal systems in New Zealand, extending over 18-sq. km. Enjoy viewing unique volcanic features as you walk at your own pace along well-defined tracks. Relax in the first-class Visitor Centre, home to the Gift Shop and Café facilities. Visit the Mud Pool, the largest in New Zealand, it was originally the site of a large mud volcano which was destroyed through erosion in the 1920s. See the history and beauty of the Lady Knox Geyser at 10:15 am every day. Lady Knox Geyser provides a unique opportunity to see an eruption to heights of 10 to 20 metres.

Your accommodation: McHardy Lodge

This beautifully restored, single storey 1890's residence is nestled in a quiet cul de sac on Napier Hill, a great location from which to explore the Art Deco city. Experience a 5 star boutique Bed & Breakfast experience with unparalleled facilities and luxurious rooms.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 12
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

With its 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 birthplace of NZ wine can't be missed. For the truly enthused head out on a tour of the vines. 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.

Gannet Safaris

Drive along the scenic coast from Napier to Te Awanga and join Gannet Safaris Overland and the world's largest, most accessible gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Gannet Safaris has been guiding visitors over Cape Kidnappers for over 35 years and their safaris are the only way to be driven right to within a few feet of these remarkable birds. You will travel in comfort in air-conditioned 4 x 4 wheeled vehicles, through Cape Kidnappers Station - traversing riverbeds, broad rolling pastures, stands of native bush, steep gullies and breath-taking inclines. There is a stop on the way at a spectacular cliff top with panoramic views of Hawke Bay right across to Mahia peninsular. The 36km, three hour trip includes a commentary by your tour guide/driver on the farming operation on Cape Kidnappers Station and an introduction to the gannets. On arrival at the gannets you can stretch your legs and take in the scenery from your position at the brink of the cliff's edge, 100 metres above the ocean!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Napier Whirlwind Tour

This 2 1/2 hour tour takes in all the history, from early settlement, through to the huge 1931 earthquake and the rebuilding of the City to the Art Deco Capital of the World to what it is today. You also visit the historic area of Ahuriri, National Tobacco Building and the famous Mission Estate Winery. As you return to Napier City, you will also tour an Art Deco Housing Estate. Experience many stops for photos from lookouts to famous landmarks etc. This is a compact tour, it is really for those that are spending the one night here in Napier and still wish to see the City highlights.

Your accommodation: McHardy Lodge

This beautifully restored, single storey 1890's residence is nestled in a quiet cul de sac on Napier Hill, a great location from which to explore the Art Deco city. Experience a 5 star boutique Bed & Breakfast experience with unparalleled facilities and luxurious rooms.
Meals included: Breakfast

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 13
Napier to Martinborough

As you leave the rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay you'll be greeted with some of the country's richest dairy farmland in the Manawatu Gorge. Continue on through the Wairarapa region and stop in the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre, where you can see some of New Zealand native animals. Take another break in Masterson, and visit the interactive Woolshed Museum to learn about sheep farming in New Zealand. As you drive south, a visit to historic Greytown is a must-do. Take in the restored Victorian buildings and make time for a cup of tea at one of its quaint cafes. Leaving state highway 2 you will cross over the Ruamahanga River into Martinborough wine country your destination for the day.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Martinborough Half Day Wine Tour with Martinborough Wine Tours

Visit wonderful vineyards such as Te Kairangi Wines, Tirohana Estate, Cabbage Tree Vineyard and Martinborough Vineyard on this half day tour of the premium wine region of Martinborough. Taste the wines, learn about the development of the region, its people and characters from knowledgeable guides.

Your accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel

At the Martinborough Hotel, indulge in the elegant surroundings of this 1882 building. There are nine Verandah Rooms, at the top of the grand flight of stairs and seven spacious Garden Rooms finished in a restful simple country style.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 271 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 hours

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 14
Cape Palliser and the South Coast

Just around 45 minutes south of the town of Martinborough will bring you to one of the most spectacular coastlines in the country. Rocky shores and tiny settlements feature as you head towards the magnificent views from the Cape Palliser lighthouse. New Zealand fur seals make these rocky shores and outcrops their home and offer some great photo opportunities. The small township of Ngawi is also quite a unique spot. As you approach you will be forgiven for thinking it's a massive graveyard for old tractors but in fact it's a bustling fishing community. Crayfish are the main catch and massive tractors and bulldozers are used to haul the boats from the water and over the pebble beach. Heading back towards Martinborough a detour to the Lake Ferry Hotel and some local seafood is highly recommended.

Your accommodation: The Martinborough Hotel

At the Martinborough Hotel, indulge in the elegant surroundings of this 1882 building. There are nine Verandah Rooms, at the top of the grand flight of stairs and seven spacious Garden Rooms finished in a restful simple country style.
Meals included: Breakfast

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 15
Martinborough to Wellington City

Today you will cross the Rimutaka Ranges as you make your way to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. Often compared to Melbourne, Wellington is vibrant cultural hub.Home to the nation’s centre of government. Legislation happens in the aptly named ‘Beehive,’ an executive wing attached to the Houses of Parliament. At one kilometre squared, the city centre (easily traversed on foot) has an international feel and is peppered with underground art shows, alleyway cafes and New York style delis. Take in the boardwalk view as you stroll to Te Papa Museum or indulge your cinematic side exploring Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award winning design studio for Lord Of The Rings. For a taste of vintage fashion, spend some time (and dollars!) on Cuba Street browsing the boutiques. Work off last night’s dinner with a cycling tour of Oriental Bay and undo your good work with a Hokey Pokey ice-cream in the sun. For those heading further down, the capital is where you board the ferry crossing the Cook Strait to the South Island.

Your accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

The Bolton Hotel offers contemporary apartment-style accommodation in the heart of Wellington. Just steps from the Parliament buildings and central business district, Bolton Hotel is conveniently close to the best of the city's shops, cafes and restaurants and is within walking distance of Wellington's vibrant waterfront.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 73 kms / 45 miles : 1.0 hours

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 16
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 Experience, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. 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 an 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wētā Workshop Experience + Guided Transfers

Get the full experience to Wētā Workshop and back with a guided transfer. Also, bag some other cool perks that will make your experience extra special. Learn about the real props, costumes and creatures created for your favourite films. Interact with cool stuff from the Weta workshop creative departments and catch an artist at work on the tour stage. Discover the filmmaking technique of miniature effects and learn how they are built for hit TV and film productions. Get up close to the props, weapons and costumes created for The Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, The Great Wall, Avatar, District 9, and more.

Zealandia By Night Wildlife Sanctuary 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 are high!

Your accommodation: Bolton Hotel Wellington

The Bolton Hotel offers contemporary apartment-style accommodation in the heart of Wellington. Just steps from the Parliament buildings and central business district, Bolton Hotel is conveniently close to the best of the city's shops, cafes and restaurants and is within walking distance of Wellington's vibrant waterfront.
Meals included: Breakfast

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 17
Wellington to Whakapapa Village

The drive from Wellington to Tongariro takes you via the Kapiti Coast and the seaside towns of Plimmerton, Paekakariki and Paraparaumu are worth a short detour. Heading north you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving onto the central plateau. A little further the military town of Waiouru also hosts the Army Museum, an incredible collection of New Zealand’s military history and a memorial to its servicemen. Skirting Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand’s three world heritage sites, and clouds permitting you can see the 2,500 metre peak of the still volcanically active Mt. Ruapehu. You might recognise the symmetrical shape of Mt. Ngauruhoe as this was used as the scenery of Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park, established in 1887 after the Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV gifted the sacred peaks to the nation. It was also only the fourth place on earth to be given recognition as a World Heritage area. At the heart of the park are three volcanoes, Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu are considered the two most active composite volcanoes in the world with the latter erupting as recently as 1995 and 1996 sending ash up to 30, 000 feet into the air.
Despite the barren and sometimes inhospitable environment, the region abounds with flora and fauna. Alpine herbs and flaxes thrive on the upper slopes while dense beech forests cover the lower regions. New Zealand's only native mammals, the short and long tailed bat make their homes here.
The Tongariro Crossing is one of New Zealand's Great Walks and there are many other tracks and trails to suit all capabilities. Also lying within the park is two of New Zealand's largest ski fields, Whakapapa and Turoa.

Your accommodation: Ruapehu Country Lodge

Ruapehu Country Lodge provides the perfect base from which to explore two of New Zealand’s National Parks: Tongariro National Park and Whanganui National Park. Wake up each morning to peace and tranquillity and enjoy a prepared breakfast before starting your day. Each room has an outdoor courtyard which looks across the properties expansive gardens.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 322 kms / 200 miles : 4.0 hours

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 18
Walking tracks in and around Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park

There are a plethora of walks in and around Whakapapa Village and Tongariro National Park. From short 15 minute hikes to longer 5 hour treks, there is something for every level of fitness. All established tracks are maintained by the Department of Conservation and before heading out on a walk, it is best to check the track conditions and suitability at the local DOC information office in the centre of the village. Below are a selection of the best walks to do:

  1. Whakapapa Nature Walk,15 min loop track
  2. Mounds Walk, 20 min one way
  3. Tawhai Falls, 20 min one way
  4. Ridge Track, 340 min return
  5. Taranaki Falls, 2 hour return
  6. Whakapapanui Walk, 2 hour return
  7. Tupapakurua Falls Track, 5 hour return

Your accommodation: Ruapehu Country Lodge

Ruapehu Country Lodge provides the perfect base from which to explore two of New Zealand’s National Parks: Tongariro National Park and Whanganui National Park. Wake up each morning to peace and tranquillity and enjoy a prepared breakfast before starting your day. Each room has an outdoor courtyard which looks across the properties expansive gardens.
Meals included: Breakfast

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 19
Whakapapa Village to Waitomo

Head through National Park and across rich rolling farmland to the limestone regions of Waitomo and the famous Waitomo Caves complex.

Your accommodation: Abseil Inn

Architecturally designed, the Abseil Inn is situated on a ridge overlooking both the Waitomo Caves Village and the beautiful Waitomo Valley. Sited to maximize both views and rural ambience it offers an authentic slice of rural NZ
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 151 kms / 94 miles : 1.8 hours

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21 Day Ultimate North Island Tour - Day 20
Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour

Your tour begins as you are picked at the Waitomo iSite and enjoy a scenic shuttle to Caveworld's family owned cave, while your guide provides commentary bringing the rich history of Waitomo to life. Here you will take a short walk through the breathtaking New Zealand bush, keeping an eye out for the native birdlife. Heading down to the entrance of the cave you will discover the beauty of the glowworms, learn about the formation of Footwhistle Cave - known to local Maori as Te Anaroa Cave. You are encouraged to bring along your cameras a tripods to freeze the beautiful twinkling lights in time, with dim solar-powered lights through the cave that allow you to appreciate the magnificent displays and get the perfect shot. Complete your intimate tour with a Kawakawa tea as you relax in a ponga hut nestled into the native surrounds.

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.

Your accommodation: Airedale Boutique Suites

Airedale Boutique Suites Auckland is located on a landmark site on Queen Street in the heart of Auckland City. This superb art deco style hotel is conveniently located in the city's vibrant cultural, shopping and central business district.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 110 miles : 2.1 hours

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Depart Auckland today

Explore more of vibrant Auckland city before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.4 hours

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