The Winterless North
6 day North Island Self Drive, from Auckland to Auckland
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The Winterless North

Explore the tropical Bay of Islands, the magnificent giant Kauri trees of the Waipoua Forest and the boutique wine region of Matakana, the winterless north is the perfect year round destination. Along the way you'll stay at charming boutique lodges where you can relax in style after each day's adventure.

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Itinerary details at a glance

North Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,270 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Auckland

6 days/5 nights

Boutique Lodges & Hotels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 35 times in the last 7 days

This North Island Self Drive tour idea includes:

- Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland accommodation
Meals included: 5 breakfasts
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland City
Accommodation: Fable Auckland

Day 2: Leave Auckland over the harbour bridge, then travel north to the sub-tropical Bay of Islands
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 230 kms / 143 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 3: Discover the history of Waitangi or take a cruise through the island studded bay
Accommodation: Arcadia Lodge, Russell

Day 4: Cross Northland to the beautiful of Waipoua Forest
Accommodation: Waipoua Lodge
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 116 kms / 72 miles : 1.6 hours

Day 5: Follow the Kauri Coast south, then cross country to the east coast
Accommodation: Woodhouse Mountain Lodge Warkworth
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 174 kms / 108 miles : 2.5 hours

Day 6: Travel south to Auckland Airport for your onward journey

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 84 kms / 52 miles : 1.1 hours

Detailed itinerary - day by day
Tour full itinerary
The Winterless North - 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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Harbour Sailing Cruise with Explore

Enjoy the City of Sails from the water on a relaxed harbour sailing yacht. This cruise offers a uniquely local experience experiencing the harbour under sail with a small vessel with an intimate and engaging atmosphere. View the stunning city sights while sailing on the inner Waitemata Harbour. Sail where the wind takes us while enjoying Auckland's city highlights; including sailing under the Harbour Bridge and other well-known landmarks along the harbour's edge. The crew's local knowledge will give you the best harbour sailing experience Auckland has to offer. Become the crew and help participate with the sailing experience take the helm while you carve through the water, or if you prefer just sit back and relax above deck.

Your accommodation: Fable Auckland

Located right on Queen Street the Fable Auckland is boutique and stylish property with an ideal location to enjoy and explore the vibrant heart of the 'City of Sails'.

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The Winterless North - 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.

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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The Winterless North - Day 3
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 - 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. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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 Te Kōngahu Museum and Te Rau Aroha Museum 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 well known for.

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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The Winterless North - Day 4
Bay of Islands to Waipoua Forest

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 one of the short walks that are signposted as you pass through the forest. Not to be missed is the 5 minute loop to view the largest of all the trees Tane Mahuta. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Twilight Waipoua 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.

Your accommodation: Waipoua Lodge

Waipoua Lodge is nestled on a ridge overlooking the mighty Waipoua Forest. Experience authentic New Zealand luxury hospitality in a breathtaking ancient and natural environment. Please contact the property a day or two before your arrival to discuss menu preferences.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 116 kms / 72 miles : 1.6 hours

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The Winterless North - Day 5
Waipoua to Mangawhai

Continue down the Kauri Coast and across the country towards the Matakohe Kauri Museum. This award-winning museum has extensive displays of the region's logging, farming, and social history.  As you leave the Kaipara Harbour behind you'll make your way to Warkworth a laid-back town situated at the head of the Mahurangi River and is a gateway to many beaches along the Matakana and Kowhai Coasts.

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: 174 kms / 108 miles : 2.5 hours

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The Winterless North - Day 6
Mangawhai to Auckland Airport

Leaving the idyllic lower Northland region, head south on State Highway one towards Auckland ‘City of Sails.’ The route takes you through the farming regions of Wellsford and Warkworth where - if time allows - a side trip to Matakana or the Tawharanui Peninsula is well worth the effort. Pass through the suburbs of the North Shore before crossing the harbour bridge into the heart of Auckland City and on to the Auckland Airport.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 84 kms / 52 miles : 1.1 hours

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