7 Day North Island Explorer
7 day North Island Self Drive, from Wellington to Auckland
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7 Day North Island Explorer

Travel through the heart of the North Island on this 7-day adventure. Begin in Wellington, famous for its vibrant, creative, culture, fuelled by great wine, food, craft beer and coffee. From here you will travel north through rural countryside, Taupo, Rotorua and onto metropolitan Auckland. Highlights on this tour include the Rotorua Canopy tree walk and the Huka Falls Jet.

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Itinerary details at a glance

North Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,870 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Wellington, finishes in Auckland

7 days/6 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Rental car included

 Viewed 51 times in the last 7 days

This North Island Self Drive tour idea includes:

- Private transfer Wellington airport to your accommodation (IST)
6 breakfasts
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Wellington
Accommodation: Hotel Ibis Wellington

Day 2: Today you'll cross the Rimutaka Ranges and travel through the Wairarapa to the Hawkes Bay
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 320 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

Day 3: Enjoy a free day in Hawkes Bay
Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

Day 4: Journey from Napier to Taupo, then experience the thrill of the Huka Falls Jet Boat
Accommodation: The Reef Resort
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 130 kms / 81 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 5: Today it's a short drive to Rotorua, then explore the forest
Accommodation: Sudima Lake Rotorua
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 76 kms / 47 miles : 0.9 hours

Day 6: Travel North to Auckland City
Accommodation: Sudima Auckland City
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 219 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Day 7: Explore more of Auckland, before departing for home

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

Detailed itinerary - day by day
Tour full itinerary
7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 1
Private transfer Wellington airport to your accommodation

You will be met on arrival at Wellington airport and transferred to your accommodation.

Welcome to Wellington

Wellington City is New Zealand's capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre) and so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and if you arrive early enough New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, is also close by.

Your accommodation: Hotel Ibis Wellington

Hotel Ibis Wellington is ideally located in Featherston Street in the heart of Wellington City and easy walking distance to Wellington's famous cafe lifestyle.

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7 Day North Island Explorer - 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.

Wellington to Napier

Today you'll leave the city lights behind as you continue north to Napier. Drive through the Wairarapa, home to the rich pastures and boutique vineyards of Martinborough, then pass through Greytown - a small victorian settlement with the largest number of wooden buildings in the country. Stop in Masterton, the service capital of the area, known for its Golden Shears competition. Continue on through the grape growing region of Hawkes Bay and Havelock North before arriving in Napier, the art deco capital of New Zealand.

Your accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

The Art Deco Masonic Hotel occupies a significant historic building on Napier’s waterfront and has been richly refurbished in keeping with the Art Deco architecture. With its central location and decadent décor, this is the best place to experience what Napier is famous for.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 320 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

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7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 3
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.

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 - Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour

This wine tasting tour is designed for casual imbibers and wine aficionados. Meet like-minded people and share an appreciation of Hawke's Bay's fantastic wines. Taste great wines made with passion and learn of the areas unique growing conditions. Take home outstanding wines and wonderful memories. Join a fun filled wine tasting afternoon in the sun driving through absolutely stunning scenery. Meet like-minded people and share an appreciation of this region's fantastic wine. Visit four to five wineries and enjoy a cheese platter on the grounds of the Ngatarawa Vineyard beside the lily pond.

General Admission to National Aquarium of New Zealand

The National Aquarium of New Zealand stretches along Napier’s Marine Parade.  It's home to a wide range of saltwater, freshwater, and land animal exhibits from New Zealand and around the world. Experience, stingrays, living coral, a huge range of fish species, and native wildlife. Visit Penguin Cove and watch the little penguins swim, feed and play. Spot New Zealand native wildlife including the Kiwi and Tuatara.

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!

Your accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

The Art Deco Masonic Hotel occupies a significant historic building on Napier’s waterfront and has been richly refurbished in keeping with the Art Deco architecture. With its central location and decadent décor, this is the best place to experience what Napier is famous for.
Meals included: Breakfast

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7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 4
Napier to Taupo

Crossing the Ahimanawa Ranges you arrive into the town of Taupo sitting on New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo - a gigantic volcanic caldera formed during one of the world’s largest ever eruptions.  Just north of the Taupo are the Huka Falls and a short detour to view is advised. The Huka Jet can get you much closer with a thrilling jet boat ride. Nearby Craters of the Moon is a geothermal reserve with great walking tracks around its many boiling pools and steaming vents. Taupo is a lively place with many shops, bars and cafes all catering for the traveller and visitor. A whole host of activities can be undertaken here such as bungy jumping, sky diving, fishing for trout in the lake and rivers, kayaking, sailing, horse riding and walking and hiking to name but a few.

Huka Falls Jet Boat Ride

The Huka Jet is 30 minutes of pure fun and exhilaration, skimming close to cliffs, sliding past trees, feeling the adrenalin of full 360 degree spins. The excitement continues right up to the base of the foaming Huka Falls, where you get a spectacular water level view to New Zealand's most visited natural attraction. Nothing compares to watching 220,000 litres per second tumbling over the cliff face towards you.
The water from the mighty Huka Falls runs down the Waikato River through a series of Hydro Power Stations. You'll get a view of the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station in the comfort of a powerful Chevrolet V8 jet boat. This unique Geothermal Power Station uses underground geothermal activity to produce hot steamy water. The Waikato Rivers beautiful environment is varied and unique and is New Zealand's longest river flowing north from our largest lake, Lake Taupō.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Native Icons Guided Tour in National Aquarium of New Zealand

The National Aquarium of New Zealand stretches along Napier’s Marine Parade.  It's home to a wide range of saltwater, freshwater, and land animal exhibits from New Zealand and around the world. Native Icon Guided Tour focuses on wonderful native icons including the Kiwi and Tuatara. It gives you the chance to view Kiwi in the wonderful nocturnal house where day turns into night. You will take a close look at Kiwi eggs, and learn about their quirky habits, favorite meals, and more. Tuatara can be tricky to spot - your guide will uncover the mysteries of New Zealand's 'living fossil' and then introduce you to the famous Little Penguins along with some of our other residents.

Your accommodation: The Reef Resort

Located on the Taupo lake front and with direct lake access, The Reef Resort is one of the few Taupo accommodations with no road between the property and Lake Taupo. Enjoy lake and mountain views
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 130 kms / 81 miles : 1.5 hours

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7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 5
Taupo to Rotorua

The drive today takes you through the city of Rotorua, famous for its bubbling mud pools and Maori culture. Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and the Waimangu Volcanic Valley are well signposted on the highway between the two towns. On Rotorua's lakefront Volcanic Air Safaris offer scenic flights over Mt. Tarawera, an impressive volcanic crater.
The Rotorua Museum and Blue Baths in the Government Gardens offer one of the best displays of any museum in the country. Focussing on local history the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886 is brought to life.

Original Ziplining Experience with Rotorua Canopy Tours

Embark on a three hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees. In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it. 

Your accommodation: Sudima Lake Rotorua

Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua boasts a location that is second-to-none, right on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua. Adjacent to the world-famous Polynesian Spa complex and just a short stroll to all the attractions in Rotorua.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 76 kms / 47 miles : 0.9 hours

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7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 6
Rotorua to Auckland

Today you will make your way to Auckland through the heart of the Waikato and its rich dairy pastures. Follow the Waikato river through the small artsy settlement of Tirau and the township of Cambridge. Continue on a little further to arrive into Auckland City, your destination for the night.

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.

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.

Your accommodation: Sudima Auckland City

Conveniently located within easy walking distance of Auckland’s bustling shopping, arts, dining and entertainment precincts and opposite the New Zealand International Convention Centre.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 219 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 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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