Iconic North Island Tour
8 day North Island Self Drive, from Auckland to Auckland
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Iconic North Island Tour

Explore the Central North Island's jewels. Starting in Auckland visit the famous Waitomo Caves, Rotorua's culture and geothermal attractions and the wonderful golden beaches of the Coromandel.

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Itinerary details at a glance

North Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,832 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Auckland

8 days/7 nights

Boutique lodges & hotels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 24 times in the last 7 days

This North Island Self Drive tour idea includes:

- Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland accommodation
Meals included: 7 breakfasts, 2 dinners
Tour at a glance
Quick itinerary overview - Iconic North Island Tour

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland
Accommodation: Fable Auckland

Day 2: Collect your car then head south to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Accommodation: Kamahi Cottage
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 3: Cross the lush green Waikato countryside to the cultural heartland of Rotorua
Accommodation: Peppers on the Point
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 139 kms / 86 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 4: Explore Rotorua, then visit Tamaki Maori Village in the evening
Accommodation: Peppers on the Point

Day 5: Travel along the Bay of Plenty before reaching the idyllic Coromandel Peninsula
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 190 kms / 118 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 6: Spend the day relaxing at one of the many white sandy beaches or exploring the inland forests
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 92 kms / 57 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 7: Descend to the Firth of Thames, then across the Hauraki Plains to Auckland
Accommodation: Fable Auckland
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 141 kms / 88 miles : 1.8 hours

Day 8: Explore more of the 'City of Sails' before departing for home

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

Detailed itinerary
See a day by day description including activities & accommodation suggestions for this itinerary example
Tour full itinerary
Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland
Iconic 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.

Itinerary information by App & in-country support

Access to our exclusive Touring App. The smart phone app includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts, and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

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

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore

This unique on-water dining experience is not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Enjoy smooth sailing on the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this photogenic city come alive with twinkling lights. Enjoy your meal as you sail around the beautiful Auckland Harbour taking in the view as the sun slowly sets. You'll be treated to canapes and a drink as you set off towards Westhaven Marina. Choose between dining in the downstairs cabin or on deck to take in the iconic sights of the Auckland Harbour. To finish the evening off, savour your dessert course as you leisurely sail back to Auckland's vibrant Viaduct Harbour.

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'.
Day 2 - Collect your car then head south to the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Iconic 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.

GPS navigation

Navigating New Zealand can be done easily in two ways. If you have a smartphone, you will be able to connect it to the USB of your rental car and your maps and other apps will display on the screen in the centre console of your vehicle, with the sound coming through the car speakers.
If you don't have a smartphone, chat to us to ensure we book you a car with a portable GPS system. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface, with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions, which announces street names.  The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Auckland to Waitomo

The drive south from Auckland takes you into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of the Waikato - before arriving in the limestone hills of the Waitomo countryside, home to a huge underground network of caves.

Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour

Enjoy a courtesy scenic shuttle to the Footwhistle Glowworm Cave while your experienced guide reveals the rich history of Waitomo. Take a short walk through breath taking native bushland to the cave entrance. There, your guide lights the candles which sets the scene for an intimate cave experience. You will see glowworms and cave formations up close while you appreciate the beauty of Footwhistle Cave (also known to local Maori as Te Anaroa Cave).
The solar powered lights are kept low so you can appreciate the magnificent glow worm displays just centimetres away. Around a corner lie the bones of one of New Zealand's lost treasures, the ancient Moa.
After enjoying a relaxed stroll through the cave, take a seat in Footwhistle's Cathedral to see it lit up by a dazzling magnesium torch. Complete the tour by enjoying a complimentary Kawa tea whilst you relax in the punga hut surrounded by native forest.

Your accommodation: Kamahi Cottage

Kamahi Cottage is a luxury country cottage, farm stay and self-contained 5 Star Bed & Breakfast just 30 minutes from Waitomo Caves. Ideal as an intimate romantic retreat or weekend getaway, it’s peaceful and private with stunning views. The setting is a large and lovely country garden on a typical New Zealand sheep and cattle farm.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 111 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 3 - Cross the lush green Waikato countryside to the cultural heartland of Rotorua
Iconic North Island Tour - Day 3
Waitomo to Rotorua

Today cross the lush farmland of the Waikato as you make your way inland to Rotorua. Pass through several small farming towns such as Otorohanga and Putaruru, before the region’s geothermal activity signals your arrival into the city of Rotorua.

Your accommodation: Peppers on the Point

Peppers on the Point is a beautiful lodge accommodation in a stunning location and offering panoramic views. It also offers gourmet New Zealand food and wine, as well as a range of on site activities from pampering massage, fly fishing from the private beach, water sports, tennis, gym and boating and is only 10 minutes from the heart of Rotorua City.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 139 kms / 86 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 4 - Explore Rotorua, then visit Tamaki Maori Village in the evening
Iconic North Island Tour - Day 4
Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. Geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to one of the Maori Villages should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Spike your adrenaline at Velocity Valley Adventure Park on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - National Kiwi Hatchery Tour

The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour is a special opportunity to gain insight into and view this highly regarded conservation centre. Developed with the visitor experience in mind, the hatchery boasts special viewing opportunities and is hosted by kiwi expert guides who ensure guests leave fully informed and all questions answered. Learn all about New Zealand’s intriguing national icon and the efforts of the kiwi husbandry team, see and discover what it takes to hatch and rare chicks, and if you’re lucky, see baby chicks in person!

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.

Te Pā Tū Evening Maori Cultural Experience

New Zealand’s Most Awarded Cultural Attraction, Tamaki Māori Village presents TE PĀ TŪ. Feast on song, drama, tradition, and divine seasonal kai (cuisine) within the forest Pā (village) –blanketed by towering Tawa trees, blazing bonfires, and a forest-formed amphitheatre. Te Pā Tū shares Māori history, traditions, and cultural aspirations across 4-hours of celebration and feasting. These events change with each season of the maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar. 

Your accommodation: Peppers on the Point

Peppers on the Point is a beautiful lodge accommodation in a stunning location and offering panoramic views. It also offers gourmet New Zealand food and wine, as well as a range of on site activities from pampering massage, fly fishing from the private beach, water sports, tennis, gym and boating and is only 10 minutes from the heart of Rotorua City.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5 - Travel along the Bay of Plenty before reaching the idyllic Coromandel Peninsula
Iconic North Island Tour - Day 5
Rotorua to Pauanui via Tauranga

Enjoy the short scenic drive through the Rotorua suburb of Ngongotaha and the Pyes Pa Scenic Reserve today as you head to the coast. Tauranga is the main centre of the Bay of Plenty and is located at the entrance to one of the largest natural harbours in New Zealand and nestled beside the magnificent Mauao (Mount Maunganui). Downtown Tauranga has several historically significant areas to view during a scenic walk around the area. The Strand waterfront area has undergone a major redevelopment in the past few years, and the changes include a children’s play area with water feature, seating areas and cultural artwork.
From Tauranga, head north to New Zealand's surfing mecca, Whangamata. In addition to lazing on the beach or surfing, Whangamata offers big game fishing, walking and mountain biking in native and exotic forests.
Continue onto your final destination Pauanui, situated on the edge of the Tairua Harbour.

Your accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Puka Park Resort is situated on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Nestled amongst 25 acres of New Zealand's most beautiful native bush this prestigious hideaway offers luxury and seclusion at its best.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 190 kms / 118 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 6 - Spend the day relaxing at one of the many white sandy beaches or exploring the inland forests
Iconic North Island Tour - Day 6
Pauanui to Hot Water Beach Return

A just north from Pauanui is the famous Hot Water Beach. Hot Water Beach derives its name from the geothermally heated water that seeps through the sands. At low tide, you can dig a hole and create our own mineral hot pool. The beach itself is golden sand and is an ideal place to spend an afternoon at the seaside. A few cafes and art stores are also here, in particular, Moko which has a great range of local and Polynesian arts and crafts for sale.

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 - Coves, Caves and Coastline Cruise from Whitianga

Explore the volcanic coastline with its many caves, blowholes and golden beaches all from the comfort and safety of an ex coastguard 28 ft cruiser. Departing from Whitianga Wharf journey past the towering Shakespeare's Cliffs and historic Cooks Beach. Visit Cathedral Cove and the islands in the marine reserve. There is also a chance to swim with the abundant fish in the reserve (on board snorkel gear provided - don't forget your swimsuit and towel). For those who prefer to stay dry an underwater camera relays images to an onboard TV.

Your accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Puka Park Resort is situated on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Nestled amongst 25 acres of New Zealand's most beautiful native bush this prestigious hideaway offers luxury and seclusion at its best.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 92 kms / 57 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 7 - Descend to the Firth of Thames, then across the Hauraki Plains to Auckland
Iconic North Island Tour - Day 7
Pauanui to Auckland

Your journey begins by following the Tairua River away from the east coast and past the Southern Coromandel Ranges.
If time is on your side and you feel like a scenic route, instead of travelling inland you can head north and follow the scenic Highway 25 with fantastic stopover opportunities, such as Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove.
Once on the other side of the Coromandel Peninsula, you will pass Thames and the town of Miranda, a famous haven for shorebirds.
You will then pass through the Hauraki Plains and rolling green Waikato countryside before arriving into New Zealand's largest city, Auckland.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Ferry Auckland to Rangitoto Island return trip

A short 25-minute cruise through the Waitemata Harbour to the Hauraki Gulf delivers you to Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto Island is the largest and youngest of the many volcanoes that make up the Auckland volcanic field. It erupted around 600 years ago, but is extinct now and safe to explore. During your cruise to and from the island enjoy fantastic views of Rangitoto Island and Auckland the 'City of Sails'. On reaching the island you can walk to the summit (1 hour direct) for great views of the Hauraki Gulf and over Waitemata Harbour looking back towards Auckland. There are a number of walking trails to explore this volcanic island, further information can be found at the Department of Conservation website.

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'.

Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 141 kms / 88 miles : 1.8 hours

Day 8 - Explore more of the 'City of Sails' before departing for home
Iconic North Island Tour - Day 8
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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