Spectacular North Island

13 Day Tour

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Departure dates on request

OVERVIEW

From cruising in the Bay of Islands to the Parliament Buildings in Wellington this tour also takes in the main attractions of the east coast and the central North Island with some soft adventure along the way.

Taste the wines of Waiheke Island and Martinborough, witness thermal activity in Rotorua and walk on White Island, New Zealand’s only active marine volcano. Beaches, mountains, subtropical rainforests, clear blue waters, boiling mud pools, our two largest cities, sheep, glow-worms and Maori cultural performance are all features of this 2 week look at the North Island.

DAY 1 - ARRIVE IN AUCKLAND

Arrival in Auckland where you will be met and transfered to your hotel. Afternoon sightseeing includes Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter, the Native Encounter Show at the Auckland Zoo, followed by a cruise on Auckland harbour aboard a 40 ft Pride of Auckland monohull yacht. Last stop is to take in the panoramic views from the Skytower, which is the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere.

DAY 2 - WAIHEKE ISLAND WINERIES

It is 35 minutes by high-speed catamaran across the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf to Waiheke Island for a tour with a special focus on the boutique wineries. Over the next 5 hours you will be taken on a private tour of the wineries with wine tasting included. You will also taste olive oil at one of the Olive Mills and visit one of the art studios for which Waiheke Island is so well known. At the conclusion of the tour you can elect to stay on to relax on a beach and/or enjoy dinner on the island and return to Auckland on a later ferry.

DAY 3 - AUCKLAND - WAIPOUA KAURI FOREST - BAY OF ISLANDS

Today drive north across the Harbour Bridge. Pass lovely Orewa and Waiwera Beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Visit the excellent Matakohe Timber Museum where the gum digging and timber milling history of this Northland Region is on show. Continue through Dargaville to the Waipoua Kauri Forest to see Tane Mahuta, which is the largest of all the giant kauri trees. Drive around Hokianga harbour and through Kaikohe to the lovely Bay of Islands. (366 kms)

DAY 4 - IN THE BAY OF ISLANDS

This morning take a half-day cruise out to Cape Brett and the Hole in the Rock. Dolphins and other sea life often seen on these cruises. On the return voyage stop at Otehei Bay on pretty Urupukapuka Island where there is the opportunity to take a swim or a walk or just sit back and relax at the café. In the afternoon a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty House. It was here on 6 February 1840 that the Maori and British signed an historic Treaty, which gave birth to the nation of New Zealand. The carved Maori Meeting House in the grounds is an especially fine example of the woodcarving and weaving skills of the Maori people.

DAY 5 - BAY OF ISLANDS - HOBBITON - ROTORUA

Drive south to Whangarei. Cross the Brynderwyn Hills and drive down the Hibiscus Coast and across the harbour bridge into Auckland City. Continue through Auckland to the lush green dairy farmlands of the Waikato Valley. At Matamata take a tour of Hobbiton, the sheep farm where the actual scenes from the Oscar winning Lord of the Rings film trilogy were filmed. Afterwards drive on over the bush clad Mamaku Ranges into Rotorua. (475 kms)

DAY 6 - ROTORUA SIGHTSEEING

Sightseeing today includes a tour of Te Puia – the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve where there are spectacular geysers and boiling mud pools, and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where young Maori are being taught traditional carving and weaving skills. Also visit lovely Rainbow Springs to see the trout and rare kiwis, and take in the entertaining Agrodome sheep show. In the evening enjoy and a Hangi dinner and concert of traditional Maori song and dance, including the famous Haka, on a Marae (Maori Village).

DAY 7 - WHITE ISLAND - AN ACTIVE VOLCANO

This morning drive (85 kms) across to Whakatane on the Bay of Plenty coast for a launch excursion to White Island - New Zealand’s only active marine volcano. On arrival transfer to the island by tender craft for a guided tour of White Island with its crater lake, sulphur vents and old sulphur works. On the return interact with the pods of Dolphins that inhabit these waters (duration 6 hours). Lunch is included.

DAY 8 - WHAKATANE - GISBORNE - NAPIER

Today travel south past Ohope Beach to Opotiki. Here turn inland and follow the Waioeka River south through some lovely rainforest and the Waioeka Gorge and Urewera National Park. Cross the Divide and descend through picturesque sheep and cattle farming country to the river flats around Gisborne where grape growing and crop farming predominate. It was Young Nick’s Head near Gisborne that Captain James Cook first sighted on his 1769 voyage of discovery. Spend some time in Gisborne- before driving on south through hill country to Napier in the Hawkes Bay. (310 kms)

DAY 9 - IN THE HAWKES BAY

In 1931 Napier was devastated by a huge earthquake, and was rebuilt in an art deco style of architecture. Suggest this morning take an art deco guided walk, visit the Museum and the new Aquarium. Another popular attraction is the Gannet sanctuary on nearby Cape Kidnappers.

DAY 10 - NAPIER - PALMERSTON NORTH - WELLINGTON

From Napier it is a half-day drive south to Wellington travelling either via the Wairarapa Valley and Rimutaka Hill Road – or via the Manawatu Gorge and the Kapiti Coast. If travelling via the Kapiti Coast time permitting suggest a stop at Paraparaumu to visit Southwards excellent vintage car museum. (334 kms)

DAY 11 - WELLINGTON - MARTINBOROUGH

Morning exploring New Zealand’s capital city. Take the cable car to Kelburn and walk through the Botanic Gardens to Parliament buildings and around the waterfront to Te Papa – the National Museum of New Zealand where there are some excellent exhibits and inter active displays. Drive around Wellington Harbour and through the Hutt Valley crossing the Rimutaka Ranges to the Wairarapa Region and Martinborough. The Wairarapa Valley is ideal for grape growing. The Pinot Noirs, which make up 60% of the grapes planted here, are especially powerful and highly regarded. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are also popular. (85 kms)

DAY 12 - MARTINBOROUGH - TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK

Today drive north through Masterton. We recommend a stop at the Mt Bruce Bird Sanctuary where many of New Zealand’s most rare and endangered native birds are involved in special breeding programmes. Pass through the Manawatu Gorge and drive to Waiouru. Drive around the mountains of Tongariro National Park to Whakapapa Village on the north side of Mt Ruapehu. There are three main peaks in Tongariro National Park – Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngaruahoe. Over summer months people flock to the mountains to walk some of the mountain tracks – the best known of which is the full day Tongariro Crossing – widely regarded as the best one-day hike in New Zealand. (332 kms)

DAY 13 - TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK - WAITOMO - AUCKLAND AIRPORT

Today drive north to Waitomo for a guided tour of the famous Waitomo Caves including the Glow-worm Grotto. In the afternoon drive on north through Hamilton City – New Zealand’s largest inland city to Auckland International Airport. (325 kms)

PRICES ON APPLICATION

This Holiday is based on either Self Drive Rental Vehicle or Private Car & Driver/Guide (or a combination). Rates vary frequently, depending on your hotels choice, number of people in your party and period of your trip.
We work with the highest quality hotels of different styles in each area – which, in some cases, may mean the 'authentic' rather than the obviously luxurious – and we do not always opt for the obvious. So it’s a matter of working out what’s right for you, based upon your tastes and the experience you want.

All the holidays have been carefully crafted by our experts. However, we understand that every travel experience should be as unique and individual as each traveller.

Our specialists are looking forward to hearing from you so that we can custom design a tour to your individual specifications.

Spectacular North Island - 13 Days
This holiday combines all the highlights of New Zealand's North Island. (Code TTNZ)