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12 Days Northern Escape

North Island

12 Days Northern Escape

12 Days | North Island

Take your time to explore New Zealand's gorgeous North Island beaches and unique thermal regions.

Indicative Price

01 October 2019 -
30 September 2020

NZ$1,606 per person

Price Includes

  • 11 nights accommodation
  • 11 days small rental car hire
  • welcome voucher wallet & driving maps
  • expert itinerary planning & booking service
  • 15% Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • Prices are per person, share twin/double room and in NZ$

Trip Details

This relaxing circuit will show you all the popular highlights, including the spectacular Waitomo Caves area, Maori culture, the amazing art deco architecture in Napier and the dynamic, cultural capital city of Wellington. There's even time to call in to Matamata and explore the LOTR Hobbiton movie set.

This Trip Ticks Boxes Galore!

Day 1 - Arrive Auckland, pick up rental car on arrival. 

Kia ora, welcome to Auckland, the "City of Sails', New Zealand's largest and very multi-cultural city. Stroll the waterfront at Viaduct Harbour, famous for America's Cup sailing, savour the dining scene at adjacent Wynyard Quarter, enjoy beautiful beaches as well as boutique shopping at the Britomart, High Street and along Queen Street. The iconic SkyTower offers splendid views of the Harbour Bridge.

Day 2 - Drive Auckland - Paihia in the Bay of Islands (approx 3 hours, 10 mins) 

Crossing the grand harbour bridge, quickly leave Auckland behind and then its beaches galore as you travel north. First is Orewa en route to historic Warkworth town and from there either follow the main road to Whangarei or divert along the coast road via Mangawhai Heads.  From Whangarei its rolling farmland to Kawakawa and then on to Paihia the main township in the beautiful Bay of Islands. Paihia offers superb sweeping beaches and a wide range of recreational activities. Your choice to relax on one of the golden sand beaches or take a dolphin watch nature cruise, a scenic boat trip to Cape Brett and the 'Hole in the Rock' or short ferry to historic Russell. Swimming with the dolphins, kayaking and sailing are also right here!

Day 3 - Drive Paihia - Whangaparaoa  (approx 3 hours) 

Swap the beautiful Bay of Islands' beaches for those of Whangaparaoa as you travel through Kawakawa onto the lush of Whangarei's rolling farmland. Skirt the beautiful coast of Bream Bay between Ruakaka and Waipu, along the Hibiscus Coast Highway with its beach forest coastline before you reach your final destination of charming Whangaparaoa.

Day 4 - Drive Whangaparaoa - Whitianga (approx 3 hours) 

Cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge, leaving Auckland behind.  Skirt the Firth of Thames, cross the Waihou River at Thames before you're surrounded by the lush green Coromandel Forest Park. Time to visit Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove en route to Whitianga on the white sand shores of Mercury Bay. Gentle sea kayaking, glass bottom boat and scenic cruising are popular activities here.

Day 5 - Drive Whitianga - Rotorua (approx 3 hours, 30 mins) 

From Whitianga, meander south via the seaside villages of Tairua and Whangamata.  The gold-mining heritage of Waihi is worth exploring.  From Tauranga, perhaps take a short optional side trip to the white sand beaches of Mount Maunganui.  Destination is Rotorua, New Zealand's coolest hot spot. Whether you are an adventure-seeker or just looking to chill out, Rotorua offers rich Maori culture, extraordinary geothermal reserves, thrilling activities and sheer relaxation.

Day 6 - In Rotorua at leisure. 

Make the most of Rotorua's many activities and attractions.  Adventurous mountain bike trails and cycle ways, thrilling river jet boating, 4WD outback trips, take to the forest canopy by zip line, scenic helicopter flights over Mt Tarawera and neighbouring lakes.  The cultural side of Rotorua offers you traditional and modern Maori performances, hangi feasts and insights into genuine Maori maraes (meeting houses).  Self guided and guided tours of geothermal reserves including Te Puia, Waiotapu and Waimangu Valley.  The award winning Polynesian Spa is one of the many offerings of spa therapies, so make the most of Rotorua's geo thermal region. 

Day 7 - Drive Rotorua - Napier (approx 3 hours) 

Geothermal reserves, vast forests and lush native bush feature en route to Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake. Worthwhile stopovers en route include Waimangu and Waiotapu geothermal reserves, Aratiatia Rapids and the thundering Huka Falls. The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake and is known as a trout fishing paradise and for its adventure activities. The major entertainment on the road from Taupo to Napier is the fantastic scenery. There’s a bit of everything - rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and huge vistas. You might want to stop at the Waiarua Falls lookout, to view the twin waterfalls. At Tarawera you can walk to the hot springs, which are above the Waipunga River. Napier's trademark is its art deco and spanish mission architecture, Norfolk Pine tree-lined waterfront, rich arts culture and vast surrounding vineyards boasting world-renowned wine labels.

Day 8 - Drive Napier - Wellington (approx 4 hours, 30 mins) 

Travel through the green farmland of the Hawke's Bay region, the rural towns of Norsewood and Dannevirk with their Danish heritage, the region's farming hub of Masterton and charming, colonial Greytown (famous for its great chocolate shop!), perhaps a side trip to Martinborough wine village en route. Wind your way through the Upper Hutt region as you approach the central Wellington region. Wellington, New Zealand's Capital City, is home to a powerful mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine.  Highlight features include its stunning harbour location, Te Papa National Museum, theatres and galleries, high street stores and culinary havens.

Day 9 - Drive Wellington - Turangi/Tongariro National Park (approx 4 hours, 25 mins) 

Enjoy the Kapiti Coast with its seaside towns of Paekakariki and Waikanae to the inland city of Palmerston North.  From the army town of Waiouru, the vast tundra-like landscape of the volcanic plateau prevails, dominated by Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro.  National Park village and nearby Whakapapa village nestle in the heart of the Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO Dual World Heritage Area and film location in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Day 10 - Drive Turangi - Otorohanga (approx 2 hours, 15 mins) 

Leave behind the alpine tussock clad surroundings of Turangi as you continue north. Travel through the small township of Taumaranui, on the edge of the Whanganui River, then your drive take you through the area of farmland known as the ‘King Country’. After the rural town of Te Kuiti, which hosts NZ sheep shearing championships each year, arrive Otorohanga. As well as being gateway to the Waitomo area, Otorohanga is New Zealand's self-made 'kiwiana'; town. Main street murals and displays explain some of the country’s most significant cultural icons. The Kiwi House is another feature of town, you can see real Kiwi, New Zealand’s national icon, as well as numerous other native birds in a home replicated to their natural habitat.

Day 11 - Drive Otorohanga - Auckland (approx 2 hours, 25 mins) 

Continue your drive through the King Country, to the city of Hamilton located on the banks of the mighty Waikato River, which is best appreciated from one of the scenic riverside walks or a boat cruise. Other city highlights include Hamilton Botanic Gardens, the Waikato Museum and the Hamilton zoo. The Waikato river, New Zealand’s longest, will accompany you for much of your journey through lush green countryside to the bright lights of Auckland.

Day 12 - Depart Auckland, drop off rental car at airport. 

You have the day at leisure until you make your way to Auckland International Airport for your departure flight.  

This North Island KiwiCombo road trip itinerary can be travelled in reverse and can be modified to suit your individual requirements. Suggested activities are a guideline to some of the special and unique experiences offered in each region but are optional and not included in the KiwiCombo Pass. However we can make reservations for you, just ask!

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