North Island Contrasts

North Island Contrasts

Experience the best of New Zealand's North Island on this 13-day self-drive tour. Beginning in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city and cultural capital, you'll visit Waiheke Island, with its famous boutique wineries; the beautiful Bay of Islands; Rotorua, the Maori heartlands and a region of great scenic beauty; the stylish Art Deco city of Napier; stunning Tongariro National Park, and much, much more.

Outline Itinerary

  1. Day : Rotorua - Napier

    After breakfast at your hotel, depart Rotorua and continue south through the Kaingoroa pine forests to the small town of Taupo, on the shores of Lake Taupo. From Taupo, continue east through the small settlements of Tarawera and Rangitaiki until you reach Napier, Hawke’s Bay.

  2. Day 1: Arrive Auckland

    You will be met on arrival at Auckland International Airport and transferred by private vehicle to the Rendezvous Grand Hotel for two nights (deluxe room, B&B basis)

  3. Day 2: Waiheke Island wineries

    After breakfast at the Rendezvous, take the high-speed catamaran (about half an hour) across the waters of Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf to Waiheke Island, where you embark on a tour of the island’s famous wineries.

  4. Day 3: Auckland – Bay of Islands

    After breakfast, collect your hire car (a Toyota Camry or similar) from the central city depot.

  5. Day 4: Bay of Islands

    After breakfast at Kingsgate, embark on a half-day cruise in the Bay of Islands, stopping at Cape Brett and Piercy Island, the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’. With any luck, you might spot dolphins during the cruise. On your return voyage, make a stop at Urupukapuka Island for a swim or stroll around Otehei Bay.

  6. Day 5: Bay of islands - Hamilton

    Depart Paihia and travel south to Hamilton, New Zealand’s largest inland city. It’s a long drive, taking much of the morning and early afternoon, but also a very scenic one, as you travel through rich agricultural land, past tiny settlements such as Hikurangi and Wellsford, over the Bombay Hills and down the Hibiscus Coast past Auckland, before entering the Waikato Valley.

  7. Day 6: Hamilton - Rotorua

    After breakfast at the Ibis continue your journey south to Matamata. Situated at the foot of the Kaimai Ranges, this small town of 12,000 is one of New Zealand’s most idyllic spots. Take the time to explore the town, stopping at one of its many cafes, or go for a drive and stroll in the surrounding hills.

  8. Day 7: Rotorua sightseeing

    Following breakfast, begin your full-day exploration of the Rotorua region. This is a self-drive tour, allowing you to take things at your own pace, but included is a guided tour of Te Puia and the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, to view the geysers and mud pools, and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where you can learn more about Maori traditional crafts.

  9. Day 9: Hawke’s Bay

    After breakfast at the inn, join the guided Art Deco Walk, which will take you through the centre of Napier and provide an entertaining look at the town’s iconic 1930s architecture.

  10. Day 10: Napier - Wellington

    After breakfast, depart Napier and travel south through Hastings and the wine valleys of Wairarapa and Hutt – you can make a detour here to visit the town of Martinborough, part of the classic wine trail, if of interest – and then into Wellington.

  11. Day 11: Wellington

    Today is free for you to explore Wellington. A visit to Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand, to learn more about the land and its people is highly recommended.

  12. Day 12: Wellington – Tongariro National Park

    Continue north along the Kapiti Coast and into the Manawatu region. This mountainous zone, which contains within it Tongariro National Park, is one of New Zealand’s most scenically beautiful regions. Your destination is Whakapapa Village, on the northern slopes of Mount Ruapehu. Expect to arrive early afternoon – the rest of the day is at leisure.

  13. Day 13: Tongariro National Park - Auckland

    After breakfast, continue your journey north through Taumaranui and the rural heartlands of King Country to Waitomo.

Price guide

Price based on two travellers in shared double/twin accommodation and subject to availability at the time of booking.

13 days from £1580pp


13 days from £1580pp

Family adventure in New Zealand

G&M stepped in at short notice and put together a great trip. We did everything we wanted to do, and more.

Valerie C.N. and family

Light Mobile Walking and Driven Safari

Thank you to you all for a job extremely well done, we will definitely be back.

Tanya & Kieran