15 day North Island Highlights New Zealand itinerary

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Welcome to the beautiful North Island!

This 15 day New Zealand itinerary takes you to all the must see spots on the North Island.

New Zealand's North Island has so much to offer, and is the perfect place to unwind and experience that special "Kiwi" culture.

From the Coromandels beautiful bays and beaches, to Rotorua's geothermal and Maori cultural attractions.

See the vineyards of Hawke's Bay and Napier's art deco architecture.

Visit New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo, and immerse yourself in the cultural charms of New Zealand's Capital, Wellington.

Handy Tips

1) You can view your interactive route map at the bottom of the page

2) Feel free to hire a car and use this itinerary as a guide, or fill out the form at the bottom of the page to talk to one of our local experts about a fully packaged self drive tour.

3) Place your cursor on a picture for a description of the picture.



Day by day -  click on each day for more detail, then when you finish just click on your browsers back button to return here

Day 1 - arrive in Auckland, "City of Sails"

Day 2 - explore Auckland

Day 3 - explore Auckland

Day 4 - Auckland to the Coromandels

Day 5 - explore the stunning Coromandels

Day 6 - Coromandels

Day 7 - Coromandels to Rotorua

Day 8 - explore Rotorua's thermal wonders

Day 9 - Rotorua to Taupo

Day 10 - the wonders of Taupo

Day 11 - Taupo to Napier/Hawke's Bay

Day 12 - out and about in Hawke's Bay

Day 13 - Napier to Wellington

Day 14 - explore the Nation's Capital

Day 15 - fly home



Day 1 Auckland, City of Sails

To day your New Zealand itinerary lands you in New Zealand's largest city, Auckland.

Auckland city at dusk - image courtesy Chris McLennan

Where to stay in Auckland

As expected in a city of its size, Auckland has everything from hostels to 5 star luxury accommodation.

For our accommodation recommendations, you can hop over to our dedicated Auckland page, then just scroll down to the accommodation section.

Or, you can search through a huge range of accommodation, and read those all important customer reviews, by clicking here.

Don't forget to hire your rental car or campervan

We can help with all of your rental car needs. With access to all of the major brands, our market leading rates will put a smile on your face.

To see our range, check availability, and make your bookings, just click here.

Welcome to the "City of Sails"

Auckland is a thriving city of around 1.4 million. Located between two beautiful harbors, Auckland offers visitors a warm, almost sub-tropical feel.

It's known as the City of Sails, as Aucklanders love their boating and water sports, and there are many water based activities for visitors.

and relax for the evening. Your North Island adventure starts tomorrow.



Days 2 & 3 Auckland

There is lots to see and do in Auckland. It's time to explore!

Auckland KellyTarltons Penguins

Here are some of our favorites:

* a visit to Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World, where you will find a huge range of fish and marine life including penguins, sharks, rays, turtles and crays,

* a trip to the top of Sky Tower (the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere). The views are staggering,

* a visit to the wild west coast Karekare Beach (famous as the location for the movie The Piano),

Relaxing on Waiheke Island - pic courtesy Miles Holden


* visit the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. The most accessible of these is Waiheke Island, which is a short 30 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland.

With a population of around 8,000, the island has a selection of cafes and restaurants, is easy to navigate, and also has a range of wineries. It's a laid back, relaxed spot to spend a day and unwind,

* visit Snow Planet, New Zealand's only indoor snow slope,

* climb or bungy from Auckland Harbour Bridge.

* for a different perspective and amazing views, take a sailing ship cruise on the harbor



Day 4 Auckland to Coromandel Coast

Today on your New Zealand itinerary you leave Auckland and drive to the beautiful Coromandel region (about 2.5 hours drive).

Coromandel Cathedral Cove Coastline Copyright Tourism Coromandel

The Coromandel Coast is a beautiful series of sea side towns, inlets, bays and beaches. As one of the sunniest parts of New Zealand, you will find plenty of sunshine hours to enjoy all that this special region has to offer.

The main townships are Whangamata (the busiest), Thames, Whitianga and Pauanui.

Where to stay

The Coromandel Peninsula is fairly small so you never have to travel very far to see the main points of interest.

Biking at Owharoa Falls - picture courtesy  Tourism Coromandel

If you plan on seeing New Chum's Beach and Hot Water Beach, then Whitianga is probably the best spot to stay as it is centrally located between the two beaches.

Here are some links for accommodation in the main centers:

* for Whitianga

* for Thames hotels

* Coromandel Town hotels

* Whangamata places to stay

* search the whole Coromandel region



Days 5 & 6 Coromandels

On days 5 & 6 on your New Zealand itinerary, you are free to explore the Coromandels.

There is lots to do in the Coromandels, and it will be one of the highlights of your New Zealand itinerary.

Coromandels Hot Water Beach - pic courtesy Tourism Coromandel

Popular things to do in the Coromandels

* visit Cathedral Cove. The two parts of this beautiful beach are linked by a sea cave. Access is by foot along a well maintained track and takes around 45 minutes each way. Public toilets are available at the beach,

* visit historic Coromandel, home to several buildings dating back to the goldrush era,

* now here is something unique. The amazing Hot Water Beach is home to a hot spring, and is something you will talk about for years. Near boiling water penetrates the sand on the waterline for two hours each side of low tide. Find a spot with the right mix of hot and cold water and you have your own beach front bath!

* if surfing is your thing, Whangamata beach has one of the best breaks in the country. This wide, sweeping stretch of sand can be busy in peak periods, but the size of the beach means that a quiet spot can usually be found. Gear can be hired from several outlets including Whangamata Surfshop.



Day 7 Coromandels to Rotorua

Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you to New Zealand's premier thermal resort, Rotorua (3.5 hours drive).

Where to stay in Rotorua

There's a wide range of accommodation in Rotorua, with something to suit all budgets.

To search for your perfect place to stay click here.

A geothermal field in Rotorua - pic courtesy Chris McLennan


Day 8 Rotorua

Today you are free to explore Rotorua.

Rotorua is a bustling center, famous for it's Maori cultural attractions and geo-thermal activity.

Home to bubbling mud pools, geysers, sulphur crusted lakes, and an ever present smell of sulphur, Rotorua is a fascinating place, and a must see on your North Island trip.

Amazing views from the Skyline Gondola Rotorua - pic courtesy Rotoruanz.com

Built on the shores of Lake Rotorua (at 80 square kilometres, the North Island's second largest lake), Rotorua is a beautiful town, best viewed from the Skyline Gondola, which transports visitors to the top of Mt Ngongotaha (487m).

There is lots to see and do in Rotorua, and you can search through a wide range of tours and read reviews by clicking here.

Always popular are:

* the luge at the top of Mt Ngongotaha. Three separate tracks wind their way down the hill side, and you will become addicted to the thrill provided by the small sit on carts. When you reach the bottom, a chairlift returns you to the top to do it all over again. Great fun, if a little expensive.

* Rotorua Museum of Art and History. Winner of numerous awards, the museum should be one of your first stops in Rotorua.

Waiotapu Champagne pools - pic courtesy Chris McLennan

The museum focuses on the history and culture of the area, in particular that of the local iwi (tribe), Te Arawa. The museum houses many artefacts, four original 1908 mud baths, a tribute to B Company of the 28th (Maori) Battalion who lost over 600 men in battles during World War 2, and a presentation on the Tarawera eruption of 1886.

* Te Puia. Visited by over half a million people each year, Te Puia combines Maori cultural experiences and geothermal action in one location.

Music and dance shows, weaving and carving, including some large ornate timber pieces, and the welcoming Maori hosts, allow visitors a unique insight of maori culture. Te Puia is also home to the New Zealand maori Arts and Crafts Institute.

Maori tradition on show at Tamaki Maori Village

The thermal area has a variety of boiling mud pools, steaming vents and geysers. New Zealand's largest geyser, Pohutu, erepts regularly, reaching heights up to 30 metres.

* Tamaki Maori Village provides a fascinating look at what life was like in a traditional Maori village.

* Wai-o-Tapu is a geothermal smorgasboard of activity. Active for over 150,000 years, the area offers boiling mud pools and springs, a series of amazing coloured lakes, and a geyser, the Lady Knox Geyser, erupts promptly at 10.15 a.m. each day.

* LOTR fans will love the tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set. See where it all happened on this fun filled tour.

* trout fishing is popular in the area, and guided tours are available. Book a guided fly fishing tour and learn from the experts.

* take a stroll along the shore of the lake.

* go mountain biking. In 2015 the International Mountain Biking Association rated Rotorua's bike trails as a "gold level Ride Center", putting them in the top six in the world.



Day 9 Rotorua to Taupo

Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you on a short 1 hour drive to the lake side town of Taupo.

Thrills galore at Huka Falls, Taupo

Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake, with a surface area of 616 square kilometres. It is also the largest freshwater lake (by surface area) in Oceania. A noted trout fishery, the area is popular with anglers and boat owners.

New Zealand's longest river, the mighty Waikato River flows from Lake Taupo.

Where to stay in Taupo

Accommodation options abound in Taupo. Try for a lake view room if budget allows. There is nothing better than sitting on your balcony with a beer or glass of New Zealand wine, and gazing at this wonderful landscape.

One of our favorites is Baycrest Lodge. We loved the lake views, clean spacious rooms, and the heated rock pool.

You can search for your ideal Taupo accommodation here.



Day 10 Taupo

Today you are free to explore Taupo. There is plenty to see and do in the Taupo region. Here are some suggestions:

Maori carvings on Lake Taupo - pic courtesy Adam Bryce

* try your hand at trout fishing - as one of New Zealand's premier trout fishing destinations, Taupo also offers some of the best trout fishing in the world. Do it yourself, or better still, take a guided tour and learn from the experts. You may even catch your own dinner. What could be better!

* Craters of the Moon is a geothermal area offering steaming vents, and boiling mud,

* the roaring Huka Falls - although only 3 metres high, over 200,000 litres of water pour over the falls every second. To get the adrenalin flowing, try the jetboat ride to the falls. Wow! And if that's not enough to satisfy your inner thrill seeker, you can combine the jetboat ride with a whitewater rafting epic adventure!

* for something a little more serene, try the cruise on Lake Taupo to the Maori rock carvings. Very relaxing and awesome views.

The iconic Huka Lodge - we thank them for use of this image

* For a real treat, the exclusive Huka Lodge overlooks Huka Falls. Huka Lodge has been "home" to an endless stream of celebrities and royalty over the years, and offers guests an almost unrivaled hospitality experience. Exceptional service, superb accommodation, and fine cuisine using the best of local produce, make Huka Lodge one of the finest (and most awarded) lodges in the world,

* Tongariro Crossing, universally described as "the best one day walk in the world", offers spectacular scenery, dramatic volcanic landscapes and amazing vistas. Parts of the film Lord of the Rings were filmed here, and if you are feeling energetic, this could very well prove to be a highlight of your New Zealand itinerary. The Department of Conservation (DOC) website has lots more information. You can access the website here,



Day 11 Taupo to Napier and Hawke's Bay

Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you from Taupo to the Art Deco capital of New Zealand, Napier (2 hours drive), in the Hawke's Bay region.

Art Deco weekend in Napier

Napier is a lovely sea side town and has a variety of accommodation.

The Shoreline Motel looks over the ocean, is a short walk to town, and is very highly rated.

Charming Hawke's Bay

Located on beautiful Hawke's Bay, Napier, and nearby Hastings, were devastated by a massive earthquake in 1931, in which 258 people were killed. Approximately 40 square kilometers of today's Napier, was undersea before being raised by the quake.

Following the quake, the town was rebuilt in the Art Deco style of the era, and Napier is now recognized as one of the best examples of Art Deco architecture in the world.



Day 12 Napier

Today on your New Zealand itinerary you are free to explore Napier and surrounds.

Pania Of The Reef Napier

There is plenty to see and do in Napier.

Popular activities are:

* play a game of golf at the spectacular Cape Kidnappers ranked 41st in the world by Golf Magazine. Even if you are not a golfer it's worth going there just for a look at this spectacular spot.

* take a guided Art Deco tour of Napier

* Art deco weekend, held each year in February, is a festival of food, wine, music, vintage car displays, and all things art deco

* visit the many local wineries. Recognized as a producer of fine wines, Hawke's bay offers wine buffs a wide range of choice

* visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand, located on Marine Parade Napier

You can search through a range of tours and activities, and read customer reviews here.



Day 13 Napier to Wellington

Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you from Napier to New Zealand's capital, Wellington (4.5 hours drive).

Wellington's famous cable car on Kelburn Hill - pic courtesy Ian Trafford

Wellington is a thriving city of almost 400,000 people. Located on a beautiful harbour, Wellington is also the departure point for the Interislander ferry, linking Wellington with Picton on the South Island.

Where to stay in Wellington

Because of its size, Wellington has something to suit all accommodation budgets.

You can see our accommodation favorites (and learn lots more about Wellington) by visiting our dedicated Wellington page.

Or, you can cut to the chase, and search for your ideal accommodation here.

We love the Copthorne Oriental Bay. Great harbor views, and a great stroll along the waterfront to cafes, bars and restaurants.



Day 14 Wellington

Today on your New Zealand itinerary you are free to explore Wellington.

Weta Cave Workshops in Wellington

With a strong cafe culture, Wellington has literally hundreds of dining options, with various harbour front eateries providing excellent food and views.

Highly recommended on this New Zealand itinerary are:

* a visit to Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. As New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa is a must see on your trip. Spread over five floors, and crammed full of New Zealand artifacts, interactive displays and hands on child friendly exhibits, Te Papa will occupy you for many hours.

* visit the home of cinema in New Zealand, the Weta Cave Workshop

Wellington's Te Papa Museum

* a trip on the Wellington Cable Car takes you up 122 metres to a wonderful viewing area, overlooking Wellington. Here you can also visit the Wellington Cable Car Museum. As an alternative to catching the cable car back down, a walk will take you through the Botanic Gardens.

* take a relaxing walk along Wellington's beautiful waterfront.

You can search a range of Wellington activities HERE.



Day 15 Wellington to Home

Unfortunately today ends your New Zealand itinerary and you fly home.

We hope that you have enjoyed New Zealand's North Island, and hope that you will return to see the spectacular South Island.

We welcome feedback about this New Zealand itinerary. If you would like to comment please use our Contact Us Page.




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To find out more about the regions covered in this New Zealand itinerary click here to visit our New Zealand regions page.



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