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U.S.FTC GUIDELINES PLEASE NOTE: we act as an affiliate for several companies that feature on our website. In some cases we may earn a commission from referrals to those companies. For further information please refer to our Privacy and Disclaimer policies which can be found in the "US" tab.

 10 Day Upper North Island New Zealand itinerary

Use this itinerary as a guide to plan your trip

Your New Zealand itinerary takes you to the northern half of New Zealand's beautiful North Island

Home to New Zealand's largest city, Auckland (also known as the "City of Sails", the upper North Island is a beautiful, bustling, mix of amazing scenery and never ending opportunities for adventure.

Experience the thermal wonders and Maori cultural delights of Rotorua, the stunning bays and beaches of the Coromandel region, and the equally beautiful Bay of Islands.

Yes, the upper North Island has lots to see and do, and you won't be disappointed.

Handy Tips to use on this New Zealand itinerary

1) You can view your New Zealand itinerary on our 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.

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

Day by day -  click on each day for more details about your amazing New Zealand itinerary. Then when you finish just click on your browsers back button to return here

Day 1 - Arrive in Auckland, City of Sails

Day 2 - Auckland to the Bay of Islands

Day 3 - explore the beautiful Bay of Islands

Day 4 - Bay of Islands to Auckland

Day 5 - Auckland to the Coromandels

Day 6 - the Coromandels to Rotorua

Day 7 - explore Rotorua

Day 8 - Rotorua to Auckland

Day 9 - explore Auckland

Day 10 - fly home

Day 1 Arrive in Auckland

Today on the first day of your New Zealand itinerary, you arrive in New Zealand's largest city, Auckland .

Auckland's stunning harbor - pic courtesy Chris McLennan

Don't forget to pre-book your car or camper van?

We can handle all of your motor vehicle needs, with access to all of the leading rental companies, at market leading rates.

To search our range of vehicles, check availability and make your bookings just click here.

Where to stay in Auckland

As a major city, Auckland has an enormous variety of accommodation, with everything from hostels to five star luxury retreats.

You can search through available options and read customer reviews by clicking here.

But what do we recommend?

If you click over to our dedicated Auckland page, we reveal some of our best spots to stay (these are the  ones that our customers love).

Just click here.

Amazing views from the Hilton Auckland

Auckland awaits

Auckland is a bustling city with a population of around 1.4 million. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.

Often referred to as the "City of Sails", Auckland has two natural harbours, and a warmer climate than many other areas of New Zealand, allowing locals and visitors to make the most of it's wonderful location.

Check in to your hotel, collect your car, and have a good rest. Tomorrow your adventure begins.

Day 2 Auckland to the Bay of Islands

Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you from Auckland to the beautiful Bay of Islands (3.75 hours drive).

Inside the Maori Meeting House at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds - pic courtesy Destination Northland

Where to stay

The Bay of Islands is ready to welcome you with a huge array of accommodation options.

If your budget allows, we always recommend somewhere with water view.

Here are some links for accommodation in the more popular towns:

Paihia (best for the Waitangi Treaty Grounds)




Day 3 Bay of Islands

Today on your New Zealand itinerary you are free to explore the Bay of Islands.

The Bay of Islands have been a tourist favorite for decades.

Aptly named, the region features stunning coastal scenery and various small sea side townships such as Russell and Paihia.

Cruising the pristine Bay of Islands on the tall ship R Tucker Thompson

Highly Recommended

* visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Described as the "birthplace of the nation", the historic Treaty of Waitangi was signed here in 1840. The Treaty House and carved meeting house are not to be missed. Maori arts and craft exhibitions, and Maori cultural shows are a feature of the grounds. You can secure your Day Pass and tour tickets here.

* take a cruise to Cape Brett and the Hole in the Rock, a cave that is large enough to accommodate large boats.

* visit Russell. Once known as the "Hellhole of the Pacific", Russell was notorious for it's brothels, alcohol, and lawlessness. Russell was also New Zealand's capital for a brief period.

Cruise to Cape Brett and the Hole in the Rock

Accessed by a short ferry ride from Paihia, Russell is now a charming sea side village with various waterfront cafes and craft shops. It's a great place to pass a few hours, soaking up the atmosphere.

* explore the waterways on one of the many cruises available. We love the "cream trip" and the tall ship, R Tucker Thompson.

* take a kayak trip in the bay. Calm, clear waters are ideal for kayaking and there are a number of operators offering guided kayak tours.

Day 4 Bay of Islands to Auckland

Today your New Zealand itinerary returns you to Auckland (3.75 hours drive).

Day 5 Auckland to the Coromandels

Today you head to the lovely Coromandel Coast (2.5 hours drive).

Stunning New Chums Beach - pic courtesy Destination Coromandel

Where to stay in the Coromandels

The Coromandel Peninsula is not overly large, so you never have to travel far to see the best bits.

For New Chum's Beach and Hot Water Beach, Whitianga would be the closest place to stay for access to both beaches. For Cathedral Cove, Hahei is best.

Here are some handy links for accommodation in the main towns and villages:

* for accommodation in Whitianga

* Whangamata places to stay

* for Thames hotels and motels

* Coromandel Town hotels

* OR search the whole Coromandel region

Hahei for Cathedral Cove

What's to see?

The Coromandel Peninsula extends north for 85 kilometers from the western end of the Bay of Plenty. 40 kilometers wide at it's broadest point, the peninsula shelters the Hauraki Gulf.

Relaxing at Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Coast - courtesy Tourism Coromandel

Auckland lies on the western side of the gulf and can be seen in fine weather.

Perhaps one of the most popular and unusual attractions in the Coromandels, is Hot Water Beach.

A natural hot water spring at the Southern end of the beach is accessible only two hours each side of low tide. The water can be very hot, and finding a spot at the right temperature can be a challenge, particularly on an incoming tide.

The region is well known for its beautiful beaches, and Cathedral Cove is one of the better known spots.

The beach has two parts, linked by a cave (Cathedral Cove), and is reached via a well kept track, or by boat. The walk takes around 45 minutes each way, and starts at the northern end of Hahei on Grange Road.

New Chum's Beach was voted one of the "World's Top 10 Beaches" and is a real treasure. Its isolation is key to its preservation, and the walk to the beach takes around 45-60 minutes.

A trail from the northern end of Whangapoua beach leads you through native forest and scrub, to one of the most beautiful beaches you will ever visit. Do yourself a favor, and put this on your list.

Snorkel in the clear waters near Cathedral Cove - pic courtesy Tourism Coromandel

Other things to do

* explore Thames. The largest settlement on the peninsula, has an old world feel, and the architecture in the main street is very 1900s.

If you are interested in the region's history, Thames Historical Museum is well worth a visit.

* snorkel in the clear waters around Cathedral Cove.

* cycle the Hauraki Rail Trail, stretching 104 kilometers, the trail takes you through the Karangahake Gorge, and a 1.1 kilometer long tunnel.

* visit the Miranda Shorebird Center. At any time there may be up to 10,000 birds in the area, and it's a must see if you are into bird watching.

Day 6 Coromandels to Rotorua

Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you inland to the thermal resort of

Visit Tamaki Maori Village for an authentic look into traditional Maori life

Rotorua (3 hours drive). Rotorua is one of New Zealand's major tourist attractions, and apart from the thermal attractions, the area is also well known for its Maori cultural displays.

Rotorua is located on the bank's of Lake Rotorua, which is the North Island's second largest lake at 80 square kilometers.

Where to stay in Rotorua

With a population of over 65,000, you won't have trouble finding somewhere to stay in Rotorua, with something available to suit all tastes and budgets.

Our preferred option is the Millenium. It's centrally located, and lots of the rooms have wonderful views of Lake Rotorua (make sure though to ask for a lake view).

It also has an on site restaurant and bar, and the hot pools and spa are just the thing to soothe your aching bones after a day exploring.

You can read customer reviews and find your perfect Rotorua accommodation here.

Day 7 Rotorua

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

Rotorua's steaming Champagne Pools - pic courtesy Chris McLennan

There is lots to see and do in Rotorua, and your time there will be one of the highlights of your New Zealand itinerary.

If your time is limited then a guided day tour like this one might suit you. You'll see a geyser erupt, boiling mud pools, waterfalls and some stunning local scenery. Our customers love this tour.

Our other favorites

Perhaps the main attraction is Te Puia, the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, which includes Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. Attracting over half a million visitors annually, this is one of New Zealand's main tourist attractions. Here you will see Maori cultural displays, Maori arts and crafts, including intricate carvings, a fully carved wharenui (meeting house), and the world famous Pohutu geyser.

Rotorua Duck Tours are a great way to see the sights in Rotorua

Other points of interest in Rotorua are:

* Tamaki Maori village, where you can see a Maori performance and take part in a traditional hangi (feast)

* Visit the beautiful Rotorua Museum, where you can learn about the region's history and culture.

* Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland is home to the colorful Champagne Pools, the lady Know Geyser, and bubbling mud pools.

* the Skyline Gondola and luge ride. Cable cars take the 900 meter journey to the top of Mt Ngongotaha (487 metres) where you will enjoy stunning views of Rotorua and surrounds. The luge ride is great fun as you ride your kart down one of three tracks. Then return to the top by chairlift, and do it all over again!

* Hell's Gate / Tikitere, which is considered to be the most active of Rotorua's thermal areas, contains an active mud volcano and hot waterfall.

Come and see the National Carving School at Te Puia, Rotorua - pic courtesy Eric Lindber

* the Polynesian Spa, located lake side, has a selection of hot pools overlooking the lake.

* Lord of the Rings fans will love the tour of the Hobbiton movie set

* take a splash on the Rotorua Duck Tours ex-military amphibious vehicles. It's a fun, unique way to see Rotorua.

Rotorua is a beautiful city and has won several "cleanliness" awards. With a wide range of attractions, a great lakeside location, it has been a "must see" on any North Island trip for years.

Day 8 Rotorua to Auckland

Today your New Zealand itinerary returns you to Auckland (3.5 hours drive).

As befits a city of this size, there is a huge range of Auckland activities , and you will find it one of the highlights of your New Zealand itinerary.

Day 9 Auckland

Today you are free to explore Auckland.

One of Auckland's most popular attractions is Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic

Penguins at Kelly Tarlton's in Auckland

Encounter and Underwater World, which was the world's first walk through, tunnel aquarium. Here you can see over 60 species of fish, including rays and sharke, and breeding colonies of gentoo and king penguins.

Auckland's Sky Tower is the Southern Hemisphere's tallest building, at 328 meters.

The high-speed elevators take visitors to three observation decks, in 40 seconds, where you will enjoy 360 degree views of Auckland and surrounds. For those of you feeling a little more adventurous, try the Skywalk or the Skyjump!

One of Auckland's best attractions is Waiheke Island.

Waiheke Island is the most populated and accessible of the Hauraki Gulf islands, and is a 30 minute ferry ride from Auckland.

The island has several beautiful beaches, and numerous cafes, wineries and restaurants. You can sample these on one of the various Waiheke tours.

Waiheke Island. Image courtesy

Why not just sit back and let someone else do the driving?

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to see the best Auckland attractions is on a guided tour.

There are various tours available, ranging from a few hours to full day tours.

You can check them out here.

Some of the more popular are:

* the Hop-on Hop-off tour which visits fourteen of Auckland's major attractions, allowing you the freedom to get on and of the bus as you choose.

* the Auckland City Highlights Tour, which includes a harbor cruise and Skytower admission

Day 10 Fly home

Unfortunately, all good things must end, and today you fly home.

We hope that you have enjoyed this upper North Island 10 day New Zealand itinerary, and that you will return to see more of New Zealand.

We welcome your feedback.


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