Northern Explorer Family Adventure
12 days starting in Auckland
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

Northern Explorer Family Adventure

Explore Auckland City with a spectacular half day tour before heading north to the tropical Bay of Islands. Enjoy a full day tour to Cape Reinga. Head south through the magnificent giant Kauri trees of the Waipoua Forest and onto the beaches of Matakana. Then the adventure capital of the North Island. A Maori concert and hangi dinner, a day trip to the Lord of the Rings site at Hobbiton plus much more. Explore the Waitomo Caves before heading back to Auckland City.

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About this NZ Road Trip

Self Drive - North Island

This suggested tour costs from NZD$3,934 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Auckland

12 days/11 nights

Motels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 6 times in the last 7 days

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Detailed itinerary for this New Zealand Road Trip
Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 1
Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland Accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland airport by the driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Welcome to Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand's self-proclaimed "City of Sails" is the country's largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 28 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Harbour Sailing Cruise with Explore

Enjoy the City of Sails from the water on a relaxed harbour sailing yacht. This cruise offers a uniquely local experience experiencing the harbour under sail with a small vessel with an intimate and engaging atmosphere. View the stunning city sights while sailing on the inner Waitemata Harbour. Sail where the wind takes us while enjoying Auckland's city highlights; including sailing under the Harbour Bridge and other well-known landmarks along the harbour's edge. The crew's local knowledge will give you the best harbour sailing experience Auckland has to offer. Become the crew and help participate with the sailing experience take the helm while you carve through the water, or if you prefer just sit back and relax above deck.

Your accommodation: Sudima Auckland City

Conveniently located within easy walking distance of Auckland’s bustling shopping, arts, dining and entertainment precincts and opposite the New Zealand International Convention Centre.

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Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 2
Auckland City Revealed Half Day Tour with Bush and Beach

Your morning city highlights tour is a journey of discovery designed to explore the history and sights as well as see how Aucklanders live and play. Auckland is set on 48 dormant volcanic cones and between two harbours, the sparkling Waitemata and the brooding Manukau. Known as the City of Sails, it's New Zealand's largest and busiest city. After the pick up from your city accommodation you travel up Queen St, through Auckland's central business district, past Auckland University and through the inner city park, known as The Domain. We continue on through the picturesque suburb of Ponsonby, known for its historic buildings, before heading over the Harbour Bridge to the North Shore. You stroll on Narrow Neck Beach in historic Devonport. There is time for a coffee here before continuing up to the summit of Mt Victoria where there are stunning panoramic views of Auckland city and the Waitemata Harbour. Then travel back over the Harbour Bridge to Westhaven Marina, one of the largest marinas in the Southern Hemisphere. Visit the Auckland Fish Market before continuing on to the Viaduct Harbour.

Your accommodation: Sudima Auckland City

Conveniently located within easy walking distance of Auckland’s bustling shopping, arts, dining and entertainment precincts and opposite the New Zealand International Convention Centre.

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Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 3
Collect your rental car

This tour can be priced with any of the rental cars available in our fantastic range, from economy hatchbacks to prestige saloons and SUVs.

Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands

The trip from Auckland to the Bay Of Islands takes around 3.5 hours but give yourself some leeway for stops and sightseeing. As you go through Puhoi, take in the bohemian atmosphere of this historical township. Stop for a breath of fresh salty air in Whangarei and take another break at Kawakawa, home to the world famous Hundertwasser toilets. Enjoy the native bush surrounds and marvel at the endless golden beaches as you arrive into central Bay Of The Islands, Paihia.

Your accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Sea Spray Suites offers comfortable and relaxing accommodation close to Paihia’s best activities and attractions. Directly across the road is the beautiful Te Ti Beach, exploring Paihia’s beautiful waters and wildlife is only a short step away. If you are interested in experiencing New Zealand’s heritage, The Waitangi Treaty House is only 1km away.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 226 kms / 140 miles : 3.0 hours

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Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 4
Hole in the Rock Cruise with Fullers GreatSights

Board your cruise and take in the stunning views as you glide out through the islands and along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse keeps watch over and Piercy Island/Motukōkako, or as it is popularly known as the Hole in the Rock. According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space. Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales, and other marine life during your cruise, and have your camera ready as you get up close to the action. Stop off at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island where you have time to relax, take a walk, have a swim, or enjoy a bite to eat and drink from the on-site fully licensed café. The purpose-built catamaran is licensed by DOC (the Department of Conservation) for dolphin viewing and the crew has years of experience locating dolphins in these waters. 

Explore the Bay of Islands

Commonly known as the ‘winterless north’ New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is made up of over 140 subtropical atolls. Renowned for its untouched beaches, abundant marine life and idyllic climate, this tropical paradise ticks all the boxes. Spend some time on a remote stretch of beach, or see the dolphins on an ocean safari. If diving is your thing, take the morning to descend the Rainbow Warrior - The Greenpeace flagship sunk by French saboteurs in 1985. Wander around Russell, a whaling port founded in 1843. Learn about our culture in historic Waitangi, the site where The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the Maori and European settlers dictating the terms by which New Zealand would become a British colony. Alternatively you may like to take a day tour to Cape Reinga, the very top of the North Island.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance

Waitangi is one of New Zealand's most historic sites where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the local Maori and the British Government. This two day pass allows you access to the Treaty of Waitangi Grounds and includes admission to the Te Kōngahu Museum and Te Rau Aroha Museum and a Maori Cultural performance. During your guided tour, you'll learn about the history of the treaty and discover the stories and events that shaped New Zealand. The cultural performance inside the carved meeting house includes waiata (singing), poi, a display of Maori weaponry and the haka - a war dance New Zealand is well known for.

Your accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Sea Spray Suites offers comfortable and relaxing accommodation close to Paihia’s best activities and attractions. Directly across the road is the beautiful Te Ti Beach, exploring Paihia’s beautiful waters and wildlife is only a short step away. If you are interested in experiencing New Zealand’s heritage, The Waitangi Treaty House is only 1km away.

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Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 5
Cape Reinga & Ninety Mile Beach Full Day Tour with Fuller GreatSights - Lunch Included

Journey to the very tip of the North Island and uncover a region of rich Māori tradition along the way on an unforgettable full-day tour. Travel along the sand-swept shore of Ninety Mile Beach in our purpose-built coach and experience sandboarding (weather permitting). In Māori tradition, Cape Reinga or Te Rerenga Wairua is the place where spirits depart on their long journey back to the homeland. Stand at the northernmost point of New Zealand and drink in the panoramic views. As you stand beneath the iconic lighthouse, and watch the Tasman Sea and the mighty Pacific Ocean collide far below, you'll feel the power of this special place. Throughout the day your local driver guide will provide an entertaining and thought-provoking insight into the culture, history and natural wonders of the Far North. Your tour also includes a locally prepared lunch to keep you fuelled throughout the day.

Your accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Sea Spray Suites offers comfortable and relaxing accommodation close to Paihia’s best activities and attractions. Directly across the road is the beautiful Te Ti Beach, exploring Paihia’s beautiful waters and wildlife is only a short step away. If you are interested in experiencing New Zealand’s heritage, The Waitangi Treaty House is only 1km away.

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Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 6
Bay of Islands to Waipoua Forest to Matakana

Heading west from the Bay of Islands you leave the Pacific Ocean and soon and arrive into the Hokianga and the wilder seas of the Tasman.
The small townships of Omapere and Opononi have a great seaside feel and the perfect place to stop for an ice cream. The route now heads south and into the Waipoua Forest, home to the massive Kauri trees. Make sure you allow time to take a few short walks that are signposted as you pass through the region. Not to be missed is the 5-minute loop to view the largest of all the trees Tane Mahuta. 
Heading back across country the Matakohe Kauri Museum is an award winning museum and has extensive displays of the regions logging, farming and social history. Just a short drive from Warkworth towards the coast is the small township of Matakana and a little further you will find the often deserted beaches of the Tawharanui Marine Reserve.

Your accommodation: Snells Beach Motel

Snells Beach Motel is perfectly situated, on the Mahurangi East Peninsula, overlooking the beautiful Kawau Bay and in the heart of the wonderful Matakana Coast Wine Country area.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 286 kms / 177 miles : 3.7 hours

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Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 7
Matakana to Rotorua

Continuing south through Auckland, State Highway 1 quickly takes you into rolling green farmland and the rich dairy pasture of the Waikato. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of great Auckland and its here you turn inland to central Waikato. This is hobbit country and the route takes you through the town of Matamata where you can still visit the film locations made famous in the Lord of the Rings trilogy at Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tours.

Te Pā Tū Evening Maori Cultural Experience

New Zealand’s Most Awarded Cultural Attraction, presenting Te Pā Tū. Feast on song, drama, tradition, and divine seasonal kai (cuisine) within the forest Pā (village) blanketed by towering Tawa trees, blazing bonfires, and a forest-formed amphitheatre. Te Pā Tū shares Māori history, traditions, and cultural aspirations across 4-hours of celebration and feasting. These events change with each season of the maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar.

Your accommodation: Silver Fern Suites & Spa

Silver Fern Suites & Spa is located just minutes from Rotorua's city centre and is close to popular thermal attractions, cafes, restaurants and golf courses. Suites have a private spa pool or double spa bath for you to unwind and relax.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 287 kms / 178 miles : 3.4 hours

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Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 8
Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. Geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to one of the Maori Villages should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Spike your adrenaline at Velocity Valley Adventure Park on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - National Kiwi Hatchery Tour

The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour is a special opportunity to gain insight into and view this highly regarded conservation centre. Developed with the visitor experience in mind, the hatchery boasts special viewing opportunities and is hosted by kiwi expert guides who ensure guests leave fully informed and all questions answered. Learn all about New Zealand’s intriguing national icon and the efforts of the kiwi husbandry team, see and discover what it takes to hatch and rare chicks, and if you’re lucky see baby chicks in person!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Original Ziplining Experience with Rotorua Canopy Tours

Embark on a three hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees. In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it. 

It is important you read and understand the risks associated with this activity. For more information see here.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Agrodome Farm Show and Farm Tour Combo

Set on a 350-acre working sheep and cattle farm with 1200 sheep and 120 beef cattle, the Agrodome gives its visitors a hands-on, live farming experience. The Farm Show stars a cast of talented animals – not just sheep! The remarkable farm dogs will amaze you, as they demonstrate their ability to respond to commands and keep those sheep (and ducks!) in line. Then pop across to the herding area to watch a free live dog trial after the show! Explore the farm and learn the history of New Zealand agriculture on custom designed farm trailers. Along the way, there are fascinating things to learn and a few laughs too! You’ll get to hand-feed and take photos with all sorts of friendly animals, including Romney sheep, cattle, deer, llamas, ostrich, pigs and alpacas. Explore the fruit orchard and olive grove and have the chance to taste natural kiwifruit juice and delicious sweet honey that comes from the farm.

Your accommodation: Silver Fern Suites & Spa

Silver Fern Suites & Spa is located just minutes from Rotorua's city centre and is close to popular thermal attractions, cafes, restaurants and golf courses. Suites have a private spa pool or double spa bath for you to unwind and relax.

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Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 9
Hobbiton Day Tour from Rotorua with Gray Line / GreatSights - Lunch Included

Take a journey from Rotorua to famous Hobbiton Movie Set, located inside a picturesque 1,250 acre sheep and beef farm near Matamata. Here, take a guided tour of the village of Hobbiton, which was carefully created in amazing detail as a film location for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie trilogies. During your guided tour of this amazing location you’ll see sights like Hobbit holes, the Mill and the Green Dragon Inn, and learn how farmland was transformed into a living, breathing piece of Middle-earth. After exploring Hobbiton, enjoy a tasty lunch in the Party Marquee and then return back to Rotorua.

Your accommodation: Silver Fern Suites & Spa

Silver Fern Suites & Spa is located just minutes from Rotorua's city centre and is close to popular thermal attractions, cafes, restaurants and golf courses. Suites have a private spa pool or double spa bath for you to unwind and relax.
Meals included: Lunch

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Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 10
Rotorua to Waitomo via Taupo

Today you'll make your way through the volcanic valleys of Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu before reaching the town of Taupo, located on New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo. A little further north you'll come across the Huka Falls, well worth the short detour. Continuing, you'll arrive in the trout fishing capital of New Zealand, Turangi, before passing through Tongariro National Park known for its peaks. End your driving today by traversing the rich dairy pastures preceding the limestone region of Waitomo your destination for the night.

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Explore a 30 million year old cave network spread across three levels. You'll travel deep underground through the limestone caves viewing stalactites and stalagmites as well as hearing about the caves historical and geological significance. You'll then hop into a boat and glide silently through the glow worm grotto - a galaxy of tiny living lights.

Your accommodation: Palm Court Motel Otorohanga

Palm Court Motel is conveniently located 200 metres from cafes, restaurants, village shopping and the railway station. Stay just a few minutes drive to Waitomo Caves, Black-Water Rafting, Adventure Tours, Kiwi House and the golf course.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 294 kms / 182 miles : 3.8 hours

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Northern Explorer Family Adventure - Day 11
Waitomo to Auckland City

The lush farmland of the Waikato and the limestone hills of the Waitomo region provide some great scenery as you head north. Visit the Otorohanga Kiwi House en route for a great look at some of New Zealand's native birds in particular our famous flightless namesake.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Ferry Auckland to Rangitoto Island return trip

A short 25-minute cruise through the Waitemata Harbour to the Hauraki Gulf delivers you to Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto Island is the largest and youngest of the many volcanoes that make up the Auckland volcanic field. It erupted around 600 years ago, but is extinct now and safe to explore. During your cruise to and from the island enjoy fantastic views of Rangitoto Island and Auckland the 'City of Sails'. On reaching the island you can walk to the summit (1 hour direct) for great views of the Hauraki Gulf and over Waitemata Harbour looking back towards Auckland. There are a number of walking trails to explore this volcanic island, further information can be found at the Department of Conservation website.

Your accommodation: Sudima Auckland City

Conveniently located within easy walking distance of Auckland’s bustling shopping, arts, dining and entertainment precincts and opposite the New Zealand International Convention Centre.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 178 kms / 110 miles : 2.1 hours

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Depart Auckland today

Explore more of vibrant Auckland city before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.4 hours

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