North New Zealand Road Trip [ST-NZ30] - About New Zealand
 
 
8 Days: North New Zealand Road Trip [ST-NZ30]
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Highlights & Inclusions
  • Accommodation - Auckland (1 Night), Rotorua (2), Taupo (2), Wellington (1)
  • US Domestic Flights not included per your request
  • International Flights - Los Angeles to Auckland, Wellington to Los Angeles via Auckland (Not included in starting price)
  • Vehicle Hires - 6 Day RV Rental, Pick up at Auckland Airport and Drop off at Wellington Airport
  • RV Hires are base rate only and do not include taxes, insurance, fuel levies, drop off fees, or environmental fees.
  • All Day Tours listed are Optional (Not Included)
  • F.I.T. (Free & Independent Travel, i.e. this is not an Organized Group Tour)
  • All Taxes and Fuel Levies (Except where noted)
  • Itinerary is flexible and can be tailored to suit your needs.
Itinerary Details
(Day 1) - International Flight, Los Angeles to Auckland (Not included in starting price)

Shortly after departing Los Angeles you will be served dinner and you will be given breakfast before landing in Auckland.

Relax, watch some movies, and try to get some sleep!

Please confirm with the airline at check-in that they have all your Frequent Flyer information on record (if applicable).

(Days 2 to 8) - 6 Day Rental, Auckland Pick up & Wellington Drop off

Discover New Zealand as you travel by rental camper for six days.

Take the opportunity to explore the stunning countryside of New Zealand.

Your rental camper has everything you need for a road trip! Featuring two double beds, DVD player, kitchen and its very own shower and toilet. In this camper you are set up for any adventure!

Please bring a valid American driver’s license with you and be aware that in New Zealand people drive on the left hand side of the road.

(Days 2 to 3) - 1 Night Stay in Auckland
Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Auckland Harbour Cruise

Visit a true thing of beauty and cruise the sparkling waters of Waitemata Harbour!



Head out on this one and a half hour tour to see the Devonport Naval Base, travel past the township and North Head, then cruise towards the iconic Rangitoto Island as you pass the historic Bean Rock lighthouse. You’ll pass under the Harbour Bridge twice and then off to Westhaven Marina to catch a glance at the viaduct harbour bustling with super yachts!



Daily at 10:45am & 1:45pm. Tours do not operate on Christmas day.

Optional Afternoon Tour (Not Included) - Wilderness Experience

A 30 minute drive from downtown Auckland brings you to the Arataki Centre, perched high in the Waitakere Ranges, where the sweeping decks give breathtaking panoramic views from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean.



Absorb the local history and admire the magnificent traditional Maori carvings that stand guard there. Head further west and experience the power of the wild and rugged west coast. Feel the black sand beneath your feet as you stroll along some of the most awe-inspiring beaches the world has to offer.




With your knowledgeable and experienced guide, your eco-tour continues on to the lush rainforest where you hear native birdsong as you walk the easy bush tracks amongst New Zealand’s famous kauri trees and giant tree ferns.

Refreshments provided.

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

Insider's Tip: Auckland City Explorer Bus

Take a unique, fun and informative tour of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city on the Hop on Hop Off Auckland City Explorer Bus!

Nestled between two harbours, this beautiful and vibrant city has a diverse mix of culture and landscapes. Something for everyone – attractions and activities, shopping and eateries, events and adventure – you can explore it all with Soaring Kiwi Tours!

Unique Vehicles with Fantastic Views: Discover the true magic of city sightseeing onboard our unique, classic and new, double decker buses. With a mix of open and closed top buses, you will ride in comfort and style, enjoying spectacular views from the top deck.

Entertaining ‘Live’ Commentary: Our friendly local guides provide a ‘live’ fun and informative commentary throughout your journey. Multi-lingual commentaries are also available on the central tour.

Hop-on, Hop-off and Visit Auckland’s Best Attractions: As you circumnavigate the city, visiting historic landmarks and all the ‘must see’ attractions, you can hop on and off at your leisure to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

(Day 3) - Self-Drive from Auckland to Rotorua

Today Self Drive from Auckland to Rotorua (4 hours).

North New Zealand Self Drive:
Auckland to Hamilton (2 Hours), Hamilton to Waitomo Caves (1 Hour), Waitomo Caves to Rotorua (3 Hours)

Today begin your self drive from Auckland to explore the Waitomo Caves and Rotorua. From Auckland travel to Hamilton via HWY 1 (78 miles) Hamilton city highlights include Hamilton Gardens with themed displays of trees, flowers and exotic plants, The Waikato Museum of Contemporary Art and History, as well as The Hamilton Zoo, which provides native birds with enormous freedom in a walk through free flight aviary. Continue on HWY 3 until you reach The Waitomo Caves District (48 Miles). Beneath the surface of this limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with speleotherms (stalactites and stalagmites) and glow worms. Black water rafting is an intriguing way to appreciate the underground splendours of Waitomo, you’ll be drifting along subterranean streams on your own personal raft. Next travel on to Rotorua (97 miles). Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so the volcanic activity is part of the city’s past and present. Overnight in Rotorua.

(Days 3 to 5) - 2 Nights Stay in Rotorua
Optional Evening Event (Not Included): Te Po Indigenous Evening Experience

Te Po is an authentic, one-of-a-kind evening event. It is a feast of storytelling, entertainment and Maori cuisine like no other you’ll ever experience.




Your evening begins with a visit to the hangi pit to watch the baskets being lifted from their distinctive underground oven in preparation for the evening’s traditional feast. Hangi preparation begins in the early afternoon to ensure your meal is cooked to perfection.




A true highlight of any Te Puia outing are the stunning cultural performances featuring traditional storytelling and entertainment. You’ll have the opportunity to join in the graceful poi dance or ferocious haka for a more intimate Maori cultural experience.

After a traditional blessing, you will be treated to an entrée of New Zealand mussels, corn on the cob, traditional rewana bread and dips, and a local drink made from kawakawa extract and manuka honey.

The main meal is an event in itself, with the hangi-cooked foods accompanied by flavoured meats, chicken, lamb, vegetables and salads. A range of drinks is available to complement your meal including wine, beer, juices, tea and coffee. We recommend leaving room for dessert, as you will definitely find something to satisfy your sweet tooth.

After dinner you will be invited to board the motorised waka (transporter) for a journey into the valley at night. Enjoy the ride and marvel at the sights before disembarking at Pohutu Geyser for the final stage of a magical evening.

End your unforgettable evening by sitting upon the warmth of the naturally hot rocks armed with a delicious hot chocolate. Listen to your guide tell stories while Pohutu Geyser sits before you, illuminated in its full glory beneath starry skies.

(Day 4) - Free Day to Explore Rotorua

Enjoy some free time in Rotorua to explore this historic city!

Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland filled with a plethora of activities and attractions to check out. The region’s unique location is filled with hot pools, geysers, mud pools and geothermal activity.

Visit Waiotapu, where there are many sights to explore. Experience the Champagne Pool and waterfall filled with rich vibrant colours of the mineral salts, bubbling mud pools, craters, and Lady Knox Geyser when you visit. Arrive in the morning to see the Lady Knox Geyser at 10:15 am. For a full day of relaxation, visit the hot mineral pools and treat yourself to a relaxing Polynesian spa treatment that uses the local products (like a Rotorua mud wrap or manuka honey facial). Go Zorbing! Roll down a hill in an inflatable globe in this truly unique experience. There are different tracks to roll down with up to three people in the globe. You can choose to roll down with water in the globe for a fun time splashing around. For the adventure seekers, try Skydiving, the adrenaline rush of the jump will have you accelerating at 200 kilometres/hour. All the great views of Rotorua are best seen from 15,000 feet above.

Photo Credit: Tourism Rotorua

Optional Morning Tour (Not Included) - Rotorua Morning Sights Tour

Enjoy a morning sightseeing tour around three of Rotorua’s iconic visitor attractions.

Experience Te Puia, a place of Maori culture and a thermal wonderland of impressive geysers and boiling mud pools. Explore Rainbow Springs Nature Park, which showcases native flora and fauna as well as the New Zealand Kiwi. Then see NZ’s agricultural industry in action with a sheep shearing display and sheep dog trials at the Agrodome.

Highlights: Te Puia Thermal Reserve; Maori Arts and Crafts Institute; Rainbow Springs Nature Park; Agrodome Sheep Show

Photo Credit: Te Puia

Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Hobbiton Shire Tour - Half Day

Enjoy a tour of beautiful scenery as you venture to Hobbiton, the location where Lord of the Rings was filmed.

Your tour starts with a scenic drive from Rotorua across the Kaimai Ranges to The Shires Rest. It then continues with a drive through the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Your guide will escort you through the twelve acre site recounting fascinating details of how Hobbiton Movie set was created.

The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films can be viewed and you will see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-Earth.

Upon completion of your tour you will return to Rotorua.

Tour duration from Rotorua approx. 4 1/2 hours

Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Rotorua Canopy Tours - Half Day

Embark on a magical journey through untouched native New Zealand forest from an unexplored perspective with your canopy tour.

High amongst ancient trees this 3 hour adventure combines fun and excitment with pristine natural beauty.

Mix thrill and wonder through an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, ziplines (flying fox) and swing bridges. The changing views are breath taking as you experience the thrill of flying through changing landscapes from high above unexplored forested valleys, to tight openings through the forest sub canopy, to amongst stands of giant long forgotten trees.

In between the thrill of the ziplines (flying fox), suspended treebridges and the tree platforms let the guides share their passion and knowledge for the local history, the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it all to bring alive the forest environment you are passing through.

Hear the beautiful orchestra of native bird song resonating in the forest and take a deep breath to let the wondrous moment sink in.

Tours appeals to all ages and is suitable for a wide range of people from children through to grandparents – no experience is required. The tour infrastructure has been built to ensure minimal environmental impact while also delivering unprecedented safety and comfort for all guests.

Highlights: Small Group, unforgettable Eco Tourism Adventure – this is NOT mass tourism; 2 awesome, highly trained and knowledgeable guides to escort you; Travel a 1.2 kilometre network of ziplines, swingbridges, treetop platforms and walking trails deep in virgin New Zealand native forest; 6 Zipline/Flying fox flights up to 220 metres long and 40 metres above forest floor; Treetop platforms perched 22 metres up 500 year old trees; Tree to tree swingbridges up to 50 metres long; You will not see any tree, plant or most bird species on any other country on earth

Optional Day Tour (Not Included) - Riverjet Thermal Safari - Half Day

The only jetboat that incorporates a fantastic geothermal wonderland and a thrilling jet boating experience.

This awesome adventure brings you up close to a slice of New Zealand scenery. The stunning scenery of the mighty Waikato River makes you feel like time stood still as you gently cruise through the spectacular Tutukau Gorge where the canyon walls rise dramatically up to 50 metres above the water.

The stunning native bush and abundant wildlife you’ll encounter will leave you with a lasting impression. During several stops along the way the drivers explain about the rich history of the area and its unique wildlife.

Entry to Orakei Korako, also known as the Hidden Valley, is part of this awesome adventure.The serene beauty formed from and around all this geothermal commotion will leave you astounded.

On the way back the excitement begins! You’ll experience legendary 360-degree spins. The rides are tailored to suit the needs and adventure feel of all passengers, making sure it is a safe and enjoyable experience.

Insider's Tip: Rotorua's Historical Culture

Learn about Rotorua’s fascinating history and culture.

A town full of natural wonders and evidence; discover the interesting history of Rotorua. The Buried Village once known as Te Wairoa, destroyed by the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886, today serves as a living museum where visitors can experience this unique piece of New Zealand history. The excavated site, the only one to be open for public viewing in New Zealand, offers a first hand insight into the devastation, chaos and mayhem that transpired on the night Mt Tarawera erupted. Also visit the place where great stories began at the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. With its rich history and culture, it is easy to discover the essence of Rotorua in its people, culture and volcanic landscape.

Insider's Tip: Relax in Rotorua

There is no better way to start or end your day in Rotorua.

Deluxe Lake Spa allows you to enjoy tranquil bathing and lake views in four shallow alkaline rock pools, each with different temperatures (36°C/96°F to 42°C/107°F) and a newly built acidic pool so guests are able to enjoy the benefits of the two types of hot mineral water offered at Polynesian Spa.

A cold plunge pool has been added for those looking for hot cold hydrotherapy. The extremes of hot and cold water cause muscle to expand and contract offering gently detoxification as toxins are squeezed from the muscles.

A large indoor relaxation lounge overlooks Lake Rotorua. You are welcome to move from the pools to the lounge once dried off and return to bathe in the Deluxe Lake Spa pools as you wish.

11th Jun (Day 5) - Self Drive from Rotorua to Lake Taupo

Drive time: Approx. 1 hour

Depart Rotorua for Taupo.

The road to Taupo will keep you entertained with its unusual, volcanic geography. Stop on the drive to Taupo and walk over the Huka Falls lookout bridge. Take a jet boat ride to experience the scenery of the mighty Waikato River and the stunning Tutukau Gorge.
You’ll also drive through large tracts of plantation pine forest.The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake, which is well stocked with sizeable trout.

(Days 5 to 7) - 2 Nights Stay in Lake Taupo
(Day 6) - Free Day to Explore Taupo

Rest, Relax or Explore Taupo

Beautiful Lake Taupo is actually a huge volcano with a fiery history. Its most recent eruption, in 181 AD, was large enough to change the sky as far away as Europe and China. According to Maori legend, the lake is the pulsating heart of Maui’s fish (New Zealand’s North Island). The lakeside town of Taupo provides a base for visitors who love to fish for trout, ski Mount Ruapehu and explore the local geothermal phenomena. Popular Taupo experiences include Huka Falls, geothermal walks, a prawn farm, lake cruises and guided kayak expeditions to see the rock carvings at Mine Bay.

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

Insiders Tip: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

Tongariro Alpine Hot Bus is the leading Tongariro Alpine Crossing transport operator from Taupo and Turangi.

Locally owned and operated, Alpine Hot Bus runs daily return shuttles from Taupo to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing as well as shuttle bus service incorporating Whakapapa, National Park, Chateau Tongariro, Turangi and Ohakune. Alpine Hot Bus will collect you from your accommodation and you will enjoy a comfortable ride on luxury shuttle buses.

For more information please visit: https://www.alpinehotbus.co.nz/taupo-shuttle.html

Insiders Tip: Hot Springs in Taupo

At Taupo DeBretts you will enjoy an authentic New Zealand Experience. For over 120 years Taupo DeBretts has been an iconic spot for weary travellers to enjoy thermal bathing and Taupo accommodation.

SOAK in the warm, restoring mineral waters of the historic Taupo Hot Springs. A variety of natural pools, fresh water pools and private pools at a variety of temperatures awaits you. The children will delight in our Warm Water Playground and Dragon Hydro-slide. After a relaxing soak, SOOTHE your body and soul with a therapeutic treatment in our day spa – Living Waters Spa.

For more information please visit: https://www.taupodebretts.co.nz/

Insiders Tip: Fun & Free Activities in Taupo

Fun, Free, Family Activities in Taupo!

Aratiatia Rapids – See a raging torrent of water surge through the Aratiatia Rapids, when hydro gates are opened to bring this natural attraction to life. Spills occur 10am, 12noon, 2pm and 4pm in summer and 10am, 12noon and 2pm in winter. Signposted off SH5 approximately 10km north of Lake Taupo. For best viewing, arrive 15 minutes early and walk the short track to one of two lookout points.

Botanical Reserve – An 85 acre reserve containing alpine and native plants, azaleas and rhododendrons. Gates are open daily until dusk. Situated at the top of Shepherd Road, Lake Taupo.

Cycling – Great cycling trails for all levels. You could also pick up a cycling map from either the Taupo or Turangi i-SITE Visitor Centre.

Huka Honey Hive – See bees in glass hives, sample honey products and watch educational videos. Honey products for sale. Open daily 9am-5pm. Situated off SH1 north in Wairakei Tourist Park, Lake Taupo.

Huka Falls – The major waterfall on the Waikato River. NZ’s most visited natural attraction. Famous for the volume of water (approximately 220 liters per second) that hurtles through its narrow chasm. Situated off SH1 north.

Rose Gardens – Over 500 rose bushes grow here. The gardens are adjacent to the Museum in Story Place, Lake Taup?.

Scented Gardens – Raised garden filled with scented shrubs and herbs for the enjoyment of the visually impaired. Tongariro North Domain, Lake Taup?.

Spa Road Walk – Walk alongside the glorious Waikato River, NZ’s longest river. Enjoy the fresh air and surrounding bush. Stop off at Huka Falls or Aratiatia Rapids.

Tokaanu Historic Wharf – Dates from the early 1800s and is one of the oldest structures of its kind in NZ. It is now undergoing restoration and currently you can walk two thirds of its length. A popular picnic and fishing spot.

Tokaanu Thermal Walk – Located adjacent to the Tokaanu Thermal Pools. Free thermal bush walk, 15-20 minutes of bubbling mud and silica springs (wheelchair accessible).

Tongariro River Loop Walk – One hour walk alongside the world famous Tongariro River. Watch people fly fish and enjoy the views of the Kaimanawa Ranges.

Trout Fishing Turangi and Lake Taupo – Take a picnic and watch anglers fly fish for trout at the Waitahanui Stream. Situated on SH1 south at Waitahanui. Licence required.
Walking, Hiking and Tramping – The Taupo and Turangi areas offer a variety of walking opportunities.

For more information please visit: https://www.greatlaketaupo.com/new-zealand/free_activities/

(Day 7) - Self-Drive from Lake Taupo to Wellington

Today Self Drive from Lake Taupo to Wellington (5 hours).

(Days 7 to 8) - 1 Night Stay in Wellington
Insider's Tip: Carter Observatory

See the Southern skies & celebrate the culture, heritage and science of the Southern Skies at Carter Observatory – New Zealand’s longest-serving national observatory.



The Carter Observatory is located in Wellington’s beautiful Botanic Gardens at the top of the Cable Car. It is 2 minutes from the top of the Cable Car, 5 minutes walk from the Botanic Garden’s Playground, 8 minutes for the Treehouse Visitor Centre and an easy walk along Upland Road, Kelburn. The easiest way to reach Carter is via Wellington’s iconic Cable Car.



Take a virtual journey through space in Carter’s new planetarium – a state-of-the-art full-dome digital theatre, then take your own steps through space as you walk through the world-class interactive multimedia space experience.

Discover our Universe, along with some of New Zealand’s most prestigious telescopes and astronomical artefacts. Before and after you visit we encourage you to download the latest sky chart to spot the stars.

Open Daily 10am – 5pm Tours Are Not Included (Pay As You Go).

Insider's Tip: Te Papa Museum

Explore New Zealand’s nature, art, history, and cultural heritage at Te Papa.

The tiny Colonial Museum opened behind Parliament Buildings shortly after Parliament moved to Wellington in 1865. Te Papa is situated in Cable Street on Wellington’s waterfront.

First-time visitors, don’t miss our exhibition highlights from the story of Maori in New Zealand to the interactive exhibition OurSpace. Te Papa’s user-generated interactive exhibition – contribute your photos and videos from home and, once here, get creative on our interactive wall.


Explore New Zealand’s culture and geography with the interactive map and adrenalin-pumping High Ride. Plus climb aboard a submarine simulator to explore a virtual undersea volcano. Discover the world of Maori as tangata whenua – the first settlers of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Shake things up in the Earthquake House! Discover the powerful geological forces that shape New Zealand’s landscape. See the heaviest colossal squid ever caught and the only complete one on display in the world.
Build a virtual squid from home and then come and find it in exhibition.

From kiwi to kauri, explore the variety of New Zealand’s animals and plants. Enter a junk shop that transports you through 100 years of New Zealand history on film. Visit the unique Marae (communal meeting place), designed and created by leading Maori artists. The Marae embodies the bicultural partnership at the heart of Te Papa.

For private study and research purposes only, you can photograph, film, or video: people in the Museum, general Museum scenes, the building itself. However, public display of these images is strictly prohibited.

You are not allowed to directly photograph, film, video, or otherwise copy any works on display in the Museum, including: display cases, paintings, objects, taonga (Maori cultural treasures). In some exhibitions, photography, filming, and videoing are completely prohibited. A sign at the exhibition entrance will make this clear.

With helpful hosts, cafes, shops, a library, and an onsite multimedia database, Te Papa looks after you well. Access and help for people with disabilities is provided, plus rooms for parents with young children.

Te Papa offers a range of tours, including daily tours and private group tours. We also provide a visitor booklet and an audio guide.

Free Entry (Charges apply to some short-term exhibitions and activities.)
Open Daily: Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 6:00pm / Thursdays: 10:00am – 9:00pm (Closed Christmas Day)

Insider's Tip: Wellington Cable Car

The Wellington Cable Car is one of Wellington’s oldest & most popular tourist attractions.

The cars run from Lambton Quay in the heart of the central business district and within 5 minutes whisk you from under the corporate towers of The Terrace past Kelburn Park and Victoria University to the top entrance of the Wellington Botanic Gardens with its magnificent lookout over the City and harbour – Te Whanganui-a-Tara (The Great Harbour of Tara).

Other attractions immediately accessible from the top station are the award winning Cable Car museum situated in the old cable car winding room and the newly opened Carter Observatory. For those wishing to explore further, Kelburn village with its shops and Cafes is a short walk and an ideal stopping off point on your way to Zealandia. There are also easy downhill walks through the Botanic Gardens to Thorndon or back to Lambton Quay via the historic Bolton Street Cemetery and the Beehive.

A fully escorted tour of Wellington’s Cable Car and Museums is available. First stop the Museum of Wellington for the inside story on Wellington’s intruiging past. A short escorted walk along Grey Street then all aboard the Wellington Cable Car…to the top for the best views in Wellington. Learn more about these ‘Relentless red rattlers’ at the Cable Car Museum. The tour ends with tea/coffee and a homemade muffin at the Skyline Restaurant with its commanding views of the city. Take time to explore Kelburn Village or the Botanic Gardens before returning to Lambton Quay on the Cable Car.

Includes return trip on the Cable Car, guided tours and refreshments.

Departs from the Museum of Wellington at 10:00am. (Other times by arrangement) duration up to 2 1/2 hours. Bookings by 5:00pm the day before. Please make your bookings at the Museum of Wellington or at Wellington I-Site corner Victoria & Wakefield Streets Civic Square.

The Cable Cars run every 10-minutes; 7:00am to 9:00pm on Monday; 7:00am to 10:00pm on Tuesday through Friday; 8:30am to 10:00pm on Saturday and 9:00am to 9:00pm on Sunday & Public Holidays (Closed Christmas Day)

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

(Day 8) - New Zealand Domestic Flight, Wellington to Auckland

Travel within New Zealand by domestic air from Wellington to Auckland (North Island).

(Day 8) - International Flight, Auckland to Los Angeles (Not included in starting price)

Today depart Auckland and fly to the USA. Enjoy an in-flight dinner and movie with arrival in the USA. Note: you will be traveling back across the International Date Line. Gain that day back you lost on the way over, you actually arrive in the USA on the same day you leave Auckland.

Note: Flight may include a stop over in Australia.