North Island Classic
From cruising in the Bay of Islands to the Parliament Buildings in Wellington this tour also takes in the main attractions of the east coast and the central North Island with some soft adventure along the way. Taste the wines of Waiheke Island and Martinborough, witness thermal activity in Rotorua and walk on White Island, New Zealand's only active marine volcano. Beaches, mountains, subtropical rainforests, clear blue waters, boiling mud pools, our two largest cities, sheep, glow-worms and Maori cultural performance are all features of this 2 week look at the North Island.
- Meet and Greet on arrival in New Zealand
- New Zealand Airport Transfers
- English/Foreign speaking guide depending on arrangements
- Quality hotel accommodation, twin/double rooms, (single rooms available with single supplement) all with private facilities
- Cooked Breakfasts (B) and Dinners (D) where indicated on the itinerary or to be included by arrangement.
- Tour admissions as per itinerary. (eg scenic boat cruises, cultural events). Please see itinerary for specifics.
- Touring in a modern air conditioned vehicle, type depending on arrangements
- Complimentary Travel Kit including travel vouchers, support documentation and a New Zealand Map.
Self Drive Rental Vehicle- Independent Seat in Coach - Private Car & Driver/Guide (or a combination) - Group Tour
Day 1 - WELCOME TO AUCKLAND; NEW ZEALAND
Morning arrival at Auckland International Airport where you will be met and transferred to your accommodation by private car and driver. Afternoon sightseeing begins with Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter where you will see live Gentoo and King Penguins plus a variety of other sea life ranging from Sharks and Stingrays through to colourful tropical fish. Next see the Native Encounter Show at the Auckland Zoo, followed by a cruise on lovely Auckland harbour aboard a 40 ft Pride of Auckland monohull yacht. Passengers can assist with crewing - it is a lot of fun. Last stop is to take in the panoramic views from the Skytower, which is the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
Day 2 - WAIHEKE ISLAND WINERIES AND MORE
It is 35 minutes by high-speed catamaran across the sparkling waters of the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf to Waiheke Island for a tour with a special focus on the boutique wineries. Since the 1970s the island's Mediterranean climate has seen the growth of a flourishing wine industry with low quantities of high quality fruit. Among the better-known wineries are Goldwater, Mudbrick, Peninsula Estate and Stonyridge. Over the next 5 hours you will be taken on a private tour of the wineries with wine tasting included. You will also get to see some of the beautiful beaches, taste olive oil at one of the Olive Mills and visit one or two of the art studios for which Waiheke Island is so well known. At the conclusion of the tour you can elect to stay on to relax on a beach and/or enjoy dinner on the island and return to Auckland on a later ferry.
Day 3 - AUCKLAND / WAIPOUA KAURI FOREST / BAY OF ISLANDS (366 KMS)
Today drive north across the Harbour Bridge and through the North Shore. Pass lovely Orewa and Waiwera Beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Time permitting you may wish to stop for a stroll along one of these beaches (or a swim). Visit the excellent Matakohe Timber Museum where the gum digging and timber milling history of this Northland Region is on show. Continue through Dargaville to the Waipoua Kauri Forest to see Tane Mahuta, which is the largest of all the giant kauri trees. Drive around Hokianga harbour and through Kaikohe to the lovely Bay of Islands
Day 4 - IN THE BAY OF ISLANDS
This morning take a half-day cruise out among the islands of the lovely Bay of Islands to Cape Brett and the Hole in the Rock. Dolphins and other sea life often seen on these cruises. On the return voyage stop at Otehei Bay on pretty Urupukapuka Island where there is the opportunity to take a swim or a walk or just sit back and relax at the café. In the afternoon take a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty House. It was here on 6 February 1840 that the Maori and British signed an historic Treaty, which gave birth to the nation of New Zealand. The carved Maori Meeting House in the grounds is an especially fine example of the woodcarving and weaving skills of the Maori people.
Day 5 - BAY OF ISLANDS / HOBBITON / ROTORUA (475 KMS)
Drive south to Whangarei, which is the largest centre in the Northland Region. Cross the Brynderwyn Hills and drive down the Hibiscus Coast and across the harbour bridge into Auckland City. Continue through Auckland's southern suburbs and cross the Bombay Hills to the lush green dairy farmlands of the Waikato Valley. At Matamata take a tour of Hobbiton, the sheep farm where the actual scenes from the Oscar winning Lord of the Rings film trilogy were filmed. Afterwards drive on over the bush clad Mamaku Ranges into Rotorua.
Day 6 - ROTORUA SIGHTSEEING
Sightseeing in Rotorua today includes a guided tour of Te Puia - the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve where there are spectacular geysers and boiling mud pools, and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where young Maori are being taught traditional carving and weaving skills. Also visit lovely Rainbow Springs to see the trout and rare kiwis, and take in the entertaining Agrodome sheep show.
In the evening enjoy and a Hangi dinner and concert of traditional Maori song and dance, including the famous Haka, on a Marae (Maori Village).
Day 7 - WHITE ISLAND - AN ACTIVE VOLCANO
This morning drive (85 kms) across to Whakatane on the Bay of Plenty coast for a launch excursion to White Island - New Zealand's only active marine volcano. On arrival transfer to the island by tender craft for a guided tour of White Island with its crater lake, sulphur vents and old sulphur works. On the return trip interact with any marine life that is encountered - the pods of Dolphins that inhabit these waters are often seen (duration 6 hours). Lunch is included.
Day 8 - WHAKATANE / GISBORNE / NAPIER (310 KMS)
Today travel south past beautiful Ohope Beach and around Ohiwa harbour to Opotiki. Here turn inland and follow the Waioeka River south through some lovely rainforest and the Waioeka Gorge and Urewera National Park. This is Tuhoe country - the people of the mist. Cross the Divide and descend through picturesque sheep and cattle farming country to the river flats around Gisborne where grape growing and crop farming predominate. It was Young Nick's Head near Gisborne that Captain James Cook first sighted on his 1769 voyage of discovery. Spend some time in Gisborne- an area renowned for its lovely beaches, wineries and mild sunny climate before driving on south through hill country to Napier in the Hawkes Bay.
Day 9 - IN THE HAWKES BAY
In 1931 Napier was devastated by a huge earthquake, and was rebuilt in an art deco style of architecture. Suggest this morning take an art deco guided walk, visit the Museum and the new Aquarium. Another popular attraction is the Gannet sanctuary on nearby Cape Kidnappers - safari tours are available at extra cost.
Day 10 - NAPIER / PALMERSTON NORTH / WELLINGTON (334 KMS)
From Napier it is a half-day drive south to Wellington travelling either via the Wairarapa Valley and Rimutaka Hill Road - or via the Manawatu Gorge and the Kapiti Coast. If travelling via the Kapiti Coast time permitting suggest a stop at Paraparaumu to visit Southwards excellent vintage car museum.
Day 11 - WELLINGTON / MARTINBOROUGH (85 KMS)
Morning exploring New Zealand's capital city. Suggest take the cable car to Kelburn and walk down through the Botanic Gardens to Parliament buildings and around the waterfront to Te Papa - the National Museum of New Zealand where there are some excellent exhibits and inter active displays. Drive around Wellington Harbour and through the Hutt Valley crossing the Rimutaka Ranges to the Wairarapa Region and Martinborough. The sunny dry climate and free draining low-vigour soils of the Wairarapa Valley is ideal for grape growing and results in intensely flavoured grapes. The Pinot Noirs, which make up 60% of the grapes planted here, are especially powerful and highly regarded. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are also popular. Among the best known Martinborough Wineries are Te Kairanga Wines, Dry River Wines, Palliser Estate, Murdock James and the Margrain Vineyard.
Day 12 - MARTINBOROUGH / TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK (332 KMS)
Today drive north through Masterton. If you are interested in wildlife recommend stop at the Mt Bruce Bird Sanctuary where many of New Zealand's most rare and endangered native birds are involved in special breeding programmes. Pass through the Manawatu Gorge and drive back to Waiouru. Here turn left and drive through Ohakune and around the mountains of Tongariro National Park to Whakapapa Village on the north side of Mt Ruapehu. There are three main peaks in Tongariro National Park - Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngaruahoe. All are volcanic. Indeed Ruapehu erupted spectacularly as recently as 1995 and again in 1996. Whakapapa Ski field on the northern slopes of Mt Ruapehu and Turoa Ski field on the Southern slopes are very popular in winter. Over summer months too thousands of people flock to the mountains to walk some of the mountain tracks - the best known of which is the full day Tongariro Crossing - widely regarded as the best one-day hike in New Zealand.
Day 13 - TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK / WAITOMO / AUCKLAND AIRPORT (325 KMS)
Today drive north through Taumaranui and the once forbidden King Country to Waitomo for a guided tour of the famous Waitomo Caves including the Glow-worm Grotto. The stalactite and stalagmite formations here are amazing. In the afternoon drive on north through Hamilton City - New Zealand's largest inland city to Auckland International Airport.