Day 1 : Day 1: Auckland to Coromandel
After breakfast, we begin our tour in the country’s largest city: Auckland. It is unsurprising that a quarter of the population reside here when you consider it is a region of stunning beaches, enchanted holiday islands, a sunny climate, with a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping. Depending on the season and weather for that day, your guide will take you on an orientation tour to let you get acquainted with the city. After saying goodbye to New Zealand’s own metropolis, we’ll hit the road together on our way south to the North Island’s best-kept secret - the Coromandel. Beautiful remote beaches, dense wooded forest and clear blue waters make the Coromandel one of New Zealand’s favorite getaways. Together, at low tide, we’ll make our way to the world-famous Hot Water Beach. When the tide’s out, you can dig a hole in the sand where natural hot springs bubble up to create your own personal hot tub! You’ll also carve your own tiki pendant from bone here, a very special and unique Kiwi experience. What a better souvenir to take home than one you made yourself in a traditional activity?
Day 2 : Day 2: Coromandel to Waitomo
It’s no secret that many blockbuster hits have been filmed in New Zealand due to its incredible landscapes. We’ll walk together out along the cliffs down to Cathedral Cove (which you might recognize from the Chronicles of Narnia). Beautiful in its own right, with perfect beaches and massive rock arches and columns, it’s one of the most popular spots in the Coromandel and for a good reason: it doesn’t look real. From the Coromandel, we’ll head west through some beautiful lush green hills dotted with New Zealand’s iconic sheep before making our way to Waitomo, home of the one of a kind glowworm caves.
Day 3 : Day 3: Waitomo to Rotorua
Waitomo has become famous around the world thanks to its magnificent glowworm caves. How many chances do you get to go caving in a place with blue glowworms twinkling on the ceiling? There are many different ways to explore the caves, but if you are open to adventure and getting your feet wet, the best way to experience Waitomo is by black water rafting. After lunch we’ll hop on over to Rotorua, famous for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. Nicknamed the Vegas of New Zealand, Rotorua has heaps of activities and things to do for everyone. A favourite activity for many is the Zorb – a Kiwi invention that involves rolling down a hill whilst inside a giant air cushioned ball! Taking in one of the Maori cultural evenings, getting to experience the traditional Maori heritage and welcome, is another tour highlight.
Day 4 : Day 4: Rotorua to Taupo
While the North Island is predominantly volcanic, Rotorua is exceptional for its geothermal activity. With neon blue and red lakes, steaming rivers, active volcanoes and geysers galore, there are more unique natural wonders to be found in Rotorua than many other places in the world. We’ll start out with optional white water rafting or sledging on the Kaituna River which includes a 7 metre waterfall, though if you prefer something more relaxed, there are plenty of other spots to explore around town, including some local hot springs if you want to take it easy. Here you’ll have to chance to head over to Matamata and tour the Hobbiton film set from The Lord of the Rings, as well the Otorohonga Kiwi House where you can get a glimpse of our national icon. Reenact scenes from the movies with the rest of the group or just pretend to be a Hobbit while sipping some of the pub’s famous ginger beer. After lunch in town we may take a trip up the Rotorua gondola (cable car) to another stunning panoramic view and the chance to ride down on the Luge (like go-karts with no engine) – heaps of fun! On the way to Taupo we stop at what makes Rotorua famous, along with giving it its unique smell: Orakei Korako or Waiotapu. These are extraordinary geyserland and thermal parks where you can walk around and check out all the unique geothermal activity in the area.
Day 5 : Day 5: Taupo
The world’s largest volcanic eruption in 5000 years left the North Island with Lake Taupo a few thousand years ago. The eruption was so dramatic that records indicate the sun became hazy in China. The lake is fresh-water, and measures the size of Singapore. Feeling adventurous? We challenge you to start off the day with a skydive. Once you fall out of the plane from 12,000 or so feet you will forget your fear! Look down at the lake and on a clear day you can see both the west and east coast of the North Island. Skydiving is the ultimate thrill and a great many travellers choose to do it. You can also walk the Tongariro Crossing today – it’s one of the most beautiful walks in the world and takes roughly 7-8 hours. Transport is included and you are allocated a guide in the winter. For many of our tour members, this is a definite highlight of their tour. We recommend you be reasonably fit. There are many other activities that your guide can suggest on the day, for example: quad biking, golf, an indoor climbing wall, mountain biking and bungy over New Zealand’s longest river. In the afternoon it may be possible to take a cruise on The Barbary sailing boat to see Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay or you can take yourself for an exploration, indulge in some souvenir shopping or enjoy good food and drink at one of the many restaurants and cafes. In the evening your guide will treat you to a soak in some naturally-heated thermal rock pools situated in a local park. It will keep you warm for hours.
Day 6 : Day 6: Taupo to Wellington
This is the longest journey of our tour so we leave relatively early – there are going to be a few stops along the way. We drive around the lake and come into view of the majestic Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe (the volcano known as Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings). A photo stop will commence shortly. From the lake we join the Desert Road. On your right you have the mountain range, and on the left is the lesser noticed Kaimanawas, home to a breed of wild horses that are seen on lucky occasions. This whole area belongs to the Rangipo Desert, an area with poor vegetation because of bad soil conditions and drying winds. In winter it is not unusual to see snow. After this we pass through the towns of Bulls and Levin, before briefly touching upon the west coastline. In the summertime we like to pause along the Kapiti Coast and have a BBQ on one of the beaches in front of the dying sun. Unfortunately, in the winter, the weather is usually too cold or the sun has already set. Either way, we reach Wellington by early evening. This evening you have the option to dine in the funky Courtney District or cook together as a group back at our accommodation.
Day 7 : Day 7: Wellington
After breakfast we begin our tour of Wellington. Perched on the edge of a spectacular harbour, encircled by green, towering hills, Wellington is a stunning and compact city. Vibrant, exciting and cultured, the nation’s capital combines the stimulation and sophistication of a big city with the quirkiness of a charming village. Extending just two kilometres in diameter, the capital is a truly 'walking city’. As always, your tour guide will introduce you to the city with an orientation tour – including a drive around the bays, a visit to Weta Studios, up to the lookout point at Mount Victoria and then through central Wellington, up the cable car, through the Botanic Gardens and to the Parliament Buildings. Wellington has a feast of cultural attractions and its crowning glory is Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand. Situated on Wellington’s magnificent waterfront, this internationally acclaimed museum combines leading edge technology with traditional exhibits to tell the stories of New Zealand’s land and people. The museum is free for all. For those of you still seeking an adrenalin kick, during summer there is some great windsurfing here (Wellington is in fact named “Windy Wellington!), some great mountain bike tracks, “Adrenalin Forest” – an adventure high ropes course which is heaps of fun, plus loads more activities. As per usual, your Tour Guide will advise of the best additional options available. Our tour officially ends this evening around 5pm.