Arrive Rotorua Domestic Airport (and depending upon flight arrival time), we proceed on a sightseeing tour of Rotorua. Highlights include some of the many Rotorua Lakes including the Blue and Green Lakes, Lake Tarawera, and of course Lake Rotorua. A tour of the city includes Princes Gate, the pretty Government Gardens and a walk through Kuirau Park, in the heart of Rotorua and New Zealand’s only geothermal public park. This evening enjoy an dinner in the hotel restaurant, then travel out to Redwood Forest to walk among the tree-tops. Redwoods Nightlights is one of New Zealand’s top design led tourism experiences featuring 30 exquisite lanterns designed by world-renowned designer and sustainability champion David Trubridge. Floating 9 to 20 metres above the forest floor, this award-winning, eco-tourism walk is 700 metres long, spans across 28 suspension bridges and 27 platforms.
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel, Rotorua
After breakfast at the hotel we depart Rotorua touring the East Coast along State Highway 2, travelling via many crops of New Zealand export quality Kiwi Fruit. Our first stop today is at the golden beaches of Mount Maunganui – known as “the Mount” this an incredibly popular visitor location among New Zealanders and international visitors alike. The Mount is often referred to as the Gold Coast of New Zealand. From the Mount we travel around Tauranga Harbour and north via Katikati – the Mural Town, then onto Waihi – known for its gold mining history we visit the view point of Martha Hill open cast mine, which is located in the middle of this quaint town. Further travel further northbound we visit Whangamata and from here we travel the short distance to the settlement of Pauanui. This purpose-built holiday community lies across the harbour from Tairua and features Pauanui Waterways, the country’s first canal housing development. On arrival we take a drive around the village before heading to our accommodation. Located at Mount Pauanui our secluded hideaway accommodation is nestled into the mountainside offering superb views of the local landscape and within close proximity of the beautiful Pauanui Beach. Dinner this evening at the resort.
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park – mixture of room types
This morning we travel by coach to Hahei, then for those who would like to stretch their legs, we enjoy a walk down to stunning Cathedral Cove. Accessible only on foot or boat, famous Cathedral Cove is one of the “must visit” sites on The Coromandel. The walk is approximately 45 minutes each way and takes us past quintessential Coromandel scenery of Pohutukawa trees and white sandy beaches. A tasty treat awaits us at Cathedral Cove Macadamias where we learn how the macadamias are handpicked during harvest and processed on-site, then we head to Mercury Bay Estate where we sample some of the wines produced onsite and enjoy a shared long table lunch at this family owned working vineyard and wine producer. After lunch, we travel back to Hot Water Beach, where with a low tide in the early afternoon will be perfect for bathing our feet in the warm water after our walking this morning. From Hot Water Beach we continue around the Whitianga Harbour Whitianga and to our overnight accommodation. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodation: Beachside Resort, Whitianga – mixture of room types
Our tour of the Coromandel continues today northbound around the coast to Coromandel. Formerly a gold-mining and timber town, Coromandel is now a haven for artists, craftspeople and conservationists. From Coromandel Town, travel the short distance to Driving Creek Railway. We enjoy a scenic ride in this open sided Driving Creek Railway train on its 3km narrow gauge track with 3 tunnels, 2 spirals, 5 reversing points and 6 viaducts. Originally constructed to retrieve clay for the local potter Barry Brickell it now provides a wonderful ride through the thick regenerating Coromandel bush with a fantastic view at the mountain top terminus. Following our time at Driving Creek, we start our journey south down the western side of the Coromandel Peninsula. This coastal drive is quite spectacular and on a clear day, keep an eye out for the SkyTower which can be seen across the Firth of Thames, then travel through some of the country’s richest farmland in the lush Waikato Valley to Matamata – here we experience the real Middle-earth with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set. Your guide will escort you through the ten-acre site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created. The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn, 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 of Hobbiton we travel through to the city of Hamilton set on the banks of the Waikato River. Stop off at the Hamilton Gardens for a relaxing stroll. The unique theme of Hamilton Gardens is ‘the story of gardens’ which is explored through a series of five garden collections: The Paradise Garden Collection, the Productive Garden Collection, The Fantasy Garden Collection, The Cultivar Garden Collection and the Landscape Garden Collection. We soon arrive at our overnight accommodation in Hamilton.
Accommodation: Novotel Tainui, Hamilton
This morning we depart Hamilton, travelling over the Bombay Hills which form the southern boundary of the Auckland region, then cross the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge, and travel north through the scenic Hibiscus Coast and into Northland’s lush farmland. We make a stop at The Kauri Museum at Matakohe, an award-winning Museum that tells the fascinating story of the pioneering days through the use of kauri timber and kauri gum. We explore the many exceptional displays and galleries inside the museum, from the magnificent collection of antique kauri furniture to restored machinery, NZ’s earliest tractor, a 1929 Cat 60, and a turning steam sawmill. As one of Northland’s top attractions, we will also view a two-storey life-sized replica Boarding House, a Pioneer School and the historic Matakohe Post Office with a fantastic collection of telephones. From here we continue our northward journey to Whangarei. New Zealand’s northern-most city Whangarei is nestled between forest-clad hills at the heart of the beautiful Whangarei Harbour, and on arrival we travel out to view the Whangarei Falls, a picturesque waterfall that falls 26 metres over basalt cliffs. Dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: Distinction Hotel Whangarei
We enjoy a later start today, with our first stop being the AH Reed Kauri Park. Maturing kauri trees known to be at least 500 years old can be easily viewed close up from the raised walkway through the forest canopy. There will be time here for you to complete the 30 minute walk. Continuing our journey north we travel up Northland’s west coast skirting Kaipara Harbour and following the Kaihu River to Kai Iwi Lakes and the primeval forest of Waipoua, which translates as ‘water falling at night’. Arriving early afternoon at our overnight accommodation on the Hokianga Harbour there will be time for us to relax and enjoy the magnificent views of the harbour and sand dunes. This evening something very special as we experience a 90-minute night tour into the Waipoua Forest to visit one of the oldest and largest known kauri trees in the world, Tane Mahuta known as The Lord of the Forest). Let the night noises, foreign environment, time, local Maori guides and ecological and cultural interpretation (Maori story, song and instruments) awaken your spiritual senses. Dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga – mixture of room types
After a leisurely start this morning we commence our travel to the eastern coast of Northland. Our first stop for the day will be Kerikeri, a town with a rich and colourful history. While here we enjoy a guided tour of the Stone Store and Kemp House (Kerikeri Mission House). The iconic Stone Store stands at the edge of the Kerikeri inlet, offering a unique shopping experience with an interactive story space upstairs. See how the early settlers lived and learn about the building’s many lives as a trading post, library, barracks, school and general store. Built in 1822, Kemp House is the country’s oldest surviving building, surrounded by English-style cottage garden and orchards. Hear the story of the first missionary families and see their personal items and furniture preserved over the years. We’ll then stop in lovely Kerikeri where we visit Makana Confections where we sample their delicious hand-made chocolates. Continuing north we travel to the beautiful Doubtless Bay where we will stay for the next two nights. Dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: Ramada Reia Taipa Beach, Taipa – 2 nights – mixture of room types
Today board a custom-built vehicle for our full day excursion to Cape Reinga, the top of New Zealand. On this full day tour by coach, we uncover the wild beauty of this vast and untouched region and enjoy a taste of the far-north’s varying and beautiful landscape: the rolling hills of the rural countryside, breath-taking coastal views and native forest. Stops during the journey include the Te Paki Stream and Sand Dunes – here the the quick sand stream leads to Ninety Mile Beach where you have the opportunity to climb steep sand hills – toboggans available for those who want to experience the thrills and spills of sand boarding. See the Aupouri Forest which is one of the largest planted forests in the Southern Hemisphere plus enjoy the coastal views at Tapotupotu Bay, a beautiful sandy bay nestled in the hills on the eastern side of Cape Reinga. We drive along the sands of Ninety Mile beach – an official NZ highway – and time/opportunity permitting, we may stop to see locals fishing from the beach. No doubt a highlight of the tour, your time at Cape Reinga – NZ’s northernmost point will be unforgettable. Sacred to Maori, Te Rerenga Wairua is the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand for Maori – the place where Maori spirits travel up the coast then leave Aotearoa and bid their last farewell before returning to the land of their ancestors, Hawaiiki-A-Nui. Cape Reinga also offers the unique view of the rare and awesome sight of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meeting. We make a stop at Ka-Uri Unearthed at Awanui to see huge ancient kauri logs & stumps which have been extracted from local swamps. We visit the vivid white silica sands of Rarawa Beach on the east coast, north of Houhora. A simple picnic lunch is included today. You may wish to pack some snacks and take a drink bottle. Tour direction and stops dependent upon tides. Return to our accommodation in the late afternoon. Dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Departing Taipa this morning we travel south into the heart of the Bay of Islands – Paihia. On arrival we visit the Waitangi Treaty House where New Zealand’s history began. We explore the Treaty House and marvel at the scale of Ngatokimatawhaorua, one of the world’s largest carved war canoes (waka taua). There is also time to wander through the beautiful grounds of the Waitangi estate, complete with extensive gardens, bush tracks, beaches, and enjoy fabulous views over the Bay of Islands and beyond, and perhaps visit the fascinating Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi and Te Rau Aroha, a recently opened museum which commemorates the service and sacrifice of Māori in the NZ Armed Forces in times of conflict. Free time this afternoon to relax and stroll the shops, cafes and beach of the Paihia township. Dine this evening in the hotel restaurant.
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands, Paihia – 2 nights
A relaxing start to the morning then we take the ferry over to nearby historic Russell. While in Russell we will split into small groups for a tour of Russell discovering New Zealand’s earliest European history. We will visit areas of historic interest which cannot be easily covered on foot, seeing sights such Long Beach, Tapeka Point and the famous Flagstaff with stunning 360′ vistas as well as Christ Church (the oldest church in NZ famed for the bullet holes in its walls). We then enjoy a leisurely lunch at the famed Duke of Marlborough Hotel situated right on Russell’s waterfront, with free time after to stroll and explore the beautiful township, before we take the ferry back to Paihia. Dine this evening in the hotel restaurant.
This morning we farewell the Bay of Islands and head south to Whangarei then continue on to Snells Beach for a visit to the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail –an exhibition of contemporary sculpture by New Zealand’s leading contemporary artists. During the 2-km walk discover a dynamic exhibition of 60 artworks set in a stunning natural environment of native bush, wildlife and ponds bursting with waterlilies. Pass the Hibiscus Coast before arriving in Auckland to your centrally located hotel.
Accommodation: Sky City Hotel – 2 nights
Regularly named as one of the best life-style cities in the world, Auckland is a vibrant cosmopolitan city, with a busy nightlife, world-class restaurants, and diverse neighbourhoods to explore. Auckland has a plethora of great museums and galleries, and is a melting pot of cultures, with a large Polynesian and Asian population. This morning enjoy a sightseeing tour of the ‘City of Sails’ includes the panoramic city and harbour views from Bastion Point; trendy Parnell Village; the lovely bays of the waterfront drive and the vibrant Viaduct Harbour area. Also visit the Auckland Museum which gives an excellent introduction to the artistic legacy and cultures of the peoples of the Pacific; the monumental carvings, buildings, canoes and taonga (treasures) of the Maori; and the diversity of cultures which now combine to form the rich tapestry of race, nationality and creed which is modern New Zealand. Depart Auckland at 12pm for a 35-minute cruise across the picturesque Hauraki Gulf to Waiheke Island. This island is known for its beautiful beaches, boutique wineries and artisans. Today sample some of the best vineyards Waiheke has to offer with visits to Mudbrick, Stonyridge and Peninsula Estate. At each vineyard receive two tastings and enjoy the stunning views with a tour through each vineyard. This evening we dine at Harbourside Ocean Bar and Grill, in the Auckland Ferry Building just a short walk from our hotel. The view from the restaurant’s extensive terracotta-tiled terrace of the ferry traffic, passenger liners and yachts is sensational. Harbourside is a spacious restaurant but has an intimate atmosphere ideal for private get-togethers. The classically inspired yet creative menu includes the best of New Zealand seafood.
After breakfast you will be transferred from the hotel to Auckland Airport for your flight home.
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Prices are per person (pp) in NZD, twin share based on lead in season. All care is taken to promote correct pricing at time of publication but is dependent upon availability and will be confirmed at time of reservation. Valid for sale until sold out. Airfares not included unless specified. Offers are subject to availability and can change without notification due to fluctuations in charges and currency. Credit card surcharges apply. For full terms and conditions please contact a World Travellers consultant.