7 Day North Island Explorer
North Island Self Drive from Wellington to Auckland
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

7 Day North Island Explorer

Travel through the heart of the North Island on this 7-day adventure. Begin in Wellington, famous for its vibrant, creative, culture, fuelled by great wine, food, craft beer and coffee. From here you will travel north through rural countryside, Taupo, Rotorua and onto metropolitan Auckland. Highlights on this tour include the Rotorua Canopy tree walk and the Huka Falls Jet.

Tour summary and feature

North Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$1,681 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Wellington, finishes in Auckland

7 days/6 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Rental car insurance included: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible

 Rental car inclusions: GPS navigation, unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers

 Viewed 17 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

At a glance - 7 Day North Island Explorer

Day 1: Welcome to Wellington. Accommodation: Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel

Day 2: Today you'll cross the Rimutaka Ranges and travel through the Wairarapa to the Hawkes Bay. Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 320 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

Day 3: Enjoy a free day in Hawkes Bay before an evening progressive wine tour. Accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

Day 4: Journey from Napier to Taupo, then experience the thrill of the Huka Falls Jet Boat. Accommodation: Suncourt Hotel & Conference Centre
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 130 kms / 81 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 5: Today it's a short drive to Rotorua, then explore the forest. Accommodation: Sudima Lake Rotorua
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 76 kms / 47 miles : 0.9 hours

Day 6: Travel North to Auckland City. Accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Auckland City
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 219 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Day 7: Explore more of Auckland, before departing for home.
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.4 hours

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 7 day tour starting in Wellington

Day 1 - Welcome to Wellington

7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 1
Private transfer Wellington airport to your accommodation

You will be met on arrival at Wellington airport and transferred to your accommodation.

Welcome to Wellington

Wellington City is New Zealand's capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre) and so exploring on foot is relatively easy. From your city centre accommodation you can easily stroll the cafes and restaurants around Courtenay Place and if you arrive early enough New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa, is also close by.

Your accommodation: Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel

Distinction Wellington Century City Hotel is located in the heart of Wellington's CBD, close to shopping, restaurants and key attractions such as Te Papa Museum.

Day 2 - Today you'll cross the Rimutaka Ranges and travel through the Wairarapa to the Hawkes Bay

7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 2
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 SUV's.

GPS navigation system

Use the latest GPS technology as you tour New Zealand. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions including street name announcement. The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Wellington to Napier

Leaving Welllington today you will first pass the Wairarapa on the eastern side of the Rimutaka Ranges. A significant contrast to the hills of Wellington, it's rich pastures and boutique vineyards of Martinborough give way to grassy plains and rugged coastal shores. Go through Greytown, home to the largest number of wooden buildings in the country then stop in Masterton, a small farming town known for its Golden Shears competition - where shearers compete for the title of fastest shearer. Continue on to Hawkes Bay and Havelock North before arriving in Napier, the art deco capital of New Zealand.

Your accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

The Art Deco Masonic Hotel occupies a significant historic building on Napier’s waterfront and has been richly refurbished in keeping with the Art Deco architecture. With its central location and decadent décor, this is the best place to experience what Napier is famous for.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 320 kms / 199 miles : 4.0 hours

Day 3 - Enjoy a free day in Hawkes Bay before an evening progressive wine tour

7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 3
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

With is Mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday prospect. As the nation's first winemaking region, a visit to one of its 30 wineries is a must. A trip to Mission Estate touted as the birthplace of NZ wine, can't be missed. For the truly enthused, head out on a tour of the vines. We recommend the to make the most of what's on offer. Those into Gatsby will enjoy the chance to view prominent Art Deco landmarks on a 1930s Vintage Car Tour. Passengers will spend just over an hour learning about the history of the city's architecture - including the Napier Municipal Theatre, one of the top ten Art Deco Buildings in the world. If you're after some fresh air, hire a bike and take your pick of one of over 200km of cycling trails or head on down to one of the many beaches that ring the area. Ocean or Waimarama beach are good choices, and both are patrolled by surf lifeguards during the summer. Indulge in some local produce and head out on a cheese, chocolate, honey or orchard tour. End on a high with another ride, this time in a comfortable trailer pulled by a tractor en-route to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony - the largest of its kind in the world.

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Winery Dinner

Take a scenic drive through the vineyards as you learn about the region and its wines. Enjoy a full interactive wine tasting alongside gourmet platters at a boutique winery. Take in the breathtaking panoramic views from Te Mata Peak while enjoying a glass of bubbles as the sun sets from 399m above sea level overlooking the glimmering lights of the Twin Cities.
The Twilight Odyssey Tour includes sightseeing of the region with fully guided commentary, a progressive three course dinner at one of New Zealands top winery restaurants, wine tasting, champagne, wine with dinner, dessert wine, tea and coffee.

Your accommodation: Art Deco Masonic Hotel

The Art Deco Masonic Hotel occupies a significant historic building on Napier’s waterfront and has been richly refurbished in keeping with the Art Deco architecture. With its central location and decadent décor, this is the best place to experience what Napier is famous for.

Day 4 - Journey from Napier to Taupo, then experience the thrill of the Huka Falls Jet Boat

7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 4
Napier to Taupo

Crossing the Ahimanawa Ranges you arrive into the town of Taupo sitting on New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo - a gigantic volcanic caldera formed during one of the world’s largest ever eruptions.  Just north of the Taupo are the Huka Falls and a short detour to view is advised. The Huka Jet can get you much closer with a thrilling jet boat ride. Nearby Craters of the Moon is a geothermal reserve with great walking tracks around its many boiling pools and steaming vents. Taupo is a lively place with many shops, bars and cafes all catering for the traveller and visitor. A whole host of activities can be undertaken here such as bungy jumping, sky diving, fishing for trout in the lake and rivers, kayaking, sailing, horse riding and walking and hiking to name but a few.

Hukafalls Jet Boat Ride

The Huka Jet is 30 minutes of pure fun and exhilaration, skimming close to cliffs, sliding past trees, feeling the adrenalin of full 360 degree spins. The excitement continues right up to the base of the foaming Huka Falls, where you get a spectacular water level view to New Zealand's most visited natural attraction. Nothing compares to watching 220,000 litres per second tumbling over the cliff face towards you.
The water from the mighty Huka Falls runs down the Waikato River through a series of Hydro Power Stations. You'll get a view of the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station in the comfort of a powerful Chevrolet V8 jet boat. This unique Geothermal Power Station uses underground geothermal activity to produce hot steamy water. The Waikato Rivers beautiful environment is varied and unique and is New Zealand's longest river flowing north from our largest lake - Lake Taupō.

Your accommodation: Suncourt Hotel & Conference Centre

Suncourt Hotel overlooks the Great Lake and is just a short walk to the town centre. With the onsite restaurant, pool and children’s play area, you’ll find everything you need for a great Taupo holiday.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 130 kms / 81 miles : 1.5 hours

Day 5 - Today it's a short drive to Rotorua, then explore the forest

7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 5
Taupo to Rotorua

The drive today takes you through the city of Rotorua, famous for its bubbling mud pools and Maori culture. Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and the Waimangu Volcanic Valley are well signposted on the highway between the two towns. On Rotorua's lakefront Volcanic Air Safaris offer scenic flights over Mt. Tarawera, an impressive volcanic crater.
The Rotorua Museum and Blue Baths in the Government Gardens offer one of the best displays of any museum in the country. Focussing on local history the eruption of Mt. Tarawera in 1886 is brought to life.

Rotorua Canopy Tours: The Original Canopy Tour

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. 

Your accommodation: Sudima Lake Rotorua

Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua boasts a location that is second-to-none, right on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua. Adjacent to the world-famous Polynesian Spa complex and just a short stroll to all the attractions in Rotorua.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 76 kms / 47 miles : 0.9 hours

Day 6 - Travel North to Auckland City

7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 6
Rotorua to Auckland

The drive from Rotorua to Auckland takes you through the heart of the Waikato and its rich agricultural land. New Zealand's longest river - the Waikato - guides you through the art and craft stores of Tirau and the township of Cambridge. Continue on a little further to arrive into Auckland City, your destination for the night.

Fullers Rangitoto Volcanic Explorer

A short 25-minute cruise through the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf delivers you to Rangitoto Island, the largest and youngest of Auckland's volcanic field. It last erupted around 600 years ago but is considered extinct and safe to explore. Upon arrival, you'll be greeted by your guide and taken to waiting four wheel drive vehicles nearby. Once onboard - journey through rugged lava crops and native bush while you learn about the fiery history and geology of the island. You'll then be dropped off at the base of the summit, only a short climb along a wooden boardwalk to the top. After taking in the 360 degree panoramic views, rejoin the tour vehicle for the return trip to the wharf and back to Auckland.

Your accommodation: Hotel Grand Chancellor Auckland City

Located on Hobson Street, downtown Auckland, Hotel Grand Chancellor offers apartment-style convenience with hotel facilities. Right on the doorstep of the busy Viaduct and waterfront, providing a diverse selection of restaurants to tempt the taste buds.

Meals included: Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 219 kms / 136 miles : 2.6 hours

Day 7 - Explore more of Auckland, before departing for home

7 Day North Island Explorer - Day 7
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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Instant quote - 7 Day North Island Explorer

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