9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island
Auckland to Wellington
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island

Explore the North Island from Auckland to Wellington on this short 'Taster Tour'. In Rotorua you'll be introduced to Maori culture through an informative and tasty discovery of the cuisine. You then journey to the beautiful Hawkes Bay, home to New Zealand's oldest vineyards. With time to discover the wineries for yourself during the day, you are then treated to an amazing progressive dinner at some of the top winery restaurants with matched wine tastings. From Napier travel south to the village of Martinborough, a hidden gem within New Zealand's food and wine scene. You'll be introduced to the delicious artisan delights that are being made here. The last leg of your 'Taster Tour' brings you to the capital city of Wellington, a hub for foodies and the best place to experience New Zealand's cafe culture.

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Quick Itinerary Details

North Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$3,072 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Wellington

9 days/8 nights

Motels

 Rental car included

 Viewed 20 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance

Day 1: Welcome to Auckland
Accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Day 2: Drive south through Waikato farmland via Hobbiton Village before continuing to Rotorua
Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 239 kms / 148 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 3: Enjoy an intimate introduction to Maori culture and food
Accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Day 4: First head to Lake Taupo before travelling east to the Hawke's Bay
Accommodation: The Dome
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 5: This evening you'll dine at some of the top Hawkes Bay vineyards, with perfectly matched wines
Accommodation: The Dome

Day 6: Napier to Martinborough, famed for its boutique wineries
Accommodation: The Claremont, Martinborough
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 271 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 7: Learn and taste some of the wines that make Martinborough a favourite wine destination
Accommodation: The Claremont, Martinborough

Day 8: It's a short drive over the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington today
Accommodation: CityLife Wellington
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 73 kms / 45 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 9: Take the morning to discover Wellington's cafe culture before you depart

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 9 day tour starting in Auckland

Day 1 - Welcome to Auckland
9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island - Day 1
Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland Accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland airport by the driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Itinerary information by App & in-country support

Access to our exclusive Touring App. The smart phone app includes your full itinerary and reservation details, all available online and offline as well as lots of other great information such as restaurant guides, weather forecasts, and local activity suggestions. Instant itinerary updates and changes are available and it's easy to keep in touch with us. The App is free and easy to download on your mobile using Android or IOS.
You also have access to our free call number and after-hours service if you require support while on tour.

Welcome to Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand's self-proclaimed "City of Sails" is the country's largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or take a drive through one of over 800 regional National Parks to see deserted beaches, waterfalls and native forest.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore

This unique on-water dining experience is not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Enjoy smooth sailing on the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this p...

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This unique on-water dining experience is not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Enjoy smooth sailing on the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this photogenic city come alive with twinkling lights. Enjoy your meal as you sail around the beautiful Auckland Harbour taking in the view as the sun slowly sets. You'll be treated to canapes and a drink as you set off towards Westhaven Marina. Choose between dining in the downstairs cabin or on deck to take in the iconic sights of the Auckland Harbour. To finish the evening off, savour your dessert course as you leisurely sail back to Auckland's vibrant Viaduct Harbour.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - All Blacks Experience

See what it takes to make, shape and be an All Black. Experience first-hand the excitement and emotion of game day. Discover the stories behind some o...

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See what it takes to make, shape and be an All Black. Experience first-hand the excitement and emotion of game day. Discover the stories behind some of world rugby’s most famous players, moments and matches.
This guided experience introduces you to the game of rugby before being lead through state-of-the-art displays combining sound, images, interactive technology and hands-on activities. Discover New Zealand’s deep passion for our national sport, experience the full force of the All Blacks haka, tackle interactive zones where you can try out your kicking, catching, line-out and accuracy skills against legendary All Blacks.

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Your accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Admirably positioned in the hub of the city's business, retail and entertainment district, the City Life Hotel is perfect to explore Auckland. Their self-contained suites are equipped with everything you will need to enjoy your stay.
Day 2 - Drive south through Waikato farmland via Hobbiton Village before continuing to Rotorua
9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island - 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

Navigating New Zealand can be done easily in two ways. If you have a smartphone, you will be able to connect it to the USB of your rental car and your maps and other apps will display on the screen in the centre console of your vehicle, with the sound coming through the car speakers.
If you don't have a smartphone, chat to us to ensure we book you a car with a portable GPS system. Your portable GPS features a simple touch screen interface, with automatic route calculation and turn-by-turn voice-prompted directions, which announces street names.  The automotive-grade GPS unit is easy to use and has multiple language options.

Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton

Head southbound on State Highway one through the lush farmland and dairy pastures of the Waikato region. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of the greater Auckland area and its here you turn inland towards Matamata. This is the real Middle Earth, and you'll see many locations used in the filming of The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit - as well as visiting the actual set of Hobbiton.

Hobbiton Movie Set tour from Shires Rest

Become immersed in the The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films when you visit the actual Hobbiton movie set. Located just outside of Matamata - in the heart the lush Waikato farming region, your tour will begin with a drive through a picturesque sheep farm. You'll then be taken through Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, the Mill and the Party Tree while your guide shares behind-the-scenes tales and insight into the making of the films.

Matamata to Rotorua

Just south of Matamata is the township of Tirau, home to the largest tin sheep and sheepdog, but it also offers a surprising number of bric a brac, art, craft and antique stores if you feel like browsing.
Arriving into the City of Rotorua the regions geothermal activity becomes evident as you see steam rising from the roadside and surrounding hills.
Considered the cultural centre for the Maori people, Rotorua is the ideal place to gain an insight into the history and culture.
Nearby Ohinemutu Village is the original site of the first Maori settlers in the area and despite its now modern surroundings and buildings you can still gain a sense of what the original village was like. The magnificent meeting house and historic carvings along with the unique 'Tudor-style' St Faiths Church feature in many visitors photo albums.
One of the most popular introductions to the Maori Culture is through an evening at Mitai Maori Village where you can enjoy performances and demonstrations followed by a traditionally cooked hangi meal.
Of course Rotorua is also a great place to enjoy many other activities including, fishing, 4WD trips, relaxing spa treatments, mountain biking, walking and hiking plus helicopter and float plane trips.

Your accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Located in the heart of Rotorua, just a stone’s throw from the restaurant and shopping precinct. Purpose built in 2012, all apartments are equipped with modern fixtures, full cooking and laundry facilities that make Quest Rotorua Central your perfect home away from home.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 239 kms / 148 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 3 - Enjoy an intimate introduction to Maori culture and food
9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island - Day 3
Te Puia: Te Ra Guided Experience, Cultural Experience and Hangi Buffet Lunch

This experience includes a special guided tour of Te Puia. This begins with an interactive session where you learn to weave flax, then a tour of the prestigious carving and weaving schools. Next explore the geothermal valley, the Kiwi house, mud pools and hot springs.
Then, an unforgettable traditional performance. With a spine-tingling ceremonial welcoming, and stunning Kapa Haka cultural show which features traditional ancestral storytelling, song & dance, with the opportunity to join in hands on activity, for a more enlightening Māori cultural experience.
As part of this experience, you will also get to enjoy a delicious Hangi buffet lunch.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - National Kiwi Hatchery Tour

The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour is a special opportunity to gain insight into and view this highly regarded conservation centre. Developed with the vi...

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The National Kiwi Hatchery Tour is a special opportunity to gain insight into and view this highly regarded conservation centre. Developed with the visitor experience in mind, the hatchery boasts special viewing opportunities and is hosted by kiwi expert guides who ensure guests leave fully informed and all questions answered. Learn all about New Zealand’s intriguing national icon and the efforts of the kiwi husbandry team, see and discover what it takes to hatch and rare chicks, and if you’re lucky, see baby chicks in person!

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Your accommodation: Quest Rotorua Central

Located in the heart of Rotorua, just a stone’s throw from the restaurant and shopping precinct. Purpose built in 2012, all apartments are equipped with modern fixtures, full cooking and laundry facilities that make Quest Rotorua Central your perfect home away from home.
Day 4 - First head to Lake Taupo before travelling east to the Hawke's Bay
9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island - Day 4
Rotorua to Napier

This drive will take you through the thermal region just south of Rotorua. Home to a plethora of unique geothermal attractions including boiling mud pits, natural hot springs and steaming geysers, this area is a must do before you move on to Napier. Notable attractions are Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu and Craters of the Moon.
Continue on to Taupo and marvel at the lake - a giant crater formed following a volcanic eruption in the year 180 CE. As you approach the city, be sure to stop at Huka Falls to view the spectacular sight of hundreds of cubic metres of water spilling every second down the narrow 11 metre drop.
For an extra thrill take a jet-boat ride to the base of the falls. Leaving Taupo, follow the road as it climbs the rugged Ahimanawa Range before descending back down the Pacific Coast to art deco Napier.

Your accommodation: The Dome

The Dome occupies the top two floors of the grand and historic 1937 T&G building, an iconic Art Deco masterpiece in the heart of Napier. The vibe of New Zealand’s Art Deco city is right outside the door, yet The Dome’s elevation enhances the serenity and seclusion.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 210 kms / 131 miles : 2.4 hours

Day 5 - This evening you'll dine at some of the top Hawkes Bay vineyards, with perfectly matched wines
9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island - Day 5
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.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour

This wine tasting tour is designed for casual imbibers and wine aficionados. Meet like-minded people and share an appreciation of Hawke's Bay's fantas...

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This wine tasting tour is designed for casual imbibers and wine aficionados. Meet like-minded people and share an appreciation of Hawke's Bay's fantastic wines. Taste great wines made with passion and learn of the areas unique growing conditions. Take home outstanding wines and wonderful memories. Join a fun filled wine tasting afternoon in the sun driving through absolutely stunning scenery. Meet like-minded people and share an appreciation of this region's fantastic wine. Visit four to five wineries and enjoy a cheese platter on the grounds of the Ngatarawa Vineyard beside the lily pond.

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Twilight Progressive Dinner Tour

Join an extraordinary 3 course progressive dinner that transports you in luxury comfort from one winery restaurant to the next, enjoying wonderful food and sampling wine to accompany it. Add to this the stunning sunset or evening views from the summit of Te Mata Peak and a wonderful, memorable evening awaits.

Your accommodation: The Dome

The Dome occupies the top two floors of the grand and historic 1937 T&G building, an iconic Art Deco masterpiece in the heart of Napier. The vibe of New Zealand’s Art Deco city is right outside the door, yet The Dome’s elevation enhances the serenity and seclusion.

Meals included: Speciality Dinner

Day 6 - Napier to Martinborough, famed for its boutique wineries
9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island - Day 6
Napier to Martinborough

As you leave the rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay you'll be greeted with some of the country's richest dairy farmland in the Manawatu Gorge. Continue on through the Wairarapa region and stop in the Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre, where you can see some of New Zealand native animals. Take another break in Masterson, and visit the interactive Woolshed Museum to learn about sheep farming in New Zealand. As you drive south, a visit to historic Greytown is a must-do. Take in the restored Victorian buildings and make time for a cup of tea at one of its quaint cafes. Leaving state highway 2 you will cross over the Ruamahanga River into Martinborough wine country - your destination for the day.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Art Deco Trust Guided Morning Walk

Experience Napier's fascinating heritage created by the dramatic story of this city's rebirth in the vibrant 1930s. In February 1931, Napier was level...

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Experience Napier's fascinating heritage created by the dramatic story of this city's rebirth in the vibrant 1930s. In February 1931, Napier was leveled by earthquake and fire but was rebuilt in the depths of the Great Depression in just two years. Nowhere else in the world can you see such a concentration of buildings in the styles of the 1930s: Art Deco, Spanish Mission, and Stripped Classical.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Silky Oak Triple Chocolate Temptation Tour

The Silky Oak Chocolate Co Ltd is a 100% New Zealand owned family business, with a proud reputation for producing exquisite handmade couverture (real)...

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The Silky Oak Chocolate Co Ltd is a 100% New Zealand owned family business, with a proud reputation for producing exquisite handmade couverture (real) chocolates, using traditional methods. Silky Oak's handcrafted chocolate range has something for everyone and the Triple Chocolate Temptation tour is the best way to fully experience and appreciated these delights. Your guide will first explain chocolate making process at the factory, before accompanying you through the Chocolate Museum covering 3,000 years of chocolate history.  The museum tells the story of a food whose past is as rich as its flavour, bought to life with colourfully illustrated texts, life sized tableaux, and a huge collection of chocolate paraphernalia, including a 2,500 year old Mayan Chocolate pot.  You then get to sample the fabulous chocolate being produced here, including a chocolate drink (or tea/coffee), chocolate muffin/ slice, served with liquid chocolate and cream at our Café, you'll also enjoy a take home gift, chocolate of course.

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Your accommodation: The Claremont, Martinborough

Set just outside the main village, The Claremont is the ideal base for you to enjoy everything the region has to offer. Well-appointed, self-contained apartments and units will make your stay very comfortable.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 271 kms / 168 miles : 3.3 hours

Day 7 - Learn and taste some of the wines that make Martinborough a favourite wine destination
9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island - Day 7
Martinborough in a Day Personal Wine Tour

This tour gets you behind the scenes at some of the region’s top wineries and an olive grove. It includes meeting and talking with a winemaker, a walk in the vines, and an olive grove tour and olive oil tasting at a local producer which specialises in flavour-infused olive oils. Cheese tasting, chocolate tasting, a morning coffee stop, gin and beer tastings are also options as part of this tour.

Your accommodation: The Claremont, Martinborough

Set just outside the main village, The Claremont is the ideal base for you to enjoy everything the region has to offer. Well-appointed, self-contained apartments and units will make your stay very comfortable.
Day 8 - It's a short drive over the Rimutaka Ranges to Wellington today
9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island - Day 8
Martinborough to Wellington City

Today you will cross the Rimutaka Ranges as you make your way to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. Often compared to Melbourne, Wellington is vibrant cultural hub.Home to the nation’s centre of government. Legislation happens in the aptly named ‘Beehive,’ an executive wing attached to the Houses of Parliament. At one kilometre squared, the city centre (easily traversed on foot) has an international feel and is peppered with underground art shows, alleyway cafes and New York style delis. Take in the boardwalk view as you stroll to Te Papa Museum or indulge your cinematic side exploring Weta Workshop, the Oscar Award winning design studio for Lord Of The Rings. For a taste of vintage fashion, spend some time (and dollars!) on Cuba Street browsing the boutiques. Work off last night’s dinner with a cycling tour of Oriental Bay and undo your good work with a Hokey Pokey ice-cream in the sun. For those heading further down, the capital is where you board the ferry crossing the Cook Strait to the South Island.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Wellington Half Day Tour

Witness the best sights of New Zealand's capital city up close and personal, before experiencing the beauty of the coastline that surrounds central We...

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Witness the best sights of New Zealand's capital city up close and personal, before experiencing the beauty of the coastline that surrounds central Wellington and its harbour. On this tour, you will head for the hills of Mt Victoria to witness the stunning landscape of Wellington and its harbour below. You will then follow the coastline round to the Weta Cave Museum, which is the showpiece of Peter Jackson's film empire. After a drive around the south coast, you will head back into the city for a ride on the Cable Car and a walk around the lady Norwood rose gardens. The tour concludes with a visit to the Beehive and our Parliament buildings.

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SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Zealandia By Night Wildlife Sanctuary Tour

Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success a...

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Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.
Your tour begins with an interactive exhibition before you walk through the gates of Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a torch-light walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kiwi foraging on the forest floor, tuatara hunting for food, glowworms shining, tiny Maud Island frogs in their enclosure, pateke (brown teal) ducks feeding at night and kaka (parrots) coming in to roost.
Zealandia is one of the best places to see kiwi in the wild. Over 100 of these nocturnal birds live freely in their natural environment inside the safety of the sanctuary valley - so your chances of seeing one is high!

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Your accommodation: CityLife Wellington

City Life Wellington is a suite style hotel with every amenity required for a comfortable stay, as well as being in a superb location to explore the compact city centre. Situated on Lambton Quay, you’ll find the best shopping, tourist attractions and cultural landmarks all within easy walking distance.

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 73 kms / 45 miles : 1.0 hours

Day 9 - Take the morning to discover Wellington's cafe culture before you depart
9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island - Day 9
Rental car drop off Wellington Airport depot

Drop your vehicle at the Wellington Airport rental car depot today before continuing your onward journey.

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9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island

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Remember - we can create this itinerary with any style of accommodation or customise to suit your interests and timeframe. Just contact us here.

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