The Central Highlights Walking Tour
Auckland to Auckland
Breadcrumb
New Zealand tour itinerary name and information

The Central Highlights Walking Tour

Explore a variety of landscapes and natural wonders of the North Island on this short walking highlights tour. Begin with the idyllic Coromandel Peninsula with its white sandy beaches and lush forests. You then tackle one of the world’s greatest one day hikes, the Tongariro Crossing. Located in the striking volcanic plateau of Tongariro National Park, a world heritage area of outstanding beauty. You’ll also have time to discover the unique Maori culture in Rotorua and the fascinating limestone caves and glow worms of Waitomo.

Currency selector
All prices are in
Tour summary and feature
Quick Itinerary Details

North Island Self Drive

This suggested tour costs from NZD$3,799 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Auckland

9 days/8 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Rental car included

 Viewed 10 times in the last 7 days

Tour Inclusions

- Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland accommodation
8 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Tour at a glance

Day 1: Arrive into Auckland where your private transfer will take you to your inner city hotel
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Day 2: Your rental car is delivered then drive to the Coromandel Peninsula
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 151 kms / 94 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 3: Coromandel Wilderness Adventure Day Walk with Kiwi Dundee
Accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Day 4: Travel along the Bay of Plenty before turning inland towards the lakes of Rotorua
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 191 kms / 118 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 5: Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Day 6: Rotorua to Tongariro National Park via Lake Taupo - maybe take the Huka Jetboat to the thundering falls
Accommodation: The Park Hotel Ruapehu
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 177 kms / 110 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 7: Today you'll experience one of the greatest one day walks in the world - the Tongariro Crossing
Accommodation: The Park Hotel Ruapehu

Day 8: Journey north through the King Country to the limestone caves of Waitomo
Accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland
Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 320 kms / 199 miles : 3.9 hours

Day 9: Depart Auckland today

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 25 kms / 16 miles : 0.4 hours

Tour full itinerary

Detailed itinerary: 9 day tour starting in Auckland

Day 1 - Arrive into Auckland where your private transfer will take you to your inner city hotel
The Central Highlights Walking Tour - 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.

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 get out onto the water to experience the best views of the city.

Your accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

This modern and spacious hotel allows you to relax in style while enjoying the world-class casino, more than 20 restaurants, cafes and bars, a theatre, free live entertainment on selected nights and the iconic Sky Tower - all right on your doorstep!
Day 2 - Your rental car is delivered then drive to the Coromandel Peninsula
The Central Highlights Walking Tour - 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 Pauanui

Leaving Auckland you will travel through rolling green Waikato countryside and across the fertile Hauraki Plains. Your drive will take you near the Firth of Thames, a haven for wildlife, in particular, the shorebirds at Miranda. Arriving into the historic gold town of Thames you then cross the Southern Coromandel Ranges and onto the scenic east coast of the peninsula, littered with white sandy beaches.
If you prefer the scenic route, head north from Thames up to the Coromandel Township, following Highway 25 around the peninsula past Kuaotunu and Whitianga, with a stop at Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove.
Your destination of Pauanui meaning big Paua in Maori, lies at the mouth of the Tairua River on its south bank, directly opposite the larger town of Tairua.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Driving Creek Railway & Potteries - EyeFull Tower Tour

Driving Creek Railway and Potteries has become a Coromandel icon. The dream of Barry Brickell was to establish a pottery workshop on his land. Using a...

Read more

Driving Creek Railway and Potteries has become a Coromandel icon. The dream of Barry Brickell was to establish a pottery workshop on his land. Using a railway he would have access to the clay on the land and the pine kiln fuel. Over the next 15 years the railway developed until in 1990 it was finally licensed to carry fare paying passengers and ever since thousands of visitors have made the trip to Coromandel to experience this unique attraction. The 1 hour return train trip on the innovatively designed trains takes you through replanted native kauri forest and includes 2 spirals, 3 short tunnels, 5 reversing points and several large viaducts as it climbs up to the mountain-top terminus. The pottery is still producing and you can watch the artists at work as well as purchase items.

Hide

Your accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Puka Park Resort is situated on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Nestled amongst 25 acres of New Zealand's most beautiful native bush this prestigious hideaway offers luxury and seclusion at its best.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 151 kms / 94 miles : 1.9 hours

Day 3 - Coromandel Wilderness Adventure Day Walk with Kiwi Dundee
The Central Highlights Walking Tour - Day 3
Kiwi Dundee Wilderness Adventure day walk

This day is a challenging hiking journey into tranquil and remote pristine rainforest surrounded by giant rock faces, rugged volcanic peaks, and ancient Kauri, Rimu and Rata trees. Wonder at the world’s largest tree ferns, crystal clear rivers and rock pools. Enjoy the fascinating history and learn about the flora and fauna within this magnificent forest.
Includes a picnic lunch to enjoy by the river or up in the mountains.

Your accommodation: Grand Mercure Puka Park Resort

Puka Park Resort is situated on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. Nestled amongst 25 acres of New Zealand's most beautiful native bush this prestigious hideaway offers luxury and seclusion at its best.
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 4 - Travel along the Bay of Plenty before turning inland towards the lakes of Rotorua
The Central Highlights Walking Tour - Day 4
Pauanui to Rotorua via Tauranga

Leaving Pauanui, head south to New Zealand's surfing mecca. In addition to lazing on the beach or surfing, Whangamata offers big game fishing, walking and mountain biking in native and exotic forests. Continuing on to Tauranga you will arrive into the harbourside city in the Bay of Plenty region. It hosts historic buildings like the Elms Mission Station, an 1847 Georgian-style home. A bridge over the harbour connects Tauranga to Mount Maunganui, a beach town with hot saltwater pools and an extinct namesake volcano with winding walking paths. Finally, you will arrive 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. Visit the local museum located in the government gardens or the nearby Ohinemutu Village, the original site of the first Maori settlers in the area or enjoy a traditional Maori "Hangi" meal and a cultural performance. 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.

Te Pā Tū Evening Maori Cultural Experience

New Zealand’s Most Awarded Cultural Attraction, Tamaki Māori Village presents TE PĀ TŪ. Feast on song, drama, tradition, and divine seasonal kai (cuisine) within the forest Pā (village) blanketed by towering Tawa trees, blazing bonfires, and a forest-formed amphitheatre. Te Pā Tū shares Māori history, traditions, and cultural aspirations across 4-hours of celebration and feasting. These events change with each season of the maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar. 

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Millennium Hotel is Rotorua's largest 4-star deluxe hotel. Perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 191 kms / 118 miles : 2.9 hours

Day 5 - Your day in Rotorua could be spent discovering Maori culture or thrilling adventure rides
The Central Highlights Walking Tour - Day 5
Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. Geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to one of the Maori Villages should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Spike your adrenaline at Velocity Valley Adventure Park on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.

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...

Read more

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!

Hide
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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, t...

Read more

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. 

Hide
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Polynesian Spa Thermal Mud Polish & Aix Spa Massage

Rotorua's Polynesian Spa offers a unique thermal spa experience on the shore of Lake Rotorua. Voted a World Top Ten Spa (medical and thermal spas) by ...

Read more

Rotorua's Polynesian Spa offers a unique thermal spa experience on the shore of Lake Rotorua. Voted a World Top Ten Spa (medical and thermal spas) by readers of the prestigious Conde Nast Traveller magazine 2004-2007, this is the ultimate in relaxation and regeneration. Begin your spa treatment with a pre-therapy soak in the deluxe lake spa. Enjoy tranquil bathing and lake views in four shallow alkaline rock pools, each with different temperatures (36˚C to 42˚C). Here you are surrounded by revitalising native New Zealand flora, natural rocks, the sound of two waterfalls and a grotto. The pools are filled with soothing alkaline mineral water leaving your skin soft and supple.  You will then be treated to the popular 'mud massage' a signature service of Polynesian Spa. Your therapist will exfoliate your body with the unique Rotorua mud polish to remove dry skin. You'll then rinse off the polish under a warm shower followed by a massage using organic coconut oil while the water is running, leaving your skin feeling soft and hydrated and your body relaxed.  You can then return to the deluxe lake spa for a post treatment soak.

Hide

Your accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua

Millennium Hotel is Rotorua's largest 4-star deluxe hotel. Perfectly situated in the heart of the city overlooking Lake Rotorua. Five levels of accommodation offer guests a wide variety of scenic views.
Meals included: Breakfast
Day 6 - Rotorua to Tongariro National Park via Lake Taupo - maybe take the Huka Jetboat to the thundering falls
The Central Highlights Walking Tour - Day 6
Rotorua to National Park Village

Today you'll drive from Rotorua to Tongariro National Park along the thermal highway. Pass through Taupo and be sure to check out the Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland or Waimangu Volcanic Valley both well worth a visit if you can spare the time. Visit the Huka Falls, New Zealand's largest volume of water or take in the boiling mud pools and steam vents as you wander the nearby geothermal reserve, Craters of the Moon.
Continue on to the township of Turangi, known as one of the world's best trout fishing locations before emerging out into Tongariro National Park. Enter the small village National Park and enjoy the beautiful scenery that surround it. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 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....

Read more

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.

Hide

Your accommodation: The Park Hotel Ruapehu

Located in the centre of National Park and is the ideal base for exploring New Zealand's Tongariro Crossing. The on-site Spiral Restaurant & Bar is full of character and is open daily. The outdoor hot tubs, courtyard hammocks & open fireplaces are complimentary for guests and offer the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind after a day of adventure in the Ruapehu region.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 177 kms / 110 miles : 2.1 hours

Day 7 - Today you'll experience one of the greatest one day walks in the world - the Tongariro Crossing
The Central Highlights Walking Tour - Day 7
Private Guided Tongariro Alpine Crossing with Adrift

For the exclusive guided trips you'll be provided with a really personal, informative and friendly day you will never forget. This trip is tailored so that group sizes are small, your guides are well informed and are able to provide you with an amazing experience. Your guide will also 'work behind the scenes' constantly assessing the weather and track conditions, timing for your Ketetahi personalised transport pick-up at the end of your hike, and other little details that will maximise your enjoyment. They can also tailor the trip to accommodate different fitness levels and know a few tricks about avoiding weather exposed or crowded areas.

Your accommodation: The Park Hotel Ruapehu

Located in the centre of National Park and is the ideal base for exploring New Zealand's Tongariro Crossing. The on-site Spiral Restaurant & Bar is full of character and is open daily. The outdoor hot tubs, courtyard hammocks & open fireplaces are complimentary for guests and offer the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind after a day of adventure in the Ruapehu region.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Day 8 - Journey north through the King Country to the limestone caves of Waitomo
The Central Highlights Walking Tour - Day 8
National Park Village to Waitomo

Head through National Park and across rich rolling farmland to the limestone regions of Waitomo and the famous Waitomo Caves complex. As you drive North you will soon leave behind the mountains wilderness of the Tongariro National Park and head into the rolling green hills of the Waikato region. 

Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour

Enjoy a courtesy scenic shuttle to the Footwhistle Glowworm Cave while your experienced guide reveals the rich history of Waitomo. Take a short walk through breathtaking native bushland to the cave entrance. There, your guide lights the candles which set the scene for an intimate cave experience. You will see glowworms and cave formations up close while you appreciate the beauty of Footwhistle Cave (also known to local Maori as Te Anaroa Cave).
The solar powered lights are kept low so you can appreciate the magnificent glowworm displays just centimetres away. Around a corner lie the bones of one of New Zealand's lost treasures, the ancient Moa.
After enjoying a relaxed stroll through the cave, take a seat in Footwhistle's Cathedral to see it lit up by a dazzling magnesium torch. Complete the tour by enjoying a complimentary Kawa tea whilst you relax in the punga hut surrounded by native forest.

Waitomo to Auckland City

The lush farmland of the Waikato and the limestone hills of the Waitomo region provide some great scenery as you head north. Visit the Otorohanga Kiwi House en route for a great look at some of New Zealand's native birds in particular our famous flightless namesake.

Your accommodation: SkyCity Hotel Auckland

This modern and spacious hotel allows you to relax in style while enjoying the world-class casino, more than 20 restaurants, cafes and bars, a theatre, free live entertainment on selected nights and the iconic Sky Tower - all right on your doorstep!
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 320 kms / 199 miles : 3.9 hours

Day 9 - Depart Auckland today
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

Tour quick quote
Instant quote or Book this tour

The Central Highlights Walking Tour

Step 1: Choose a preferred start date here
Step 2: Choose a preferred car type for travelling New Zealand
No pricing loaded - please make sure you have selected a car type or contact us
Step 3: Select number of guests and room configuration
Select number of adult per room type
Double room (based on 2 adults in 1 room, 1 bed)
Twin room (based on 2 adults sharing 1 room with 2 beds)
Single occupancy (based on 1 adult in one room)
No pricing loaded - please choose another date or contact us
Your quote for this tour:
Start date:
End date:
Guests:
Rooms:
Car type
Total cost for ALL guests is:
NZD$0
This quote is based on vehicles to accommodate your party in the vehicle type. We suggest changing the car type or contacting us for the best options.
Save and send a copy of this quote to
or

NOTE: Instant quotes are subject to availability of specific accommodation and other inclusions. Our NZ touring experts will be in touch with you regarding this. Costs quoted in currencies other than New Zealand dollars (NZ$) are based on todays exchange rate and are  subject to change. Refer to our terms and conditions.

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

Contact form
Send enquiry about this tour
Your contact information

See our privacy policy here

Tour recommendation

Some similar tours to this one

9 days Map
North Island 9 Day Highlights with Northern Explorer
View Tour
 
9 days Map
North Island Southbound Highlights
View Tour
 
9 days Map
9 Day Taster Tour of the North Island
View Tour