Start your trip in New Zealand’s biggest city Auckland with a trip to the Sky Tower for views over the city. From here, it’s a short journey to the Coromandel and on to Raglan for a mix of pristine beaches and secluded coves, where you can sea kayak, swim or simply explore. Next, visit the hot springs and sulphuric mud pools of Rotorua, taking in Maori culture and food, before travelling to the vast Lake Taupo for the Huka Waterfalls and Maori rock carvings. This is also an excellent base for exploring Tongariro National Park. End your North Island trip in cultured Wellington, home to excellent craft beer and coffee.

Key information

Destinations Destinations Rotorua, Coromandel, Auckland, Lake Taupo, Raglan, Wellington
Activity Activity Nature & Wildlife, Culture, Active, Solo Travel
Physical Level Physical Level Mild

Suggested itinerary

Explore scenic Auckland

Explore scenic Auckland

Day 1 in Auckland

Forget the city’s high-rise centre; the beauty of Auckland is the scenery surrounding it. From surf beaches to the islands of Hauraki Gulf, volcanic peaks to fertile farmland, it’s no surprise that the greater Auckland region features high in lists of the world’s most liveable places. This is the perfect introduction to New Zealand.

Taste adventure in the Coromandel

Taste adventure in the Coromandel

Day 2 in Coromandel

Visible across the Hauraki Gulf from Auckland, the Coromandel offers pristine beaches, thick rainforest and plenty of adventure. Head to secluded Cathedral Cove for a picnic and swim, sea kayak around the coast or try canyoning at the 300m high Sleeping God Canyon.

Don't miss

Soak in Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach

Soak in Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach

Visit Hot Water Beach either side of low-tide and you’ll find hot water bubbling through the sand. Dig your own spa pool and dive in.

Go surfing in Raglan

Go surfing in Raglan

Day 3 in Raglan

The surfing town of Raglan on the Waikato coast is the perfect place to spend a few days lazing by the sea. Look for the black sand Ngarunui beach and the impossibly long surf breaks at Manu Bay, then spend evening enjoying its beach bars and restaurants.

Explore Maori history Rotorua

Explore Maori history Rotorua

Day 4–5 in Rotorua

An eggy scent hangs over sulphuric Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, which is home to spectacular geothermal springs, mud pools and geysers. However, it’s not just the landscapes that attract visitors – 34% of Rotorua’s population is Maori, and cultural performances and banquets are worth seeing.

Don't miss

Dip your toes in the (very) hot springs of Rotorua

Dip your toes in the (very) hot springs of Rotorua

Unwind by the heavenly thermal pools at Rotorua, including the colourful Champagne Pool at Waiotapu and Waimangu Cauldron, otherwise known as Frying Pan Lake – where temperatures can reach a steamy 60C. For pools to swim in, try those at Waikite Valley.

Experience life in Tolkein's Middle-earth

Experience life in Tolkein's Middle-earth

Take a tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, used for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film series, complete with a pint (and optional dress-up) in the Green Dragon inn. For avid fans, visit on the 22nd September for the Hobbit Day festivities and feasts.

See Waitomo Caves eerie glowworms

See Waitomo Caves eerie glowworms

Take a 15-minute boat ride through Waitomo Caves to experience glowworm grotto, a hall filled with thousands of glowworms emitting a soft, illuminating light. Not to be missed.

Get on the water at Lake Taupo

Get on the water at Lake Taupo

Day 6–7 in Lake Taupo

Vast Lake Taupo is as big as Singapore and was created 2,000 years ago from a volcanic eruption so huge it would have been seen from China. Today, visitors come for the magnificent Huka Falls, Maori rock carvings and watersports. Lake Taupo is also an excellent base for exploring nearby Tongariro National Park, including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing day hike and skiing at Whakapapa.

Don't miss

Kayak around Lake Taupo

Kayak around Lake Taupo

Enjoy a relaxing paddle in the crystal clear waters of Lake Taupo and explore the mysterious Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, which can only be viewed from the water. The surrounding forests are also great for hiking and just north of Taupo you'll find the spectacular Huka Falls.

Tackle the 21km Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Tackle the 21km Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Go on a day-hike across the eery volcanic landscape of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Sprinkled with emerald lakes and soda springs, the 21km trail, which takes around seven hours to complete, winds around active volcanoes and features panoramic views across the harsh rocky terrain.

Visit cultural Wellington

Visit cultural Wellington

Day 8–10 in Wellington

Creative Wellington has a claim to be New Zealand’s most cultural city. From art galleries to theatre, craft beer to coffee, Wellington is a compact city packing a powerful punch. If you’re still looking for outdoor activities, try mountain biking or sea-water kayaking, or take a walk on the Makara Peak track for views across the west coast beach.

Don't miss

Enjoy panoramic views from Mount Victoria

Enjoy panoramic views from Mount Victoria

Venture to the top of Mount Victoria and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. The Mount Victoria Lookout is a relatively easy walk from the city centre, along woodland trails that were used in The Lord of the Rings.

Where to stay

Classic

Haka Hotel Newmarket

Hake Hotel Newmarket is Auckland’s first 3-star rated hybrid hotel. Take your pick from their range of chic accommodation options including private rooms, studios with outside decks and innovative hotel-standard bunk rooms.

Book this itinerary

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators would cost from NZ$3,199pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

Other itineraries you might like

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.

Loading...