North Island Cultural Tour, New Zealand
PLEASE NOTE: We can help you add, adjust and tailor the itinerary to suit your requirements. Each clients itinerary is different. We work to your budget and take advantage of current specials in the marketplace for your time of travel.
Destinations: Paihia, Auckland, Waiheke Island, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington, Martinborough
Experiences: Culture, Scenery, Food and Wine, Relaxation
No. of days: 14 Days
Enjoy a relaxing self-drive tour of New Zealand’s North Island. Working your way from the Bay of Islands down to Wellington. You get to view the changing scenery while experiencing the best cultural activities on offer, combined with food, wine and relaxation. Interspersing self driving with guided tours gives you the best opportunity to see and learn the most on your visit. Enjoy visiting historic Maori treaty grounds, learn about legends, see famous landmarks, visit volcanoes, active geothermal wonderlands and stunning islands. Included are guided tours of wineries, artisan food producers and hidden culinary treasures with plenty of time to explore at leisure and relax.
DAY BY DAY:
Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, New Zealand. Transfer to the domestic terminal for your flight to Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands. Once you have collected your rental vehicle from the airport you can drive to Paihia on the coast. (2 nights in Paihia).
Day 2: Today you get to explore the Bay of Islands. In the morning visit the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Maori chiefs and the British Crown. This afternoon you’re off on an afternoon scenic cruise throughout the Bay of Islands. See the famous Hole in the Rock and learn about Maori legends surrounding the landmark. Spend some time on an island stopover where you can relax on the beach or take a stroll.
Day 3: Drive back to Auckland today. There are some great places to stop on your way back to Auckland to enjoy the scenery and coastline. Matakana, a small town on the eastern coast is a good place to stop and you can check out the boutique shops and cafes. (2 nights Auckland)
Day 4: Today you’ll be collected from your hotel for a full day guided tour of Auckland and the West Coast. Be amazed by spectacular views of both the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea plus dramatic views of several volcanoes, city and regional parks. Explore untamed coastline, black as well as golden sand beaches, subtropical rainforest with the famous Kauri trees, plus unique indigenous flora and fauna. Lunch is included, and you’ll be back at your accommodation in time for dinner.
Day 5: You’re off to beautiful Waiheke Island today. Arrival is via a short scenic ferry ride from downtown Auckland. (2 nights Waiheke Island). Waiheke Island is the perfect destination to enjoy a private gourmet food and wine tour. You will have the chance to enjoy succulent fresh oysters, award-winning olive oil and other locally-produced specialty foods, accompanied by wines from some of the Island's top boutique vineyards. Indulge in a platter lunch or a fine dining experience at one of the islands top restaurants. Spend the afternoon exploring the local beaches and scenery.
Day 6: Enjoy a day at leisure. Visit the boutique shops in Oneroa, wander the beaches, or enjoy a leisurely lunch at another top-class winery.
Day 7: Returning back to Auckland today on the ferry, you’ll pick up your rental car and journey on to Rotorua. On the way to Rotorua stop in Hobbiton and see 44 hobbit holes, the Mill and double arch bridge, the party tree and visit the Green Dragon Inn. Take photos at the door of Bilbo's house, Bag End, looking out over the whole set to the hills in the distance. This evening you get to visit Tamaki Maori Village and experience a traditional Maori welcome. There is a guided tour through the pre-European Village followed by a cultural performance and traditional Hangi meal that has been cooking for more than 3 hours beneath the ground on hot stones. (2 nights Rotorua)
Day 8: This morning you get to experience the amazing geothermal activity, gushing geysers, boiling mud pools and the many colors of the pools, lakes, craters, steaming vents and mineral terraces of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Then enjoy the Waimangu Volcanic Valley nature walk amidst a stunning volcanic landscape with spectacular views of hot crater lakes, steaming cliffs, hissing fumeroles, colourful silica terraces, rare thermally adapted plants and the opportunity to see some of NZ's native birdlife. Enjoy lunch at leisure before visiting the Redwoods Treewalk during the day. After dinner return to the Treewalk at night for a completely different experience. This award-winning attraction is great for all ages with 28 suspended bridges and 27 platforms creating 700-metres of treetop experience.
Day 9: Leaving Rotorua you make your way to Lake Taupo. After lunch you’re off on a scenic lake cruise. Take in the fabulous views of secluded bays and spectacular mountain peaks of the World Heritage Tongariro National Park as you cruise out to view Maori Rock Carvings on board the cruise catamaran. Following your cruise enjoy an exhilarating 30 minute jet boat ride past cliffs and trees before reaching the base of the spectacular Huka Falls - New Zealand's most visited natural attraction. (1 night Lake Taupo).
Day 10: Make your way to the Wairarapa today, taking your time and enjoying the scenery. (1 night Martinborough).
Day 11: You’re off to discover Martinborough today on a private food and wine tour. Hosted by a local expert guide, this is a highly personalized experience. Explore the historic township of Greytown and the celebrated Martinborough wine region, particularly revered for its award-winning pinot noir production. Meet people and see behind the scenes of premium wine brands and artisan food producers, tasting our way through the region. Savor a delicious lunch, with dishes expertly matched with premium Martinborough wines. This afternoon drive back to Wellington and return your rental car. (3 nights Wellington)
Day 12: Discover Wellington with a half day morning tour visiting the city's highlights. Travel around the earthquake-scarred South Coast to see the site of the Wahine ferry disaster and the distant ranges of the South Island, overlooked by coastal houses perched on the steep, rocky hills. Enjoy views from the top of Mount Victoria and ride the famous Wellington cable. Visit the magnificent Parliament buildings, the Beehive, and timber-built Old St Paul's Cathedral before visiting the national museum of Te Papa. Enjoy lunch before spending a few hours in Te Papa to experience the extraordinary mix of Maori and European history, amid the nation's natural and cultural treasures.
Day 13: This morning you join a Wellington food tour. Discover fresh tastes in New Zealand's café capital, its local tastes, products and people on this popular tour. Stroll behind with a personal guide, to taste hidden culinary treasures and meet some of the people behind some of the city's best food. Make sure you get a dinner recommendation from your tour guide. If you are still hungry (unlikely) enjoy lunch and spend the afternoon shopping, relaxing and walking the waterfront.
Day 14: Transfer to the airport and catch your flight home.
2 nights Paihia
2 nights Auckland
2 nights Waiheke Island
2 nights Rotorua
1 night Lake Taupo
1 night Martinborough
3 nights Wellington
Visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Scenic cruise throughout the Bay of Islands
Auckland City and West Coast Tour
Waiheke Island Private Gourmet Food and Wine Tour
Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
Maori Village concert and hangi dinner
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Award winning Redwoods Treetop Walk
Lake Taupo scenic cruise
Huka Falls jet boat ride
Private Martinborough Food & Wine Producers Tour
Wellington City Tour
Wellington Food Tour
All aspects of this itinerary can be changed to suit your requirements.
The itineraries provided are great introductions to your chosen destination. You can create a travel plan using the itinerary provided or make modifications to destinations, activities and accommodation and create the dream trip you want.
Not every traveler is the same, we get that and so that’s why we recommend making changes to suit your needs. In fact, we insist - we want you to have the best trip.
If you would like any recommendations for dinner or shopping areas please let us know we are happy to help and make bookings for you where necessary.
To travel to Australia you will need a US passport valid for at least 6 months and we can process an ETA Visa for free for US Citizens. We will need a copy of your Photo Page of your Passport. Nationalities of any other countries please enquire with your agent to see if you are eligible for a free ETA Visa or if you need to apply for a Visitor Visa.
To travel to New Zealand you will need a US passport valid for at least 6 months and an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority. More information on the NZeTA application requirements and process can be found on our FAQ page here.
We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to protect your investment. We will provide a travel insurance quote at the time of booking, and you are free to use our recommended insurance with Travelguard, find your own, or book without insurance.
A product that we can offer is a Cancel For Any Reason policy that will provide you with 80% back in refunds. If the cancellation is for medical reasons there is a 100% refund..
Downunder Journeys services travel requests from the United States and Canada for travel to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Cook Islands and Tahiti. All pricing on this website is in US Dollars.
All of the sample itineraries on this website do not include airfares as the airfare price changes daily and to ensure you get the best possible price we will work with the best airfares at the time. If you happen to buy your airfare first and then need a package to fit it, we can certainly help with that as well, just let us know.
As an idea for a 2-week vacation to Australia or New Zealand we recommend a budget of around $8,000-10,000 (including economy airfare), this would be for a 4 star and above itinerary, a little cheaper if we did more moderate accommodations.