North Island Self Drive Luxury
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: Wairarapa, Napier, Rotorua, Bay of Islands, Waiheke Island
Experiences: Culture, Scenery, Food and Wine, Wildlife, Adventure, Relaxation
No. of days: 14 Days/13 Nights
Enjoy driving yourself to some of the most luxurious secluded accommodations New Zealand has on offer. Indulge in Kiwi’s favorite activities including swimming, walking, cycling, sailing and enjoying the outdoors. You can feast on delicious local foods and wines during your travels while taking in stunning scenery and learning more about New Zealand’s Maori culture, landscapes, artisans and local producers. You can make this itinerary as relaxing or activity based as you wish by adding more on your leisure days. The luxury lodges are destinations in themselves, you will be in the most spectacular surroundings. Enjoy them, there’s much on offer or just chill out.
DAY BY DAY:
Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, transfer to a domestic flight to Wellington. Collect your rental car and drive to Wharekauhau Country Estate in the Wairarapa (a 1.5 hour drive). The Wharekauhau Country Estate is set in 3000 acres of pastureland between the foothills of the Rimutaka Mountain Range and the clifftops of Palliser Bay. Enjoy luxurious accommodation in beautiful surroundings, it will be a memorable stay. (2 nights Wairarapa)
Day 2: A day of leisure at the luxury estate. Activity options include exploring the working sheep station, hiking, mountain biking, wine tour, wildlife visit to a seal colony, cooking classes and many more experiences to choose from. Wharekauhau Country Estate is within easy reach of world-class golf courses, vineyard and gourmet food locations if you would prefer to leave the estate and travel further afield.
Day 3: Today you drive from Palliser Bay to Hawkes Bay, a 3.5 hour drive. You will be staying at Greenhill Lodge an historic homestead set on a hilltop overlooking farmland located in the heart of the Hawke’s Bay - New Zealand’s wine and food center. You can spend the afternoon unwinding or head outdoors to the walking trails, bike tracks, beaches and natural landmarks. (2 nights Hawkes Bay)
Day 4: You’re off to explore the Hawkes Bay today on a full day private tour of the area has to offer: delicious foods, fruit and wine, Maori elders and artists, all set in beautiful rural countryside. Meet wonderful characters, hear their stories and have fun while walking amongst the diverse collection of art deco buildings in Napier and visiting creative artists to view their paintings, sculptures and pots. Meet innovative epicurean food producers on their land. Visit a rural coastal settlement and talk with a Maori who can provide a spiritual insight into her culture and can clearly demonstrate what it is that makes this indigenous people so special. Finally, taste beautifully crafted local wines at prestigious wineries.
Day 5: Leaving the Hawkes Bay today you drive to Rotorua, a 3 hour drive that goes via Lake Taupo. Stop in Taupo to admire New Zealand’s largest lake. You are staying at the award winning Treetops Estate set in 2500 acres of 800 year old native forest. On site you’ll find stream, lakes with on-site trout fishing and over 40 miles of adventure trails. (3 nights Rotorua)
Day 6: This is a leisure day to fill with activities of your choosing. Enjoy Treetops inhouse lodge experiences such as a wild food cooking school or head out for a helicopter flight to a live volcano at White Island, 4WD safari or trek to a waterfall. Rotorua has many geothermal parks and cultural experiences to pick from. You can chill out and detox or keep busy, it’s up to you.
Day 7: Today you are going on a chartered yacht for a genuine, personal sailing experience, exploring the native bays and coves of beautiful Lake Rotoiti under sail. Fish for Rainbow Trout, soak in the lake edge thermal pools and hear the stories and legends of the local Maori - all companied by great service, fine wine and gourmet food. This cruise is an off the beaten track indulgence that is unmistakably New Zealand.
Day 8: You have a flight from Rotorua to the Bay of Islands today. Drive to the airport, return your rental car and board your scenic flight. You are staying at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, Matauri Bay. Set on 6000 acres the Lodge has spectacular 180 degree views of the championship golf course on site and the Pacific Ocean. (4 nights Matauri)
Day 9: You have a day of leisure where you can enjoy The Lodge or play golf at Kauri Cliffs championship course, take guided fishing, horse riding, quad biking or property walks over the estate. Other activities off the estate can be arranged including sailing, cultural tours, diving, swimming with dolphins, sea kayaking or 4WD adventures.
Day 10: You are off to discover Cape Reinga today, here the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean and it’s as far as the road goes in the North Island. You’ll be boarding a scenic flight up to Cape Reinga via Northland's spectacular west coast harbors and its beautiful beaches, including the famous Ninety Mile Beach. The aircraft then lands, and you board a comfortable, air-conditioned vehicle for a 2.5 hour guided ground tour exploring the top of New Zealand including Cape Reinga lighthouse where the 2 oceans meet and Te Paki Sand Dunes where you will partake in some Sand Tobogganing fun. The return flight to the Bay of Islands is via the east coast. Much of this stunning eastern coastline is untouched and not accessible by road. You’ll return to Kerikeri Airport for an afternoon at leisure.
Day 11: Spend the day sailing the Bay of Islands on R Tucker Thompson a 19th century Tall Ship. Experience the Bay of Islands as they did in Captain Cook's time by sailing on board this special historic ship with a unique history. Become part of the crew for a day and help set the sails, climb the rigging or ride the bowsprit, or simple relax. At lunch go for a swim, or head ashore and explore one of the many beautiful islands in the bay.
Day 12: You leave the Bay of Islands today and drive to Auckland, a 4 hour drive. Return your rental car and take a ferry from Auckland Harbour to Waiheke Island, staying at The Boat Shed. Waiheke Island is the perfect place to finish your New Zealand adventure, the island is perfect for relaxing, strolling on a beach or exploring the vineyards and coastal walks and the Boat is a wonderful place to unwind. (Waiheke Island 2 nights).
Day 13: Explore Waiheke Island today on a private tour. Learn about Waiheke Island on your travels while eating 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. Lunch can be a platter or a fine dining experience at one of the islands top restaurants. You’ll return to The Boat Shed for an afternoon at leisure.
Day 14: Today you begin your trip home. Return to Waiheke Island via the ferry, or for an extra scenic route we can arrange a helicopter flight to Auckland Airport. Bon voyage!
2 nights Wharekauhau Country Estate, Palliser Bay
2 nights at Greenhill Lodge, Hawkes Bay
3 nights at Treetops Lodge and Estate, Rotorua
4 nights at The Lodge, Kauri Cliffs
2 nights The Boat Shed, Waiheke Island
Hawkes Bay cultural art and gourmet food and wine tour
Sail on Lake Rotoiti, dining and fishing for the day
Cape Reinga scenic flight and exploration tour
Classic Sailing in the Bay of Islands – AOT R-Tucker Thompson Day Sail
Waiheke Island private gourmet food and wine tour
Wine Tour of Hawkes Bay
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.