7-Day North Island Highlights

This New Zealand north island highlights the adventure that allows you to explore NZ's biggest city, the beachy Coromandel Peninsula, geothermal Rotorua and Taupo, and the fabulous wine region of Hawke's Bay in 7 days.

There's a bit of everything, from sculpture walks and wine tasting to naturally-heated mud baths.

Auckland's parks, art and harbourDay 1
A family admiring the view from the top of Rangitoto.
Rangitoto Island viewing platform

You'll awake refreshed after the previous day's flight, which allowed you to check into your hotel at around midnight. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at an alfresco café in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour, then start exploring Auckland.

Things to see and do in Auckland

  • Breathe in the fresh air and admire the season's red and gold leaves with a leisurely walk through one of Auckland's inner-city parks. See farm animals under the huge oak trees at Cornwall Park or feed the geese and admire the flowers at Auckland Domain Winter Gardens.
  • Auckland has a thriving arts community and numerous galleries to explore, whether you're browsing or buying. Enjoy the blending of contemporary and heritage architecture at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, then discover the latest exhibitions. 
  • Take a ferry to Rangitoto Island and climb to the summit for an incredible 360-degree panorama of the Hauraki Gulf and city. You can also walk around the crater and explore lava caves. This exciting walk requires moderate fitness and takes about two hours return – a little longer if you decide to see the caves.

    Catch a ferry to Waiheke Island or drive to a wine region north of the city.

    Auckland's islands and wineDay 2
    A couple at Matakana Farmers' Markets, Auckland.
    Matakana Market

    Expand your horizons on your second day in Auckland. If you prefer not to drive, there are guided food and wine tours that will pick you up from your Auckland accommodation. 

    Things to do beyond Auckland

    • The jewel of the Hauraki Gulf is Waiheke Island, a haven of vineyards, golden sand beaches and excellent places to eat. The ferry journey from downtown Auckland takes about 30 minutes. Once you're on the island, you can catch local buses, explore in a rental car or arrange for a local tour operator to show you around.
    • An hour north of Auckland, Matakana has boutique wineries that specialise in premium wine. Make sure your visit includes Brick Bay, which has an acclaimed restaurant and sculpture trail.
    • Northwest of the city is the Kumeu wine region, where you'll find a choice of fantastic food and wine experiences. The Hunting Lodge, the Tasting Shed and Soljans Estate are recommended for a winery lunch. There's also a brew bar and restaurant at Hallertau.

    Drive from Auckland to Whitianga

    Rent a car
    2 hrs 30 mins
    Hot water fun on the Coromandel PeninsulaDay 3
    Woman relaxing in a hammock, The Coromandel, New Zealand.
    The Coromandel

    Rustic, relaxed and unspoiled, the Coromandel Peninsula is one of New Zealand's best-loved holiday destinations. The rugged volcanic hills are cloaked in the native rainforest and more than 400 kilometres of spectacular coastline promises you can find the beach of your dreams.

    Things to do on the Coromandel Peninsula

    • Base yourself in the seaside town of Whitianga, where you can venture to the Lost Springs Spa to relax in luxury thermal pools filled with pure mineral water that flows from a spring 600 metres below the earth's surface. Revitalize with a facial or massage at the day spa or simply soak in the hot water and enjoy the surroundings.
    • One of Coromandel's top attractions is Hot Water Beach - a beautiful white-sand beach located between Tairua and Whitianga. Two hours either side of low tide you can see hot water bubbling through the golden sand. Hire a spade from the local shop and dig your own spa pool for a hot soak.

    Take a day off from driving and ferry between Whitianga and Cooks Beach.

    Cathedral Cove and Cooks BeachDay 4
    The fishing is good on The Coromandel, New Zealand.
    The fishing is good on The Coromandel

    Today you can discover more of the Coromandel Peninsula, particularly the beaches of Hahei, Cathedral Cove and Cooks Beach.

    Things to do on the Coromandel Peninsula

    • Experience one of the most magical places on the Coromandel Peninsula by walking or kayaking from Hahei to Cathedral Cove. Autumn is a perfect time to visit because temperatures are comfortable and the light takes a golden tinge – so many photo opportunities on offer!
    • Have a picnic lunch at Shakespeare Cliff Scenic & Historic Reserve. Paths lead down to white sand beaches and amazing sculpted rock formations.
    • Enjoy a relaxing lunch and wine tasting at Mercury Bay Estate, a boutique winery at Cooks Beach overlooking beautiful Mercury Bay.
    • Visit Cathedral Cove Macadamias and go on an orchard tour. A guide will walk you through the macadamia trees and explain the entire production process. At the end of the tour, you can taste the orchard's delicious products.

    Drive from Coromandel to Rotorua

    Rent a car
    3 hours
    The geothermal city of RotoruaDay 5
    Wai-O-Tapu champagne pool, Rotorua.
    Volcanic Spring, Rotorua

    Great in any weather, but particularly beautiful in autumn, Rotorua promises to keep you captivated with geothermal phenomena and special cultural experiences. Geysers, boiling mud pools, hangi feasts and indulgent spa therapies will provide plenty of great memories to take home.

    Things to do in Rotorua

    • Relax at Polynesian Spa in one of 26 mineral hot pools, which overlook the native forest and Lake Rotorua.
    • If you'd like to experience New Zealand's only mud baths, head to Hells Gate and pamper yourself with a traditional Maori Mirimiri massage and mud therapies.
    • Get right into Maori culture at Te Puia, a geothermal wonderland with the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. Watch out! It erupts once or twice every hour, sometimes reaching heights of 30 metres.
    • After seeing the geothermal sights of Te Puia, enjoy a hangi (earth oven) feast and Maori cultural performance. Surrounded by the beautiful ancestral carvings, you'll be entertained by tribal stories told through song and dance.
    • Visit Hamurana Springs, the North Island's deepest natural freshwater spring. Stroll amongst redwood trees to the natural freshwater spring to see crystal-clear water bubbling from the ground.

    Drive from Rotorua to Taupo

    Rent a car
    1 hour
    Taking it easy in TaupoDay 6
    Mt Tauhara, Taupo
    Hike to the summit of Mt Tauhara

    Situated in the volcanic heart of the North Island, the Lake Taupo region is home to New Zealand's largest freshwater lake, fascinating geothermal areas and the famous Huka Falls.

    Things to do in Taupo

    • Start the autumn day with a lakeside walk or bike ride, followed by a coffee in the warming sun. Capture the amazing colours of the trees that line the lake.
    • Enjoy a scenic cruise to see the snowy peaks of Tongariro National Park and the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, or cruise up to the base of thundering Huka Falls on the Waikato River.
    • Relax in the naturally-heated mineral waters of Taupo DeBretts Hot Springs, set amongst native bush. The complex includes large outdoor pools, private pools, freshwater pools, a children's warm water playground and hydro slides. 
    • Walk around the Craters of the Moon, a steamy geothermal park with beautiful plant life and huge bubbling craters.

    Drive from Taupo to Napier

    Rent a car
    2 hours
    Hawke's Bay wine countryDay 7
    Te Mata Peak, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.
    Te Mata Peak

    In 1931 the Hawke's Bay city of Napier was almost levelled by an earthquake. When it was rebuilt, Art Deco was the style of the times. Today Napier has one of the best collections of 1930s buildings in the world. It's also the launching point for wonderful wine and food experiences in New Zealand's oldest wine regions.

    In autumn, the trees and vineyards are turning brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red against clear blue skies. If you want a wine tour, this is a great time to do it!

    Things to do in Hawke's Bay

    • Organise a driver or hire bikes to get around the wineries. With more than 30 wineries offering tastings, the toughest decision is where to start.
    • Have lunch at Mission Estate, Church Road, Crab Farm Winery or Elephant Hill Wine Estate – they all get wonderful reviews for their food and wine.
    • Head up Te Mata Peak for 360° views of Hawke's Bay. You can drive, cycle or walk to the summit.
    • Take a beach or overland trip to Cape Kidnappers, where you'll find the world's largest mainland colony of gannets. It's a memorable wildlife adventure with great opportunities for photography.
    • Enjoy a round of golf at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, one of the Top 20 golf courses in the world.

    Return rental car at airport and fly back to Auckland.

    1 hour

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