Day 1 : Auckland to Hot Water Beach
Spend the afternoon walking or kayaking to Cathedral Cove, and then soak in the natural springs at Hot Water Beach! After visiting the Kiwi Experience office we head towards the Coromandel Peninsula and spend the afternoon at Cathedral Cove; accessible only on foot or by kayak. This beautiful coastal spot is great for swimming, sea kayaking, and spotting dolphins if you’re lucky. We then carry on to Hot Water Beach (rated one of the top ten beaches in the world by Lonely Planet) where you can head out with your shovel at low tide to dig your own hot pool in the sand.
Day 2 : Hot Water Beach to Waitomo
Check out New Zealand’s gold mining history before travelling on to experience the glowworms, underwater caves and forest walks of Waitomo. After an early start our first stop is the Karangahake Scenic Reserve to explore a native bush-clad gorge, swing bridges and a bit of New Zealand’s gold mining history. Next it’s onto Waitomo ('wai' meaning water, 'tomo' meaning hole) where you will get the chance to visit world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. If you're feeling adventurous, here is your chance to go underground and experience one of our top rated NZ activities with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.
Day 3 : Waitomo to Rotorua
Last chance to explore Waitomo on the Ruakuri bush walk before heading to Rotorua, the Maori culture capital of New Zealand. We start the day with a walk through the Ruakuri Reserve and a breakfast stop at the Long Black Café before heading off toward Rotorua. Along the way we will stop at The Shires Rest where you can jump off and take a tour through the enchanting Hobbiton Movie Set. Tonight don’t miss the chance to stay overnight at Tamaki Marae, where you can experience a traditional Maori hangi (feast) and concert with Tamaki Maori Village – a night not to be missed!
Day 4 : Rotorua to Taupo
A popular backpacker destination, with New Zealand’s biggest lake and plenty to keep you occupied! The first activity of the day is exploring the geothermal reserve of Te Puia, with New Zealand’s largest geyser and a chance to see a real live Kiwi bird. The afternoon journey includes a stop off at Taupo’s famous Huka Falls. Taupo is rightly known as the adventure capital of the North Island with optional activities on offer such as skydiving, bungy jumping, jet boating, sailing and the spectacular Tongariro Crossing!
Day 5 : Free Day Taupo
We recommend staying an extra night in Taupo because there’s so much to do! If you’re short on time, you can always skip this extra day, timetable allowing, and get to the next stop sooner. Enjoy a sleep-in (for those not doing the Tongariro Crossing) and experience one of the many activities on offer. A walk down to Spa Park to relax in the natural hot springs by the river is a great way to spend the day (or night).
Day 6 : Taupo to River Valley
Today we visit Tongariro National Park to enjoy some stunning free walks before arriving at River Valley Adventure Lodge later in the day We head south around the “great lake” towards the Tongariro National Park for a picnic lunch and a two hour walk through native bush and waterfalls. In the afternoon we travel through to the ultimate adventure lodge - River Valley, situated amongst towering cliffs and bush-clad hills. The lodge offers grade five rafting on the Rangitikei River, scenic horse riding, and a small golf course. Spend the evening enjoying the delicious roast dinner and relaxing by the open fire.
Day 7 : River Valley to Wellington
New Zealand’s capital of cool is full of culture, cafes and cinema! We head away late after a morning white water raft or horse ride, and head throught the rolling hills full of deer, cattle and sheep. We arrive in Wellington late in the afternoon. This city is the undisputed capital of culture, the arts, restaurants, fashion and nightlife. It’s home to the largest cultural attraction in New Zealand, Te Papa Museum, which is well worth a look (and it’s free).
Day 8 : Wellington to Taupo
The drive today has beautiful rivers and lakes as well as Lord of the Rings landscapes! With an early start from windy Wellington we head north and pass through Taihape, where we drop off and pick up people for River Valley Adventure Lodge. Departing Taihape - the gumboot capital of NZ - we head to the Central Plateau, home of the Tongariro National Park. Then it’s through to Taupo driving alongside New Zealands biggest lake. If the weather suits, it’s time to skydive!
Day 9 : Taupo to Auckland (via Rotorua)
Hop-off in Rotorua, or head onwards to the ‘City of Sails’. This morning we head north to Rotorua, renowned for its Maori heritage and thermal activity. After dropping off passengers in Rotorua who are spending a night or two here, we stop at Kiwi Encounter, where you can get up close and personal with our national icon – the Kiwi bird. Next, we make our way to Matamata (aka Hobbiton). You can jump off here if you’re a Lord of the Rings nut. Then it’s onwards through the rolling countryside to Auckland, otherwise known as the ‘City of Sails’. We call into the Kiwi Experience office for a chance to purchase merchandise, confirm future bookings or extend your trip even further!