• Te Puia, Rotorua

North Island Wanderer

Our tour of New Zealand’s North Island is perfect for adventurous couples who want to explore the wonders of this country. Spend nine days driving yourselves around the island, with the freedom to travel at your own speed, as well as guidance from our experts along the way. The tour combines the natural spectacles of New Zealand’s landscapes with a taste of Kiwi city life.

Start your New Zealand North Island tour in cosmopolitan Auckland before heading south along some of the country’s dramatic coastlines. The Seabird coast and the Coromandel Peninsula offer stunning remote beaches, beautiful wildlife and the famous Cathedral Cove. Then head inland to Rotorua and see the natural geysers. Here you’ll experience some of the unique Māori culture. Continue your journey south to Lake Taupo and see some of the North Island’s most breathtaking scenery. Here you can do take the Tongariro Crossing and see mountains, volcanoes, forests, and stunning views. Next are the wine regions of Napier and Martinborough.

Finally, you’ll arrive in Wellington, the nation’s friendly and vibrant capital, situated along the Cook Strait. This is a great place to indulge in some of New Zealand’s finest cuisine before continuing your journey in the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’.

9 days
Start your journey
a large green field with trees in the background

Trip highlights

  • Cathedral Cove on the Coromandel Peninsula
  • Swim with Dolphins in the Bay of Plenty
  • Geothermal Geysers in Rotorua
  • Wine tasting in Napier and Martinborough

Start your tour in Auckland with a trip to the Sky Tower for views of the city, then drive along the rugged Seabird coast. You can stop and photograph the thousands of birds that make their home here, as well as whales and dolphins if you’re lucky.

Stop for lunch and a wander around the historic town of Thames. This historic gold mining town is the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. Drive along the west coast and enjoy the endless beaches and views of the Pacific Ocean. Rugged volcanic hills and forests mark the interior and you can stop to explore beach and forest in one day. Spend the night at the northern end of the peninsula at Whitianga.

Spend the day exploring the peninsula at your own leisure. For history enthusiasts, ancient Maori hillforts can be discovered, while several towns have colonial architecture and gold mining remnants. For nature lovers, a guided walk along the coastal paths and the Kauri Forests is an ideal way to experience the peninsula’s wonders. The Cathedral Cove is one of the highlights of this region and here you can swim, relax, snorkel and simply enjoy the stunning beauty of the rock arch that makes this area famous. Walk here from Huawei beach along a powdery white sand bay.

Head south to the Bay of Plenty via the port town of Tauranga. A surfer’s paradise, the bay of plenty also offers you the unique chance to see and swim with dolphins. An island and wildlife cruise can take you out to see the stunning beauty of this region and offers the chance to witness hundreds of dolphins. Seals, penguins, countless fish, and even whales are here too.

End the day in Rotorua, situated inland and well known for its thermal baths and volcanic geysers. Here you will experience some indigenous culture, attend a Māori ceremonial concert and eat a Māori meal.

Spend the morning in Rotorua before heading to Orakei Tarakao Geothermal area. The area is home to spectacular natural geysers and thermal waters spouting high into the air. Thermal lakes and hot springs adorn this park, which is marked by a unique array of colours. The scenery here is perfect for photographs.

While at the geysers, check out some of the exquisite native woodcarvings made by Māori craftsmen. These artistic expressions of their unique culture are made with fine workmanship. In the afternoon, continue your journey south towards the beautiful Lake Taupo where you will spend the night.

Explore Taupo and the Tongariro area before heading east to the Hawke’s Bay region. This is wine country and here you can delight in the glorious vineyards and orchards that characterise this region.

Arrive in Napier, where you can spend the night relaxing before sampling the area’s sublime food and drink. Hawke’s Bay also offers you the chance for more outdoor activities, with forests and wildlife to see at the shore. It’s home to the largest gannet population in the world, ideal for birdwatchers. The landscapes here are typical of New Zealand and a walk to the top of Te Mata peak is a highlight with its stunning views.

Spend the day enjoying the Art Deco of Napier. A walk around the town will give you the chance to soak up the beautiful architecture from the 1930s. From here, take a guided walking tour and indulge in some of the best food and wine produced in the North Island. Pinot Gris and Syrah are the local produce here and wine connoisseurs can delight in the quality this region has to offer. You can also sample excellent local and artisanal food, including honey, cheese, olives and chocolate, as well as traditional Māori dishes. A true food lover’s dream.

Head south to Martinborough where you can explore more vineyards. A well beaten wine trail can be followed here, and you can also hire a bike and cycle around vineyards - a fantastic way to see this beautiful part of the country.

Have lunch at one of the many vineyard restaurants and enjoy the delicious local food and wine. The village of Martinborough is ideal if you want to book a tour or hire a bicycle. A relaxing walk around the village is a perfect way to soak up its colonial charm and architecture.

Accommodation can be found at the holiday park in Martinborough or at one of the 20 vineyards in the area. 

Finish the last leg of your trip with a drive over Rimutaka Hills. A long winding road through some of the most glorious country in New Zealand makes this journey a delight. Head to the summit for stunning views of the surrounding country and find yourselves dazzled by the emerald colour of the landscape. From the viewpoint you’ll see as far as the Wairarapa Coast, making this leg of your trip one of the most memorable for scenery.

If you have time, head out to Wairarara and the Castlepoint Beach. Climb the magnificent 162-meter-high Castle Rock. Rare Kiwis can also be seen at the Pukuha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. Finally, arrive in the nation’s capital, Wellington, and return your car.

After returning your vehicle, make the most of this vibrant city. Te Papa, the interactive national museum, is not to be missed. Here you’ll learn about the history of the country and view some of its best artworks. For a more relaxing day check out Cuba Street for excellent coffee, food and boutique shops. Wellington is the perfect place to try some of the country’s finest cuisine and you’ll be spoilt for choice here.

We recommend spending a couple of days experiencing the delights of the capital. After enjoying the food and shopping, take the cable car to the Botanical Gardens or stargaze at the planetarium. Wellington is the ideal place to launch the next part of your journey, with a South Island tour.