Enjoy 7 days exploring New Zealand's north island from the Bay of Islands with it's temperate climate and rich Maori Heritage. Auckland, a blend of harbour, islands, Polynesian culture and modern city environment. Rotorua, located on a volanic plateau, is the ancestral home of the Te Arawa people with it's hot spring and boiling mud pools. Perhaps stop at Waitomo Caves or Matamata and experience Hobbiton and the magic of film making
- Round-trip International Economy airfare from Los Angeles
- Add-on airfares available from other cities
- 7 Days medium automatic vehicle
- 6 nights accommodation, Auckland x1, Bay of Islands x2, Hamilton x1, Rotorua x2
- ** Sightseeing options and packages are available **
Day 1 - Depart
Ask about our options with Premium Economy and Business class airfare.
Day 2 - Cross International Date line
Day 3 -
Arrive Auckland in the morning. Collect your medium automatic vehicle.
From here, enjoy 7 days exploring New Zealand’s north island. Hit the highlights or go off the beaten path. This deal is designed to give you maximum freedom to explore on your own with the reassurance of having a clean comfortable bed at night.
Auckland’s blend of harbour, islands, Polynesian culture and modern city environment has created a lifestyle ranked amongst the best in the world. Welcome to Auckland. New Zealand’s largest and most diverse city. Being at the narrowest point of the North Island it literally stretches itself from one side of the country to the other – from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea. This means, wherever you are in Auckland, you’re never far from the water. And what amazing water it is. From big wild rolling surf beaches to a beautiful gulf scattered with tranquil holiday islands, the sea and all its attractions are why this is known as the City of Sails. From some of New Zealand’s best shopping and dining experiences to a cruise on the beautiful gulf harbour – a day in Auckland - building in a tour or two - is the perfect beginning and end to your vacation in New Zealand.
Explore Auckland at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:
- Auckland City Revealed (Half Day)
NZ's largest and busiest city is set on 48 dormant volcanic cones and lies between two harbours: the sparkling Waitemata and the brooding Manukau. The tour begins with a drive up Queen Street, past Auckland University and through Auckland Domain to Ponsonby. Head over the harbour bridge to the North Shore and enjoy a stroll on Narrow Neck Beach in historic Devonport. Re-board the coach for a trip up to the summit of Mt Victoria for stunning panoramic views over Auckland City, then travel back over the harbour bridge to Westhaven Marina. Finish with a visit to Auckland Fish Market before continuing on to the Viaduct Harbour.
- Bush and Beach - Coast and Rainforest
Visit Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, with panoramic views from the sweeping decks extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Next, your guides walk you through Auckland’s coastal rainforest to the West Coast Beach with soft black sand, enjoy a kiwi style picnic lunch before moving onto untouched original rainforest with mature 1000 year old Kauri trees, where 70 percent of the world’s native plants are found nowhere else in the world.
- Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise
Board your Explore Group vessel at Viaduct Harbour, Auckland to commence an Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise. Dine on the Waitemata Harbour, an experience not to be missed in Auckland. Enjoy great sailing and as the sun sets watch the night lights of the cityscape come alive. Sail where the wind takes while enjoying Auckland's city highlights; including sailing under the Harbour Bridge and other well-known landmarks along the harbours edge. The crew's local knowledge will give you the best harbour sailing experience Auckland has to offer. Cruise concludes at approximately 2.5 hours after commencement, back at Viaduct Harbour Auckland.
- Waiheke Island - Wine Tour
All day tour of three vineyards with pickup from and return to Auckland ferry or Waiheke Island accommodation . This tour includes commentated scenic tour of the Island with time to stop for photographs. One vineyard may be replaced with an olive oil visit and tasting
image: Tourism New Zealand
Day 4 - Auckland to Bay of Islands
At the beginning of your journey, you’ll drive over the Auckland Harbour Bridge towards the bays and beaches of Auckland’s North Shore. The motorway will quickly sweep you northward, until the suburban scenery gives way to peaceful farmland.
Before you reach Orewa, you have the option of taking an exit that leads to Silverdale and Gulf Harbour. Silverdale is famous for its factory and outlet stores. Gulf Harbour, at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, has a breathtaking golf course. Beautiful beaches can be found up and down the peninsula.
Enjoy native forest and farmland scenery all the way to Warkworth, a pretty town located on the banks of the Mahurangi River. From here it’s easy to explore the many attractions of the district – surf beaches, marine and wildlife sanctuaries, vineyards, golf courses, regional parks and islands.
A drive through the Dome Forest will lead you into the rural service town of Wellsford. From here you can take a side trip to Pakiri - a great beach for surfing and horse treks. Kaiwaka is the next town on the map - pause here if you like Dutch cheese. At this point consider an eastern detour past the spectacular beaches of Mangawhai Heads, Langs Beach and Waipu Cove. Whangarei is a subtropical city on the edge of a beautiful harbour. At the Quayside Town Basin complex you'll find stylish cafes and restaurants, as well as museums, art galleries and shops. Be sure to visit Whangarei Falls.
From here the road to the Bay of Islands becomes quite twisty, but you’ll enjoy some delightful scenery along the way. A short detour takes you to the port of Opua, where cruise ships often call.
The resort town of Paihia makes an excellent base for exploring the Bay of Islands. Catch a cruise to the outer islands or a ferry to the charming township of Russell. The historic Treaty House at Waitangi marks the beginning of New Zealand as a nation.
Day 5 -
Bay of Islands
Explore the Bay of Islands at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites (additional cost):
- Half Day Walking Adventure and Crusie
Stop at two of the islands in the bay, first for a short visit to either Roberton or Moturua Island, both of which offer stunning views of the Bay and beyond. Next, stop off at the northern end of stunning Urupukapuka Island with its white sandy beaches, rolling hills and a sanctuary for native birdlife of all kinds. New walking tracks have made the island accessible to hikers of all abilities. Enjoy a six-kilometre walk through amazing coastal scenery and remote beaches towards Otehei Bay. You will have plenty of time to soak up the views and swim in New Zealand's warmest water. Walking maps are provided.
- Swim with the Dolphins
Encounter these intelligent and playful mammals in their natural environment. Get the Swim with the Dolphins experience in the warmest waters in New Zealand. Cruise picturesque islands while searching for dolphins. Once we find a pod of dolphins, Department of Conservation regulations will determine whether a swim is possible. Swimming is optional however you need to be a confident swimmer.The high speed catamaran is purpose built for dolphin watching and swimming and offers easy access to the water and ample viewing areas including observation decks and side opening windows.
- Waitangi Treaty Ground Pass
The Day Pass includes admission to the Treaty Grounds, entry to the Museum of Waitangi, entry to the introductory film, a 50 minute guided tour and a 35 minute cultural performance. During the guided tour you learn more about the history, the stories, the personalities and events that shaped New Zealand as a nation. The cultural performance starts with a spine tingling challenge outside, followed by a full performance inside the carved Meeting house including waiata (singing), poi, stick games, Maori weaponry display and the famous haka
image: Tourism New Zealand
Day 6 - Bay of Islands to Hamilton
The road leading into Kerikeri is bordered by orchards. Roadside stalls offer the chance to buy seasonal fruit. Look also for signs showing the way to artists’ studios – resident potters and painters have given this district a creative personality. Kerikeri is a town of things to do. You’ll find galleries, cafes and vineyards, gourmet food shops, several golf courses and historic sites such as the Stone Store and the Mission House. There are superb bush walks in the area – Rainbow Falls is a perfect picnic spot.
Scenic side trips on the road to Kaitaia include Matauri Bay (the resting place of the Rainbow Warrior) and Tauranga Bay. Nearby Whangaroa Harbour is a game fishing mecca. Further north, the beautiful beaches of Doubtless Bay will tempt you with white sand and crystal clear water. Sailing, sea kayaking, horse treks and golf are some of the other activities available in this district. If you have time, make the trip to the Cape Reinga lighthouse - then you can say you've been to the very top of New Zealand.
Your next adventure is the awesome Waipoua Forest, home of New Zealand's largest kauri trees. The Trounson Kauri Park is another opportunity for tree gazing. Not far from Dargaville are the Kai Iwi lakes. These beautiful sand dune lakes are popular for camping, swimming, fishing and kayaking. Dargaville is a perfect base for exploring the Kaipara Harbour, which offers fishing, quad biking, schooner trips and bird watching. The west coast beaches in this area form part of the longest driveable beach in New Zealand.
Travel across the river plain to Matakohe’s kauri museum, where you’ll discover the district’s fascinating history. In the village of Maungaturoto you can explore antique and craft shops. At Brynderwyn you’ll turn towards Kaiwaka, a village known for its Dutch cheese. Further south is Wellsford, where you’ll take a right towards Helensville. The hilly rural road provides amazing views of the Kaipara Harbour and surrounding farmland. There are hot springs at Parakai if you have time to spare.
The Waikato River will accompany you for much of your journey through the green countryside. Places of interest along the way include the wine growing area of Te Kauwhata and the coal mining town ofHuntly. Before you get toHamilton, you’ll notice side roads leading to Waingaro Hot Springs and Raglan, a surf resort on the west coast. The city of Hamilton is carved in two by the mighty Waikato River. Excellent restaurants and cafes can be found at the southern end of the city’s main street.
Day 7 - Hamilton to Rotorua
Your journey to Rotorua will take you through a mixture of farmland, lakeland and forest. You’ll know you’ve arrived in the city of Rotorua when you see (and smell!) the geothermal steam plumes of Whakarewarewa. Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so there’s evidence of volcanic activity everywhere you look. Explore the geothermal areas and discover the unique culture of New Zealand’s Maori people
Rotorua is one place where the turbulent forces that formed New Zealand are most evident. This city, on the Volcanic Plateau, has one of the world’s most lively fields of geothermal activity. Skyrocketing geysers, hot springs and boiling mud pools all tell you that this place sits squarely on the Pacific Rim of Fire.
Rotorua is also the ancestral home of the Te Arawa people who settled here more than 600 years ago and their presence offers the visitor numerous cultural experiences. Try a hangi feast – cooked in the steaming ground, take a tour of an authentic pre-European Maori village or treat yourself to an indulgent spa therapy. If adventure is your thing, Rotorua has many attractions to get the adrenalin flowing; everything from skydiving and luging to zorbing and one of New Zealand’s best mountain bike circuits.
It’s also a big trout fishing area with fishing on the lakes and tributary rivers and if you’re unlucky there you can sight some of the huge trout (but, alas, not catch them) at Rainbow and Fairy Springs.
Day 8 -
Explore Rotorua at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites (additional cost):
- Discover Rotorua
Experience Te Puia, a place of Maori culture and a thermal wonderland of impressive geysers and boiling mud pools. Explore Rainbow Springs Nature Park, which showcases native flora and fauna as well as the New Zealand Kiwi. Then see NZ's agricultural industry in action with a sheep shearing display and sheep dog trials at the Agrodome.
- Te Puia Steambox Lunch
Visitors can choose what they want to have cooked for their lunch before heading out on a special guided tour. As they participate in an interactive session, learning how to weave a flower, and tour the carving and weaving schools, their food is placed in a Nga Wha (steam vent) Puapua, which is located in the geothermal area that is the backdrop to the famous Pohutu Geyser. Heading down into the geothermal valley to the mud pools and hot springs, the tour concludes when, after watching their lunch being lifted from the Nga Wha, guests sit and enjoy a steam box picnic lunch on the geyser terrace.
Zorbit - you are safely harnessed inside the Zorb® before being sent rolling head over heels down the straight track. Like an astronaut in training you will have a sense of weightlessness and G-force as you make your way down hill. In the Zydro (Hydro) ride we add water (warm in winter, cool in summer) into the Zorb® so you can slip, slide, or spin (no tumbling) inside as the Zorb® hurtles down the hill.
Your guide will escort you through the ten acre site of where the Lord of the Rings movie set used to be. Your guide will explain all about what was needed to create the Hobbiton set and tell stories about what went on during filming. Check out the Hobbit holes from the film set. After viewing the Bag End, you can pet and feed the hand reared sheep and hand bottle feed lambs.
image: Tourism New Zealand
– Rotorua to Auckland
Return to Auckland and drop off Rental Car at Auckland Airport
||Now-31 March 2019|
* Peak Season 1Dec18-28Feb19 pricing - Availability very restricted, package pricing may be higher Dec-Feb period, depending on availability
Note: Daily departures, this package is an independent itinerary with flexible departures (not a group tour).
gateways & pricing:
- Depart on Air New Zealand’s non-stop Houston – Auckland flight for a supplement of $250 per person
- Add on airfares available from most major airports - Add $200 from Dallas, Add $320 from Denver, Seattle, Add $400 from Chicago, Minneapolis, Add $450 from NYC, Boston, Miami, Washington
with Air New Zealand
State-of-the-art Economy seats have been designed to provide a really comfortable seat for everybody. The armrest disappears right into the back of the seat so you can be more comfortable during our longhaul trips.
As well as the delicious and fresh meals from the kitchen, you can order tasty snacks throughout the flight, at the touch of your screen. No waiting for hours between meals - eat when you want to. And, of course, there's always a superb selection of New Zealand wines from the onboard cellar.
The vast selection of activities on our inflight entertainment will keep even the most fidgety of flyers engaged for the whole flight. Enjoy over 1,700 hours of content - including latest movies, TV box sets, video games, and a dedicated kids section - all on a 10.6” personal touch screen in widescreen format. If you need more, there are always the USB and iPod connections to plug in to.
Consider upgrading Skycouch, Premium Economy or Business Class.
Skycouch - from $549 one way (based on 2 persons sharing)
Premium Economy - from $950 per person round trip
Business Class (Lie-flat bed) from $4000 round trip
Note: All upgrades are subject to availability, upgrade cost may be higher
Package from pricing is based on double occupancy (2 people sharing a room) from Los Angeles or San Francisco for purchase by 31 December, 2018. Ask an Aspire consultant for pricing for other travel dates. Add-on fares are available from other cities. Certain blackout dates apply on the accommodation and tour value add offers - check with your Aspire consultant. Seats are limited and may not be available on every flight. Hotels are subject to availability. All prices reflect a discount for purchases made by cash/wire transfer/check, please see terms and conditions for credit card payments. There are no discounts for payment made by credit cards. Cancellation penalties and other restrictions apply.