This 15 day New Zealand itinerary highlights the best of New Zealand's North Island.
To day your New Zealand itinerary lands you in New Zealand's largest city, Auckland.
Auckland is a thriving city of around 1.4 million. Located between two beautiful harbors, Auckland offers visitors a warm, almost sub-tropical feel. Known as the City of Sails, Aucklanders love their boating and water sports, and there are many water based activities for visitors.
Check into your accommodation and relax for the evening. Your North Island adventure starts tomorrow.
Days 2 & 3.
There is lots to see and do in Auckland. But you will need a car for your trip.
Okay, so you have your car sorted. Now, what to see?
Highly recommended are:
* a visit to Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World, where you will find a huge range of fish and marine life including penguins, sharks, rays, turtles and crays,
* a trip to the top of Sky Tower (the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere)
* a visit to the wild west coast Karekare Beach (famous as the location for the movie The Piano)
* visit the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. The most accessible of these is Waiheke Island, which is a short 30 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland.
With a population of around 8,000, the island has a range of cafés and restaurants, is easy to navigate, and also has a range of wineries,
* visit Snow Planet, New Zealand's only indoor snow slope,
* climb or bungy from Auckland Harbor Bridge.
Today on your New Zealand itinerary you leave Auckland and drive to the beautiful Coromandel region (about 2.5 hours drive).
The Coromandel's are a beautiful series of sea side towns, inlets, bays and beaches. As one of the sunniest parts of New Zealand, visitors will find plenty of sunshine hours to enjoy all the region has to offer.
The main townships are Whangamata (the busiest), Thames, and Pauanui.
Check into your accommodation then relax for the evening.
Days 5 & 6.
On days 5 & 6 on your New Zealand itinerary, you are free to explore the Coromandels.
There is lots to do in the Coromandels, and it will be one of the highlights of your New Zealand itinerary.
Popular things to do in the Coromandels are:
* visit Cathedral Cove. The two parts of this beautiful beach are linked by a sea cave. Access is by foot along a well maintained track and takes around 45 minutes each way. Public toilets are available at the beach,
* visit historic historic Coromandel, home to several buildings dating back to the goldrush era,
* visit the amazing Hot Water Beach. Home to a hot spring, this beach is very popular. Near boiling water penetrates the sand on the waterline for two hours each side of low tide. Find a spot with the right mix of hot and cold water and you have your own beach front bath!
* If surfing is your thing, Whangamata beach has one of the best breaks in the country. This wide, sweeping stretch of sand can be busy in peak periods, but the size of the beach means that a quiet spot can usually be found.
Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you to New Zealand's premier thermal resort of Rotorua (3.5 hours drive).
Find your accommodation and relax for the afternoon.
Today you are free to explore Rotorua. Rotorua is a bustling center, famous for it's geo-thermal activity. Home to bubbling mud pools, geysers, sulphur crusted lakes, and an ever present smell of sulphur, Rotorua is a fascinating place, and a must see on your North Island trip.
Built on the shores of Lake Rotorua (at 80 square kilometers, the North Island's second largest lake), Rotorua is a beautiful town, best viewed from the Skyline Gondola, which transports visitors to the top of Mt Ngongotaha (487m).
There is lots to see and do in Rotorua, but always popular are:
* the luge at the top of Mt Ngongotaha. Three separate tracks wind their way down the hill side, and you will become addicted to the thrill provided by the small sit on carts. When you reach the bottom, a chairlift returns you to the top to do it all over again. Great fun, if a little expensive.
* Rotorua Museum of Art and History. Winner of numerous awards, the museum should be one of your first stops in Rotorua.
The museum focuses on the history and culture of the area, in particular that of the local iwi (tribe), Te Arawa. The museum houses many artefacts, four original 1908 mud baths, a tribute to B Company of the 28th (Maori) Battalion who lost over 600 men in battles during World War 2, and a presentation on the Tarawera eruption of 1886.
* Te Puia. Visited by over half a million people each year, Te Puia combines Maori cultural experiences and geothermal action in one location.
Music and dance shows, weaving and carving, including some large ornate timber pieces, and the welcoming Maori hosts, allow visitors a unique insight of maori culture. Te Puia is also home to the New Zealand maori Arts and Crafts Institute.
The thermal area has a variety of boiling mud pools, steaming vents and geysers. New Zealand's largest geyser, Pohutu, erepts regularly, reaching heights up to 30 meters.
* Wai-o-Tapu is a geothermal smorgasboard of activity. Active for over 150,000 years, the area offers boiling mud pools and springs, a series of amazing colored lakes, and a geyser, the Lady Knox Geyser, erupts promptly at 10.15 am each day.
* trout fishing is popular in the area, and guided tours are available. Book a guided fly fishing tour and learn from the experts.
Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you on a short 1 hour drive to the lake side town of Taupo. Lake Taupo is New Zealand's largest lake, with a surface area of 616 square kilometers. It is also the largest freshwater lake (by surface area) in Oceania. A noted trout fishery, the area is popular with anglers and boat owners. New Zealand's longest river, the mighty Waikato River flows from Lake Taupo.
Accommodation options abound in Taupo. Try for a lake view room if budget allows. There is nothing better than sitting on your balcony with a beer or glass of New Zealand wine, and gazing at this wonderful landscape.
Today you are free to explore Taupo. There is plenty to see and do in the Taupo region. Here are some suggestions:
* trout fishing-as one of New Zealand's premier trout fishing destinations, Taupo also offers some of the best trout fishing in the world. Do it yourself, or better still, take a guided tour and learn from the experts. Catch your own dinner. What could be better!
* Craters of the Moon is a geothermal area offering steaming vents, and boiling mud,
* Huka Falls-although only 3 meters high, over 200,000 liters per second roar over the falls,
For a real treat, the exclusive Huka Lodge overlooks Huka Falls. Huka Lodge has been "home" to an endless stream of celebrities and royalty over the years, and offers guests an almost unrivaled hospitality experience. Exceptional service, superb accommodation, and fine cuisine using the best of local produce, make Huka Lodge one of the finest in the world,
* Tongariro Crossing, universally described as "the best one day walk in the world", offers spectacular scenery, dramatic volcanic landscapes and amazing vistas. Parts of the film Lord of the Rings were filmed here, and if you are feeling energetic, this could very well prove to be a highlight of your New Zealand itinerary,
Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you from Taupo to the Art Deco capital of New Zealand, Napier (2 hours drive).
Napier is a lovely sea side town and has a variety of beach front hotels and apartments.
Located on beautiful Hawke's Bay, Napier, and nearby Hastings, were devastated by a massive eartquake in 1931, in which 258 people were killed. Approximately 40 square kilometers of today's Napier, was undersea before being raised by the quake.
Following the quake, the town was rebuilt in the Art Deco style of the era, and Napier is now recognized as one of the best examples of Art Deco architecture in the world.
Today on your New Zealand itinerary you are free to explore napier and surrounds.
There is plenty to see and do in Napier.
Popular activities are:
* take a guided Art Deco tour of Napier
* Art deco weekend, held each year in February, is a festival of food, wine, music, vintage car displays, and all things art deco
* visit the many local wineries. Recognized as a producer of fine wines, Hawke's bay offers wine buffs a wide range of choice
* visit the National Aquarium of New Zealand, located on Marine Parade Napier
Today your New Zealand itinerary takes you from Napier to New Zealand's capital, Wellington (4.5 hours drive).
Wellington is a thriving city of almost 400,000 people. Located on a beautiful harbor, Wellington is also the departure point for the Interislander ferry, linking Wellington with Picton on the South Island.
Because of its size, Wellington has something to suit all accommodation types.
As always, a water view room is recommended.
Today on your New Zealand itinerary you are free to explore Wellington.
With a strong cafe culture, Wellington has literally hundreds of dining options, with various harbor front eateries providing excellent food and views.
Highly recommended are:
* a visit to Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. As New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa is a must see on your trip. Spread over five floors, and crammed full of New Zealand artifacts, interactive displays and hands on child friendly exhibits, Te Papa will occupy you for many hours.
* a trip on the Wellington Cable Car takes you up 122 meters to a wonderful viewing area, overlooking Wellington. Here you can also visit the Wellington Cable Car Museum. As an alternative to catching the cable car back down, a walk will take you through the Botanic Gardens.
* take a relaxing walk along Wellington's beautiful waterfront.
Unfortunately today ends your New Zealand itinerary and you fly home.
We hope that you have enjoyed New Zealand's North Island, and hope that you will return to see the spectacular South Island.