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Escape to New Zealand’s Central North Island, 7-day itinerary

From stunning white sand surf beaches teaming with marine wildlife, to the rich history and ancient lands of New Zealand's indigenous people, steaming geothermal valleys to world-renowned wineries and dining, the Central North Island offers an exceptional holiday like no other.

Central North Island - 7 day itinerary

Bay of Plenty

Day 1 | Auckland - Tauranga

Depart Auckland and travel through rolling green hills and pasture synonymous with New Zealand, to arrive at the stunning Bay of Plenty renowned for its beaches, wildlife and fresh produce.

Venture to the top of Mauao (Mt Maunganui)

Stretch your legs as you walk to the top of the iconic Mauao (Mt Maunganui). The walk requires a good level of fitness, but the expansive views are worth the effort! If you’re after a more leisurely stroll wander along Mt Maunganui’s white sandy beaches.

Explore Tauranga's vibrant container city

Discover 'Our Place' – an energetic shopping space alive with local creatives, foodies and musicians.

Enter a magical glow worm canyon

Relax with a glass of New Zealand wine and cheese while watching the sunset over the hills before you paddle into a magical world. Gently kayak into the night through native bush and a chorus of birdsong before entering an enchanting canyon filled with glow worms.

Stay: Tauranga, Bay of Plenty

Day 2 | Tauranga - Whakatane

This morning depart Tauranga for the coastal town of Whakatane.

Explore the remote Moutohora (Whale Island) Sanctuary

Take a boat journey to Moutohora (Whale Island) Sanctuary - one of New Zealand's little-known treasures - and home to a number of New Zealand's rare and endangered plants, birds and reptiles. Enjoy spectacular views out to Whakaari (White Island) and visit Sulphur Bay where hot springs rise through the sand allowing you to dig your own hot pool on the beach. 

Discover Mataatua Wharenui – a Maori ancestral house

Explore a fully carved Maori ancestral house that travelled the world for over a century, before returning home to its people – the Ngāti Awa Maori tribe of the Eastern Bay of Plenty. This is a genuine insight into the rich history of Ngāti Awa, where captivating indigenous story tellers and world class digital technology combine to leave a warm and lasting impression.

Stay: Whakatane, Bay of Plenty

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Encounter majestic wild dolphins

Fulfil your dreams of encountering majestic dolphins in the wild with a wildlife eco tour on the open waters off Tauranga onboard a purpose-built dolphin viewing vessel. If you are lucky, you may also see orca, humpback and pilot whales, little blue penguins, New Zealand fur seals and various marine birds. This is an educational and organic experience that is completely on the dolphins' terms. *Reopening September 2020


Day 3 | Whakatane – Rotorua - Taupo

Feel the earth’s forces

This morning travel to the cultural heart of New Zealand, Rotorua and visit the spectacular Pōhutu (‘poor-hoo-too’) Geyser at Te Puia as it gushes 30m into the air.

Taste authentic Maori kai

Take the time for an extended tour that includes a traditionally cooked Ingo lunch – a unique cooking experience where ingredients are lowered into boiling geothermal water in a flax woven basket.

Jetboat into a hidden world

This afternoon discover a hidden world only accessible by boat! Combine the thrills of jet boating with the power and awe of mother nature on a journey through stunning bush clad canyons to a hidden geothermal waterfall.

Lakeside dining and craft beer

Continue your journey to the heart of the central North Island for a relaxing evening on the shores of Lake Taupo. Enjoy a glass of New Zealand wine or local craft beer as you watch the sunset over the volcanic peaks beyond.

Stay: Taupo town, Taupo

Day 4 | Taupo

Cruise Lake Taupo

Enjoy a cruise on Lake Taupo this morning, visiting the bush clad western bays of the lake and the iconic Mine Bay Māori rock carvings. Try your luck at trout fishing and sample your fresh catch onboard.

Scenic walking and biking

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon with a scenic stroll or bike ride along the edge of New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato River, to the awesome Huka Falls. You will hear these falls before you see them, as nearly a quarter million litres of water a second erupts from a natural gorge and thunders 11m to the river below.

Relax and unwind in geothermal hot pools

There are few better ways to experience Taupo’s energy than soaking in its warm healing geothermal hot pools. Spend this evening relaxing at one of the many thermal pools. The healing mineral waters are sure to leave you warm long after you leave the water.

Stay: Taupo town, Taupo

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Explore ancient lands

Spend today exploring the dramatic landscape of the UNESCO dual World Heritage Tongariro National Park. It is home to the 19.4km Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the impressive Sky Waka gondola, as well as stunning short, day, overnight and multi-day hikes, excellent skiing and snowboarding in winter, sightseeing and some of the clearest night skies in the world.

Hawke's Bay

Day 5 | Taupo - Hawke's Bay

This morning farewell the central high country of the North Island and head to the food basket of New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay – renowned for its dramatic beaches, temperate climate and leading producers of New Zealand wine.

Explore the Art Deco capital of New Zealand

Take a vintage car tour or guided walk through Napier’s Art Deco wonderland of architecture and history. Learn about how the 1931 earthquake shaped the city into one of the most distinctly Art Deco precincts in the world.

Take a gentle cycle along the coastline

Hire a bike and explore more than 200km of flat trails linking wineries, cafés, quaint country pubs and artisan outlets.

Fine dining

Spend the evening overlooking grape vines in a private luxury vineyard cottage, or choose from the myriad of restaurants, bars and fine-dining wineries offering an abundance of fresh produce and award-winning wines.

Stay: Napier, Hawke's Bay

Day 6 | Napier

Discover the real story of traditional Maori people

Take an intimate and spiritual journey with the Waimarama tribe as they share their daily lives and history on an award-winning private tour. Discover a traditional way of life that is being kept alive for future generations through kaitiakitanga (guardianship) for the environment and people. Get to know the family and feel the power of their sacred native landscape.

Explore beyond the cellar door on a winery tour

Hawke’s Bay is synonymous with excellent wine, and world-renowned for its Merlot-Cabernet blends, Syrah and Chardonnay. With more than 200 vineyards, 70+ wineries and 30+ cellar doors, the toughest decision you will have is where to start. Experience it the best way possible by private tour led by local experts who will take you off the beaten track with a relaxed wine tour of the region, sharing their local knowledge and hidden secrets.

Stay: Napier, Hawke's Bay

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Visit the largest mainland gannet colony in the world

Encounter over 20,000 gannets in their natural habitat – nesting, preening, dancing, swooping and diving right before your eyes! This overland wildlife tour passes through working farms and native bush, across pristine coastline and high above the Cape Kidnappers cliffs for breathtaking views across the ocean, and includes commentary on the geology, wildlife and local legends of the surrounding region.


This morning farewell the wonders of the Central North Island as you depart from Napier airport to connect with your return flight back to Australia ex Auckland or Wellington. Alternatively continue your journey by car south through Martinborough Wine Country to the southern end of New Zealand’s North Island, Wellington.

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