Enjoy 7 days exploring New Zealand's north island. Auckland, a blend of harbour, islands, Polynesian culture and modern city environment. Lake Taupo can appear the most beautiful and tranquil place in New Zealand. Appearances deceive. Taupo is more than a lake. It is a volcano with no top, a top that was blown off. Hawke's Bay is one of New Zealand's warmest, driest regions and this has made it one of the country's leading producers of wine. 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, Taupo x1, Napier x2, Rotorua x2
- ** Sightseeing options and packages are available **
Day 1 - Depart US
Ask about our options with Premium Economy and Business class airfare.
Day 2 - Cross International Date line
Day 3 - Auckland
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 (additional cost):
- 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 Tour
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
Day 4 - Auckland to Taupo
Auckland to Hamilton
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.
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 to Taupo
The road to Taupo will keep you entertained with its unusual, volcanic geography. You’ll also drive through large tracts of plantation pine forest. Take a side road to a geothermal park, where you’ll discover geysers, silica terraces and craters of boiling mud. Towards the end of your journey you’ll encounter the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. Other diversions include Huka Falls and a world-acclaimed golf course.
See the clear blue waters on a summer’s day and Lake Taupo can appear the most beautiful and tranquil place in New Zealand. Appearances deceive. Taupo is more than a lake. It is a volcano with no top – a top that was blown off in one of the largest and most devastating eruptions ever seen on the planet. Visit the Craters of the Moon and you will see evidence of its fiery birth in the geysers, steaming craters and boiling mud pools.
Other scenic highlights include the magnificent Huka Falls, where more than 220,000 litres of water thunder over the cliff face every second and the Aratiatia Rapids. Take a trip to Tongaririo National Park World Heritage Area; a brilliant place for skiing in the winter and for hiking in the summer. Taupo is a great lake for adventure with water-skiing, parasailing, jet-skiing and kayaking but what it’s really well known for is fishing. The largest natural trout fishery in the world this is the place to cast a line and look for the big one. There’s a genuinely friendly local culture in Taupo and the surrounding towns and accommodation is plentiful. So why not stay awhile.
Day 5 - Taupo to Napier
Taupo to Napier
The major entertainment on the road from Taupo to Napier is the fantastic scenery. There’s a bit of everything - rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and huge vistas. At Tarawera you can walk to the hot springs, which are above the Waipunga River. You might also want to stop at the Waiarua Falls lookout, to view the twin waterfalls. The town of Eskdale heralds your arrival in Napier. In 1931 a devastating earthquake nearly levelled this city. It was rebuilt in the style of the times, and is now considered the Art Deco Capital of the world. The vineyards of Hawke’s Bay are all within easy reach of Napier. Another attraction is the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers
There are two words the sit with Hawke’s Bay and they are Wine Country. Hawke’s Bay is one of New Zealand’s warmest, driest regions and this has made it one of the country’s leading producers of wine; notably red wines – cabernet sauvignon, merlot and latterly syrah – but also with some quite stunning whites.
But there is much more than wine to this glorious place. It is New Zealand’s Art Deco centre, rebuilt in the 1930’s after a huge earthquake. It hosts the country’s most elaborate celebrations of Matariki – the Maori New Year. It’s a place where you can shop at the farmers market for locally grown delicacies, indulge in artisan gourmet food, and join the lunchers at Napier’s Great Long Lunch. And it’s a place where you can walk the forest trails of the Ruahine and Kaweka Forest Parks or the glorious beaches that stretch along the coast.
Day 6 - Napier
Explore Hawke's Bay region at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites (additional cost):
- Half Day Wine and Gourmet
Savour some internationally acclaimed wine and relax where art meets science amongst a wealth of scenery on this fabulous odyssey. Take a behind the scenes look at a winery with a chance to learn from a local wine maker, learn about wine and food matching at one of New Zealand's top winery restaurants and indulge in gourmet platters with top local produce including meats, seafood, vegetables, cheese, olives, breads and dips.
- Half Day Maori Culture and Heritage
Join your guides to experience a spiritual welcome into the world of Maori. Spend time talking with Maori about their lives and find yourself drawn into their lives and into their world on a deep level. Experience a formal welcome (powhiri) and delve into Maori life, both past and contemporary. On the sands of a glorious Hawke's Bay wilderness beach resides an extraordinary Maori elder (quia) who lives an inspired life in the rhythms and age old customs of the Maori culture; an inspirational woman who carries the mana (respect), courage and relentlessness to keep the culture alive. Meet this remarkable woman on land that has been passed down from her ancestors since the beginning of time. Listen to her fascinating reality how things are and what is important to them, their connection to the land, the importance of whakapapa (lineage) and life amongst her people.
- On Yer Bike Winery Tour
This tour offers a fun one-day cycling experience, giving you the opportunity to enjoy tasting some of Hawkes Bay's finest wines, while at the same time taking in the superb scenery of the Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa Triangle wine growing regions. The terrain is flat and very easy cycling. Scenery includes vineyards, olive groves, orchards and farmland. Most of the cycling is off-road following the wineries bike trail with a detour through a working vineyard. The route covers around 20km and gives you the opportunity to visit up to eight wineries depending on the day you do the tour.
Day 7 - Napier to Rotorua
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 - Rotorua
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.
Day 9 – Rotorua to Auckland
Return to Auckland and drop off Rental Car at Auckland Airport
||Now-31 March 2018|
* Peak Season 1Dec17-28Feb18 pricing - Availability very restricted, package pricing may be higher Dec-Feb period, depending on availability
Daily departures, this package is an independent itinerary with flexible departures (not a group tour), the above costs apply for travel within each date band when you depart & return within these dates, ask an Aspire Down Under consultant for a quote when your travel dates cross over the date bands.
Additional departure gateways & pricing
- Add on airfare is available from most major airports - ask an Aspire consultant for a quote from your local airport.
- Houston - $220 additional
- Seattle - $300 additional
- Denver - $300 additional
- Portland, OR - $300 additionall
- Dallas - $350 additional
- Chicago - $400 additional
- New York - $450 additional
- Boston - $450 additional
- Washington, DC - $450 additional
Optional Activities, Extensions or Add-Ons & pricing:
- Upgrade to premium economy from $750 per person each way
- Upgrade to business class from $1,950 per person each way
- Can take the upgrade one way or round trip and combine premium/business classes on same ticket
All upgrades are subject to availability, upgrade cost may be higher depending on availability
Package from pricing is based on double occupancy (2 people sharing a room) from Los Angeles or San Francisco for purchase by 31 December, 2017. 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. Free Fiji offer only applies when package is for 2 people, not valid for single travelers.