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New Zealand Northern Trail (Northbound)

As far as road trips go, it doesn’t get much better than this. Beginning in New Zealand’s creative capital city Wellington, spend 10-days discovering the best of the North Island with a local leader at the wheel. Explore the ethereal landscapes of Tongariro National Park, tuck into a hangi dinner with a Maori community in Rotorua, hang out or hang ten in relaxed Raglan, stretch out on the beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula and wrap things up in Auckland City. From stunning sights that stop you in your tracks to celebrations of the island’s Maori culture, this North Island adventure is sure to excite, educate and inspire.

10 days, from


per person


16 people max


Trip code: PHKO
Style: Comfort
Theme: Explorer


Countries Visited:  New Zealand
Accommodation: Hotel/Motel (9 nights)
Transportation: Private Vehicle
Included Meals:

  • 9 breakfasts
  • 2 dinners

Group size: Minimum 6, Max 16

  • Begin your journey in New Zealand’s creative and cosmopolitan capital, Wellington. Your local leader will show you the best of the city, including Weta Workshop of Lord of the Rings fame.

  • Admire the out of this world landscapes of Tongariro National Park, from emerald green lakes to soaring volcanic peaks. If you’re up for the challenge, tackle the famous Tongariro Crossing.

  • Discover the diversity of Rotorua, from unbelievable geothermal activity to rich Maori culture. Visit a Maori village for a hangi dinner and traditional haka performance.

  • Hang out or hang ten in Raglan, a laidback town and surfing hotspot. Hop aboard a boat cruise around Raglan to watch the sunset and tuck into a classic Kiwi fish and chips dinner.

  • Soak up the natural beauty of the Coromandel Peninsula, including a visit to Hot Water Beach, where all you need is a spade to create your own natural hot tub.


Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Wellington

Welcome to the land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa (New Zealand). Your North Island adventure begins in Wellington, New Zealand’s trendy and attractive capital city. Strung between staggering green hills and a delightful harbour, Wellington holds onto a small-town charm despite its capital status. The city is known for its creative and artistic endeavours, making it a real joy to explore. Meet your local leader and new travel buddies at your accommodation at 7:30pm for a welcome meeting, then the rest of the evening is yours. If you’d like to experience Wellington’s world-renowned food and craft beer scene, your leader will have tips on the best places to grab a bevvy or a bite to eat.

Day 2: Wellington

Today is all about getting to know windy Wellington, a charming place even on its most blustery days! Kick the day off with an orientation tour with your leader, checking out the bays, central Wellington, the Botanic Gardens and the Parliament Buildings. Pay a visit to Weta Workshop, the special effects studio used by Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. While here you’ll have the chance to take an optional tour around the studio to find out how the team here create film magic. This afternoon, you may like to check out Wellington’s most famous cultural attraction, Te Papa museum. Displaying an intriguing combination of New Zealand’s history and cultural heritage weaved with cutting edge technology and interactive displays, there’s something here to entertain everyone. If you’d rather spend the afternoon outdoors, a tour of Kapiti Island offers the chance to spot an abundance of rare and beautiful birds.

Day 3: Wellington / Tongariro National Park

Make the most of your final morning in Wellington – perhaps check out the always-buzzing Cuba street for breakfast or have a wander around the City Gallery. Then it’s time to swap the city for the natural wonders of Tongariro National Park as you hit the road and head north. This drive is one worth looking out the window for, as the volcanic peaks of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro draw closer. Arrive in Tongariro National Park, the oldest national park in the country and your home for the next two nights.

Day 4: Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park is an inspiring landscape brimming with emerald lakes and volcanic mountains. The park is also home to what’s thought to be one of the best one-day walks in the world – the Tongariro Crossing. Today you’ll have the chance to take on this challenging but oh-so rewarding hike, covering 19.4km through mountains, lakes, craters and thick bush. A variety of guided or unguided options are available, but a good level of fitness and appropriate gear for all types of weather are a must for anyone considering tackling the crossing today. This is considered one of the world’s top walks for a reason – the views are simply unbeatable. You may prefer to set out on one of the shorter hikes in the park – there are heaps to choose from and your leader will help to pick one that best suits your interests and abilities.

Day 5: Taupo / Rotorua

Leave the landscapes of Tongariro National Park behind and get back on the road. Today’s first stop is Taupo, set on the shores of the mighty Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. From here it’s a super scenic drive to the Huka Falls – this forceful, icy blue torrent of water is a must-see! Continue your journey towards Rotorua, known for its Maori heritage, hotbed of geothermal activity and distinctive sulphur smell (you’ll get used to it!). To get your first look at Rotorua’s impressive scenery, take a treetop walk through an ancient redwood forest over a network of suspension bridges, reaching 12 metres at the highest point.

Day 6: Rotorua

Spend the day discovering the natural and cultural wonders of Rotorua – this unique destination is really like nowhere else in the world. The geothermal activity in the area is second to none – simmering mud pools, dramatic geysers and fluorescent lakes must be seen to be believed. If you’ve got a head for heights, ziplining through Rotorua’s ancient forests is an unbeatable way to take it all in. This evening you’ll get a true taste of Maori culture during a visit to a local village. Here you’ll enjoy a hangi dinner, a traditional meal cooked underground, giving it a delicious earthy flavour. Members of the village will also give combat demonstrations and perform a soul-stirring haka. While here you’ll have the chance to witness New Zealand’s largest geyser in action, and if you’re really lucky, you may spot some nocturnal kiwi birds.

Day 7: Waitomo / Raglan

This morning’s adventure takes you underground during a visit to the Waitomo Caves, a subterranean system of caverns and passageways illuminated by thousands of ethereal glow worms. You may like to join a walking tour to hear the story of the caves’ history, geology and connection to Maori mythology. If you’d rather stay on the surface, the Ruakuri Forest walk is a must, cutting through dense rainforest and taking in views of verdant gorges and limestone arches. Tucked into the rolling green hills of Matamata you’ll find Hobbiton, the set where part of the Lord of the Rings films were shot and a must-visit for any fans. From here, it’s on to Raglan, a chilled-out town with a reputation as New Zealand’s top surf spot. Tonight is set to be one to remember – get on the water for a sunset boat cruise around Raglan Harbour, and tuck into a tasty fish and chips feast while you’re at it – a true Kiwi experience!

Day 8: Raglan / Coromandel Peninsula

Raglan is the ideal place to catch some morning waves, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. If surfing isn’t your thing, the area offers a wealth of awesome activities. Check out creative local cafes, shops and galleries, stretch out on the beach and enjoy the view or head out on a hiking trail to get a better look at the landscape. Continue north in the afternoon towards the Coromandel Peninsula, passing tree-clad hills and dramatic valleys. The journey will be broken up with photo-worthy stops, including a visit to the magical 55-metre cascade of the Bridal Veil Falls.

Day 9: Coromandel Peninsula / Auckland

Your leader will spend some time showing you around The Coromandel this morning. A land of white sand beaches and lush rainforests, the Coromandel Peninsula feels a world away from where your journey began. Make a stop at Hot Water Beach, named after the famous warm waters found beneath its golden sand. If the tide allows, dig a hole on the beach and enjoy your own natural hot tub – absolute bliss! Later in the day, hit the road for a final time as you travel towards Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest, busiest and buzziest city. The journey is a highlight in itself, following the extraordinary coastline and watching clear blue water stream past the window. As always, your leader will have tips on some excellent places to grab a meal in this lively city.

Day 10: Auckland

Say your goodbyes this morning as your North Island adventure comes to an end. If you’d like to spend some more time in Auckland, just get in touch ahead of time and we’d be happy to arrange additional accommodation (subject to availability).