Picture Perfect - 8 Day North Island Tour

It was an exquisite day………….

It was one of those days so clear, so still, so silent you almost feel the earth itself has stopped in astonishment at its own beauty. Katherine Mansfield (New Zealand’s Greatest Literary Figure)

This 8 day self drive itinerary showcases some of New Zealand’s North Island’s most stunning beaches and attractions from the Bay of Islands to Tongariro National Park. Enjoy sailing the Bay of Islands, soaking your limbs at Hot Water Beach, rediscovering limestone caves in Waitomo and walking the spectacular Tongariro Crossing. This holiday will leave you astounded at the scenery New Zealand has to offer.

Remember these self drive tours are flexible; days can be added or removed from the itinerary. We’ll amend our itineraries to suit your travel plans, and provide you with ‘local knowledge’ to ensure your driving holiday is a relaxing one.

Day 1 - Auckland to Bay of Islands

Welcome to Auckland “The City of Sails”.

After clearing customs and immigration you can refresh, take a shower, have a meal before collecting your car. Let your Journey begin!

The Bay of Islands is situated only three and a half hours drive north of Auckland. Made up of 144 islands this picturesque region is the finest maritime park of New Zealand and is a world class playground for numerous outdoor activities. The Bay has an abundance of marine life, including the big marlin, whales, penguins, dolphins, gannets and many other species. Known as the ‘birthplace’ of the nation, the Bay of Islands is rich in diverse culture and history and is the perfect starting point for your New Zealand tour.

Two Nights Accommodation at Flagstaff Lodge in the Bay of Island. A luxuriously restored 1912 villa providing boutique accommodation, centrally located in Russell the historic centre of the Bay of Islands.

Day 2 - Sailing the Bay of Islands

Sailing is by far the best way to experience the Bay of Islands. The Bay with its pristine natural environment is the gathering place in the South Pacific for overseas sailing yachts on world cruises, international sport fishermen, golfers and marine enthusiasts.Your day includes the opportunity of swimming with dolphins, fishing, snorkeling, beach volleyball, bushwalking or relaxing in the sun on the spacious decks.

Some alternative sightseeing and activity options available are:

Day 3 - Scenic West Coast Drive to the Beautiful Coromandel

The spectacular rugged West coast on the Tasman Sea is a wonderful contrast to the Pacific splendour of the East coast you have just experienced. The whole region boasts wild surf beaches, lakes, ancient native Kauri forest and wildlife like the Gannet colony Muriwai beach. Then once again the geographical change surprises as you meander in the geothermal region of the Central North Island. Don’t be too surprised to see steam billowing from the side of the road as you make your way to the sleepy Coromandel.The Coromandel Peninsula lies east of Auckland, on the other side of the Hauraki Gulf. An impressive, heavily forested mountain range runs right up the middle of this peninsula.

Soak at Hot Water Beach: The natural upwelling of geothermal hot water rising from deep below the sand makes this spot famous. Dig a hole in the sand when the tide is low, then allow the hot springs to work their limb-soothing magic while the cool waves of the Pacific Ocean invigorate you.  Why not enjoy it with a glass of wine as the sunsets on the horizon!

One Nights Accommodation at Colleith Lodge in the  Coromandel. Situated on the east Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula and Set on 1.5 acres amid native bush, the lodge was built in tune with the natural environment for your relaxation, privacy and comfort.

Day 4 - Guided Ancient Giant Kauri Rainforest Walk - Coromandel

Let us take you to one of the most special places on The Coromandel. A place where our mighty Kauri tree is still the king. This magnificent stand of Kauri is located on the side of an ancient volcano some of them being up to 2000 years old. Kauri are among the world's mightiest trees, growing to more than 50 metres tall, with trunk girths of up to 16 metres. Just being in their presence will leave you feeling humbled and exhilarated as you feel the energy that they willingly give to you. This is a truly amazing hike through primeval rainforest, which at times will be on 100yr old logging roads which are now reclaimed by the bush.

Some sightseeing and activity options available are:

One Nights Accommodation at Kamahi Cottage in Waitomo. This is a boutique country cottage located an easy 30 minute drive to the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. It offers luxury country Bed & Breakfast accommodation in a tranquil setting.

Day 5 - A Celebration of Nature's Work - Waitomo Caves

Today head south to the green rolling landscapes of the Waikato,  yet this is one region in particular holds more than just surface appeal… literally. For Waikato also boasts an extensive labyrinth of underground caverns that formed over millions of years.

The caves at Waitomo are one of New Zealand's most commanding wonders – a celebration of nature's work over the last one hundred thousand years. There are hundreds of miles of labyrinthine caves, glow-worms, under ground lakes, stalactites and stalagmites, and all manner of limestone crustaceans - a lost world waiting to be discovered.

Choose a caving experience that suites you:

One Nights Accommodation at A-Kahu House in Rotorua. Situated at Kawaha Point on the edge of Lake Rotorua this is lake edge luxury with the relaxed vibe of a B & B. The guest rooms are large, beautifully appointed and flooded with lake views. Situated at Kawaha Point on the edge of Lake Rotorua this is lake edge luxury with the relaxed vibe of a B & B. The guest rooms are large, beautifully appointed and flooded with lake views.

Day 6 - Rotorua - Maori cultural centre of New Zealand

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.

Geysers, mud pools and thermal springs have been attracting visitors to Rotorua since the 1800s and the living, breathing landscape never fails to amaze. Perched on the edge of a large lake, in the crater of an ancient volcano, this picturesque city is also the heartland of New Zealand's Maori culture. With 16 sparkling lakes within 20 minutes drive of the city, as well as magnificent forests surrounding, Rotorua has earned the reputation as the North Islands outdoors adventure centre offering an exciting array of experiences.

Sightseeing and activity options available:

Two Nights Accommodation at Chalet Eiger in Taupo. This luxury lodge is without question one of the Lake Taupo area's best kept secrets where you can experience a unique international blend of Kiwi hospitality, European tradition and Asian charm.

Day 7 - Tongariro National Park - Fancy a Walk on the Moon

Untouched volcanic terrain offers a fascinating look at a very alien environment, complete with twisted lava formations, volcanic steam vents. vast craters, active volcanoes, boiling lakes, barren desert, lush forest, crystal-clear mountain streams, steaming geysers and emerald green lakes. Phew! The scenery is so otherworldly that Lord of the Rings was filmed there.

Experience a diversity of landscapes unlikely to be found together anywhere else in the world. Tongariro was New Zealand's first national park and is a World Heritage site in the Lake Taupo region. It was created in 1887 when the three magnificent volcanoes – Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe – were offered to the people of New Zealand by the Tuwharetoa tribes. It now covers a total area of 78, 651 ha. This can either be done as a freedom walk (only in summer), or a guided trip including transfers, refreshments and lunch.

Day 8 - Homeward Bound or to the South Island

National Park Village sits neatly halfway between Auckland and Wellington's International Airports so if you are departing New Zealand its either a 4 hour drive to one of these International Airports or a 1 hour drive to catch internal flight from Lake Taupo.

If you are wanting to extend and continue with the Picture Perfect South Island Tour you can fly from Taupo to Nelson. You won't be disappointed the scenery is completely different you will think you are in another country!


Please take the time to view our “Virtual Tour” for the 8 Day Picture Perfect tour or download/print the detailed “Tour Dossier”. Both can be found on the right hand column of this page. Alternatively you can simply contact us. For a comprehensive list of all activities available in each location featured in this tour, please refer to the "Destination Guide" found at the top of this page.

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