Auckland - Wellington

Fly total time: 10 days
From tranquil ancient forests to sparkling waters and bubbling volcanic activity, a road trip through New Zealand’s outdoors is spectacular. Mindful travellers can enjoy and contribute to caring for these precious natural environments. 

AT A GLANCE:
  • 10 days/9 nights
  • Self-drive (electric vehicle)
  • Explore the blue waters and wildlife in a marine park
  • Immerse yourself in ancient forests
  • Contribute to conservation projects
  • Enjoy fresh local food and world-class wines
  • Day 1: Auckland

    Drive Fly
    Spend the afternoon getting to know Auckland, where city style meets spectacular landscapes. Walk and taste your way around the waterfront precincts of the Viaduct and Wynyard Quarter, or hop on a ferry or take in some real fresh air on a sunset sea kayak tour to Rangitoto Island.

    TOP TIPS:
    • Feeling tired from all that exercise? End the day with an in-house meal at Hectors restaurant, which serves up tasty dishes using seasonal produce sourced within a 50-km radius.
    • Feeling the need to escape the city for the afternoon? Take a wilderness tour into surrounding rainforest and visit Piha’s black sand beach.
  • Day 2: Auckland – Waiheke Island – Auckland

    Drive Fly
    Explore Waiheke Island, a relaxing haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches. Enjoy local produce accompanied by excellent wines from Waiheke’s boutique vineyards. Or visit an artist’s studio, before taking a zipline and stroll through native forest.

    TOP TIPS:
    • Explore the islands from above and land in style with Auckland Seaplanes, the first ISO certified carbon-zero air operator in Australasia.
    • There is no need for a car on Waiheke Island – there are several private transfer companies, as well as public buses and taxis. You can also hire a mountain bike or e-bike on the island.
  • Day 3: Auckland - Hamilton

    Drive Fly 125 KMS 77 MI
    Start your day with a whale and dolphin spotting tour in the clear waters of the Hauraki Gulf. Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari gather important data on their trips and your ticket directly contributes to marine conservation through the various organisations they support. This afternoon, pick up your electric vehicle and head south. Stretch your legs in Hamilton Gardens – named 2014 International Garden of the Year, the 58 hectares of themed gardens are a must-see for nature lovers.
  • Day 4: Hamilton - Waitomo

    Drive Fly 75 KMS 46 MI

    Spend the morning exploring the underground wonders of Ruakuri Cave. See glowworms up close and marvel at the limestone formations and crystal tapestries in this uniquely sustainable experience (the cave is solar powered!). Another way to see Ruakuri Cave is by floating down an underground river and jumping off subterranean waterfalls on a black water rafting trip. This evening, enjoy a guided tour through the Shire at dusk, before eating a banquet fit for a hobbit in the legendary Green Dragon™ Inn.

    DID YOU KNOW?
    Hobbiton Movie Set prevents 80,000 takeaway coffee cups ending up in the landfill each year with their on-site compost system, which breaks down their compostable packaging alternatives (alongside food and green waste) to produce soil to feed the gardens on the Movie Set.

  • Day 5: Hamilton - Rotorua

    Drive Fly 106 KMS 65 MI
    After breakfast, make your way south to the bubbling geothermal centre of the North Island. Connect with nature and “bathe” in the Whakarewarewa Forest, where a network of trails winds through towering Californian Redwoods. Walk or mountain bike among these mighty giants, or get a bird’s eye view on a treetop canopy walk or zipline.

    MUST-DOS:
    • Rotorua Canopy Tours – Original Canopy Tour: This guided three-hour journey mixes thrills, nature and conservation with ziplining through 1000-year-old tree tops. What started as one man’s dream has grown into a tourism conservation success story that’s inspiring visitors to contribute to restoring one of the most remarkable forests in the country.
    • Redwoods Treewalk and Nightlights Experience: Fusing nature and art, this is an after-dark eco-experience suspended high among stately redwood trees.  Engineered to respect the forest (no nails, screws or bolts), the lofty walkway is built of recycled materials and lit by suspended lights that run on minimal power consumption.
  • Day 6: Rotorua

    Drive Fly
    Spend the morning snaking through steep native-bush-clad canyons and over rapids and waterfalls, including the seven-metre Tutea Falls, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world (suitable for first times and enthusiasts). This afternoon, explore Rainbow Springs Nature Park, set amongst native forest. Learn about New Zealand’s natural history, meet the local wildlife and see real conservation in action at the world's leading kiwi bird hatchery.

    MUST DO:
    • Kaitiaki Adventures – Raft the Kaituna River: At Kaitiaki Adventures, a thrilling, spectacular rafting adventure is infused with sustainable practices and age-old Māori values. This company prioritises kaitiaki (guardianship) in an holistic experience inspired by culture, landscape and people.
  • Day 7: Rotorua - Taupō

    Drive Fly 80 KMS 49 MI
    A short drive from Rotorua, Taupō is home to a vast lake, ancient forests, steaming geothermal zones and snow-blanketed mountains. Take a jet boat right up to the raging Huka Falls, then view the impressive Māori rock carvings on a sunset sail or kayak. Enjoy a soak in some natural mineral water hot pools this evening.

    TOP TIPS:
    • The 5km-trail from the town centre to Huka Falls offers a scenic walk along the clear Waikato River. Stop off for a dip in a natural hot creek along the way!
  • Day 8: Taupō - Napier

    Drive Fly 141 KMS 87 MI
    Head towards the coast to Napier, the first stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. Hawke’s Bay is among New Zealand’s leading producers of wine as well as excellent fresh produce. It is also a hub of Art Deco design and architecture – explore the town on a guided walk before enjoying a meal at one of the city’s many great restaurants.

    TOP TIPS:
    • Splash out and stay the night amongst the vines at Craggy Range Lodge – complete with personalised private wine tasting by an in-house sommelier.
    • Plant a native tree and watch it grow (via geo-coordinates) on a family-run Māori cultural tour which offers insights into the historic and cultural significance of the area.
  • Day 9: Napier - Masterton - Martinborough

    Drive Fly 272 KMS 169 MI
    Set off early today and head south on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. Stop at the Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre. See the world's only white kiwi in captivity and learn about the centre’s pioneering conservation efforts for kiwi and many other threatened native species.

    Continue on to Martinborough. Here you can hire a bike and cycle or stroll the flat country roads between the small vineyards and olive groves, tasting as you go. Explore boutique stores, cafés and restaurants in the village.

    TOP TIPS:
    • Known for its carefully restored Victorian buildings, antique stores and artisan food offerings, historic Greytown is a great place to stop for a wander.
  • Day 10: Martinborough - Wellington

    Drive Fly 80 KMS 49 MI
    After a short drive over the Remutaka mountain range, arrive in Wellington. Ride the cable car up to the Botanic Gardens for views over the capital city. Listen to a bird concert or spot a kiwi at dusk in Zealandia, a safe haven for rare wildlife. Just a few kilometres from the heart of Wellington, Zealandia describes itself as “the world’s first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary”. Depart from Wellington International Airport the next day, or continue south on the ferry to Picton.