6 days Rotorua, Taupō & Waikato

Immerse yourself in authentic cultural experiences, geothermal wonders, and nail-biting adventure on this North Island itinerary.


Regions: Rotorua, Taupō, Waikato

Recommended length: 6 days

Highlights: Geothermal, Culture, Adventure, Landscapes & Scenery


Day 1: Auckland to Rotorua

Travel to Rotorua by road or air. If arriving in Auckland International Airport and self-driving to Rotorua, we recommend spending at least one night in Auckland to rest and explore the city before collecting your rental vehicle. The drive from Auckland will take approximately 3 hours.

Once in Rotorua, spend the afternoon on an exhilarating white water rafting trip on the Kaituna River. After dark, head to the majestic Redwoods forest for a magical treewalk among the lit-up canopy.

Stay overnight at one of Rotorua’s boutique hotels or luxury lodges (not bookable through Explore).


Day 2: Rotorua

Start the day with spectacular views across the Rotorua region at Skyline Gondola and blast downhill on the twisting luge tracks. Re-energise with a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant or café. Once you’ve refueled, head to the slopes of Mt Ngongotahā and experience the thrill of rolling downhill in a giant-inflatable ball!

Afterwards, enjoy a soak in a cedar hot tub surrounded by native ferns and the quiet calm of the forest, with a cold beverage in hand.


Day 3: Rotorua to Taupō

Journey to the glistening shores of Lake Taupō, the drive from Rotorua takes approximately 1 hour. Join a small group cruise aboard an electric sailboat and marvel at the modern Māori rock carvings at Mine Bay.

In the afternoon, make a stop at the famous Huka Falls. Join an exhilarating jet boat trip to the base of the falls with plenty of speed and 360 degree turns along the way. 

Stay overnight at an award-winning boutique B&B, that is also leading the way for regenerative tourism in the region.


Day 4: Taupō to Hamilton

Travel north to the Waikato region. The hour-long drive winds through lush farmland and rolling green hills. En-route stop in Cambridge and enjoy an exhilarating jetboat tour on the mighty Waikato awa (river).

After lunch, continue north to Hamilton city. Enjoy a guided tour through the spectacular local gardens - these themed gardens will impress travellers with green fingers (and those without!).

Stay overnight in the Waikato region (not bookable through Explore).


Days 5-6: Hamilton, Waikato

Get ready for an unmissable day of adventure. There are plenty of options to choose from, including black water rafting, an unforgettable abseiling tour, or rock climbing through underground cave systems.

In the evening, embark on a spectacular twilight kayaking experience with the moonlight above you and the light of thousands of magical glow-worms surrounding you.

Spend a second adventurous day in the Waikato region because you’re on vacation and one adventure-filled day is never enough!

Most experiences mentioned in this itinerary can be booked through the Explore New Zealand Discount Programme.