This indulgent two-week getaway combines the best of the North Island's natural beauty with stays at some of New Zealand's most exclusive luxury estates and lodges. The fun kicks off in the north as you get to know Auckland and the spectacular Bay of Plenty. Then, it's time for an epic road trip as you wind your way south through Rotorua, Taupo, Napier, and Martinborough—savoring an itinerary of outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, wine-tasting tours, and relaxing spa days en route.


  • Stay at some of the country's best luxury estates and lodges
  • Take scenic flights over northerly Cape Reinga and geothermal Rotorua
  • Zip around the turquoise Huka Falls by jet boat
  • Tour the Art Deco architecture of Napier from a stylish vintage car
  • Cycle between the renowned vineyards of Hawke's Bay

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Auckland, Dinner at Ahi Restaurant Auckland
Day 2 Full-Day Fly & Cruise to Great Barrier & Waiheke Islands Auckland
Day 3 Fly to Paihia, Scenic Flight to Cape Reinga Paihia
Day 4 Half-Day Cruise, Waitangi Treaty Grounds Paihia
Day 5 Free Day at The Landing Paihia
Day 6 Fly to Auckland, Drive to Rotorua, Wai Ariki Spa Rotorua
Day 7 Scenic Floatplane Tour, Mount Tarawera Crater Walk Rotorua
Day 8 Visit Wai-O-Tapu, Mountain Jade Workshop, Drive to Taupō Taupō
Day 9 Jet Boat at Huka Falls, Māori Rock Carving Cruise Taupō
Day 10 Drive to Napier, Art Deco Vintage Car Tour, Gannet Safari Napier
Day 11 Hawke's Bay Wine Cycling Tour Napier
Day 12 Drive to Martinborough, Half-Day Wine Tour Martinborough
Day 13 Day Trip to Putangirua Pinnacles & Cape Palliser Martinborough
Day 14 Drive to Wellington, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, Dinner at Ahi Restaurant

Luxury suites offer views over Auckland's glittering harbor (photo courtesy of Hotel Britomart)

Kia ora! Welcome to New Zealand's North Island! Your adventure begins in Auckland, the country's largest city. With two bustling harbors and more than 500,000 sailboats and yachts, it's easy to see why Auckland is nicknamed the "City of Sails." A private driver will be waiting to transfer you to The Hotel Britomart, a 5-star urban haven of calm in downtown Auckland. It's a great base for your city stay, surrounded by world-class restaurants, chic boutiques, and lively bars, and walking distance from many attractions.

The afternoon is yours to get to know Auckland at your pace. Drop by the nearby Wynyard Quarter for a feast of local seafood at the Fish Market, or travel up the iconic Sky Tower, the tallest human-made structure in New Zealand at 1,076 feet (328 m). Refresh ahead of this evening's taste of seasonal New Zealand cuisine at Ahi, a chic restaurant that honors passionate local suppliers and growers. You'll taste a handful of ever-changing dishes paired with wine, each telling an authentic food story of Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand).

Day 2: Full-Day Fly & Cruise to Great Barrier & Waiheke Islands

Island Hopper - Auckland, Great Barrier and Waiheke Island
Take a scenic flight to Auckland's "Island of Wine" for a three-course meal and tasting

Spend today seeing Auckland and its surroundings from above with a scenic island-hopping flight. You'll soar above the picturesque Hauraki Gulf, soaking up stunning coastal landscapes and a rich diversity of marine life within the expansive 3 million acres (1.2 million ha) of islands and bay. Land on the magnificent Great Barrier Island, where a private guide will take you on a three-hour tour, revealing the island's unique ecosystem, natural beauty, and diverse landscapes. After, take to the skies again and cross over the scenic Coromandel as you make your way to Waiheke Island.

Known as Auckland's "Island of Wine," Waiheke is home to over 30 wineries, and you'll head to the highest on the island for a premium wine tasting and three-course meal with a view. Sit back and savor each dish while soaking up breathtaking vistas of the Rangitoto volcano and the scenery of downtown Auckland. Finally, you'll be dropped at the Matiatia Ferry Terminal for a leisurely cruise back to the mainland. 

Day 3: Fly to Paihia, Scenic Flight to Cape Reinga

Scenic Flight to Cape Reinga
Cape Reinga is the northernmost point of New Zealand's North Island

Leave Auckland behind and board a quick one-hour flight north to Paihia, your gateway to the famous Bay of Islands. Upon arrival, you'll switch aircraft for a scenic flight up to Cape Reinga. From your window seat, enjoy spectacular views up the western coast as your friendly pilot shares local history. You'll get a bird's-eye view of the famous 90 Mile Beach, then land at a private airfield near the cape, where a guide will be waiting to take you on a 2.5-hour tour of the top of New Zealand, including Cape Reinga Lighthouse, where two oceans meet. After, visit Te Paki Sand Dunes and try "sand tobogganing."

For the flight back, you'll glimpse the Northland's spectacular east coast via the Bay of Islands, admiring untouched pink, yellow, and white beaches inaccessible by road. Once you land in Paihia, a private driver will transfer you to your luxury retreat. Check into one of four residences at The Landing, a 1,000-acre (400 ha) property with six private beaches, an award-winning vineyard, and lush wetlands. Refresh and reset, then set out to explore the grounds or enjoy happy hour with a good book while soaking up the peace and privacy.

Day 4: Half-Day Cruise, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

The Landing half day cruise
Jet out into the ocean near The Landing with a skipper on your private boat

Rise early for a hike or bike ride to explore the property as the sun rises, or enjoy a sleep-in before a luxurious breakfast at the estate. Then, it's time to set sail in a private vessel. The Iti Rangi boat and a skipper are yours to cruise the coves of the peninsula to fish and encounter seabirds and other marine life. Enjoy your lunch on a secluded beach in the Bay of Islands, then cruise back to The Landing in the early afternoon.

Later, you'll visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds to learn more about the history of Aotearoa and its Māori culture. Here, you can discover the stories, personalities, and events that shaped New Zealand on a guided tour. Enjoy an immersive performance inside the carved Meeting House that includes waiata (singing), poi, stick games, Māori weaponry display, and the famous haka. After, return to The Landing for a relaxed evening and carefully crafted dinner, which the head chef has prepared using fresh ingredients from the garden.

Day 5: Free Day at The Landing

A typical day at the Landing
Visit the kitchen gardens to pick produce and make your own meal (photo courtesy of The Landing)

A network of tracks winds its way across The Landing's 1,000 acres (400 ha), and today is yours to explore the property as you wish. Take a hike, borrow bikes, go swimming at the private beaches, or try paddleboarding or kayaking. You can snorkel in the peaceful bay, relax on golden sands, or practice your swing at the tennis court. Wine lovers can explore The Landing Wines, known for their tropical fruit and mineral flavors, influenced by Northland's long, warm summers and coastal breezes. Tour the state-of-the-art winery or wander the 23-acre (9 ha) vineyard.

If you love to cook, take a self-guided tour of the orchards, vegetable and herb garden, and free-range henhouse. You can take what you like to create your own meal. Or enter the kitchen and join The Landing's head chef to learn new techniques and cook up the catch-of-the-day together. Nature lovers should lace up their sneakers and venture into the native New Zealand forest, day or night, to discover the lush green bush and chorus of birdsong up close. A guide can take you out after dark to discover New Zealand's shy, iconic native bird, the kiwi, by flashlight.

Day 6: Fly to Auckland, Drive to Rotorua, Wai Ariki Spa

Settle into your Rotorua retreat with views over Lake Tarawera (photo courtesy of Solitaire Lodge)

This morning, you'll board a one-hour flight back to Auckland. On arrival, it's time for a road trip as you collect a rental car and cruise three hours south to Rotorua, New Zealand's famous geothermal city. This is one of the world's most active volcanic regions, with bubbling mud pools, steaming geysers, and natural hot springs. Wind down the window and brace yourself for the strong smell of sulfur as you approach! Check into the luxurious Solitaire Lodge, which enjoys unobstructed views over Lake Tarawera. Here, the lodge integrates the great outdoors, allowing you to savor the serene setting from your peaceful space.

After a long drive, nothing will feel better than an indulgent session at Wai Ariki Spa. Nestled on the foreshore of the stunning Lake Rotorua, Wai Ariki Spa offers a restorative journey grounded in te ao Māori principles, Ngāti Whakaue culture, and traditional healing practices. Under the guidance of the local iwi (tribe) you'll move from heat to cool, mud to water, and air to steam to maximize the therapeutic benefits of this two-hour multisensory, immersive progression.

Day 7: Scenic Floatplane Tour, Mount Tarawera Crater Walk

Scenic flight Mt Tarawera - Orakei Korako - Floatplane
Glimpse Rotorua's geothermal activity from above with a scenic float plane flight

Get a glimpse of Rotorua's wild geothermal activity from above this morning with a small-group floatplane flight. You'll soar above Mokoia Island, visit the hidden lakes district, and see the volcanic peaks of the 3,680-foot (1,121 m) Mount Tarawera. Continue south over the Waimangu Valley to view Frying Pan Lake, the Inferno Crater, and the multicolored pools of the Wai-O-Tapu reserve. Follow the Waikato River to the hidden valley of Orakei Korako and land on the river, where you'll swap to a boat and then begin a land-based exploration of Rotorua.

Plan your trip to New Zealand
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Later this afternoon, you'll return to Mount Tarawera for a private guided crater hike. The volcano last erupted in 1886, creating the world's youngest geothermal valley of Waimangu. You'll explore this remarkable landscape and discover the history of the area with the help of your local guide. After, return to the lodge for a peaceful evening.

Day 8: Visit Wai-O-Tapu, Mountain Jade Workshop, Drive to Taupō

One of the world's great luxury retreats, Huka has even hosted Queen Elizabeth II (photo courtesy of Huka Lodge)

Start your day exploring Rotorua's famous geysers, bubbling mud holes, steaming vents, and sulfurous pools at Wai-O-Tapu. Choose various short walks that showcase the distinctive landscapes and volcanic activity, including the famous Mud Pool. Learn about the Lady Knox Geyser with a guide, then watch it erupt to huge heights. After, meet New Zealand jade artists in their studio. Gain an in-depth introduction to pounamu—the art of carving jade—with a private visit covering the rich history and cultural significance of jade.

Later on, get back on the road for the easy hour's drive south to Taupō. This scenic route takes you into the heart of the Central North Island volcanic plateau, cutting through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Taupō is nestled at the edge of Lake Taupō, New Zealand's largest lake, and surrounded by a volcanic caldera formed 25,600 years ago. Upon arrival, check into the revered Huka Lodge, which sits on the banks of the Waikato River just upstream from Huka Falls.

Far from its humble beginnings as a fisherman's camp almost a century ago, the property lodge is now one of the country's oldest and most celebrated luxury properties. The main 1920s lodge offers beautifully appointed suites with views over the gardens and rivers, while separate Arts and Crafts-style cottages dot the sprawling grounds.

Day 9: Jet Boat at Huka Falls, Māori Rock Carving Cruise

See Huka Falls up close with a thrilling jet boat ride

Kick off your day with an exhilarating excursion to Huka Falls, where the Waikato River propels 58,000 gallons (220,000 l) of water per second. In a state-of-the-art jet boat, you'll zip past cliffs and trees at an incredible 50 miles per hour (80 km/h), bracing yourself for the adrenaline rush of 360-degree spins and passing clouds of steam where hot springs meet the river. You'll pass the Huka Prawn Park, the perfect stop for lunch later. 

This afternoon, keep things moving with a scenic yacht cruise across Lake Taupō. Relax in luxury bean bags as you float by 33-foot-high (10 m) Māori rock art, only accessible by boat. After breaks for swimming, sunbathing, and light refreshments, you'll cruise back to shore, where you'll return to the lodge for a dinner of locally sourced, sustainable haute cuisine and your pick of the 4,500-bottle wine cellar.

Day 10: Drive to Napier, Art Deco Vintage Car Tour, Gannet Safari

Cape Kidnappers
See the gannet colonies at Cape Kidnappers this afternoon (photo courtesy of Rosewood Cape Kidnappers)

Today, you'll make the three-hour drive to Napier, a coastal city set among the vineyard-grooved landscape of Hawke's Bay. In 1931, a violent earthquake and subsequent fires destroyed most of the commercial heart, and the people of Napier rebuilt their city with an Art Deco flare. On arrival, discover the city's distinctive architectural heritage in style with a private tour in a 1930s vintage car. Go for a spin around Napier's famous Art Deco Quarter, historic Port Ahuriri, and a quaint Art Deco suburb as your driver shares stories of the city's past.

Continue to your accommodations at Rosewood Cape Kidnappers, perched on a peninsula above the Pacific and complete with a world-class 71-par clifftop golf course. The 5,930-acre (2,400 ha) estate is encircled by predator-proof fences, making it a sanctuary for kiwis and the world's largest mainland colony of gannets. Settle into your elegant suite or cottage and expect 5-star luxury on this working cattle farm, with an infinity pool, spa, stellar wine cellar with tasting tours, and gourmet tasting menus.

Later in the afternoon, meet your private guide for a special bird watching safari, traveling by 4WD across riverbeds, broad rolling pastures, native bush, and steep gullies. After pausing at a spectacular clifftop to enjoy views across the Mahia Peninsula, you'll reach the world's largest mainland gannet colony, where you'll be able to get within a few feet of these remarkable birds.

Day 11: Hawke's Bay Wine Cycling Tour

 Return to the lodge in time for sunset (photo courtesy of Rosewood Cape Kidnappers)

Saddle up for a full-day Hawke's Bay adventure that combines fresh air, exercise, and the region's exquisite wines. This self-guided cycling tour kicks off with visits to renowned wineries clustered around Havelock North, including Craggy Range, Black Barn, and Te Mata Estate. At each stop, you'll taste their acclaimed vintages. Afterward, continue on the trail, weaving through picturesque orchard country alongside the Tuki Tuki River.

Your scenic ride continues along the stunning Hawke's Bay coastline, taking you to the coastal settlement of Te Awanga for lunch. Around this area, you'll visit even more acclaimed wineries, including Elephant Hill, Te Awanga Estate, and Clearview Estate. After a full day of cycling and wine tasting, you'll return to the lodge in the late afternoon, where you can soothe tired muscles with a treatment in the opulent on-site spa.

Day 12: Drive to Martinborough, Half-Day Wine Tour

Toast your trip with a tasting tour through the famous Martinborough wine country

After a luxurious breakfast at the lodge, jump back in the car for a 3.5-hour journey south to Martinborough. This pretty little village in the Wairarapa Region is made for wine lovers, with almost 35 wineries dotted around the city center. It's famous for its pinot noir, but its crisp whites are just as excellent. Your destination is Wharekauhau, one of New Zealand's top luxury hideaways. Settle into one of the 13 exquisitely appointed cottages set on a 3,000-acre (1,214 ha) working sheep and cattle farm overlooking the dramatic breakers of Palliser Bay

Refresh, then meet your private guide for a wine-filled afternoon. Together, you'll drop by renowned vineyards such as Te Kairangi Wines, Tirohana Estate, Cabbage Tree Vineyard, and Martinborough Vineyard. Taste plenty of delicious pinot noir and other wines, and learn about the development of the region, its people, and its characters with the help of your knowledgeable local guide. Afterward, you'll return to your lodge, where you can spend the evening with the in-house sommelier, enjoy a game of tennis or croquet on the sweeping lawns, and sit down to a spectacular farm-to-table dinner.

Day 13: Day Trip to Putangirua Pinnacles & Cape Palliser

Putangirua Pinnacles and Cape Palliser
Take care when you come close to the fur seal colony at Cape Palliser

The penultimate day of your North Island adventure takes you on a scenic day trip to Cape Palliser, located an hour's drive from Martinborough on a dramatic headland with sweeping views of the sea. The grand old lighthouse has stood on these cliffs since 1897, and you can climb the 253 steps for some of the area's best vistas. Then, say hello to the local fur seal colony (just be sure to keep a respectful distance). Between November and January, you might even see pups playing on the beach.

Afterward, seek out the Putangirua Pinnacles, a series of otherworldly rock formations formed by erosion, and another "The Lord of the Rings" location you might recognize. Lace up your walking shoes and follow a well-defined bush trail to a viewing platform, then venture down into the valley to walk up the riverbed, where the formations get better and better. Your choices for lunch in this remote area are slim, so ask the lodge to pack you a picnic or make your way south to the quirky fishing village of Ngawi for fish and chips by the sea before driving back to Martinborough for an evening at your leisure.

Day 14: Drive to Wellington, Depart

Savor a final morning at your historic estate before departure (photo courtesy of Wharekauhau)

It's your final morning in New Zealand. Enjoy a luxurious breakfast at Wharekauhau, then jump into the car for the 70-minute drive to Wellington, New Zealand's capital. You'll cross over Rimutaka Ranges as you head into this vibrant and cultural city, which is set on a beautiful natural harbor and surrounded by bushland. If you have time before your flight, ride the cable car to the Wellington Botanic Garden and the Carter Observatory for a vantage point with excellent views of the city and harbor, or visit the natural history museum of Te Papa or the fascinating Wētā Workshop.

Then, make the short drive to the airport with enough time to return your rental car before your departing flight home or onward. Safe travels!

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Map of Luxury Highlights of New Zealand's North Island - 14 Days
Map of Luxury Highlights of New Zealand's North Island - 14 Days