Explore the very best of New Zealand's natural wonders in this family-oriented 10-day trip. Begin by immersing yourself in Hobbit life at the Hobbiton film set, after which you will be taken to a vast underground network of caves lit up by glowworms. Take a nighttime walk among gigantic redwood trees along a lantern-lit path, and learn about Maori culture during a hearty feast in a natural forest amphitheater. Finally, ride a rail cart to some of New Zealand's most beautiful lavender fields.


  • Wander around the colorful Hobbiton set from "The Lord of the Rings"
  • Explore a network of caves lit up by millions of glowworms 
  • Marvel at the bubbling mud pools and steaming geysers in Rotorua
  • Take an open-air rail cart tour through New Zealand's stunning scenery

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Auckland, Sky Tower  Auckland
Day 2 Hobbiton Tour Auckland
Day 3 Transfer to Rotorua, Glowworm Tour & Redwoods Forest  Rotorua
Day 4 Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, Māori Cultural Dining Experience Rotorua
Day 5 Transfer to Tongariro National Park, Forgotten World Rail Cart Tour Tongariro 
Day 6 Explore Tongariro National Park Tongariro 
Day 7 Transfer to Wellington, Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Wellington
Day 8 Wētā Cave Workshop Tour, Explore Wellington City Wellington
Day 9 Northern Explorer Train to Auckland, Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise Auckland
Day 10 Depart Auckland  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, Sky Tower

Walk up to the summit of Mount Eden to get a view of Auckland's impressive skyline

Welcome to Auckland, where your driver will be waiting at the airport to take you and your family to your hotel. After having a little rest, head into the "City of the Sails." Depending on how much of the day you have left after your flight, you could make your way to the top of Mount Eden, one of the city's 48 volcanic cones. Stroll around the flower-filled Wintergardens for a scented welcome to the city, and learn about Auckland's Polynesian and European roots at the Auckland Museum.

Spend the afternoon at the Sky Tower—a thrilling way to get your bearings on the city. Standing at just over 1,000 feet (328 m), the Sky Tower offers panoramic views of the Auckland landscape. Travel in a glass-fronted lift to experience 360-degree views of ancient volcanoes, sunlit harbors, and beyond. If you're a family of adrenaline junkies, brave a Sky Walk on the outside loop around the pergola. And if you're really bold (and the kids are old enough) take the quick way down with a "sky jump" off the tower for a controlled free-fall to the base. Head back to your hotel for the night before a busy day tomorrow.

Day 2: Hobbiton Tour

Skip around the colorful Hobbiton movie set

Pick up some famous Auckland coffee (and hot chocolates for the kids) before embarking on a tour of the Hobbiton movie set. This is a hit with holiday-goers of all ages, whether you're a "The Lord of the Rings" fan or not. Located on the 12-acre (5 ha) Alexander family sheep farm in the hilly Waikato region, the Hobbiton tour is a stunning introduction to New Zealand's scenery, too. You'll take a short bus ride from The Shire's Rest to the filming location, followed by a walking tour where your guide will show you all the intricate sets and tell you behind-the-scenes stories.

Soak up the atmosphere of Middle-earth by first visiting the Shire's iconic Hobbit Holes and the Mill, where photo opportunities await. You'll stop at the Green Dragon Inn for a complimentary Southfarthing ale, cider, or ginger beer before taking the bus back to The Shire's Rest, where the tour ends. A shuttle will take you back to Auckland, where you can explore the city's well-known food scene for dinner before calling it a day. 

Day 3: Transfer to Rotorua, Glowworm Tour & Redwoods Forest 

Descend into glowworm-lit caves at Waitomo
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Say a temporary goodbye to Auckland and join your driver on a journey south into the rolling farmland and rich dairy pastures of the Waikato. Eventually, you'll come to the limestone hills of the Waitomo countryside, home to a huge underground network of caves. Once you arrive at your destination, a scenic shuttle will take you to the Footwhistle Glowworm Cave while your guide reveals the rich history of Waitomo. 

The Footwhistle Glowworm Cave (Te Anaroa Cave in Māori) is a popular choice for families, with awe-inspiring exhibits around every corner. Inside, you'll walk under a canopy of glowworms, view the skeleton of one of New Zealand's extinct species, the ancient moa bird, and see Footwhistle's Cathedral lit up by a dazzling magnesium torch. Complete the tour with a complimentary kawa tea in the punga (wilderness) hut surrounded by native forest.

Rejoin your driver, who'll take you inland to Rotorua. Drop your things at your lodgings and take some time to relax, unwind, and refuel before a magical evening at Redwoods Nightlights—an eco-tourism walk in the middle of Rotorua's redwood forest. Planted in the early 1900s, some of the California Redwoods in this area are up to 120 years old, and the forest is used for both forestry and recreation. Marvel at the trees' height and the glow from 30 lanterns (created by New Zealand-based designer David Trubridge) that are dispersed across 28 suspension bridges hanging above the forest floor.

Day 4: Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, Māori Cultural Dining Experience

Spot bubbling pools and dramatic geysers in Rotorua

Get ready for a day of fresh air and awe-inspiring sights as you explore what Rotorua is known for: its volcanic wonders. Enter Waiotapu (Wai-O-Tapu) Thermal Wonderland—a showcase of New Zealand's geothermal natural wonders. With steaming geysers, colorful lakes, and gigantic mud pools, Waiotapu has everything a nature-loving family could wish for. Feel like you're in another world as you experience diverse and wild volcanic features from well-defined tracks. 

Head back to Rotorua with your driver, where you can relax before an evening immersing your family in Māori culture. Tū Te Rā is a seasonal culture and kai experience aligned with the maramataka—the Māori lunar calendar. Enjoy drama, performance, and seasonal kai (food), such as crispy pork, caramelized apple wrapped in kawakawa, pāua, pikopiko fronds, smoked eel, and charred hāngi kumara, all against a backdrop of blazing bonfires, towering tawa trees, and a natural forest amphitheater. Rest and digest back at your Rotorua lodgings for the night. 

Day 5: Transfer to Tongariro National Park, Forgotten World Rail Cart Tour

Relax with the scent of lavender at Lauren's Lavender Farm

Your driver will pick you up from your accommodation and take you on the two-hour scenic drive around Lake Taupo to Taumarunui, where you will begin your rail adventure—a family favorite. Set off down the line in a comfortable rail cart along the Forgotten World Railway. Travel through 10 beautiful, hand-built brick tunnels and take in views of stunning country farms and native bush. A lovely plowman's lunch and fabulous home baking await you in Tokirima, after which you will board your shuttle again.

On your return journey, you'll get to visit Lauren's Lavender Farm, which was placed second in the Top 10 Lavender Farms in New Zealand. Let your kids stretch their legs as they weave in and out of the lavender boughs or, if they're older, this is the perfect place to pose for some Instagram-worthy snaps. Here you can breathe in the relaxing aromas of the lavender fields next to the Whanganui River and browse the gift shop with all the wonderful lavender products. Board the shuttle and return to Taumarunui, where you'll be taken to your lodgings in Tongariro National Park.

Day 6: Explore Tongariro National Park

Explore Tongariro Park's suspension bridges

There are so many breathtaking sites in Tongariro National Park, and all of them are reachable by a network of straightforward, family-friendly trails. The Tawhai Falls Track, for example, is a short and easy walk to the stunning 42-foot-high (13 m) Tawhai Falls. If your kids are the adventurous types, take the one-hour Tongariro River Suspension Bridge Loop, where you will traverse a series of high-up suspension bridges. 

Take some time in the afternoon to explore Lake Taupo—the largest freshwater lake in Australasia. If you have keen anglers in the family, then you might like to know that Lake Taupo is one of New Zealand's premier freshwater fishing destinations—boat fishing in summer and fly fishing in winter. Or, if you didn't get enough geothermal activity in Rotorua, then the valley of Orakei Korako Cave & Thermal Park is a real hidden gem.

Visit the Huka Falls if you can, where nearly a quarter of a million liters of water per second erupts from a natural gorge and thunders into the Waikato River below. View the falls from above via the footbridge, or, for thrill-seeking families, you can get up close with a thrilling Huka Jet boat ride. At 50 mph (80 kph) and with enough 360-degree spins to make your head spin, the Huka Jet isn't for the faint-hearted! After a busy day exploring this stunning corner of New Zealand, you'll be ready to head back to your Tongariro Park lodgings.

Day 7: Transfer to Wellington, Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary

Meet New Zealand's native species, the kiwi bird

Your driver will pick you up and take you on a 3.5-hour scenic drive from Tongariro National Park all the way to the North Island's southern city of Wellington. New Zealand's characterful capital rests on the edge of a stunning natural harbor encompassed by bush-clad hills. The compact center is easy to explore on foot—as soon as you step out of your accommodation, you will be immersed in its sights and sounds, cafés, restaurants, and shopping. 

Once the sun has gone down, head 10 minutes outside of Wellington center to visit the 500-acre (225 ha) wildlife eco-sanctuary Zealandia—home to native New Zealand wildlife. Surrounded by a predator-exclusion fence, the sanctuary protects animals like kiwi, tuatara, and tiny Maud Island frogs. Take a guided tour led by a guide with a flashlight, and come face-to-face with one—or more!—of the over 100 nocturnal bird species that live in Zealandia.

Day 8: Wētā Cave Workshop Tour, Explore Wellington City

Hit the shops on Cuba Street

After having spent much of your time exploring New Zealand's natural wonders, today it's time to get lost in the cinematic world of the Oscar Award-winning design studio, the Wētā Workshop, during a three-hour guided visit. Walk around the workshop's museum and see the characters, props, and sets from films such as "The Hobbit," "The Lord of the Rings," and "The Legend of Zorro." Watch artists at work on costumes and sets and see how fantasy comes to life. 

During the afternoon, you'll have time to fully explore Wellington City. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner-city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel and give young kids somewhere to run around. Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions, or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay—the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique fashion, wander through Cuba Street to sample some of the city's best vintage stores. 

Day 9: Northern Explorer Train to Auckland, Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise

Enjoy fantastic views of New Zealand from the Northern Explorer train

Today you will be collected from your hotel and transferred to Wellington train station to meet your train, the Northern Explorer. Along the way, you'll see fantastic views of New Zealand farmland, the volcanic plateau Mount Ruapehu, the world-famous Raurimu Spiral, and stunning river gorges. All carriages feature large, panoramic windows, and the train has open-air viewing decks where you can get sweeping views of the magnificent North Island. Kids will love the glass-backed observation carriage.

Once you arrive in Auckland, you'll be met by a private driver who'll take you to your Auckland accommodation. For the cherry on top of your New Zealand trip, cast off on a dinner cruise around Auckland's glittering harbor. Sail around Waitematā Harbour and watch the city twinkle after the sun dips into the horizon. You'll be treated to a drink and canapés as you set off toward Westhaven Marina, followed by three delicious courses. Finish the evening with a tasty dessert as you sail back to Auckland's Viaduct Harbour.

Day 10: Depart New Zealand

Auckland Harbour at sunset
It's time to say goodbye to New Zealand! Once you're all packed up and ready to go, a driver will transfer you to the airport for your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of  New Zealand Nature for Families: Geysers, Glowworms & Lavender Fields  - 10 Days
Map of New Zealand Nature for Families: Geysers, Glowworms & Lavender Fields - 10 Days