See the highlights of New Zealand's scenic North Island on this nine-day trip. Start in Auckland, where you'll go ziplining and hiking and enjoy a wine tour. Take a day trip to Hamilton Gardens, then pick up your rental car and drive to Rotorua, stopping en route for a tour of Hobbiton. In Rotorua, you'll have a Maori cultural experience, enjoy more ziplining, try "zorbing," and visit stunning Tongariro National Park, ending your journey in Napier, known for its Art Deco architecture.


  • See Auckland from a new perspective on a ziplining adventure
  • Visit Hobbiton, where the "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy was filmed
  • Roll down gentle hills as you try out the unique sport of "zorbing" in Rotorua
  • Tour the wineries surrounding Napier by bike

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Auckland, Afternoon at Leisure Auckland
Day 2 Zipline & Hike on Waiheke Island, Half Day Wine Tour & Lunch Auckland
Day 3 Private Transfer to the Hamilton Gardens Auckland
Day 4 Pick Up Your Rental Car, Drive to Rotorua, Group Tour of Hobbiton Rotorua
Day 5 Go Zorbing & Ziplining, Māori Cultural Experience & Dinner Rotorua
Day 6 Full-Day Tongariro Discovery Tour with Lunch Rotorua
Day 7 Scenic Drive to Napier, Explore Napier
Day 8 Half-Day Puketapu & Winery Bike Tour Napier
Day 9 Depart Napier  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, Afternoon at Leisure

Auckland's skyline
Auckland's skyline

Welcome to Auckland! New Zealand's largest metropolis is known as the "City of the Sails" as it's surrounded by water, and sailboats can be seen everywhere. You won't find a better introduction to New Zealand's world-renowned natural beauty and cultural diversity than Auckland. A driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Then, you can venture out and explore the city.

Besides a bustling urban center with chic waterfront promenades, Auckland and its surrounding area are home to 26 regional parks featuring diverse landscapes. These include everything from tropical rainforests to rugged coastline and golden beaches. There are countless options for day trips here, including excursions to black-sand surf beaches, hiking ancient volcanoes, wine tours at nearby vineyards, and plenty more. 

Day 2: Zipline & Hike on Waiheke Island, Half Day Wine Tour & Lunch

WAIHEKE ISLAND  Day at leisure on Waiheke Island
Head to Waiheke Island for a day of ziplining

For today's first activity, you'll be greeted on the Waiheke wharf and transferred to Trig Hill for a zipline and guided hike experience. Three 656-foot (200 m) dual ziplines will fly you down into a stunning tract of native bush forest.

Afterward, enjoy a few hours of wine-tasting and a casual lunch. If time allows, after lunch, head toward Onetangi, a 1-mile (2 km) long, north-facing beach with beautiful old pōhutukawa trees on the foreshore. Then, depart Onetangi for the second vineyard and tasting. The final stop is a picturesque vineyard overlooking the Hauraki Gulf. Have a third tasting here, and take in the view. If you wish, you can stay on for dinner and return to the ferry when ready. Alternatively, your guide will return you to the Waiheke wharf in time for the 6 pm ferry back to Auckland.

Day 3: Private Transfer to the Hamilton Gardens

Tour up to 21 gardens along the banks of the Waikato River on a day trip to Hamilton Gardens

Enjoy a day trip to Hamilton Gardens today. You'll be transferred there by a private driver, a journey of about 1.5 hours.

These 133-acre (54 ha) gardens are located on the banks of the Waikato River. Twenty-one gardens can be found on the site, and these are grouped into several different themes, including the Paradise, Fantasy, Landscape, Productive, and Cultivar collections. One highlight is the Te Parapara Māori Garden, part of the Productive collection, which shows how local Māori cultivated food in the area before Europeans arrived in New Zealand. Wander through the gardens at your leisure, then return to Auckland for the night. 

Day 4: Pick Up Your Rental Car, Drive to Rotorua, Group Tour of Hobbiton

Drive to geothermal Rotorua for bubbling mud pools and steaming geysers

Pick up the rental car you'll drive for the rest of your trip, then head to your next destination: Rotorua, New Zealand's famous geothermal city, a three-hour drive from Auckland. On the way, embark on a journey to the Hobbiton Movie Set from the "The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy. This location is the world's largest "green set" and is totally immersed in a natural setting. On a guided tour, you'll see 44 Hobbit holes, the Mill and Double-Arched Bridge, and the Party Tree, among other attractions.  

On completion of the Hobbiton tour, continue your journey to Rotorua. As you approach the city, wind down the window and brace yourself for the strong smell of sulfur! That's when you'll know you've arrived. This area is one of the world's most active volcanic regions and driving around, you'll find bubbling mud pools, steaming geysers, and signs pointing to natural hot springs.

Day 5: Go Zorbing & Ziplining, Māori Cultural Experience & Dinner

Tumble and slide down a track in your personal "zorb"—an inflatable ball

Today, you'll discover the fun and unique sport of zorbing invented here in Rotorua. Enter a giant inflatable ball with water inside, making it slippery, then bounce and roll down hilly tracks. You can ride down two of the four zorbing tracks on-site. When the activity is finished, thrill to flying over untouched native forests on a three-hour zipline adventure. Safely secured in harnesses, travel through a network of ziplines, tree-to-tree swing bridges, treetop platforms, and walking trails while learning about the forest's wildlife.

In the late afternoon, head to the outskirts of town for a special dinner and show at Mitai Māori Village. This family-run cultural center offers an authentic Indigenous experience featuring the Te Arawa people, a Māori iwi (tribe) who were the original inhabitants of the Rotorua Lakes region. This unforgettable outing includes outdoor excursions and performances complimented by a traditional hāngī or pit-cooked dinner. Afterward, embark on a guided bush walk, where you'll learn about the medicinal uses of the flora endemic to the region. 

Day 6: Full-Day Tongariro Discovery Tour with Lunch

Tawhai Falls in Tongariro National Park
Enjoy a guided trek and see sights like Tawhai Falls in Tongariro National Park
Take today to explore Tongariro National Park, New Zealand's oldest national park and one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. Your guide will take you on a walk with beautiful scenery, waterfalls, and geological features—the park's best off-the-beaten-track spots. Don't forget to bring sturdy footwear and warm, waterproof clothes!  
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Day 7: Scenic Drive to Napier, Explore

Napier city view
End the day in Napier, known for its winemaking and Art Deco downtown

Leave Rotorua and head toward Taupō. The road there will keep you entertained with its unusual volcanic geography. If you'd like, take a side road to Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, where you'll discover geysers, silica terraces, and boiling mud pools. Toward the end of the drive to Taupō, you'll encounter the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station, where steam is harnessed to provide electricity from forty deep bores. If time permits, make another short stop at Huka Falls—here, you can witness the phenomenon of natural hydro power as you gaze at the 36-foot (11 m) high waterfall. 

Continue until you arrive in Napier, your final destination for the day. Napier and its neighboring town of Hastings are surrounded by rich agricultural lands supporting orchards, vineyards, and sheep farms. Wool and fruit growing are the backbone of the region's economy, and Napier is also known for its winemaking. The town suffered a violent earthquake in 1931, followed by a series of fires that destroyed most of its commercial center. The people of Napier then rebuilt the city, lending an Art Deco flavor to the downtown area. Settle into your accommodation, then set out to explore at your leisure.

Day 8: Half-Day Puketapu & Winery Bike Tour

Biking New Zealand
Follow the river trails to Taradale and stop in at several wineries

On today's adventure, you'll spend a fun afternoon cycling along river and estuary trails, experiencing many of the Hawke's Bay region's hospitality icons along the way, including the historic Puketapu Pub, Church Road Winery, and Mission Estate Winery.

Cycle the Puketapu river trails to Taradale to visit both wineries, then merge with the Ahuriri Estuary water trails to work your way to Ahuriri. If you want more of a challenge, add a diversion to Bay View on the inland lagoon farm trails, and head back to Ahuriri via the Westshore coastal cycleway. This will add another 9 miles (15 km) of scenic cycling to your trip, and you'll also have the chance to visit an additional winery, the rustic Crab Farm.

Day 9: Depart Napier

Napier Art Deco buildings and old car
Say goodbye to Napier and its Art Deco architecture
Use this final chance to explore Napier—perhaps you'd like to take a last walk around town or stop for some souvenir shopping. Then, drop your rental car off at the airport depot. Have a safe and comfortable journey home or to your next destination! 

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Map of New Zealand North Island Adventure: Auckland, Rotorua & Napier - 9 Days
Map of New Zealand North Island Adventure: Auckland, Rotorua & Napier - 9 Days