One-week Upper North Island itinerary

A week exploring the upper North Island might seem daunting – there is so much to explore and experience – so I’ve put together a little North Island itinerary that should help you to see the best of this beautiful part of New Zealand.

Exploring Matakana Coast

Day 1: Auckland Get to know the locals on a Matakana Tour

There is no better way to get a good feel for a place than by meeting the locals. We’ll pick you up from Auckland City, then enjoy a day of relaxation while sampling the best local wine or craft beer Matakana has to offer. What a great way to kick off your holiday!

Day 2: Auckland – Bay of Islands

After a day of wining, dining and meeting some of Matakana’s most colourful locals, it’s time to head north to the beautiful Bay of Islands. The drive is only around 3 hours from Auckland, passing some of New Zealand’s most unique towns and heaps of stunning coastal scenery along the way. Once you’ve arrived in Paihia, jump the ferry over to Russell – the very first capital of New Zealand – to grab an early dinner at the historic and waterfront located Duke of Marlborough Hotel (where the fish and chips are a must!)

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds, image thanks to Sara Orme

Day 3: Bay of Islands 

No trip to the Bay of Islands would be complete without a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds – one of the most important places in New Zealand history. It was here that the founding document of New Zealand – the Treaty of Waitangi – was signed in 1840. Not only does the Treaty Grounds offer one of the most stunning views of the Bay of Islands, you will also gain an insight into Maori culture and the events that shaped our diverse little country.

From one magical experience to another – the crystal clear waters of the Bay of Islands are perfect for swimming with playful dolphins on a dolphin cruise. This is a bucket-lister!

Day 4: Bay of Islands – Matakana

Wave goodbye to the Bay of Islands and head south to Matakana for a bit of a tiki-tour! We’d recommend staying in Warkworth, and spending the afternoon exploring some of our most glorious beaches. Places like Tawharanui, Omaha and Goat Island are just beautiful (and safe for swimming). At Goat Island, you can go snorkelling at the Marine Reserve – our oceans are teeming with life.

Day 5: Matakana – Rotorua

There are so many things to do in Rotorua – it’s one of our favourite places in the North Island!  After a long drive, the 5600-hectare Redwoods Forest is a great place to stretch your legs amidst some of New Zealand’s oldest trees. Or, hire a bike and head out on the mountain bike trails – known as some of the best in New Zealand! After all that fresh air you’re sure to be hungry. Jump on the Skyline Gondola and enjoy the gastronomic delights of the Stratosfare restaurant – complete with one of the best views of the city.

Stroll Rotorua’s beautiful Redwood Forest

Day 6: Rotorua

After a busy few days during your North Island itinerary, today is time to relax – Rotorua style. The geothermal wonderland is a sight to behold as mud pools splatter and turquoise-hued waters bubble and boil. There are plenty of geothermal parks that allow you to explore the beauty – some are off the beaten track like Orakei Korako (also known as the Hidden Valley) while Hells Gate also offers bush walks and a chance to dine on a feast cooked in one of the boiling pools.

If you are looking to get out into nature then a cruise on beautiful Lake Rotoiti is not to be missed, or, if adventure is more your thing then a trip on the luge could be in order! Spend time in the evening enjoying a soak in hot mineral water at the Polynesian Spa.

Day 7 – Rotorua to Auckland

Today it’s time to head back to Auckland, but if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan it would be silly to not visit Hobbiton, as it’s pretty much on the way! Located in the small town of Matamata, it’s a real sight to behold – especially if you are a fan of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings or Hobbit. Friendly guides take you through the colourful set, past Hobbit Holes while telling tales of the movies and the cast. And if you’re really lucky, you might even get a glimpse of the resident cat Pickles.

Omega Rental Cars make exploring New Zealand by self-drive really easy – have a read of their recent blog on Experiencing the best of Matakana and learn more about what is on offer for days four and five of this itinerary. 


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