If you’re bringing your family to New Zealand’s North Island, you’ll love this 7 day family focused self drive tour. You’ll experience the Waitomo Caves, the geothermic hotspot of Rotorua, stunning Lake Taupo and beachside Coromandel in a week full of fun and adventure.
Read on for more details on the 7 Day North Island Family Self Drive Tour and get in contact with any questions.
FROM: $1,549 NZD (Based on 2 x adults, 2 x children)
Tour Direction: Auckland to Auckland
Includes: Waitomo Caves, Maori Cultural Experience, Hell’s Gate Rotorua, Hobbiton Tour, Hukafalls Jet Boat, Kayking in Coromandel
Number of Days: 7
Day One: Arrive in Auckland
Kia Ora – welcome to New Zealand. Day one is yours explore New Zealand’s City of Sails. Read more about Auckland here.
Check into your accommodation or hire your campervan and get ready to leave Auckland the next morning.
Day Two: Auckland to Waitomo
Today it’s time to get out of the city and head south to the green farmland of the Waikato region. The drive from Auckland to Waitomo is about three hours.
Picture perfect, rural New Zealand plays out before your eyes as you drive through Waikato. The region’s green, rolling hills shape the landscape of this agricultural heart of the North Island. The mighty Waikato River (NZ’s longest) meanders some 400 kilometres from Lake Taupo (you’ll head there on Day 5) to the Tasman Sea just south of Auckland and helps to hydrate this lush region.
Hills dotted with cattle, sheep and deer stretch out before your eyes – yet chances are, this isn’t why you’ve come to Waikato. Odds favor you visiting the Waikato Region to experience subterranean thrills in the Waitomo Caves – and that’s what you’ll do this afternoon.
WAITOMO GLOWWORM CAVES
The Waitomo glowworm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as our expert guides provide informative commentary on the Caves’ historical and geological significance.
Over your 45 minute guided tour, you’ll take in the spectacular Glowworm Cave with its majestic and ornate cave decorations, the deep limestone shaft known as the Tomo and the equally magnificent Cathedral cavern where New Zealands own opera diva Kiri Te Kanawa once performed. Your tour guide will deliver an informative and entertaining commentary, sharing stories, cultural legends and the natural wonders of this living masterpiece.
Your visit concludes with a brief, yet remarkably moving, boat trip through the Glowworm Grotto.
Aranui Cave is set in the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve, 5 minutes drive from the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.
It is named after Ruruku Aranui, the local Maori man who first discovered this previously hidden gem back in 1910.
Aranui has a natural cave entrance and is the smallest and most delicate of Waitomo’s three main caves. As a dry cave without a river running through it, it houses very little life past its entrance. However, just inside the entrance is a colony of native New Zealand cave wetas and further into the cave is the most beautiful collection of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and decorative formations.
Aranui is a magical, mystical place that is steeped in Maori myth and legend. As such, it occupies a very special place in the hearts of the people of the Waitomo district. Visit soon to see the richly varied cave formations within close-up view and enjoy an experience you will never forget.
Spend the night in Waitomo, where there is a range of accommodation on offer.
Day Three: Waitomo to Rotorua
Today, you’ll head to the geothermic area of Rotorua – a two hour drive.
Rotorua is known for its exploding geysers, boiling mud baths and steaming bodies of water. Maoris settled in the area in the 14th century, and today Rotorua is home to many Maori historical tours and performances.
You have today to explore Rotorua. Included in this package is entrance to the Hells Gate Geothermal area.
Hells Gate Rotorua: Geothermal Reserve Park
ROTORUA’s MOST ACTIVE THERMAL PARK New Zealand, as a country is located on the “Ring of Fire” where the earth is always in a state of upheaval. This is no more evident than in Rotorua on New Zealand’s volcanic plateau where geothermal activity is pronounced including erupting geysers, steaming fumaroles, mud pools and hot geothermal springs. THE BEAST Hells Gate Geothermal Park is set in 50 acres with a large variety of thermal features.
Walk past steaming fumeroles and hot pools of boiling MUD so violent they are unnerving. Follow the footsteps of ancient Maori Warriors through the swirling clouds of steam, past the hot pool where the Maori Princess “Hurutini” lost her life, see the violent geothermal activity of the Inferno and the Kakahi Falls, the largest hot waterfall in the Southern Hemisphere. Here, warriors would bathe in the sulphurous waters to heal their wounds after battle and remove the “tapu” (sacredness) of war. FEEL THE EARTH’S RAW POWER Hells Gate Tikitere is a unique place of extreme contrasts. You will see remarkable formations and colours, cascading hot water and unearthly vistas, even examples of “land coral”.
No need to heed the warning signs, you will want to hug the path!!
This evening you’ll get to experience a Maori Cultural performance – complete with dinner and pick up from your accommodation.
Tamaki Maori Village
This is a three hour trip that picks you up from your accommodation and takes you outside of Rotorua to a traditional Maori village where you discover Maori art forms, ancient rituals and traditions, experience traditional song and dance, and then share in a 3 course meal with your Maori hosts.
Rotorua has a huge range of places to stay, and a busy bar and restaurant scene. Enjoy your night in Rotovegas, and get ready for a tour of Hobbiton tomorrow.
Day Four: Hobbiton Tour ex Rotorua
Your day starts with a tour of the Hobbiton Village and includes transportation from Rotorua.
Hobbiton Tour ex Rotorua
Your tour starts with a drive through a picturesque 1,250 acre working sheep farm (there are 13,000 sheep and 300 beef cattle on the property) with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges.
The Hobbiton movie set has been returned to its natural state, however hobbit holes and some structures from the film set are still present.
Your tour guide will escort you through the ten acre site recounting fascinating details on how the Hobbiton movie set was created.
After your tour, you can choose to either spend the night in Rotorua, or head south to Taupo – about a one hour drive.
Day Five: Rotorua to Taupo
Leave Rotorua early today and head south to explore the lakeside town of Taupo. Lake Taupo is a vast, water-filled crater that formed just shy of 27,000 years ago in the aftermath of a massive volcanic blast – one of the largest ever. The lake and the town of the same name sit towards the northern end of the Central Plateau. Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake.
You can expect a number of water-based activities to keep you busy on a visit to the area: be they trout fishing in the lake or surrounding rivers, kayak trips, jet boating or cruises on the lake, you’re bound to enjoy your visit to this utterly scenic area of New Zealand’s North Island.
We suggest you experience the thrill of a Jet Boat ride at the famous Huka Falls.
Hukafalls Jet in Taupo, offers a unique combination of excitement and natural beauty. A 30-minute thrilling jet boat ride in the hands of a down-to-earth, funny professional jet boat driver who can make a jet boat do things you would never believe possible.
The half hour of thrills, fun and excitement takes you along a beautiful river environment, lined with native bush, sheer rock cliff face and natural hot springs
Combine 360° spins and passing nature by incredibly close at disorientating speeds for an amazing must-do visitor experience, before even reaching the awe inspiring majesty that is the Huka Falls. From the unique vantage point on the boat you have the best water level view of Huka Falls – New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction.
Some optional activities available today for an add on are a bungy jump with Taupo Bungy or a skydive with Taupo Tandem Skydiving.
Spend the night in beautiful Taupo.
Day Six: Taupo – Hahei
Leave Taupo early and then head north to the beachside town of Hahei – gateway to New Zealand’s fantastic Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. The drive to Hahei is about 3.5 hours, so you’ll want an early start as today includes a sea kayak tour – departs at 1:30pm.
About 9kms south of Hahei, you’ll find one of Coromandel’s most-visited spots: Hot Water Beach. The aptly named beach becomes your own personal spa two hours on either side of low tide when naturally heated mineral water bubbles up from within the earth to emerge through the sand.
At the southern end of the beach near the rocks, you can dig your own spa pool in the sand (with dozens of other tourists, mind you). It’s a surreal feeling to be lying in a pool of hot (And we mean, hot. Hot as in red bum cheeks hot.) mineral water just metres from the comparatively cold sea. Check the tide times to see how this fits in with your visit.
This afternoon you’ll get to experience sea kayaking to the famous Cathedral Cove.
Cathedral Cove Sea Kayaks
Our stable sea kayaks allow children to safely enjoy their kayaking experience with an adult paddling right behind them.
Usually the Family Classic Tour covers the same route as the Cathedral Cove Classic Tour. We run them separately so groups can paddle at a comfortable pace and enjoy their kayaking experience without pressure to keep up with (or wait for) anybody else.
We can tailor your trip to suit your needs and your guide will ensure your kayaking tour to Cathedral Cove is safe, memorable and fun.
Overnight on the beach in Hahei.
Day Seven: Hahei to Auckland
Today is the last day of your self drive tour, and depending on when your flight is you’ll want to leave early for the 3 – 4 hour drive back to Auckland.
Get help creating the perfect self-drive itinerary, finding the best deal on a car or campervan rental or booking the perfect tour. We offer personalized support prior to your trip. Contact us or fill out our FREE Travel Planning Service form below.
The Best Maori Cultural Experiences in New Zealand
When to Come
9 Things You Need to Know About Hiking in New Zealand for the First Time
Free New Zealand Travel Planning Service
Planit NZ Snapshots
Planning a Ski Holiday in New Zealand
Planning for New Zealand - Start Here
Self Drive New Zealand Tours
Travel Insurance in New Zealand
A First Timers Guide To The South Island
Still need help? Email our travel desk: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Planit Travel Group, Middle Earth