- Mt Ruapehu, Ruapehu Right
Thermal Explorer Experience
Auckland > Hamilton & Waikato > Rotorua > Lake Taupō > Ruapehu > Hawke’s Bay
6 Days / 5 Nights
From the rural tranquility of Middle-earth movie magic through geothermal hotspots and cultural experiences, this diverse tour combines pristine lakes, volcanoes, Art Deco architecture and the food bowl of New Zealand
DAY 1: Auckland to Waitomo to Hamilton
Depart Auckland on the Thermal Explorer Highway through the rolling green hills and pastures that are synonymous with Hamilton & Waikato region to the famous Waitomo Caves. Step into the underground world of Glowing Adventures and experinect the thrill of Waitomo Adventures.
Driving Time: 2 hours 45 mins
Make your way back to the city of Hamilton to overnight, with many great dining options.
Driving time: 1 hour
DAY 2: Hamilton to Rotorua
Enjoy the morning exploring the excellent paths on the banks of the mighty Waikato River or better, take a V8 jet boat tour with Camjet, to experience the true power of New Zealand’s longest river. As you head south to Rotorua, a short deviation for Matamata will bring you Hobbiton Movie Set in time for lunch at the Green Dragon Inn as part of your tour. On arrival in Rotorua, you will have time for a relaxing spa . Or maybe a sunset paddleboard or kayak tour in the hidden glowworm caves around New Zealand’s second-largest lake, Rotorua, before settling in to your accommodation.
Driving Time: 2 hours
DAY 3: Rotorua to Taupō
To immerse yourself in Maori culture, head to Whakarewarewa, the living Maori Village, and for a deeper understanding of the ecology of the ancient forests, book a day tour with Foris Eco-Tours in Whirinaki. It is a short 20-minute drive south to the thermal wonderland that is Wai-O-Tapu, well worth a stop on your way to the lakeside town of Taupō for the night. Here you will have a great choice of excellent accommodation and top lodges. Lake Taupō is New Zealand’s largest lake, at the heart of the Central North Island and it dominates the views from this picturesque region.
Driving time: 1 hour
DAY 4: Taupō
You have the day in Taupō today, time to visit the spectacular Huka Falls , take a cruise on the lake to see the renowned Maori rock carvings or tick off a bucketlist adventure with a bungy jump, or Cliffhanger Swing.
DAY 5: Taupō to National Park
You can see the mighty volcanic peaks of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe as you head south around the lake toward National Park. Tongariro is a dual status World Heritage Park, home to three superb ski-fields and some of New Zealand’s most spectacular hikes and walking adventures. The famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, an outstanding 19km full day walk is a New Zealand must-do, and there are many other ways to explore these magnificent mountains and rivers.
Drive time: 1 hour 30 minutes
DAY 6: National Park to Napier
Skirting Lake Taupo, head over the central plateau (with its share of stunning vistas) to Hawke’s Bay and the main town of Napier. In 1931, a devastating earthquake nearly levelled Napier and its twin city Hastings. They were rebuilt in the style of the times, and are now highly acclaimed for their Art Deco design. Hastings is only 20 kilometres south of Napier and easily accessible by cycleway as are many of the Hawke’s Bay famous wineries, including Church Road. Other attractions are the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers and the National Aquarium and you will savour the huge range of fresh produce from New Zealand’s food bowl, Hawke’s Bay.