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Thermal Explorer Snapshot

Auckland > Waitomo > Hamilton  > Rotorua > Taupo
4 Days / 3 Nights

Rolling green hills and Hobbit holes to geothermal wonderland, Maori Culture and Great Lake Taupo.

DAY 1:  Auckland to Waitomo to Hamilton

Untouched glow worm caves and stunning limestone formations in their purest form in Waitomo.

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.  Here you can explore the magic underground world – from a glowworm tour with Glowing Adventures to adrenalin-fuelled Waitomo Adventures. Make your way back to the city of Hamilton to overnight, with many great dining options and the excellent paths on the banks of the mighty Waikato River.

DAY 2: Hamilton to Rotorua

Movie magic at Hobbiton Movie Set.

You could spend an enjoyable morning in the intriguing Hamilton Gardens before making your way south to Rotorua.
Driving time:  1 hour 30 minutes
En-route make a short detour through Matamata to Hobbiton Movie Set  and the Shire from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit fame.
In Rotorua, the exciting geothermal activity is evident from the moment you arrive, and with a wide range of accommodation and activity options you are spoilt for choice.  An evening soak in the lakeside Polynesian Spa is one of the many places you can boost your health and wellness in the natural mineral waters (or mud baths!).

DAY 3:  Rotorua to Taupo

Waimangu geyser, Pink Bay, Lake Rotomahana.

You can happily spend the morning on a lake cruise, immersing yourself in Maori Culture, or for some family fun, dive into a giant inflatable ball and roll down Mt Ngongotaha with OGO before setting off for Taupo.  
Driving time: 1 hour
Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake with spectacular views south to the snow-capped mountains. Plenty of opportunities to get out on the lake or explore the shoreline by mountainbike on the Great Lake Trail. For thrill of a real adrenaline adventure, raft or float down the Tongariro River, swing or bungy over the mighty Waikato River.  And maybe top it off and by catching a prawn or dozen for dinner.

DAY 4:  Taupo to Auckland

The grandeur of this region is perhaps best appreciated from the air.

You have time to take a day trip to the Tongariro National Park – a dual World Heritage site.  A flight with Taupo’s Floatplane allows you to fully take in the splendour of this vast lake and surrounding majestic peaks.
Drive time to Auckland: 4 hours

Worth an extra day or two:  

Spend a day on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, with shuttles available from
Taupo.

Continue south on the Thermal Explorer Highway to Napier and the  Hawke’s Bay region.