Overview

Discover North Island's many points of interest, including two of its most popular destinations - the Bay of Islands and Rotorua on the 8 Day Northern Highlights Self Drive from Auckland. Cruise amongst the many islands of the Bay of Island, home to a diverse marine wildlife, including dolphins that you just might be lucky to see.

Experience an authentic cultural encounter at the Mitai Maori Village in Rotorua. At Waitomo, get enchanted by its unique limestone formations and magical glow worm caves on your return journey to Auckland.

Auckland - Bay of Islands - North Auckland - Rotorua - Auckland

Map of 8 Day Northern Highlights Self Drive
View itinerary for day 1
View itinerary for day 2
View itinerary for day 3
View itinerary for day 4
View itinerary for day 5
View itinerary for day 6
View itinerary for day 7
View itinerary for day 8
Arrive Auckland City
Auckland to Bay of Islands
Explore Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands to Auckland North Coast
Auckland North Coast to Rotorua
Explore Rotorua
Rotorua to Auckland via Waitomo
Depart Auckland

Day 1

Arrive Auckland City

Day 2

Auckland to Bay of Islands

Travel Time: 2 hrs 55 mins

Distance: 226 kms

Day 3

Explore Bay of Islands

Day 4

Bay of Islands to Auckland North Coast

Travel Time: 3 hrs 50 mins

Distance: 295 kms

Day 5

Auckland North Coast to Rotorua

Travel Time: 3 hrs 25 mins

Distance: 287 kms

Day 6

Explore Rotorua

Day 7

Rotorua to Auckland via Waitomo

Travel Time: 4 hrs 35 mins

Distance: 389 kms

Day 8

Depart Auckland

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland accommodation.

Welcome to Auckland City

Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise

Overnight in Auckland

Collect your rental car 

The trip from Auckland to the Bay of Islands takes around 3.5 hours but give yourself some leeway for stops and sightseeing. As you go through Puhoi, take in the bohemian atmosphere of this historical township. Stop for a breath of fresh salty air in Whangarei and take another break at Kawakawa - home to the world famous Hundertwasser toilets. Enjoy the native bush surrounds and marvel at the endless golden beaches as you arrive into central Bay Of The Islands, Paihia.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance

Stay 2 nights in Paihia

Commonly known as the ‘winterless north’ New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is made up of over 140 subtropical atolls. Renowned for its untouched beaches, abundant marine life and idyllic climate, this tropical paradise ticks all the boxes. 

Discover the Bay Hole in the Rock Cruise

Take in the bay’s serenity as you cruise the 144 islands dotting the natural harbour. See the world renowned Piercy Island ‘Hole in the Rock’ and marvel at the abundant marine life through the underwater cameras - custom built for dolphin and whale watching. Have lunch in Otehi Bay on Urupukapuka Island - with the option to explore - before catching your ride back to the mainland.

From the Bay of Islands you will head west, leaving the Pacific Ocean for the wilder shores of Hokianga and the Tasman Sea. Small towns Omapere and Opononi are reminiscent of days gone by with a vintage seaside feel. Head south into the Waipoua Forest, home to giant Kauri trees. 

Backtrack cross-country to the Matakohe Kauri Museum - an award winning museum with extensive historical displays. Continue on the road to Snells Beach, a lovely little township close to Warkworth. 

Overnight in Auckland North Coast (Warkworth, Snells Beach, Orewa)

Continuing south through Auckland, State Highway 1 quickly takes you into rolling green farmland and the rich dairy pasture of the Waikato. Continuing on you’ll pass several small farming communities before telltale signs of steam and other geothermal activity signal your arrival into Rotorua.

Mitai Maori Village

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. 

Stay 2 nights in Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. But geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to the Mitai Maori Village should be high on your agenda.

Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rotorua Forest Canopy Tour

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane

Rotorua to Waitomo via Taupo

Today you'll make your way through the volcanic valleys of Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu before reaching the town of Taupo, located on New Zealand's largest lake - Lake Taupo. 

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Explore a 30 million year old cave network spread across three levels. 

Waitomo to Auckland City

The lush farmland of the Waikato and the limestone hills of the Waitomo region provide some great scenery as you head north. 

Overnight in Auckland

Explore more of vibrant Auckland city before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

Day 1, Arrive Auckland City

Arrive Auckland City

On arrival you will be met by one of our team and driven to your Auckland accommodation.

Welcome to Auckland City

Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Auckland Harbour Cruise

Overnight in Auckland

Day 2, Auckland to Bay of Islands

Auckland to Bay of Islands

Travel Time: 2 hrs 55 mins

Distance: 226 kms

Collect your rental car 

The trip from Auckland to the Bay of Islands takes around 3.5 hours but give yourself some leeway for stops and sightseeing. As you go through Puhoi, take in the bohemian atmosphere of this historical township. Stop for a breath of fresh salty air in Whangarei and take another break at Kawakawa - home to the world famous Hundertwasser toilets. Enjoy the native bush surrounds and marvel at the endless golden beaches as you arrive into central Bay Of The Islands, Paihia.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance

Stay 2 nights in Paihia

Day 3, Explore Bay of Islands

Explore Bay of Islands

Commonly known as the ‘winterless north’ New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is made up of over 140 subtropical atolls. Renowned for its untouched beaches, abundant marine life and idyllic climate, this tropical paradise ticks all the boxes. 

Discover the Bay Hole in the Rock Cruise

Take in the bay’s serenity as you cruise the 144 islands dotting the natural harbour. See the world renowned Piercy Island ‘Hole in the Rock’ and marvel at the abundant marine life through the underwater cameras - custom built for dolphin and whale watching. Have lunch in Otehi Bay on Urupukapuka Island - with the option to explore - before catching your ride back to the mainland.

Day 4, Bay of Islands to Auckland North Coast

Bay of Islands to Auckland North Coast

Travel Time: 3 hrs 50 mins

Distance: 295 kms

From the Bay of Islands you will head west, leaving the Pacific Ocean for the wilder shores of Hokianga and the Tasman Sea. Small towns Omapere and Opononi are reminiscent of days gone by with a vintage seaside feel. Head south into the Waipoua Forest, home to giant Kauri trees. 

Backtrack cross-country to the Matakohe Kauri Museum - an award winning museum with extensive historical displays. Continue on the road to Snells Beach, a lovely little township close to Warkworth. 

Overnight in Auckland North Coast (Warkworth, Snells Beach, Orewa)

Day 5, Auckland North Coast to Rotorua

Auckland North Coast to Rotorua

Travel Time: 3 hrs 25 mins

Distance: 287 kms

Continuing south through Auckland, State Highway 1 quickly takes you into rolling green farmland and the rich dairy pasture of the Waikato. Continuing on you’ll pass several small farming communities before telltale signs of steam and other geothermal activity signal your arrival into Rotorua.

Mitai Maori Village

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. 

Stay 2 nights in Rotorua

Day 6, Explore Rotorua

Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. But geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to the Mitai Maori Village should be high on your agenda.

Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rotorua Forest Canopy Tour

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane

Day 7, Rotorua to Auckland via Waitomo

Rotorua to Auckland via Waitomo

Travel Time: 4 hrs 35 mins

Distance: 389 kms

Rotorua to Waitomo via Taupo

Today you'll make your way through the volcanic valleys of Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waimangu before reaching the town of Taupo, located on New Zealand's largest lake - Lake Taupo. 

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Explore a 30 million year old cave network spread across three levels. 

Waitomo to Auckland City

The lush farmland of the Waikato and the limestone hills of the Waitomo region provide some great scenery as you head north. 

Overnight in Auckland

Day 8, Depart Auckland

Depart Auckland

Explore more of vibrant Auckland city before dropping your rental car at the airport depot and continuing your onward journey.

Additional Information

Pricing

Cost per Person

 Twin/Double
Motel Accommodation from NZ$1,720 per person

* PLEASE NOTE*

Price is based on two adults sharing a rental car and accommodation (twin/double-share).

Prices are estimates only, and are subject to availability and exchange rates when booking, seasonal or holiday price surcharges (such as Christmas/New Year and Easter); as well as special events that may be on. Please forward a request and we will be happy to forward a quote.

Payment

  • Deposit: 20% of the package cost or NZ$250 per person (whichever is the greater) at time of booking
  • Full Payment: 45 Days before travel
  • Airfares (if applicable): Paid in full at the time of booking

Cancellation Charges

  • Cancellation Fees up to 100% can apply after booking. Extra deposits or full payment may be requested to cover these charges prior to booking
Currency Converter

Includes

Includes:

7 nights accommodation

  • 1 Night Auckland
  • 2 Nights Bay of Islands
  • 1 Night Auckland North Coast
  • 2 Nights Rotorua
  • 1 Night Auckland

Car hire

  • Rental car insurance: Fully inclusive with variable excess/deductible.
  • Rental car: GPS navigation unlimited kms, airport/ferry terminal fees, additional drivers

Private airport transfers

Discover the Bay Hole in the Rock cruise

Mitai Maori Village Concert & Buffet Dinner

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Options

Travel Insurance

If you are going overseas, then travel insurance is a necssity. Compare rates and polices online and get a free travel insurance quote.

Itineraries

All itineraries can be amended or combined with other itineraries. Please advise amendments when requesting a quote.

Airfares

International flights can be included from Australia for all Australian residents.

Accommodation

There is a choice of accommodation available on all packages, which depending on locations, includes motels, 3 star hotels, 4 star hotels, boutique lodges & hotels and luxury lodges and hotels. We are happy to quote on alternate accommodation requests.

Optional Extras

Auckland Harbour Cruise

Today Cruise the sparkling waters of Aucklands Waitemata harbour. You'll learn about the most well-known city landmarks, including a stopover on dormant volcano Rangitoto. You'll see spectacular views of the Harbour Bridge, the city skyline and Devonport's historic naval base as well as enjoying the Bean Rock Lighthouse with a complimentary hot drink and sandwich. Each tour includes a complimentary return ticket to Devonport, that can be used on a day and time convenient to you.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds Guided Tour and Cultural Performance, Bay of Islands

Waitangi is one of New Zealand's most historic sites where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the local Maori and the British Government. This two day pass allows you access to the Treaty of Waitangi Grounds and includes admission to the Museum of Waitangi, a guided tour and a Maori Cultural performance. During your guided tour, you'll learn about the history of the treaty and discover the stories and events that shaped New Zealand. The cultural performance inside the carved meeting house includes waiata (singing), poi, a display of Maori weaponry and the haka - a war dance New Zealand is known for.

Explore Rotorua

Mount Tarawera Fly Drive Combo by Floatplane

Combine the experience of a 4WD hiking tour on Mount Tarawera by Kaitiaki Adventures. Your journey begins with an off road 4WD experience through nativeNew Zealand bush, transporting you to the craters edge. After a 1.5-2 hour hike your 4WD will drop you at the remote shores of Lake Rerewhakaaitu when you will return to Rotorua by Floatplane. Enjoy a spectacular aerial overview of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Mount Tarawera and our hidden lakes district. This stunning flight completes the Tarawera experience and returns you to your departure point on the shores of Lake Rotorua at our downtown city floatplane pier.

Forest Canopy Tours

Embark on a three hour adventure through native New Zealand forest. Journey through the beautiful forest canopy via an incredible network of trails, tree platforms, Ziplines and swing bridges. See breathtaking views of the woodland valleys and hills as you fly through tight openings in the trees.

In between the thrill of the ziplines and suspended tree bridges, your guides will share their passion and knowledge for the forest and the conservation challenges to preserve it.

Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter

At Rainbow Springs you'll have the chance to see some of New Zealand's native flora and fauna within the majestic forests of Rotorua. Wander the beautiful tree-lined park and take in the flourishing bush, ferns, flowers and plants. See the spring-fed pool with rainbow, brown and tiger trout, then visit the on-site aviaries - home to New Zealand species such kea, kaka, tui, kereru and kiwi. The tuatara, known as New Zealand's living dinosaur can also be seen here.

Highlights

Discover the Bay Hole in the Rock cruise

Take in the bay's serenity as you cruise the 144 islands dotting the natural harbour. See the world renowned Piercy Island 'Hole in the Rock' and marvel at the abundant marine life through the underwater cameras - custom built for dolphin and whale watching. Have lunch in Otehi Bay on Urupukapuka Island - with the option to explore - before catching your ride back to the mainland.

Mitai Maori Village Concert & Buffet Dinner, Rotorua

An evening at Mitai will give you an awe-inspiring introduction to the indigenous Maori culture. Marvel at the beautiful bush setting and see warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream while trout and eels swim beneath the surface. Enjoy a traditionally cooked hangi meal and round your evening off with a spectacular cultural performance that tells the story of the Maori people, their past, carvings, and ta Moko -Tattoo art. Be captivated by the displays of weaponry and combat and be amazed by the spine tingling Haka finale. Truly an experience to remember.

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Explore a 30 million year old cave network spread across three levels. You'll travel deep underground through the limestone caves viewing stalactites and stalagmites as well as and hearing about the caves historical and geological significance. You'll then hop into a boat and glide silently through the glow worm grotto - a galaxy of tiny living lights.

Book now, pay later No credit card required

8 Day Northern Highlights Self Drive

Fields marked with * are required

If you see this field, please leave it blank and invest in CSS support.

Your Details

(e.g +44 208 123456)

Additional Extras

Accommodation & Transport

Other Passengers

Please list the full name(s) of each passenger travelling with you.

General Information

Please specify if you wish to include any tour options or extra days & if you have any special requirements. e.g dietary, physical, medical; and (if available) advise arrival and departure flight details in New Zealand.