Overview

In this exceptional New Zealand 9 Day Taster of the North Island Self Drive tour, you’ll travel from Auckland to Wellington, enjoying the  passing scenery and other major North Island attractions in between. An informative and tasty discovery of Maori culture and cuisine awaits in Rotorua, while the oldest vineyards of New Zealand are the main draw in Hawke’s Bay, your next stop.

You’ll have plenty of time to explore the wineries on your own by day, and enjoy progressive dinner coupled with wine tastings at some of the premium winery restaurants. From the art deco capital of Napier, you then carry on south to the quaint town of Martinborough, now getting recognition in New Zealand’s discerning food and wine scene. Grab the chance to sample exquisite artisan creations produced locally. Finally, cap off your ‘Taster Tour’ in Wellington, the capital city and fittingly, the hub for foodies and the best place in New Zealand to experience its fantastic café culture.

Auckland - Rotorua - Hawke's Bay - Martinborough - Wellington

Map of 9 Day Taster of the North Island Self Drive
View itinerary for day 1
View itinerary for day 2
View itinerary for day 3
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View itinerary for day 8
View itinerary for day 9
Welcome to Auckland City
Auckland - Hobbiton - Rotorua
Explore Rotorua
Rotorua to Napier
Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay
Napier to Martinborough
Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour
Martinborough to Wellington City
Depart Wellington

Day 1

Welcome to Auckland City

Day 2

Auckland - Hobbiton - Rotorua

Travel Time: 3 hrs

Distance: 239 kms

Day 3

Explore Rotorua

Day 4

Rotorua to Napier

Travel Time: 2 hrs 25 min

Distance: 210 kms

Day 5

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

Day 6

Napier to Martinborough

Travel Time: 3 hrs 20 min

Distance: 271 kms

Day 7

Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour

Day 8

Martinborough to Wellington City

Travel Time: 1 hr

Distance: 73 kms

Day 9

Depart Wellington

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 - Harbour Dinner Cruise Sailing Experience 

Stay 1 night Auckland

Collect your rental car

Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton

Head southbound on State Highway one through the lush farmland and dairy pastures of the Waikato region. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of the greater Auckland area and its here you turn inland towards Matamata. 

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Become immersed in the The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films when you visit the actual Hobbiton movie set.

Matamata to Rotorua

Arriving into the City of Rotorua the regions geothermal activity becomes evident as you see steam rising from the roadside and surrounding hills.

Stay 2 nights Rotorua

Te Puia - Steambox Interactive Maori Experience and Lunch and Cultural Performance
Begin this unique cultural experience by viewing a traditional performance in the Maree, a Maori meeting house. Listen to beautiful harmonies, see the seductive poi dance and experience the powerful Haka - a fearsome Maori war challenge. You will then choose from a variety of meats and vegetables for your Steambox lunch.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter 

This drive will take you through the thermal region just south of Rotorua. 

Continue on to Taupo and marvel at the lake - a giant crater formed following a volcanic eruption in the year 180 CE. As you approach the city, be sure to stop at Huka Falls to view the spectacular sight of 222,000 litres of water spilling down the narrow 11 metre drop.

Leaving Taupo, follow the road as it climbs the rugged Ahimanawa Range before descending back down the Pacific Coast to art deco Napier.

Stay 2 nights Napier

With is mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday prospect. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Wine and Dinner Tour
Take a scenic drive through the wine growing district, participate in an interactive wine tasting at Sileni Estate or Vidal Estate, indulge in gourmet platters with top local produce, champagne sunset on Te Mata Peak (sunset in summer & overlooking the glimmering lights of the twin cities in winter), main meal at Vidal Estate, Sileni Estate or Craggy Range wineries, visit New Zealand's oldest winery, the Mission Estate, for dessert and coffee, finish with being dropped off at a location of your choice - perhaps some of Napier's top waterfront nightspots. A night full of entertainment and fun.

Estimated Driving Time: , Distance:

As you leave the rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay you'll be greeted with some of the country's richest dairy farmland in the Manawatu Gorge. Continue on through the Wairarapa region. As you drive south, a visit to historic Greytown is a must do. Take in the the restored Victorian buildings and make time for a cup of tea at one of its quaint cafes. Leaving state highway 2 you will cross over the Ruamahanga River into Martinborough wine country - your destination for the day.   

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Martinborough Half Day Wine Tour 

Stay 2 nights Martinborough

This luxury Martinborough food and wine tour is for two to four guests only, for a relaxed and personal experience. This gourmet tour takes you by car with your Zest driver/guide around the small towns of the south Wairarapa: exploring the pretty historical township of Greytown and the celebrated Martinborough wine village. 

Estimated Driving Time: 1hr, Distance:

Today you will cross the Rimutaka Ranges as you make your way to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. Often compared to Melbourne, Wellington is vibrant cultural hub.

At one kilometre squared, the city centre (easily traversed on foot) has an international feel and is peppered with underground art shows, alleyway cafes and New York style delis. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - City Highlights Inspiration half day tour
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour 

Stay 1 night Wellington

Rental car drop off Wellington Airport depot

Drop your vehicle at the Wellington Airport rental car depot today before continuing your onward journey.

Day 1, Welcome to Auckland City

Welcome to 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 - Harbour Dinner Cruise Sailing Experience 

Stay 1 night Auckland

Day 2, Auckland - Hobbiton - Rotorua

Auckland - Hobbiton - Rotorua

Travel Time: 3 hrs

Distance: 239 kms

Collect your rental car

Auckland to Matamata and Hobbiton

Head southbound on State Highway one through the lush farmland and dairy pastures of the Waikato region. The Bombay Hills mark the outer boundary of the greater Auckland area and its here you turn inland towards Matamata. 

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

Become immersed in the The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films when you visit the actual Hobbiton movie set.

Matamata to Rotorua

Arriving into the City of Rotorua the regions geothermal activity becomes evident as you see steam rising from the roadside and surrounding hills.

Stay 2 nights Rotorua

Day 3, Explore Rotorua

Explore Rotorua

Te Puia - Steambox Interactive Maori Experience and Lunch and Cultural Performance
Begin this unique cultural experience by viewing a traditional performance in the Maree, a Maori meeting house. Listen to beautiful harmonies, see the seductive poi dance and experience the powerful Haka - a fearsome Maori war challenge. You will then choose from a variety of meats and vegetables for your Steambox lunch.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter 

Day 4, Rotorua to Napier

Rotorua to Napier

Travel Time: 2 hrs 25 min

Distance: 210 kms

This drive will take you through the thermal region just south of Rotorua. 

Continue on to Taupo and marvel at the lake - a giant crater formed following a volcanic eruption in the year 180 CE. As you approach the city, be sure to stop at Huka Falls to view the spectacular sight of 222,000 litres of water spilling down the narrow 11 metre drop.

Leaving Taupo, follow the road as it climbs the rugged Ahimanawa Range before descending back down the Pacific Coast to art deco Napier.

Stay 2 nights Napier

Day 5, Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

Explore Napier and the Hawke's Bay

With is mediterranean climate and Art Deco style, Hawke's Bay is an attractive holiday prospect. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Grape Escape half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Wine and Dinner Tour
Take a scenic drive through the wine growing district, participate in an interactive wine tasting at Sileni Estate or Vidal Estate, indulge in gourmet platters with top local produce, champagne sunset on Te Mata Peak (sunset in summer & overlooking the glimmering lights of the twin cities in winter), main meal at Vidal Estate, Sileni Estate or Craggy Range wineries, visit New Zealand's oldest winery, the Mission Estate, for dessert and coffee, finish with being dropped off at a location of your choice - perhaps some of Napier's top waterfront nightspots. A night full of entertainment and fun.

Day 6, Napier to Martinborough

Napier to Martinborough

Travel Time: 3 hrs 20 min

Distance: 271 kms

Estimated Driving Time: , Distance:

As you leave the rolling countryside of the Hawke's Bay you'll be greeted with some of the country's richest dairy farmland in the Manawatu Gorge. Continue on through the Wairarapa region. As you drive south, a visit to historic Greytown is a must do. Take in the the restored Victorian buildings and make time for a cup of tea at one of its quaint cafes. Leaving state highway 2 you will cross over the Ruamahanga River into Martinborough wine country - your destination for the day.   

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Martinborough Half Day Wine Tour 

Stay 2 nights Martinborough

Day 7, Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour

Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour

This luxury Martinborough food and wine tour is for two to four guests only, for a relaxed and personal experience. This gourmet tour takes you by car with your Zest driver/guide around the small towns of the south Wairarapa: exploring the pretty historical township of Greytown and the celebrated Martinborough wine village. 

Day 8, Martinborough to Wellington City

Martinborough to Wellington City

Travel Time: 1 hr

Distance: 73 kms

Estimated Driving Time: 1hr, Distance:

Today you will cross the Rimutaka Ranges as you make your way to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. Often compared to Melbourne, Wellington is vibrant cultural hub.

At one kilometre squared, the city centre (easily traversed on foot) has an international feel and is peppered with underground art shows, alleyway cafes and New York style delis. 

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - City Highlights Inspiration half day tour
SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour 

Stay 1 night Wellington

Day 9, Depart Wellington

Depart Wellington

Rental car drop off Wellington Airport depot

Drop your vehicle at the Wellington Airport rental car depot today before continuing your onward journey.

Additional Information

Pricing

Cost per Person

 Twin/Double
Motel Accommodation from NZ$2,866 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
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Includes

Includes:

Accommodation for 8 nights

  • 1 Nights Auckland
  • 2 Nights Rotorua
  • 2 Nights Napier
  • 2 Nights Martinborough
  • 1 Night Wellington

Rental 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

Hobbiton Movie Set

Te Puia Steambox Interactive Lunch & Cultural Performance

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Dinner and Winery Tour

Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour

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.

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.

Airfares

International flights can be included from Australia for all Australian resident

Optional Extras

Harbour Dinner Cruise Sailing Experience, Auckland

This unique on-water dining experience is not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Enjoy smooth sailing on the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this photogenic city come alive with twinkling lights. Your experienced crew will talk about Auckland's highlights and there will opportunity try your hand at steering.

Explore Hawke's Bay

Half day Hawke's Bay Wine tour

This half day wine tour visits some of the Hawke's Bay's famous wineries and is designed for casual imbibers and wine aficionados. Meet like - minded people and share an appreciation of Hawke's Bay's fantastic wines. Taste great wines made with passion and learn of the areas unique growing conditions. Take home great tasting wines and memories. Visit 4 - 5 local wineries and taste Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and much more. Also try some of New Zealand's finest cheeses matched with wine. Walk amongst the vines and learn about Terroir.

Cape Kidnappers Gannet Beach Adventures

On this unique four hour eco-adventure you will get to experience one of the largest and most accessible mainland gannet colonies in the world. You'll be pulled on a trailer from the back of a vintage tractor along the beach to the Black Reef Colony - where you'll have the chance to see the birds in their natural habitat. Depending on the season, visitors can witness new-born chicks through to four month old gannets preparing for their first ever flight, which will take them all the way to Australia. Continuing on to the Cape, you'll break for 90 minutes which enables visitors the chance to picnic, swim or enjoy a scenic walk to the Plateau Colony.

Martinborough Half Day Wine Tour

Visit wonderful vineyards such as Te Kairangi Wines, Tirohana Estate, Cabbage Tree Vineyard and Martinborough Vineyard on this half day tour of the premium wine region of Martinborough. Taste the wines, learn about the development of the region, its people and characters from knowledgeable guides.

Rainbow Springs and Behind the Scenes Kiwi Encounter, Rotorua

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.

Explore Wellington

City Highlights Inspiration half day tour

An unforgettable journey around the city's dramatic highlights where guests will travel around the earthquake-scarred South Coast to see the site of the Wahine ferry disaster and the distant ranges of the South Island, overlooked by coastal houses perched on the steep, rocky hills. On the Half day tour, enjoy views of the harbour from the top of Mount Victoria and ride the steep cable car up to an incredible, far - reaching panorama. Visit the magnificent Parliament buildings and the famous Beehive; see the gorgeous, timber-built Old St. Paul's cathedral and enjoy a tea or coffee at a delightful coastal cafe.

Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary Night Tour

Taking a night tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.

Highlights

Hobbiton Movie Set, Matamata

Become immersed in The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit films when you visit the actual Hobbiton movie set. Located just outside of Matamata - in the heart the lush Waikato farming region, your two hour tour will begin with a drive through a picturesque sheep farm. You'll then be taken through Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill and the Party Tree while your guide shares behind-the-scenes tales and insight into the making of the films.

Te Puia Steambox Interactive Lunch & Cultural Performance, Rotorua

Begin this unique cultural experience by viewing a traditional performance in the Marae, a Maori meeting house. Listen to beautiful harmonies, see the seductive poi dance and experience the powerful Haka - a fearsome Maori war challenge. You will then choose from a variety of meats and vegetables for your Steambox lunch. The Steambox cooking method utilises the steam and hot water naturally available within thermally active landscape. Historically, this method has been used by early Maori settlers, and is a traditional way of preparing a meal. While your food is being cooked in the Ngā Whā steam vent, You will be taken on a guided tour of Te Puia thermal reserve. Beginning with an interactive flax weaving session, you'll learn to weave flax before exploring the geothermal valley including the Kiwi house, mud pools and bubbling hot springs. Return in time for your steaming lunch - eaten as you enjoy an impressive view of the geyser terrace.

Twilight Odyssey Progressive Dinner and Winery Tour, Napier

Take a scenic drive through the wine growing district, participate in an interactive wine tasting at Sileni Estate or Vidal Estate, indulge in gourmet platters with top local produce, champagne sunset on Te Mata Peak (sunset in summer and overlooking the glimmering lights of the twin cities in winter), main meal at Vidal Estate, Sileni Estate or Craggy Range wineries, visit New Zealand's oldest winery, the Mission Estate, for dessert and coffee, finish with being dropped off at a location of your choice - perhaps some of Napier's top waterfront nightspots. A night full of entertainment and fun.

Martinborough Food and Wine Producers Tour

This luxury Martinborough food and wine tour is for two to four guests only, for a relaxed and personal experience. This gourmet tour takes you by car with your Zest driver/guide around the small towns of the south Wairarapa: exploring the pretty historical township of Greytown and the celebrated Martinborough wine village. The focus is both fine food and wine, as you savour tastes of both from specialty producers. You will go where few visitors can, meeting innovative people dedicated to being the very best they can be with their premium boutique brands. In a beautiful pastoral setting, big skies and open spaces give way to small, attractive Victorian townships with their own charm. Naturally, the delicious tasting lunch is matched with premium Martinborough wines, possibly from the very vines you can see from the table.

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9 Day Taster of the North Island Self Drive

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