Day 1: Auckland to Coromandel
Leaving the big smoke behind, we head to the Coromandel Peninsula, a veritable paradise of beautiful beaches and misty rainforests. The drive here is epic – the road twists and turns dramatically round the coastline and the ocean gets clearer and more pristine before your eyes. Cameras ready – the views are magnificent! The Coromandel is home to the famous Hot Water Beach, a location visited by thousands each year to dig their own personal hot tub. If the tide times allow, we’ll definitely grab our buckets and spades and get busy! We arrive in Whitianga with plenty of time for your guide to show you around. Sample the sandy beaches or simply enjoy the vibes.
Day 2: Coromandel to Rotorua
This morning walk along the cliffs and down to Cathedral Cove (which you might recognize from the Chronicles of Narnia). With perfect beaches and massive rock arches and columns, it’s one of the most popular spots in the Coromandel. Alternatively, take an optional guided Cathedral Cove kayak trip and check out this stunning coastline from a different angle, accompanied by a local dolphin or two if you’re lucky! Later this afternoon we head towards Rotorua (or Rotovegas as it is locally known). En route, we’ll visit Matamata - best known for being the home of Hobbiton. For Lord of the Rings fans, a visit to Hobbiton Movie Set is an absolute must-do. On a fully guided tour of the 12 acre Middle-earth set you will see Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and even enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon Inn! If hobbits aren’t your thing there are plenty of scenic short walks to enjoy Matamata’s lush green rolling hills. While the majority of the North Island is volcanic in some way, Rotorua is exceptional for its geothermal activity. With neon blue and red lakes, steaming rivers, active volcanoes and geysers galore, there are more unique natural wonders to be found in Rotorua than many other places in the world.
Day 3: Rotorua
Today is a free day to explore Rotorua and its surrounding area. Talk to your guide for the best free things to see and do in the neighbourhood (Kuirau Park’s steaming and hissing mud pools are a great option). There are also a number of optional activities you can choose from! If adrenaline is your thing, the highest commercial waterfall drop in the world, on the Kaituna River, is begging to be conquered on an exhilarating rafting trip. Perhaps you’d like to try thundering down grassy hills in a giant air-cushioned inflatable ball (aka OGO). A day trip to Waitomo is another option today. Famous for its glowworms there are a number of ways to experience these twinkling creatures up close. Discover the magic of both the world-famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves, as well as the enchanting Ruakuri Cave on a ‘two cave combo’ walking/boat tour. Or you can float along an underground river on a Black Water Rafting trip as the glowworms light your path. However you spend today - be sure to get a good night’s sleep as there are more Rotorua adventures tomorrow! Optional activities you can do today include black water rafting (with transport from Rotorua), two cave combo, forest zipline, white water rafting, river sledging, OGO or a Mount Tarawera hike.
Day 4: Rotorua to Murupara
This morning we visit Te Puia Maori Village. Here you’ll learn more about Maori history and culture, come face to face with the Pohutu Geyser, see jumping mud pools and get up close and personal with kiwi birds. Later this afternoon we head to Kohutapu Lodge in Murupara - a living Māori village - where you will experience a tribal tour by a village elder. Here you’ll also have a chance to learn the world-famous haka dance, and weave your own dinner plate using flax (a type of plant). Tonight’s dinner is a traditional hāngi meal. Cooked in an underground earth oven you can expect tender meat and delicious vegetables infused with a smoky, earthy fragrance – it will fill your puku (belly) right up! The best part about spending the evening at Kohutapu Lodge? The majority of proceeds from this activity go back to the local community.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5: Murupara to Taupō
It’s only a short drive to our next destination, Taupō, and there’s plenty to discover along the way. From mesmerising mud pools to the thundering rapids of the Huka Falls and Aratiatia Dam, your trusty Haka Guide will make sure you don’t miss a thing. Taupō is a beautiful lakeside town with a stunning mountain backdrop. Lake Taupō is New Zealand’s largest lake – believe it or not, it’s roughly the same size as Singapore! This place is all about the thrills and spills, and there are plenty of options in store this afternoon. Get your hair wet with a water touch Bungy jump, take an unforgettable skydive or a sunset lake cruise for amazing lake and mountain views. Opt to add a water touch bungy, skydive, or Lake Taupo sailing adventure to your stay here.
Day 6: Taupō
A full day in Taupō... are you in the mood for peaceful lakeside tranquillity or unlimited adrenaline and adventure? Either way, Taupō’s got you covered. For many, the ultimate adventure on offer here is the hiking (or tramping, as we Kiwis know it). The Tongariro Crossing is among the top 10 full-day walks in the world. This 19.4-kilometre mountain trek boasts emerald green lakes, venting steam, lava flows and craters. You’ll come back grinning from ear to ear before falling into bed and sleeping like a baby. If you’d prefer to relax, jump on a boat for a sailing trip to view Māori rock carvings. Or head to Spa Park and soak until your fingers are wrinkly. However you choose to spend today we guarantee you won’t forget it.
Day 7: Taupō to Wellington
It’s a big drive from Taupō to Wellington, but there’s some unmissable scenery on offer. Lord of the Rings junkies, you’re in for a treat! Our journey takes us through Tongariro National Park via the Rangipo Desert (bet you didn’t know New Zealand had one of those!). Some of your favourite Lord of the Rings battle scenes were filmed right here. The Desert Road boasts incredible views of three active volcanic peaks – Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu. You may know Mount Ngauruhoe as Mount Doom, so be sure to snap a Mordor selfie! We pass through two of the North Island’s quirkier towns – as ever, your Haka Guide has a couple of surprises up their sleeve... We pull into Wellington in the afternoon, with just enough time for film buffs make a trip to Weta Workshop, where the special effects of Lord of the Rings and Avatar were produced. New Zealand’s capital is famous for its bars and eateries, and is a paradise for lovers of craft beer – you’ll be spoilt for choice tonight! The tour officially finishes at 8:00 pm today in Wellington, but your accommodation tonight is included.