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Essential North Island

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Sample the fine wines and cheeses of Hawke’s Bay

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Tailor-made Journey

15 days from £2349pp

Take in the very best of New Zealand’s North Island on this compact Journey, taking you from the bright lights of Auckland and the peaceful coves of the Bay of Islands to the bubbling mud pools of Maori-centric Rotorua and the waterside vistas of action-packed Lake Taupo.


On the way you’ll sample fine wines in Martinborough and swim with dolphins in Paihia. That a treat!

Some of the highlights included are:

  • Spot dolphins in the Bay of Islands, then jump in the water and swim with them
  • Sample the fine wines and cheeses of Hawke’s Bay
  • Laze in steaming hot natural pools in Rotorua
  • Take in the beautiful views of Lake Taupo from the water’s edge

Holiday Type

Wildlife & Nature
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What's included
  • International flights
  • 11 nights in 4-4.5* hotels
  • 8 days car hire
  • Swim with dolphins in Paihia
  • Hawke’s Bay wine tour with cheeseboard
Need to know
  • Arrives: Auckland Airport (AKL)
  • Time difference: GMT+13
  • Visa requirements: British passport holders do not require a visa
  • Language: English and Maori
  • Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD)
  • Flying time from UK: around 27 hours
  • Plug type: 3-prong flat blade plug
  • Voltage: 240 volts/50 cycles
Your route


Days 1-2
Fly from UK to
Days 3-4

Start your New Zealand adventure with an ascent of Auckland’s Sky Tower, where you can dine in the revolving restaurant 190 metres above the ground. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, with plenty of museums and galleries to keep you entertained, as well as a beautiful harbour framed by volcanic scenery, making for a natural playground. Why not take the boat to Waiheke Island and rub shoulders with the artists and millionaires who inhabit this peaceful haven?

4.5* Sebel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Days 5-6
Bay of Islands

Cruise the blue waters of the picturesque Bay of Islands, a collection of almost 150 islets dotted among glittering turquoise waters. Jump on board a cruise to the iconic Hole in the Rock, and check out the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, location for the signing of the agreement between Maori chiefs and British colonists. While you’re here, you’ll head out to sea in search of dolphins and if you’re lucky, jump in and swim with these amazing creatures.

4* Copthorne Hotel & Resort Bay of Islands

Paihia dolphin encounter

Day 7

Return to Auckland and continue exploring this vibrant city. Take a stroll along the waterfront or perhaps take a boat ride out on the Hauraki Gulf. For a relaxing afternoon’s stroll, head down to Parnell, the city’s oldest suburb dating from 1841, and check out the Auckland War Memorial Museum or the blooming Parnell Rose Garden.

4.5* Sebel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

Days 8-9

Discover the steaming hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud baths of Rotorua, a natural geothermal playground. You might need to hold your nose here, as there is a distinct scent of sulphur in the air. It’s not just about the geology though – the town boasts 18 sparkling lakes, various luging tracks, mountain bike trails and lakeside walking pathways. Rotorua is also the centre of New Zealand’s Maori culture, and a great place to learn more about Maori traditions.

4* Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua

Day 10

Get active in Taupo, where rafting, skydiving, hiking and mountain biking are all on offer. See the lake from the water’s edge, from a boat or even from the air. The friendly little town of Taupo is worth a wander too, as it’s home to boiling mud pools, steaming vents and intricate volcanic rock formations. Perhaps try the L’Arté Café and Sculpture Garden, which serves excellent coffee among the sculptures and coloured mosaics.

4.5* Millenium Hotel Taupo Manuels

Day 11

After the devastating earthquake of 1931, Napier was completely rebuilt in an art deco style, and many of these intriguing buildings remain to this day. Take a look at the classic Daily Telegraph office or re-enact the Great Gatsby in a chauffeur driven car tour of the best of the architecture. Your Journey includes a wine tasting tour in Hawke’s Bay, so sip on fine Sauvignon Blanc or fruity Syrah and tuck into a tasty cheese platter among the vines.

4* Scenic Hotel Te Pania

Hawke’s Bay wine tour with cheeseboard

Days 12-13

Arrive in Wellington and learn more about Maori culture at Te Papa, New Zealand’s excellent national museum. Wellington buzzes with arts and culture, with great theatre and live music on offer if you have the chance. Be sure to try one of the many eclectic restaurants here too. Out of town, why not take a trip to Sinclair Head New Zealand Fur Seal Colony and watch these furry creatures as they jump in and out of the waves.

4.5* Distinction Wellington

Days 14-15
Depart Wellington and return to the UK

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