THE GREAT NORTHERN
ROAD TRIP

Get yourself well and truly ‘kiwified’ on this six-week odyssey that zigzags coast to coast, from East to West and North to South - the perfect way to explore New Zealand’s North Island in depth.

A land of extreme contrasts and diversity – beautifully carved maraes, active volcanoes, spectacular caves, thick native forests, awesome waterfalls, verdant valleys, long sandy beaches, soaring snowcapped peaks, stunning lakes and vibrant cities bursting with interesting arts, culture and architecture…not to mention bloody good coffee!

Travel with ZigZig out and around the ‘wop wops’ of the North Island and experience all of this and more.

At a glance
Auckland to Wellington (4056km)
10 travellers
Sep 23rd – Nov 5th
44 days, 43 nights
The highlights


  • Northland & Cape Reinga (Northernmost point)
  • Matauri Bay
  • Mangawhai Heads
  • The Bay of Islands
  • Waitangi Treaty House and Grounds
  • Kerikeri Stone Store and Kemp House
  • The Coromandel
  • Cathedral Cave
  • Mount Maunganui
  • Hobbiton
  • Rotorua
  • Taupo
  • The East Cape
  • Hawkes Bay
  • Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • The Forgotten World Highway & Rail Cart Adventure
  • The Central Plateau (Tongariro Crossing)
  • Bridal Veil & Marakopa Falls
  • Waitomo
  • Raglan
  • Hamilton Gardens
  • New Plymouth & Mt Taranaki
  • Wellington

White Island, Whakatane

what's included?
WELCOME

We'll kick-start the tour with a warm welcome meeting with breakfast in Auckland – a chance for everyone to say ‘Kia Ora’ (hello in Māori) and introduce ourselves

Community

Guides x 2
Maximum group size x 10

All Accommodation

Equipment: Your own 3-man canvas tent.
Single stretcher bed x 1
(double for couples on request)
Camp chair x 1
Accommodation: Mostly camping, some shared dorms, lodges and cabins

Meals

Breakfasts x 43, Lunches x 4, Dinners x 33 (incl. tea, coffee and hot chocolate)

All transport

In our customised ZigZag Mercedes Sprinter van (incl. your own seat with USB charger)

Connections

All road tolls

Activities & Attractions included
  • Kawau Island (BBQ welcome lunch included)
  • Kauri Museum Guided Tour
  • Kai-Iwi Lakes
  • Night Kiwi search in Trounsen Forest
  • Waipoua Kauri Forest - Tāne Mahuta
  • Cape Reinga – Northernmost point
  • Kerikeri Stone Store and Kemp House
  • The Bay of Islands
  • Whangarei Falls
  • Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
  • Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland
  • Kerosene Creek
  • Hāngī Dinner
  • Māori Cultural dinner and show
  • East Cape - Easternmost point
  • Tolaga Bay
  • Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • Orakei Korako Geothermal Park
  • Huka Falls
  • Hamilton Gardens
  • Bridal Veil Falls
  • Marakopa Falls
  • Mangapohue Natural Bridge
  • Forgotten World Highway
  • Forgotten World Adventures - Rail and Boat
  • Whangamomona Republic
  • Whakapapa Village
  • Central Plateau
  • Manawatu Scenic Route
  • Te Mata Peak
  • Martinborough Vineyard Dinner with Wine Tasting
  • Cape Palliser
  • Wellington

Marakopa Falls, Waitomo

what's Not included?
Flights
Visas/Passport costs
Airport transfers
Additional Activities
Alternative Accommodation
Drinks not specified
Meals not specified
Phone & Internet
Basic Itinerary
  • Departing Auckland
  • 01 Sandspit
  • 02Kauri Coast
  • 03Matauri Bay
  • 04Matauri Bay
  • 05Russell
  • 06Russell
  • 07Russell
  • 08Russell
  • 09Mangawhai
  • 10 Mangawhai
  • 11 Coromandel Town
  • 12Coromandel Town
  • 13Hahei
  • 14Hahei
  • 15Mt Maunganui
  • 16Mt Maunganui
  • 17Rotorua
  • 18Rotorua
  • 19Rotorua
  • 20Rotorua
  • 21 Whakatāne
  • 22Whakatāne
  • 23East Cape
  • 24Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • 25Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • 26Napier
  • 27Napier
  • 28Taupo
  • 29Taupo
  • 30Taupo
  • 31 Raglan
  • 32Raglan
  • 33Waitomo
  • 34Waitomo
  • 35New Plymouth
  • 36New Plymouth
  • 37New Plymouth
  • 38Taumarunui
  • 39Whakapapa
  • 40Whakapapa
  • 41 Whakapapa
  • 42Martinborough
  • 43Wellington
  • End in Wellington
Route Map:
DETAILED Itinerary

Click the + to expand

Day 1 – 3 That Bit With The Big Trees At The Start - Auckland to Matauri Bay

Day 1 – We start off today with a very informal welcome meeting in Auckland. A chance for everyone to say ‘Kia Ora’ (hello in Māori), for us to introduce ourselves, tell you a little bit more about the coming days and answer any questions you may have. We’ll pack up our trailer, introduce you to the van and hit the road. 

It’s not a long drive to our first adventure. We’ll soon be on the Mail Boat to Kawau Island on the largest mail run by water in the Southern Hemisphere, complete with BBQ lunch. As we cruise the beautiful bays, you will have stunning views throughout this scenic region and of its historic landmarks, while we visit up to over 75 different wharves delivering freight and mail to the island residents. You will then be able to spend time on this picturesque island. Visit Mansion House and its beautifully manicured gardens, stroll the many walking tracks - a wonderful way to see the Island’s dramatic coastline, relax in the serene settings or even take a dip in the crystal-clear waters. Keep your eye out for the abundance of wild birds on the island (including the many peacocks) and you may also catch a glimpse of a dolphin or penguin whilst we cruise to and from the island. 

Tonight, we cook for you, and we can all enjoy a group dinner as the sun sets over the Hauraki Gulf.

Included B,L,D (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Camping: Sandspit 

Day 2 – We begin our journey into Northland with a visit to the award-winning Kauri Museum. This heritage museum brings to life the history of the mighty Kauri tree, a NZ native and one of the world’s largest trees (which can live up to 3000 years). The Kauri Museum is the world’s 1st Carbon-zero certified museum and hosts galleries of lifelike scenes of pioneering life, interactive hands-on displays, the world’s largest kauri slab (measuring 22.5 metres in length), a rare collection of polished kauri gum and a working sawmill. 

We then continue alongside the Wairoa River before heading north where we’ll take a short detour out to the Kai Iwi Lakes (weather permitting). Consisting entirely of freshwater, these basin type lakes were created more than 1.8 million years ago and were formed by the accumulation of rainwater in sand depressions. Each of the three crystal clear lakes is fringed with pure white sand and surrounded by pine forest.

As an optional (included) activity, we will take you into the Trounsen Forest to search for Kiwi once the sun has gone down. This is a very special experience - most New Zealanders have never seen a Kiwi in the wild. We will have a 50% chance of seeing one. Whilst walking amongst a forest of enormous Kauri trees we will need to be very quiet as we shine our red torch lights (provided) through the undergrowth in our search for these shy, nocturnal birds. The flightless Kiwi bird is a ‘taonga’ (treasure) to Māori, who have strong cultural, spiritual and historic associations with it. It is also an icon here in NZ, symbolising the uniqueness of New Zealand's wildlife and natural heritage.

Included B,D
Camping: Kauri Coast

Day 3 – We head north and meander our way through the Waipoua Kauri Forest, which helps to bring to life what we saw and learnt yesterday at Kauri Museum in Matakohe. We then make a stop at majestic Tāne Mahuta, the ‘Lord of the Forest’ and New Zealand’s largest living Kauri tree.

Keep looking up as you take the short walk through the forest, and you will soon see this magnificent tree towering over all of the others. At over 2000 years old, it is hard not to be in awe of Tāne Mahuta’s size, strength and ancient presence. Get somebody to take a photo of you with the tree behind - you’ll appear very small indeed.

We'll then head up to Arai Te Uru - the south head of the Hokianga Harbour. This headland offers spectacular views of the Tasman Sea and over to the giant sand dunes on the opposite side of the harbour entrance.

Next up is Omapere and Opononi, two small towns that were well known in the 1950’s for a friendly dolphin called ‘Opo’. She was a young Bottlenose dolphin that enjoyed playing and spending time with humans in the harbour here. 

After a short stop here, we’ll travel up the Hokianga Harbour and over to the east coast where we will stay at a picturesque beach settlement called Matauri Bay. Climb the hill right at camp to see the Rainbow Warrior Memorial and for stunning views across to the Cavalli Islands, or just relax on the beautiful beach at our campsite.

Included B,D
Camping:  Matauri Bay

Day 4 - 8 That Northern Bit With The Islands - Matauri Bay to Russell

Day 4 – No need to take down your tents this morning as we are off on a full day trip to Cape Reinga. Today takes us all the way to the top of New Zealand - the northernmost point. It is a scenic drive to get there, but the main attraction is at the end of the road. After passing through green pastures, we are then greeted with large rolling sand dunes on both sides of the road. Then as we get closer to the very top of New Zealand, we wind our way up steep hills and are rewarded with incredible views of the roiling ocean, where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. Here at Cape Reinga, we have time for a stroll down to the iconic lighthouse and its outstanding views of the northern coastline. It is here that we can often see the two distinct colours of the waters as they come together.

Soon after starting our drive back to Matauri Bay, we make a stop at the Te Paki sand dunes - a vast area of sand with native bush on one side and Ninety Mile Beach and the ocean on the other. They are quite incredible to see. You’ll have time to walk across the desert-like landscape or hire a sandboard and have a go at ‘boarding’ down the dunes! Time permitting, we will then take you to the start of Ninety Mile Beach for a quick photo.

Included B,L,D
Camping:  Matauri Bay 

Day 5 – A relaxed start this morning with time at Matauri Bay. We then head south to Kerikeri, home to New Zealand’s oldest buildings.

 Dating back to 1822, The Kerikeri Mission Station (Kemp House) stands adjacent to the old Stone Store which was built in 1832. Situated in a beautiful orchard setting, we have time to look around, visit the museum* and store, and enjoy some lunch at the cafe on site. 

The afternoon will take us through Paihia, the gateway to the Bay of Islands, on our way to the charmingly historic town of Russell. 
*at your own cost 

Included B,D
Camping:  Russell 

Day 6 – Free Day. No timings for today as it’s your time to do whatever you please. In fact, we have allowed 3 whole free days here in Russell. This will give you the chance to explore the town itself, take the frequent foot ferry across to Paihia*, take a boat trip out around the Bay of Islands* and/or visit Waitangi*

Situated just a short walk from Paihia, Waitangi is one of New Zealand's most historic sites, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the British Crown and more than 500 Māori chiefs. At Waitangi, visitors are given an in-depth introduction to the early history of New Zealand and Māori culture. You can visit the Treaty House itself, marvel at the fully carved Māori meeting house and traditional Waka (canoes), experience a live cultural performance and explore the two museums and beautiful grounds. 
*at your own cost

Included B
Camping:  Russell 

Day 7 - Free Day.

Included B
Camping: Russell

Day 8 - Free Day. 

Included B,D
Camping: Russell

Day 9 - 14 Those Beachy Bits Either Side Of Auckland - Russell to Hahei

Day 9 – Today we head south to Whangarei Falls. This 26m high waterfall on the Hatea River in the Whangarei Scenic Reserve makes for a pleasant lunch stop. 

From here, we drive back out to the coast, where we pass through stunning Langs Beach, a Northland gem. Our final destination today is just over the hill at Mangawhai Heads, where you’ll find surf, sea, sand, and rugged coastal scenery. 

Included B,D
Camping:  Mangawhai Heads 

Day 10 – Free Day. Whether its relaxing on the beach, walking beside the sand dunes or having a go at fishing, kayaking or the many other water-based activities on offer, Mangawhai Heads is a beautiful spot to spend your day.

You might also wish to explore the excellent Mangawhai Coastal Cliff walk. This 2-3 hour round trip offers spectacular elevated ocean views up and down the coast and out to the many offshore islands. 

Included B,D
Camping:  Mangawhai Heads 

Day 11 – ‘Relocating’ from the Northland region to the Coromandel, we navigate our way through Auckland, ‘the City of Sails’, with its impressive skyline and iconic Sky Tower looming in the distance. 

We then take the scenic route around the Firth of Thames. This quiet, pretty road is also known as ‘The Seabird Coast’. On the way, we pass through bays, beaches, lush reserves and alongside the marshy flats, wetlands, tidal flats and mangroves which are home to over sixty different avian species and in excess of 40,000 individual birds. 

The scenic Thames Coastal Road offers our first experience of the magnificent Coromandel and all it has to offer.  

Included B,D
Camping: Coromandel Town

Day 12 – Free Day. Your chance to experience the Coromandel Coastal Walkway. One of New Zealand’s most popular coastal walks with its beautiful scenery and remote location, it borders the northern Coromandel coastline between Stony and Fletcher Bays and follows an old bridle path formed by early pioneers. Pick up and drop off will need to be organised by you in advance*

Alternatively, you have a day to explore Coromandel Town, a unique town with character, soul and ambience. As well as galleries and craft shops, the town has many restored Victorian buildings, a narrow-gauge mountain railway and a small mining museum.
*at your own cost 

Included B,D
Camping: Coromandel Town

Day 13 – Today, we zigzag across and around the Coromandel Peninsula to Hahei, visiting some beautiful beaches and harbour towns along the way. The Coromandel is a popular holiday destination renowned for its 400kms of pristine white sandy beaches and relaxed vibes. 

Included B,D
Camping:  Hahei 

Day 14 - Free Day. Hahei, a village on the Coromandel Peninsula, is located within the Te Whanganui a Hei Marine Reserve. It’s stunning sheltered bay of golden sands is framed by Pohutukawa trees and old white volcanic cliffs. The islands of Mercury Bay can be seen from the coastline, with the best vantage points being Te Pare Point in the historic reserve at the southern end of Hahei beach, an area which is also the site of an ancient Māori pa (fortified village).

Voted one of the most picturesque spots in the Coromandel, Cathedral Cove is home to a soaring limestone rock arch that separates two white sandy beaches and is a pleasant walk, kayak or boat trip away from Hahei. The walkway starts right at camp and meanders its way to the top of the cliff where you will have spectacular views across Mercury Bay. It then descends down to the Cove.  

Included B,D
Camping:  Hahei 

Day 15 - 22 That Steamy, Smelly Bit With Hobbits - Hahei to Whakatane

Day 15 – We start today by heading a little further south to the stunning Mount Paku peninsula. The 360° panoramic views at the top of the summit walk are not to be missed, looking down over Tairua harbour, Pauanui Beach, the beautiful turquoise blue estuary waters, and out along the coast to the Alderman Islands. 

We then head a little inland to the town of Waihi, New Zealand's 'Heart of Gold', with a gold mining history spanning three centuries and a local open pit mine that is still fully operational.

Further south, we enter the City of Tauranga where we drive past New Zealand's biggest port and one of its largest natural harbours before ending up in the popular seaside resort of Mount Maunganui. Its long sandy main beach stretches right up to the base of the ‘Mount’ which can be climbed to gain spectacular views across the city, harbour and coastline. 

Included B,D
Camping:  Mount Maunganui 

Day 16 – Free Day. Enjoy a walk along the beach, watch the surfers ride the waves and the ships coming into the harbour, indulge in the numerous cafes, juice and coffee shops along the sea front, or take the walk up the Mount. 

If you fancy a day in the city, you can take the bus into Tauranga and shop til you drop - up to you.

Included B,D
Camping:  Mount Maunganui 

Day 17 – The ‘Hobbiton’ Day. (Included activity)Experience the magic of the Hobbiton movie set, situated in the heart of the Mighty Waikato region. Here you will explore the real ‘middle earth’ and the lush pastures of the ‘Shire’ with a guided walking tour of Hobbiton as featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Wander amongst the ‘Hobbit Holes’, past the Mill and down to the Green Dragon Inn for a refreshing complimentary drink. Even if you’re not a fan of the books or films, we are sure you will still find this tour extremely endearing, interesting and very photogenic. 

We end our day in Rotorua where we will settle down for four nights. 

Included BD
Camping:  Rotorua

Day 18 – Free Day. Rotorua has so much to offer. From geothermal natural springs with shooting geysers and bubbling mud pools to adrenaline pumping activities like guided volcano climbing, ziplining and zorbing. There are also kilometres of lake, river and forest paths and trails to explore on foot or bike and a visit to Rotorua is not complete without experiencing our unique Māori culture too. And these are just some of the amazing things to see and do here, which is why we have given you almost four days in the city to fully immerse yourself in this incredible region. 

Included B
Camping:  Rotorua 

Day 19 – Free Day. You will have the day to yourselves in Rotorua. This afternoon in camp, we have a go at cooking our own Hāngī. A Hāngī is a traditional New Zealand Māori method of cooking food using either natural steam or heated rocks buried in a pit oven. The campsite has a stainless-steel version that uses the natural geothermal steam from under the ground. Watch or help us if you wish, or just enjoy the food once it comes out of the ground a few hours later! 

Included B,D
Camping:  Rotorua 

Day 20 – Free Day until 5pm. We spend our final night in Rotorua at the Mitai Māori Village, where you will be given an authentic introduction to Māori culture and treated with a traditional Hāngī feast. (included)

Included B,D
Camping:  Rotorua

Day 21 – We haven’t quite finished with Rotorua yet. A visit to Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland named as "One of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World" is included today. New Zealand's most colourful geothermal attraction consists of a myriad of brightly coloured natural hot pools, sulphur mud baths and explosive geysers. Take a self-guided walk through the stunning landscape nestled within a natural bush setting and gaze in awe at the extraordinary natural phenomena here.

Not far away is Kerosene Creek, a stream heated by natural hot springs. Complete with a waterfall and a series of steaming sandy bottomed pools surrounded by dense forest, this delightful spot is a local secret and your chance for a dip in the warm bath-like water. It’s so peaceful and serene here, you won’t want to leave. 

Our destination for today is Whakatāne, in the Bay of Plenty.

Included B,D
Camping:  Whakatāne 

Day 22 - Free Day. Whakatāne is the heart of the Eastern Bay of Plenty and frequently records the highest number of annual sunshine hours in New Zealand. It is the perfect place to unwind and explore the area’s beautiful natural setting. 

But there is also lots to do – it is one of the country’s premier fishing centres with more yellowfin tuna being caught here than anywhere else in New Zealand. You can also take a boat trip out to Moutohorā/Whale Island, a protected wildlife sanctuary that supports an abundance of native New Zealand birdlife. 

One of the more popular attractions is to take a flight over White Island and the numerous volcanoes that make up the Taupo Volcanic Zone – an incredible experience. 

Included B,D
Camping:  Whakatāne

Day 23 - 28 That Beautiful Eastern Bit No One Goes To - Whakatane to Napier

Day 23 & 24 – The next two days see us travelling State Highway 35, which circles right around New Zealand’s East Cape. The East Cape is the easternmost point of the New Zealand mainland and is the first place to see the sunrise in the world! The 334 km road trip around the coastline is stunning, comprising of endless white sandy beaches, remote villages where wild horses roam free, and a number of historical points of interest. 

We stay the night at a beautifully secluded spot on the most remote part of the East Cape. Here, with weather permitting, we have the opportunity to zip open our tents at dawn and be the first people in the world to witness the sun rising up out of the ocean for the new day. What an experience!

Over our two days of travel around the Cape, we’ll pass through the tiny hamlet of Omaio, whose name literally means ‘peace, quiet & tranquillity’ in Māori, the iconic and picturesque Anglican Raukokore Church, Te Araroa where you can find New Zealand’s oldest and largest Pohutukawa tree, the old abandoned wharf, wool and meat work buildings of beautiful Tokumaru Bay, and Tolaga Bay with what is believed to be the longest (660m) and most spectacular wharf of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.  The wharf at Tolaga Bay stands where Captain Cook first met the leaders of the Te Aitanga a Hauiti tribe in 1769 and there are a number of other places along this historic section of coastline where Cook and his ship, the Endeavour set anchor. Our accommodation for tonight is just outside Gisborne. 

Day 23
Included B,D
Camping: East Cape

Day 24
Included B,L,D
Lodge:  Gisborne 

Day 25 – Free Day. Today you can explore the delights of the Eastwoodhill Arboretum which covers 131 hectares of rolling rural farmland and contains the most comprehensive collection of flora in NZ. It displays over 4000 different varieties of trees, shrubs and plants and is extremely beautiful. Whether we are visiting in the Spring or in Autumn the colours and variety of species are spectacular. Meander your way through the numerous woodland paths within the park, take time out to sit in the gardens and enjoy the ambience or head into Gisborne city centre and watch the surfers from the boardwalk. 

Included BD
Lodge:  Gisborne 

Day 26 – We have a very scenic drive along the Tiniroto Road to the town of Wairoa for a spot of lunch. We then continue on to Napier, the largest city in Hawkes Bay, where we will spend two nights.

Included B,D
Camping:  Napier

Day 27 – Free Day. Hawkes Bay is recognised as one of New Zealand’s premier food and wine regions. It is also known as an international Art Deco capital with outstanding architecture dating from the 1930's when the area was decimated by a large earthquake. 

Napier is the largest city in the Hawkes Bay and has a very pretty seafront. Marine Parade is a great place to walk or cycle along whilst you admire the many Art Deco buildings on show. 

Wine tours are a popular pastime in this premier wine region of New Zealand, and many visitors to the town also choose to take a tour to the scenic Cape Kidnappers gannet colony.  

The old harbour area is also a lovely place to spend some time with plenty of quaint boutique shops and cafes to enjoy.

Included B
Camping:  Napier

Day 28 – We start today with a scenic drive around the Tuku Tuku Road loop, up to Te Mata Peak and past the Mission Estate (the oldest winery in New Zealand dating back to1851). We end today in Taupo, where we will stay for 3 nights.

The town of Taupo sits on the north-eastern shore of Lake Taupo. The lake was formed from a crater that was left after the large Taupo super volcano erupted 1800years ago. The area is now a beautiful adventure playground with Lake Taupo at its centre and the three mountains of the Central Plateau to the south.

Included B,D
Camping:  Taupo

Day 29 - 34 That Bit With The Lake & Those Caves - Napier to Waitomo

Day 29 – Today we visit Orakei Korako (included), the largest silica terraces in New Zealand. Hotsprings and bubbling mud pools make this an incredible experience as you wanderaround the hidden valleys and caves of this natural geothermal park. Orakei Korakoboasts the most active geysers of any geothermal park in New Zealand.

After a morning here, we spend some time at Huka Falls where you can witness nearly a quarter of a million litres of water per second thundering through a natural rocky gorge before tumbling 11m into the roiling Waikato River below. There are numerous viewing platforms from which to see the falls, and you may also see the excited passengers on the Huka Jet as it comes racing up and almost touches the crashing waters in this, the ultimate thrill ride.

Included B,D
Camping: Taupo

Day 30 – Free Day. Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake at 622 square kilometres and offers a staggering number of activities to choose from, many of which are located in or around the lake. 

Cruise out on the lake to see the Ngatoroirangi Māori Rock Carvings, take a walk or bike ride on the many pathways (including the flat and very scenic ‘Lion’s Walk’), partake in a spot of trout fishing (Lake Taupo is recognised as one of the best places in the world to fish for trout), or try your hand at the Taupo Hole in One golf challenge. You can even jump out of a plane and skydive over the lake. These are a small selection of the many activities on offer here in Taupo.

Included B,D
Camping: Taupo

Day 31 – Today we head to the world renowned Hamilton Gardens, a 54-hectare public garden situated on the banks of the Waikato River in the city of Hamilton. This renowned parkland hosts an array of intricate and beautifully manicured themed gardens. From the Japanese ‘Garden of Contemplation’ to the grandeur of the‘Italian Renaissance’ collection and on to the English ‘Flower Garden’, you will feel like you have been transported all around the world by the magnificent flora on display here.

We finish the day in Raglan, a laid-back West Coast surfing mecca and holiday spot where we will spend two nights.

Included B,D
Camping: Raglan

Day 32 – Free Day. Raglan attracts many domestic and international surfers who come to catch the longest, most accessible and consistent ‘left hand break’ in the world. Even if you’re not a surfer, it’s fantastic to watch. Have a go yourself with a surf lesson or simply watch the boardriders on the waves at Manu Bay. Laze on Ngarunui Beach or experience the large range of other water-based activities that Raglan has to offer. Browse around the boutique ‘bohemian’ shops, galleries and cafes or simply watch the youngsters jump off the bridge into the turquoise waters of the estuary at high tide. 

Included B
Camping: Raglan

Day 33 – A day of waterfalls and natural wonders. Today we visit two of the most scenic waterfalls in New Zealand. Bridal Veil Falls is a plunge waterfall that is 55m high. It is set in a beautiful bush clad bowl and can be viewed from three tiered viewing platforms. 

Marakopa Falls is a wider waterfall with an impressive 35m drop and is often referred to as the most beautiful in NZ.

And if that’s not enough beauty, we will also visit the Mangapohue Natural Bridge, a 17m high natural limestone arch that has formed from the remnants of an ancient cave system. Be wowed as you walk through the fairy-tale like forest that leads up to this beautiful natural phenomena. We end in Waitomo tonight, famous for its extensive underground cave systems and its glow-worms. 

Included B,D
Camping: Waitomo

Day 34 – Free Day. Waitomo caves, glow-worms, black water rafting, abseiling, caving, ziplining, bushwalking and the Discovery Centre & Museum – there’s so much choice here.

Included B
Camping: Waitomo

Day 35 - 38 That Beautiful Western Bit No One Goes To - Waitomo to Taumarunui

Day 35 – We set off today through the Mangaotaki and Awakino River Gorges to Mokau, a coastal village on the mouth of the Mokau River. We pass through rolling farmland, native bush and impressive limestone formations through the gorges. 

We then drive south to the translucent waters of the Tongapōrutu River and continue along one of the fastest eroding coastlines in the world. The relentless Tasman Sea continually sculpts and shapes the cliffs of the mainland creating numerous caves, tunnels and archways. 

Every now and then you’ll be able to see right out to the horizon and on a clear day you might catch a sighting of Mount Taranaki as we near New Plymouth. Tonight, camp is in the heart of New Plymouth.

Included B,D
Camping: New Plymouth

Day 36 – Free Day. New Plymouth is a vibrant and modern city, renowned for its sunny climate, art galleries, street art, picturesque parks and botanical gardens. It’s also famed for its Coastal Walkway which stretches 12.7km from the port to a small beach community in the north. Te Rewa Rewa Bridge can be found halfway along the walkway and has magnificent views of Mount Taranaki to the south. 

New Plymouth is blessed with many stunning beaches and provides a paradise for surfers, swimmers, kayakers and paddle boarders alike. 

The Port of Taranaki is an interesting working harbour with a long history. There are places to eat and drink at the breakwater where you can watch the ships go by. 

Included B
Camping: New Plymouth

Day 37 – Free Day. Day two in New Plymouth – if you didn’t yesterday, this is your chance to get up onto Mount Taranaki, in Egmont National Park. The visitor centres can provide you with lots of information about the beautiful walks throughout the area.  

Included B
Camping: New Plymouth

Day 38 – Starting today on Surf Highway 45, we travel towards Stratford, circling around Egmont National Park and Mount Taranaki. 

We then join the 148km long Forgotten World Highway and drive through the rugged, picturesque maze of steep hills, native bush, farmland, and winding streams, that make up this ‘lost piece of New Zealand’. 

Almost halfway along we find ourselves at the small settlement of Whangamomona, which declared itself an independent republic in 1989. Every two years, the famous January ‘Republic Day’ is held and the villages population swells with thousands of visitors. The main high street is taken over with umpteen country activities, including as sheep races, gumboot throwing, gut buster hill climbs, whip cracking and much, much more. The Republic Day finale sees all visitors voting for a new president, not all of which have been human! This quirky, charismatic town which only consists of one street and a few buildings is a charming place to call in and see for yourselves. The historic Whangamomona Hotel displays Republic Day photos dating back many years. Lunch can be purchased at the hotel and for a couple of dollars you can also have your passport stamped! Be some of the few people around the world who can say they have the ‘Republic of Whangamomona’ stamp in their passport!

Completing the second half of the Forgotten World Highway, we continue through the rugged King Country to Taumarunui.

Included B,D
Cabins: Taumarunui 

Day 39 - 45 That Bit With The Vines & The Volcanoes - Taumarunui to Wellington

Day 39 – Adventure Day. Forgotten World Adventures - Rail and River Run (included activity)

A full day experience will have you ‘rattling’ along through 40 kms of disused railway track, tunnels, and bridges on your own modified ‘golf cart’. You’ll pass through back-country ghost towns and untouched landscapes steepened in Māori and early pioneer history. And that’s not all, you’ll then get to sit back and enjoy an exhilarating 23km jet boat ride along the Whanganui River. Great fun!

Driving up on to the Central Plateau we spend the next three nights in Whakapapa Village, located on the lower western slopes of Mt Ruapehu, the North Island’s highest peak. 

Included B,L,D
Lodge: Whakapapa

Day 40 – Free Day. The North Island's Volcanic Plateau is famous for its three active volcanoes - Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro. Sitting at 2797m, Mt Ruapehu is the North Island’s highest peak and is popular for skiing and bush walking. Mt Tongariro is home to the world-famous Alpine Crossing - a 19km hike over the mountain, with panoramic 360° views across the North Island. It has been regularly voted as one of the best scenic one-day walks in the world. It’s natural beauty spots include the three ‘Emerald Lakes’, the impressive ‘Red Crater’ and the picturesque ‘Blue Lake’. Mt Ngauruhoe has an almost perfect conical peak and is better known as ‘Mt Doom’ from The Lord of the Rings films.

Many shorter, easier walks can be completed from the adjacent Whakapapa Village.

Chateau Tongariro, situated at Whakapapa Village half is an elegant hotel nestled in the heart of the National Park and surrounded by stunning natural landscape. It is a nice spot for a coffee or afternoon tea. 

The ‘Sky Waka’, a cable car which transports passengers 1.8km up Mount Ruapehu, is New Zealand’s longest gondola. There are multiple walks at the top, more 360° views and a very nice restaurant and cafe as well.

The historic Old Coach Road is another attraction in this area. It once connected the two ends of the Auckland to Wellington rail trunk line by stagecoach, and was extensively used until the railway line was finally completed in the 1920’s. The 15km trail stretches along cobblestoned roads, amongst native bush, under massive steel viaducts and through old stone tunnels.

Ohakune, known fondly as the ‘carrot’ capital of NZ, due to the large carrot farms in the area, serves Whakapapa and these mountains all year round with shops, cafes, an information centre and a range of adventure activities. 

Included B,D
Lodge: Whakapapa

Day 41- Free Day. We have given you two free days in Whakapapa Village to enable you to experience the Tongariro Crossing if you wish and still have time to enjoy the many other activities on offer here. 

Included B
Lodge: Whakapapa



Day 42 – Today we travel to the Wairarapa. We take the Manawatu Scenic Route to get us there, an evolving landscape of lush green valleys, rolling farmland, rivers and gorges with bridges and viaducts too. 

We stop off in Ashhurst and then drive past one of the largest wind farms in the country which can be seen stretching across 11.5kms of hillside and creates enough electricity to power 30,000 homes.  

We then continue our journey on in to Martinborough, a quaint little town with over twenty vineyards surrounding its cute village square. Along with some of the world’s finest olive groves (with many local oils winning international awards), much of New Zealand’s best Pinot Noir comes from the local vineyards. 

Tonight, we dine amongst the vines at one of the many wineries and enjoy a spot of wine tasting. That’s on us! 

Included B,D
Camping: Martinborough

Day 43 – Remaining in the Wairarapa, we drive along rugged coastline to the desolate and very remote Cape Palliser, the southernmost point of the North Island. Weaving between the dramatic jagged mountains on our left and the wild rolling seas to our right, the coastal route meanders through small townships to the 125-year-old clifftop lighthouse at the end of the road. The view at the top is stunning. 

We then travel back around Lake Wairarapa, through Featherstone and up over the Remutaka Ranges before descending into New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. We drop you off at a centrally located hotel/ hostel for your final night with ZigZag.

Included B
Hostel: Wellington

Day 44 – Check out of hostel by 10am. Depart tour.

Included No Meals

THE GREAT NORTHERN ROAD TRIP

44 days, 43 nights
NZD

$8,987

NOW

$8,088.30

Auckland to Wellington (4056km)
10 travellers
Sep 23rd – Nov 5th
44 days, 43 nights
Book Now
*The price above is shown in New Zealand Dollar (NZD). The Tour will be charged as a flat rate + any credit card or bank transfer fees. Specials are only valid for 2024 tours. To convert the above price to your local currency, click here!

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