THE GREAT NORTHERN
ROAD TRIP

Get yourself well and truly ‘kiwified’ on this six-week odyssey that zigzags coast to coast, from West to East and South to North - 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
Wellington to Auckland (4056km)
10 travellers
Apr 8th  – May 21st
44 days, 43 nights
The highlights
  • Wellington
  • New Plymouth & Mt Taranaki
  • Hamilton Gardens
  • Raglan
  • Waitomo
  • Bridal Veil & Marakopa Falls
  • The Central Plateau (the Tongariro Crossing)
  • The Forgotten World Highway & Rail Cart Adventure
  • Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • Hawkes Bay
  • The East Cape (Easternmost point)
  • Taupo
  • Rotorua
  • Hobbiton
  • The Coromandel
  • Mount Maunganui
  • Cathedral Cove
  • The Bay of Islands
  • Kerikeri Stone Store and Kemp House
  • Waitangi Treaty House and Grounds
  • Northland & Cape Reinga (Northernmost point)
  • Matauri Bay
  • Mangawhai Heads
  • Kawau Island

Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Rotorua

what's included?
WELCOME

We'll kick-start the tour with a warm welcome– 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: Camping, shared dorm, lodge, cabins

Meals

Breakfasts x 42
Lunches x 2
Dinners x 15 (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
  • Cape Palliser
  • Martinborough vineyard dinner with wine tasting
  • Wellington
  • Te Mata Peak
  • Manawatu Scenic Route
  • Central Plateau
  • Whakapapa Village
  • Whangamomona Republic
  • Forgotten World Highway
  • Forgotten World Adventures - rail and boat
  • Mangapohue Natural Bridge
  • Marakopa Falls
  • Bridal Veil Falls
  • Hamilton Gardens
  • Huka Falls
  • Orakei Korako Geothermal Park
  • Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • Tolaga Bay
  • East Cape - easternmost point
  • Maori cultural dinner and show
  • Hāngī dinner
  • Kerosene Creek
  • Wai O Tapu Geothermal Wonderland / Waimangu Volcanic Valley *depending on operating days
  • Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
  • Whangerei Falls
  • Bay of Islands
  • Kerikeri Stone Store and Kemp House
  • Cape Reinga – northernmost point
  • Waipoua Kauri Forest - Tane Mahuta
  • Night Kiwi hunt in Trounsen Forest
  • Kai Iwi Lakes
  • Kauri Museum guided tour
  • Kawau Island boat trip – BBQ farewell lunch included

Cape Reinga Lighthouse, Northland

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 Wellington
  • 01Wellington
  • 02Martinborough
  • 03Whakapapa
  • 04Whakapapa
  • 05Whakapapa
  • 06Taumarunui
  • 07New Plymouth
  • 08New Plymouth
  • 09New Plymouth
  • 10Waitomo
  • 11Waitomo
  • 12Raglan
  • 13Raglan
  • 14Taupo
  • 15Taupo
  • 16Napier
  • 17Napier
  • 18Napier
  • 19Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • 20Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • 21East Cape
  • 22Whakatane
  • 23Whakatane
  • 24Rotorua
  • 25 Rotorua
  • 26Rotorua
  • 27Rotorua
  • 28Mt Maunganui
  • 29Mt Maunganui
  • 30Hahei
  • 31Hahei
  • 32Coromandel Town
  • 33Coromandel Town
  • 34Mangawhai
  • 35Mangawhai
  • 36Russell
  • 37Russell
  • 38Russell
  • 39Russell
  • 40Matauri Bay
  • 41Matauri Bay
  • 42Kauri Coast
  • 43Sandspit
  • Drop off in Auckland
    Route Map:
    DETAILED Itinerary

    Click the + to expand

    Day 1 - 6That Bit With The Vines & The Volcanoes - Wellington to Taumarunui  

    Day 1 –  Meet in Wellington and have the first night at the hostel included before our Northern journey

    Included No meals
    Hostel: Wellington

    Day 2 – We depart our capital and head north over the dramatic Remutaka Ranges, before veering off the main road at Featherstone and making our way around Lake Wairarapa and through lush green farmland to the sea. We then travel east along the rugged coastline to the desolate and very remote Cape Palliser, the southernmost point of the North Island. Weaving between steep jagged mountains on our left and the wild rolling seas to our right, the coastal route meanders through a number of small fishing settlements before arriving at the 125-year-old clifftop lighthouse at the end of the road. The view at the top is stunning. 

    We then backtrack along the coast before driving north 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 D
    Camping: Martinborough

    Day 3 – We head north today, passing through small rural towns nestled amongst the verdant landscape of the Wairarapa, before turning west and heading over the Ruahine Ranges, home to one of the largest wind farms in the country. The Te Apiti wind farm can be seen stretching across 11.5kms of the surrounding hills and creates enough electricity to power 30,000 homes. 

    We then make a short stop in Ashhurst, before venturing along the little-known ‘Manawatu Scenic Route’, which guides us up toward the centre of the North Island. This is a beautiful, remote area comprising of lush green valleys, rolling farmland, crystal clear rivers and steep-sided gorges that are criss-crossed with old bridges and viaducts. 

    We then continue up and on to the Central Plateau, where we finally reach Whakapapa Village, our final destination for this afternoon. Whakapapa Village is located on the lower western slopes of Mt Ruapehu, the North Island’s highest peak. 

    Included B,D
    Lodge: Whakakpapa

    Day 4 – 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.

    The Chateau Tongariro, situated at Whakapapa Village, 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 that is popular with cyclists and day-walkers. 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 number of 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 5 – 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 6 – Adventure Day. Forgotten World Adventures - Rail and River Run (included activity)

    From Whakapapa, we drive to Taumarunui. Here you have an exciting adventure ahead. A full day experience will have you ‘rattling’ along through 40kms 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!

    Included B,L,D
    Cabins: Taumarunui

    Day 7 - 10 That Beautiful Western Bit No One Goes To - Taumarunui to Waitomo

    Day 7 – Today, we drive through the 148km long ‘Forgotten World Highway’, a rugged, picturesque maze of steep hills, native bush, farmland, historic buildings, and winding streams that are a truly ‘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, 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 Taranaki countryside before emerging from the hills at Stratford. Here, we circle around Egmont National Park and Mount Taranaki before arriving in to New Plymouth and straddling Surf Highway 45. 

    Included B,D
    Camping: New Plymouth

    Day 8 – 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 

    Included B
    Camping: New Plymouth

    Day 9 –  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 10 – With Mount Taranaki in our rear-view mirror, we set off north today along one of the fastest eroding coastlines in the world. The relentless Tasman Sea continually sculpts and shapes the cliffs of the seafront here, creating numerous caves, tunnels and archways. Along the way we make stops by the translucent waters of the Tongapōrutu River and Mokau, a coastal village on the mouth of the Mokau River.

    We continue through the steep-sided Awakino and Mangaotaki River gorges, memorable for their impressive limestone formations and thick native bush. 

    We end in Waitomo tonight, famous for its extensive underground cave systems and its glow-worms. 

    Included B,D
    Camping: Waitomo

    Day 11 - 16 That Bit With The Lake & Those Caves - Waitomo to Napier

    Day 11 – Free Day. The caves, glow-worms, black water rafting, abseiling, caving, zip lining, bushwalking and the Discovery Centre & Museum – Waitomo offers so many experiences.

    Included B
    Camping: Waitomo

    Day 12 - A day of waterfalls and natural wonders. Today we visit two of the most scenic waterfalls in New Zealand. 

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

    Bridal Veil Falls is a tall plunge waterfall that is 55m high. It is set in a beautiful bush clad bowl and can be viewed from three tiered viewing platforms. 

    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 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 13 – 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 board riders 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 14 –  Today we head to Hamilton Gardens, a 54-hectare public garden situated on the banks of the mighty 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 spend some time this afternoon 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 on this, the ultimate thrill ride. 

    We then continue on to the town of Taupo, which 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 1800 years 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 15 – 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 16 – This morning, we stop for a visit at Orakei Korako (included), the largest silica terraces in New Zealand. Hot springs and bubbling mud pools make this an incredible experience as you wander around the hidden valleys and caves of this natural geothermal park. Orakei Korako boasts the most active geysers of any geothermal park in New Zealand. 

    We then head southeast through thick pine forests and over high mountains to the city of Napier, capital of Hawkes Bay.   

    Included B,D
    Camping: Napier

    Day 17 - 22That Beautiful Eastern Bit No One Goes To - Napier to Whakatane

    Day 17 – 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 18 – Free Day. Optional scenic drive today with ZigZag. Come and enjoy the dramatic scenery around the Tuku Tuku Road loop, up to Te Mata Peak and past the Mission Estate (the oldest winery in New Zealand which dates back to 1851). 

    Included B,D
    Camping: Napier

    Day 19 – Today we travel north to the coastal town of Wairoa, before heading inland through stunning gorges along the Tiniroto Road to our very special destination for two nights, deep in the hill country of Ngatapa.

    Included B,D
    Lodge: Gisborne

    Day 20 – 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 B,D
    Lodge: Gisborne

    Day 21 & 22– 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 visit 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. 

    We’ll also pass through Te Araroa where you can find New Zealand’s oldest and largest Pohutukawa tree, the iconic and picturesque Anglican Raukokore Church and the tiny hamlet of Omaio, whose name literally means ‘peace, quiet & tranquillity’ in Māori.

    We complete our East Cape experience in Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty.

    Included B,D
    Day 21 - Camping: East Cape

    Included B,L,D
    Day 22 - Camping: Whakatane

    Day 23 - 30That Steamy, Smelly Bit With Hobbits - Whakatane to Hahei 

    Day 23 –  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 24 – Today we head to Rotorua. As we near the city, we pay a visit to Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland, named as "One of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World" (included). This is New Zealand's most colourful geothermal attraction consisting 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. 

    We then spend four nights in the fascinating city of Rotorua.

    Included B,D
    Camping:  Rotorua 

    Day 25 – 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,D
    Camping: Rotorua

    Day 26 - 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 27 – 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 28 – 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 29 – 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. 

    After our adventure here, we head to 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 30 – 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 31 - 36 Those Beachy Bits Either Side Of Auckland - Hahei to Russell 

    Day 31 – 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 32 – Today, we zigzag across and around the Coromandel Peninsula to Coromandel Town, visiting some truly beautiful beaches and harbour towns along the way

    Included B,D
    Camping: Coromandel Town

    Day 33 –  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 34 – ‘Relocating’ from the Coromandel to the Northland region, we head down the Thames Coastal Road, which offers more magnificent views along the coastline here. 

    We then take the scenic route north via 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 marshes, wetlands, tidal flats and mangroves that are home to over sixty different avian species and in excess of 40,000 individual birds.

    We then navigate our way through Auckland, ‘the City of Sails’, with its impressive skyline and iconic Sky Tower looming in the distance, before heading toward the surf, sea, sand, and rugged coastal scenery of our first destination in Northland, beautiful Mangawhai Heads. 

    Included B,D
    Camping: Mangawhai Heads

    Day 35 – 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 36 – Today we travel north where we pass through stunning Langs Beach, a Northland gem, to Whangarei Falls. This 26m high waterfall on the Hatea River in the Whangarei Scenic Reserve makes for a pleasant lunch stop. 

    We then continue up through remote rural countryside to the charmingly historic town of Russell in the Bay of Islands.

    Included B,D
    Camping: Russell

    Day 37 - 41That Northern Bit With The Islands - Russell to Matauri Bay 

    Day 37 – 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 38 – Free Day.

    Included B
    Camping: Russell 

    Day 39 – Free Day.

    Included B,D
    Camping: Russell

    Day 40 –  Today we head north via Paihia 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. 

    This afternoon, we drive through the rolling hills of Northland to a picturesque beach settlement called Matauri Bay. Here you can 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.
    *at your own cost 

    Included B,D
    Camping: Matauri Bay

    Day 41 – 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 42 - 44 That Bit With The Big Trees At The End - Matauri Bay to Auckland

    Day 42 – Today we cross over to the west coast and around the Hokianga Harbour before visiting Opononi and Omapere, 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. 

    We then make a stop at Arai Te Uru on the southern head of the Hokianga Harbour. This headland offers spectacular views of the Tasman Sea and the giant sand dunes on the opposite side of the harbour entrance.

    After our stop here, we head south and meander our way through the Waipoua Kauri Forest, before making 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 spend the night in this densely forested area of Northland. 

    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 43 – We begin today with a visit 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.

    We then continue south through Dargaville and alongside the Wairoa River before stopping at 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. 

    After time in the museum we will head over to the Mahurangi Peninsula at the top of the Hauraki Gulf.

    Included B,D
    Camping: Sandspit

    Day 44 – Our final activity for your ZigZag itinerary. This morning we have a cruise on the Mail Boat to Kawau Island, the largest mail run by water in the Southern Hemisphere, complete with a farewell BBQ lunch (included). 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. 

    We will then drive back to Auckland city where we will say our goodbyes. We will drop you off at one of two locations – either in the central city or out at the airport.

    Included B,L

    THE GREAT NORTHERN ROAD TRIP

    44 days, 43 nights
    NZD

    $8,987

    NOW

    $8,088.30

    Wellington to Auckland (4056km)
    10 travellers
    Apr 8th  – May 21st
    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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