The Top of the North

This 18 day trip starts in the fascinating geothermal area of Rotorua and travels up through the stunning Coromandel Peninsula and around the winterless North. Experience beautiful beaches, mighty forests and picturesque islands as you immerse yourself in the history, culture and nature of the best of New Zealand’s North.

At a glance
Rotorua to Auckland (1662km)
10 travellers
May 4th  – May 21st
18 days, 17 nights
The highlights
  • Rotorua
  • Hobbiton
  • Mount Maunganui
  • The Coromandel
  • Cathedral Cove
  • Mangawhai Heads
  • The Bay of Islands
  • Waitangi Treaty House and Grounds
  • Kerikeri Stone Store and Kemp House
  • Northland & Cape Reinga (Northernmost point)
  • Matauri Bay
  • Kawau Island

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

what's included?

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


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


Breakfasts x 17
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)


All road tolls

Activities & Attractions included
  • Maori cultural dinner and show *depending on your arrival time
  • 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

Historic Stone House, Keri Keri

what's Not included?
Visas/Passport costs
Airport transfers
Additional Activities
Alternative Accommodation
Drinks not specified
Meals not specified
Phone & Internet
Basic Itinerary
  • Departing Rotorua
  • 1Rotorua
  • 2Mt Maunganui
  • 3Mt Maunganui
  • 4Hahei
  • 5Hahei
  • 6Coromandel Town
  • 7Coromandel Town
  • 8Mangawhai
  • 9Mangawhai
  • 10Russell
  • 11Russell
  • 12Russell
  • 13Russell
  • 14Matauri Bay
  • 15Matauri Bay
  • 16Kauri Coast
  • 17Sandspit
  • Drop off in Auckland
      Route Map:
      DETAILED Itinerary

      Click the + to expand

      Day 1 - 4That Steamy, Smelly Bit With Hobbits - Whakatane to Hahei 

      Day 1 – You begin your journey with ZigZag in Rotorua with us today and have the option to join our Mitai Maori Village experience and feast (from 5pm). A great start to your adventure and a chance to meet the rest of your group and immerse yourself straight into the culture.

      Included D
      Camping: Rotorua

      Day 2 – 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 3 – 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 4 – We start today by driving to the little inland 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.

      We then drive further north 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 now find ourselves in The Coromandel, a popular holiday region renowned for its 400kms of pristine white sandy beaches and relaxed vibes. 
      Included B,D
      Camping: Hahei

      Day 5 - 10 Those Beachy Bits Either Side Of Auckland - Hahei to Russell 

      Day 5 – 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 6 – 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 7 –  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 8 – ‘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 9 – 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 10 – 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 11 - 15That Northern Bit With The Islands - Russell to Matauri Bay 

      Day 11 – 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 12 – Free Day.

      Included B
      Camping: Russell 

      Day 13 – Free Day.

      Included B,D
      Camping: Russell

      Day 14 –  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 15 – 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 16 - 18 That Bit With The Big Trees At The End - Matauri Bay to Auckland

      Day 16 – 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 17 – 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 18 – 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 Top of the North

      18 days, 17 nights




      Rotorua to Auckland (1662km)
      10 travellers
      May 4th  – May 21st
      18 days, 17 nights
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      *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.  To convert the above price to your local currency, click here!

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