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8 Day Bay of Plenty/Rotorua

Bay of Plenty - Self Drive

Travel from the bustling metropolis of Auckland to the golden sands of the Bay of Plenty. Feel like you are in another world when you step foot on New Zealand’s only active marine volcano. Experience Maori culture at its finest, and see geothermal wonders, ancient glowworm caves and the rolling hills and pastures of the Waikato region.

Day 1

Arrive into Auckland and enjoy a leisurely day exploring the CBD or head out on the water and explore one of the islands on the Waitemata Harbour.

Recommended activities:

  • Enjoy a meal at the trendy Britomart Precinct or Wynyard Quarter

  • Hit the shops in the CBD to find quality local goods as well the best international brands

  • Visit the Sky Tower for stunning views.  For an adrenalin rush book a Skyjump or Skywalk

  • Head out on the sparkling waters of the Waitemata Harbour from the Viaduct area in the heart of downtown Auckland.  Take a cruise to see whales and dolphins, go sailing or zip around by jet boat

  • Take a short ferry ride across the harbour to the charming seaside village of Devonport.  Browse the specialty shops and cafes or walk up Mt Victoria for great harbour views

  • Head further afield with a half day boat trip to fascinating volcanic Rangitoto Island or have a full day trip to the laid back vineyards and beaches of Waiheke Island or West Auckland

  • Take a guided tour of Auckland and surrounds to explore unspoilt rainforest, rugged surf beaches, unique birdlife and beautiful waterfalls

Day 2

After a leisurely morning in Auckland, pick up a rental car and drive 3-3.5 hours through to the beautiful Bay of Plenty. Tauranga sprawls along the edge of an attractive harbour and is easily explored on foot. There’s a well-developed café culture, lots of gift galleries and designer stores. As dusk falls, experience the nightlife on the ‘The Strand’ in Tauranga with live music and fantastic restaurants.

Recommended activities:

  • Experience an evening kayak trip to see spectacular glowworms. The tour includes refreshments at sunset and transfers to/from Tauranga accommodation can be arranged

  • Enjoy a guided scenic walk on Mauao Mount Maunganui. Choose the summit track or for a more leisurely option, walk around the base of the mountain

  • Enjoy a unique kiwifruit tour at Kiwi360

  • Learn about the health benefits of Manuka honey at Experience Comvita. Have a delicious snack or lunch at Café Restore

Day 3

Today will be at your leisure in the sunny city of Tauranga, which will tempt you with marine adventures. Go sailing, fishing or dolphin watching and soak up the stunning coastal environment.


Tauranga is the largest city in the Bay of Plenty and one of the fastest growing population centres in the country. It is also just a 15 minute drive from one of New Zealand's most popular beach towns, Mount Maunganui.

Downtown Tauranga has several historically significant areas to view during a scenic walk around the area. The Strand waterfront area is modern and always buzzing, and is home to a number of cafés, restaurants, pubs and nightclubs, as well as a range of accommodation options. Across the road on the water’s edge, children are easily entertained at the local playground. Imaginations run wild as they clamber over the Hairy Maclary bronze sculptures – a story-book scene featuring the beloved characters from Tauranga author Dame Lynley Dodd’s famous children’s books.

Day 4

Today drive along the coast to Whakatane. This drive will take approximately 1.5 hours.  Whakatane is one of the sunniest towns in New Zealand and is the main base for trips out to White Island, New Zealand’s only active marine volcano.

Recommended activities:

  • Take an incredible tour to White Island, an active volcano off the coast of Whakatane. Boat tours take approximately 6 hours

  • Experience a helicopter ride to White Island

  • Visit Moutohora Island Sanctuary (Whale Island) – a dormant volcano and wildlife sanctuary five nautical miles off Whakatane, allow approximately 3 hours 30 minutes

  • Enjoy a unique and enchanting cultural experience with Mataatua

Day 5 & 6

Today drive just an hour through to Rotorua where you'll want to take a couple of days to experience Rotorua’s geothermal wonders as well as its sparkling lakes and lush native forests. It’s also the ideal place to discover the rich and fascinating culture of local Maori, New Zealand's indigenous people.  

Recommended activities:

  • Experience one of the unique geothermal parks in the region

  • Enjoy a unique introduction to Maori culture with an evening of weaponry and combat displays, poi dances, the haka and a hangi meal (a traditional method of cooking food by cooking over hot stones in the ground)

  • Challenge yourself by white water rafting or jetsprinting or Shweebing at Agroventures Adventure Park.

  • Families can enjoy one of many wildlife experiences on offer in Rotorua, including getting up close to farm animals, watching a sheep being shorn and seeing Kiwi up close

  • Get a fantastic introduction to the region by visiting Rotorua Museum 

  • Take a guided tour through native forest on a zipline canopy tour

  • Visit the popular dining precinct of Eat Street and enjoy quality restaurants, bars and an ice cream parlour

Day 7

Today you will drive from Rotorua to Hamilton. This drive will take approximately 2 hours. Well-known for its underground wonders, black sand surf beaches and rolling green hills, the Hamilton - Waikato region of New Zealand offers a wealth of nature-based activities and attractions surrounding a vibrant city hub.

Recommended activities:

  • See the spectacular cave formations and glow worms at Waitomo Glow-worm Caves

  • Check out other cave experiences in the area including Ruakuri and Aranui Caves

  • Take a guided tour through Hobbiton Movie Set and have a drink at The Green Dragon Inn

  • Visit Hamilton Gardens with its unique New Zealand traditional Maori vegetable garden as well as other international themed gardens

  • Get a taste of the organic Zealong oolong tea plantation near Hamilton

  • Enjoy a meal at Good George in Hamilton, a restaurant and official brewer for beverages served at Hobbiton Movie SetTM

Day 8

Today drive one hour back to Auckland, where you will drop their rental car off and stay overnight in Auckland where you can revisit some activities that you might have missed on your first day in Auckland or head to the airport for your flight home.

Please note - these are sample itineraries - they are subject to change/availability

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