New Zealand’s reputation among eager travelers is about as sterling as reputations get. This customizable journey introduces you to the North Island’s wealth of wonders—scenic, culinary, and cultural. You’ll begin with a short flight to Great Barrier Island, population about 600. Peaceful, laid-back, and beautiful, you’ll wander with a native son visiting unpeopled beaches, hot springs, eccentric little museums, and stunning rock formations. After returning to Auckland, head north to the fetching Bay of Islands, one of the world’s premier deep-sea fishing centers. Here you’ll spend a day with Don and Marilyn Logan aboard their winsome yacht, weaving in and out of coves, visiting charming beaches, and enjoying an on-board lunch of freshly caught crayfish and scallops.
Next, venture to the central North Island’s thermal wonderland of Rotorua. You’ll do some serene day hiking with guide Charles Royal, a local chef who helps you gather the herbs he’ll use to add depth to your feast tonight. Moving on, explore Tongariro National Park, holder of dual World Heritage Site honors: for its spectacular volcanic scenery and for its cultural importance to the Maori people. After making the long but intensely rewarding Tongariro Alpine Crossing—rich in emerald lakes, live lava, and epic views—fly to Wellington and drive through the southern part of the island’s vineyards for a relaxed stay, including a classic winery tour topped off with a superb tasting lunch.
Note that this lovely trip combines beautifully with another neatly choreographed New Zealand excursion, our Mountains & Fiords of the South Island, just a mouse click away.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Day 1:
arrive Auckland, fly to Great Barrier Island
- Day 2:
Great Barrier Island exploration
- Day 3:
fly to Auckland and on to Bay of Islands
- Day 4:
sailing excursion at Bay of Islands
- Day 5:
fly to Rotorua’s Lake Tarawera
- Day 6:
hiking at Lake Tarawera and environs
- Day 7:
drive to Tongariro National Park World Heritage Site for scenic ambling
- Day 8:
Tongariro Alpine Crossing excursion
- Day 9:
drive through Wine Country to Martinborough
- Day 10:
Scenic wine tasting tour, lunch at vineyard cafe
- Day 11:
drive to Wellington for flight homeward.