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Thrifty Tours

9 day Upper North Island Adventure

This 9 day tour is great for people who wish to experience the upper North Island. Learn about New Zealand's history, cruise around the Bay of Islands then explore Auckland the city of sails. Next travel to Rotorua via Hobbiton Village and experience New Zealand's geothermal capital before returning to Auckland via the famous Waitomo glow worm caves.

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Tour summary and feature

New Zealand independent tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$2,972 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Auckland

9 days/8 nights

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 Viewed 45 times in the last 7 days

Tour at a glance
Brief itinerary - 9 day Upper North Island Adventure

Day 1: Arrive into Auckland today and transfer to your accommodation. Accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Day 2: Auckland to Paihia inc Waitangi and Russell. Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Day 3: Journey to the top of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. Accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Day 4: Return to Auckland. Accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Day 5: Explore Auckland, the City of Sails. Accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Day 6: Auckland to Rotorua including Hobbiton Village and this evening a Maori cultural dinner at Mitai. Accommodation: Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa

Day 7: This morning enjoy a tour of Rotorua, including Te Puia, Agrodome, Rainbow Springs and the skyline gondola for lunch. Accommodation: Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa

Day 8: Rotorua to Auckland via Waitomo Caves. Accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Day 9: Depart Auckland today - Transfer to the airport.

Detailed itinerary

Tour full itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive into Auckland today and transfer to your accommodation

Private transfer Auckland airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore

This unique on-water dining experience is not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Enjoy smooth sailing on the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this photogenic city come alive with twinkling lights. Enjoy your meal as you sail around the beautiful Auckland Harbour taking in the view as the sun slowly sets. You'll be treated to canapes and a drink as you set off towards Westhaven Marina. Choose between dining in the downstairs cabin or on deck to take in the iconic sights of the Auckland Harbour. To finish the evening off, savour your dessert course as you leisurely sail back to Auckland's vibrant Viaduct Harbour.

Your accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Admirably positioned in the hub of the city's business, retail and entertainment district, the City Life Hotel is perfect to explore Auckland. Their self-contained suites are equipped with everything you will need to enjoy your stay.

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Day 2 - Auckland to Paihia inc Waitangi and Russell

9 day Upper North Island Adventure - Day 2
Auckland to Paihia including Waitangi and Russell with GreatSights (Includes Lunch)

Starting in Auckland early, travel north to the Bay of Islands. After arriving in Paihia, visit neighbouring Waitangi for a guided tour of the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Explore the original Treaty House, one of New Zealand's oldest and most visited historic homes and the Te Whare Runanga, a fully carved Māori meeting house, which is representative of all iwi in New Zealand. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds offer a truly unique insight into New Zealand's early history.
After returning to Paihia, take a short ferry ride across the harbour to Russell. From here you will enjoy the Russell Mini Tour by coach. Learn about the features that make Russell so significant in New Zealand's history, and visits areas which cannot be easily covered on foot, like Flagstaff Hill (Te Maiki), which offers stunning 360-degree views of the whole Bay of Islands. After your tour ends you'll have time to wander the township before returning to Paihia. This tour includes a delicious picnic lunch pack.

Your accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Sea Spray Suites offers comfortable and relaxing accommodation close to Paihia’s best activities and attractions. Directly across the road is the beautiful Te Ti Beach, exploring Paihia’s beautiful waters and wildlife is only a short step away. If you are interested in experiencing New Zealand’s heritage, The Waitangi Treaty House is only 1km away.

Meals included: Lunch

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Day 3 - Journey to the top of New Zealand, Cape Reinga

9 day Upper North Island Adventure - Day 3
Cape Reinga - Scenic Coach Tour via Ninety Mile Beach with Fullers GreatSights

As you travel north, enjoy a taste of New Zealand's varying and beautiful landscape: the rolling hills of Northland's rural countryside, breath-taking coastal views and native forest. Drive along the shores of Ninety Mile Beach as the waves crash beside the custom-built coach. Feel the sand between your toes as you help your driver guide dig for shellfish (conditions permitting). Your off-road journey continues up Te Paki Stream, stopping at the massive sand dunes where you can experience the thrills and spills of sand surfing. Visit the Puketi Kauri Forest and get up close to ancient and majestic giant kauri trees and native bush. Stroll along an elevated walkway as these graceful giants surround you, and learn about conservation efforts to preserve the forest today. Visit Cape Reinga and hear the stories of this significant site where, according to Māori legend, spirits depart on their journey home to Hawaiki. Enjoy spectacular panoramic views, visit the iconic lighthouse, and see the point where the Tasman Sea and the mighty Pacific Ocean come crashing together. During your Cape Reinga tour, you'll also experience another Kiwi icon: a lunch of delicious fish and chips at the historic Wagener Museum at Houhora. Your journey home will be equally enjoyable as your tour guide's combination of local insight, extensive historical knowledge and a fantastic sense of humour create an unforgettable adventure.

Your accommodation: Sea Spray Suites

Sea Spray Suites offers comfortable and relaxing accommodation close to Paihia’s best activities and attractions. Directly across the road is the beautiful Te Ti Beach, exploring Paihia’s beautiful waters and wildlife is only a short step away. If you are interested in experiencing New Zealand’s heritage, The Waitangi Treaty House is only 1km away.

Meals included: Lunch

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Day 4 - Return to Auckland

9 day Upper North Island Adventure - Day 4
Dolphin Cruise to Hole in the Rock with Fullers GreatSights

Board your cruise and take in the stunning views as you glide out through the islands and along the Rakaumangamanga Peninsula to Cape Brett, where a historic lighthouse keeps watch over and Piercy Island/Motukōkako, or as it is popularly known the ‘Hole in the Rock’. According to Māori legend, local warriors used to paddle through the Hole in the Rock in their canoes before departing for battle. Drops of water from the cave roof above were a good omen. If conditions permit, your skipper will expertly guide the ship through the narrow space. Keep an eye out for common and bottlenose dolphins, whales and other marine life during your cruise, and have your camera ready as you get up close to the action. The purpose-built catamaran is licensed by DOC (the Department of Conservation) for dolphin viewing and the crew have years of experience locating dolphins in these waters. Dolphin Seeker has indoor and outdoor seating available, and the largest outdoor viewing decks in the Bay of Islands.

Paihia to Auckland with GreatSights

Enjoy a relaxing sightseeing tour from Paihia to Auckland. The afternoon departure time allows you to spend a full day in the beautiful Bay of Islands before returning to Auckland. Your local driver guide will point out scenic highlights as you travel through farmland and past native forests. At the end of your journey, enjoy the spectacular views from the Auckland Harbour Bridge as you arrive in Auckland's central city by night.

Your accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Admirably positioned in the hub of the city's business, retail and entertainment district, the City Life Hotel is perfect to explore Auckland. Their self-contained suites are equipped with everything you will need to enjoy your stay.

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Day 5 - Explore Auckland, the City of Sails

9 day Upper North Island Adventure - Day 5
Auckland Morning Highlights Tour Including Sky Tower with GreatSights

Experience the best of Auckland's city highlights with a half-day scenic tour, followed by a trip up the famous Auckland Sky Tower.
Travel around the city centre and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge with its stunning views of the harbour and city skyline. Visit the Viaduct Harbour and Auckland's famous Queen Street, and enjoy the lush grounds of the Auckland Domain, the city's oldest park. Pause for morning tea in charming Parnell Village, a historic suburb which has been transformed into a unique boutique shopping experience. The tour continues along the waterfront to the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park, named after a much-respected Prime Ministers of New Zealand. With panoramic views of the harbour and beautiful formal gardens, it's a great spot to take photos. After a scenic trip back along Tamaki Drive to the city, arrive at Auckland's Sky Tower, the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand at 328 metres high. Prepare yourself for breathtaking 360 degree views from the observation deck of this Auckland landmark. On a clear day you'll be able to gaze as far as 80 kilometres in all directions – it's the perfect way to get to know the city of Auckland and its surroundings.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Fullers Ferry Auckland to Rangitoto Island return trip

A short 25-minute cruise through the Waitemata Harbour to the Hauraki Gulf delivers you to Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto Island is the largest and youngest of the many volcanoes that make up the Auckland volcanic field. It erupted around 600 years ago, but is extinct now and safe to explore. During your cruise to and from the island enjoy fantastic views of Rangitoto Island and Auckland the 'City of Sails'. On reaching the island you can walk to the summit (1 hour direct) for great views of the Hauraki Gulf and over Waitemata Harbour looking back towards Auckland. There are a number of walking trails to explore this volcanic island, further information can be found at the Department of Conservation website.

Your accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Admirably positioned in the hub of the city's business, retail and entertainment district, the City Life Hotel is perfect to explore Auckland. Their self-contained suites are equipped with everything you will need to enjoy your stay.

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Day 6 - Auckland to Rotorua including Hobbiton Village and this evening a Maori cultural dinner at Mitai

9 day Upper North Island Adventure - Day 6
Auckland to Rotorua via Hobbiton Movie Set

Departing from Auckland city, this is a wonderful way to get to Rotorua and include a magical journey through Middle-earth to the Hobbiton Movie Set from "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" films. Travel south from Auckland over the Bombay Hills to the rich farmland of the Waikato region. Journey through the heritage town of Cambridge where tree-lined streets add to the English-style atmosphere. On arrival at Shire's Rest you embark on your Hobbiton movie set tour where you will see 44 hobbit holes, the Mill and double arch bridge, the party tree and visit the Green Dragon Inn (where a complimentary beer, cider or ginger ale is included). At this stunning location you can take a photo at the door of Bilbo's house, Bag End, looking out over the whole of Hobbiton to the hills in the distance. At the end of your Hobbiton movie set tour you will travel on to Rotorua.

Mitai Hula & Haka Cultural Experience

Enter the world of Mitai and learn about the history of this area which was once flourished in villages. See fierce warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-Whiro stream and the story of the migration of Tamatekapua of the Te Arawa canoe to Aotearoa and the Māori Pacifica connection told in dance form.

Your accommodation: Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa

Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa is located just minutes from Rotorua's city centre and close to popular thermal attractions, cafes, restaurants and golf courses. Suites have a private spa pool or double spa bath for you to unwind and relax.

Meals included: Speciality Dinner

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Day 7 - This morning enjoy a tour of Rotorua, including Te Puia, Agrodome, Rainbow Springs and the skyline gondola for lunch

9 day Upper North Island Adventure - Day 7
Explore Rotorua

Peppered with natural hot springs, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers, Rotorua sits within one of the worlds most active volcanic regions. Geothermal landmarks aside, this city of sulphur has a rich indigenous history. Home to several prominent Maori tribes, a visit to one of the Maori Villages should be high on your agenda, as should an excursion to the Polynesian Spa for an invigorating soak in its natural mineral hot springs.
Spike your adrenaline at Velocity Valley Adventure Park on stomach-dropping attractions such as static skydiving, or a giant swing reaching 130 km per hour. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, and ride the luge at night for an extra thrill.
Fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit should drive to nearby Matamata and experience the actual movie set ‘Hobbiton’. Make the most of your time in Rotorua with an excursion through the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, one of the area’s most colourful volcanic attractions.

Rotorua Sights and Skyline Gondola with GreatSights (Includes Lunch)

Enjoy a morning sightseeing tour of Rotorua. Visit Te Puia and get an insight into Maori culture and traditions. Take a tour of workshops where master weavers and carvers are passing on their skills, then enter Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, a highlight is the famous Pohutu Geyser which shoots jets of vapour up to 30 metres into the air. Then learn about rural life in New Zealand at the Agrodome, a working farm on the outskirts of the city. Learn all about our thriving agricultural industry with an entertaining show where you'll see sheep being shorn and sheep dogs showing off their amazing skills. Get close to a wide range of native and exotic wildlife at Rainbow Springs Nature Park, including New Zealand's famous flightless bird, the kiwi.
Finally, travel on the Skyline Gondola up the side of Mount Ngongotaha. Enjoy a tasty buffet lunch while you take in the stunning panoramic views from 487 metres above sea level. Following your gondola experience, a transfer shuttle will take you back to your hotel.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Polynesian Spa Deluxe Lake Spa

Rotorua's Polynesian Spa offers a unique thermal spa experience on the shore of Lake Rotorua. You'll enjoy tranquil bathing and lake views in four shallow alkaline rock pools, each with different temperatures (36˚C to 42˚C). Here you are surrounded by revitalising native New Zealand flora, natural rocks, the sound of two waterfalls and a grotto. The pools are filled with soothing alkaline mineral water leaving your skin soft and supple. Relax in the outdoor relaxation area overlooking the four hot mineral pools and Lake Rotorua, here you can further unwind on the five geothermally heated recliners set in the stunning backdrop of New Zealand's lush and natural greenery. A large indoor relaxation lounge also overlooks Lake Rotorua, whereas a Lake Spa guest, you are welcome to move from the pools to the lounge once dried off and return to bathe in the Lake Spa pools as you wish. The Lake Spa is a unique thermal pool environment, where the atmosphere changes from day to night, and from winter steam to summer sparkle.

Your accommodation: Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa

Silver Fern Accommodation & Spa is located just minutes from Rotorua's city centre and close to popular thermal attractions, cafes, restaurants and golf courses. Suites have a private spa pool or double spa bath for you to unwind and relax.

Meals included: Lunch

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Day 8 - Rotorua to Auckland via Waitomo Caves

9 day Upper North Island Adventure - Day 8
Rotorua to Auckland including Waitomo Caves with GreatSights (Includes Picnic Lunch)

Enjoy this tour from Rotorua to Auckland including a guided tour of the fascinating Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Leaving Rotorua in the morning you travel through lush farmland including the intriguing Fitzgerald Glade where the roadside trees arch overhead to form a tunnel of natural greenery. On arrival in the small town of Waitomo enjoy a guided tour through the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves with their amazing stalactites, stalagmites and other limestone formations. You finish the tour with a silent boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto - a subterranean cavern lit up by the lights of thousands of tiny glowworms. At the conclusion of the Glowworm Cave tour we take a break at the magnificent Waitomo Caves visitor complex and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch. You continue this afternoon by driving to Auckland, through the beautiful King Country and Waikato regions.

Your accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Admirably positioned in the hub of the city's business, retail and entertainment district, the City Life Hotel is perfect to explore Auckland. Their self-contained suites are equipped with everything you will need to enjoy your stay.

Meals included: Lunch

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Day 9 - Depart Auckland today - Transfer to the airport

9 day Upper North Island Adventure - Day 9
Private transfer accommodation to Auckland airport

You will be collected from your Auckland accommodation and transferred to the airport to meet your departing flight.

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