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Thrifty Tours

Volcanic Pathways

Begin the journey in Auckland, and take a tour through Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton on your way to Rotorua. Rotorua is a natural and cultural hotspot where you can indulge in natural hot springs and embrace Maori Culture with a traditional Hangi Dinner meal. Next stop is Taupo, a serene lakeside town with a boardwalk of restaurants. Consider getting out on the water and cruising to see the Maori Rock Carvings! The next morning sees you off to the capital city Wellington, including a chance to see the heart of Middle Earth at Weta Workshop and explore the wonders of Zealandia. Journey back through the centre aboard the Northern Explorer Train, first stop at Tongariro National Park. Tongariro is famous for its volcanic activity and prehistorical vistas. Slow down and unwind in Tongariro before boarding the train back to Auckland.

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**Please Note: Some elements of this tour may only run on certain days of the week. Speak to one of our travel specialists today to find a departure date that works for you.

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Quick Itinerary Details

New Zealand Independent Tour

This suggested tour costs from NZD$4,085 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Auckland

10 days/9 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 73 times in the last 7 days

This tour also includes
- Taupo Accommodation to Taupo Coach Depot - Private Transfer
- Private Transfer Auckland accommodation to Auckland Airport
- Private Transfer Auckland Train Station to Auckland accommodation
- Private transfer Wellington hotel to train station (IST)
- Private Taxi Transfer - Wellington Coach Depot or Railway Station to Accommodation
- Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland accommodation
- Taupo Coach Depot to Taupo Accommodation - Private Transfer
- Rotorua Accommodation to Rotorua Intercity Bus Stop with Ready2Roll
1 lunch, 1 dinner, 1 special dinner
Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary
Volcanic Pathways - Day 1
Welcome to Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand's self-proclaimed "City of Sails" is the country's largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests, and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or get out onto the water to experience the best views of the city.

Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland Accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland airport by the driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Harbour Sailing Dinner Cruise with Explore

This unique on-water sailing and 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: Sudima Auckland City

Conveniently located within easy walking distance of Auckland’s bustling shopping, arts, dining and entertainment precincts and opposite the New Zealand International Convention Centre.
Meals included: Dinner

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Volcanic Pathways - Day 2
Auckland to Rotorua with Hobbiton & Waitomo Glow Worms Tour with FlexiTours - Lunch Included

Travel from Auckland to Hobbiton and the Waitomo Caves on your way to Rotorua. Become immersed in The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit films when you visit the actual Hobbiton movie set. On this 2.5 hour tour you will be taken through Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn where you will enjoy a complimentary drink, The Mill and the Party Tree while your guide shares behind-the-scenes tales and fascinating insight into the making of the films.
At Waitomo, explore a 30 million year old cave network spread across three levels. You'll travel deep underground through the limestone caves viewing stalactites and stalagmites as well as hearing about the cave's historical and geological significance. You'll then hop into a boat and glide silently through the glow worm grotto - a galaxy of tiny living lights. Your included lunch is at 'The Homestead'.
From Waitomo, you'll head to Rotorua, your destination for the day.

Rotorua

Discover the geothermal, adventure, and cultural wonderland of Rotorua, a city perched atop one of the world's most active volcanoes. As you explore, you may see steam rising from cracks in the road, bubbling and hissing water in pools along the lake's edge, and, of course, the unmistakable smell of sulfur. Rotorua is rich in Māori culture and history, with many Māori inhabitants having recognised the great potential of the volcanic land. Your stay in Rotorua will be filled with activities. For an outdoor adventure, head to The Redwoods and experience the rainforest treetops from high up. If you’re lucky, you might spot some of New Zealand's native birds, such as the Piwakawaka (Fantail) and the Tui. Alternatively, enjoy the Lake Tikitapu Blue Lake Walk or explore Kuirau Park, where you'll find bubbling mud pools and steaming lakes. Don't miss the private thermal reserves such as Whakarewarewa and Wai-O-Tapu, where you can walk among bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers, and sulfur ponds. Just a few minutes from the town center, Mt. Ngongotaha, and the Skyline Gondola and Luge offer breathtaking views of the lake, while the Agrodome Center promises adventure and adrenaline. Here, you can ride the Zorb, speed up to 100kph on a jet boat, simulate skydiving, or take the plunge on a giant swing. Rotorua's rich Māori culture is a must-see. Take a magical tour around Te Puia, or stroll along the lake edge to reach one of the country's oldest Māori villages at Ohinemutu. When hunger strikes, visit Eat Street in Rotorua CBD, a vibrant street lined with delicious eateries and restaurants to satisfy any craving.  No visit to Rotorua would be complete without experiencing Rotorua's original tourist attraction - a relaxing spa treatment. Whether you are seeking adventure, culture, or relaxation, Rotorua offers an unforgettable experience.

Your accommodation: Sudima Lake Rotorua

Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua boasts a location that is second-to-none, right on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua. Adjacent to the world-famous Polynesian Spa complex and just a short stroll to all the attractions in Rotorua.
Meals included: Lunch

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Volcanic Pathways - Day 3
Mountain Jade - Highlights Tour

This 30 minute highlights tour is a rare opportunity to spend time with New Zealand Jade artists. New Zealand Jade known as Greenstone, but more commonly known in New Zealand as Pounamu has a rich history within Maori culture. The expert guide will show you the intricate process of Pounamu carving first hand in the Mountain Jade studio. The local artist will be there to personally demonstrate the carving process and share their stories and knowledge with you. To top off the tour, you will get to select your very own piece of Pounamu and learn to string it yourself so you can take it home.

Kerosene Creek - Natural Hot Spring - suggested activity

Located about 30 minutes out of Rotorua, Kerosene Creek is a hot spring from a small stream that flows downhill through natural bush. Set in the lush native bush, bathers have excavated small smooth rocks to form their own little hot pools so that you can sit next to the waterfall and enjoy the hot water cascading down. There is no charge but be courteous to other bathers and take anything you brought with you back out again. Enjoy soaking in the true hot pool experience. 

Polynesian Spa Adult Pavilion Pools & Priest Spa

Just for adults, this popular area offers seven hot mineral pools with views of Lake Rotorua. The pools are fed with hot mineral spring water from two different springs.
Three cascading, marble-lined pools (38˚C to 39˚C), feature alkaline water, renowned for its natural antiseptic action due to the high sodium silica content. The smooth terraced walls provide a popular resting spot for bathers!
The large deeper alkaline pool (38˚C) is an excellent place to stretch out for some light activity. Historically it was said that those who bathe in the Rachel Spring water will be blessed with ageless beauty!
The three Priest Spa pools (38˚C to 41˚C), offer special thermal bathing in acidic water from the Radium hot spring, long renowned for its therapeutic properties. The Priest Spa was named after a Catholic priest, who in the late 1800s gained great relief from arthritis when bathing in the hot spring waters.
Spacious changing rooms are provided and a choice of storage tubs and pay-lockers are available for your belongings and valuables.

Te Pō - Indigenous Evening Experience

Indulge in Te Puia's world-famous hāngī buffet dinner, served in the inviting atmosphere of Pātaka Kai Restaurant, Bar & Café. The menu, crafted with the freshest ingredients, offers a delightful array of traditional Māori cuisine, This banquet combines contemporary cuisine with a traditional hangi (earth-cooked oven meal). The evening's cultural performance will take place in an exquisitely carved meeting house, Te Aronui a Rua. Here, you'll experience a rich showcase of Māori traditions, beginning with a pōhiri (traditional welcome), followed by the melodious harmonies of waiata (song), the powerful rhythms of mōteatea (traditional chant), the graceful artistry of poi, and the intense energy of the haka. As the night draws to a close, savor hot chocolate heated in geothermal water and steamed pudding while basking in the enchanting ambiance of the geyser terrace. Bathed in colored light and surrounded by the mystical steam rising from the earth, this unforgettable evening at Te Puia is a feast for the senses and a celebration of Māori culture.

Your accommodation: Sudima Lake Rotorua

Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua boasts a location that is second-to-none, right on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua. Adjacent to the world-famous Polynesian Spa complex and just a short stroll to all the attractions in Rotorua.
Meals included: Speciality Dinner

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Volcanic Pathways - Day 4
Private Transfer - Rotorua Accommodation to Rotorua Intercity Bus Stop with Ready2Roll

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Rotorua Intercity Bus Stop.

Rotorua to Taupō by InterCity Coach

Today you will travel along the geothermal highway between Rotorua and Taupō. The town of Taupō sits on New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupō. Just north of the town are the Huka Falls, the Huka Jet can get you much closer to the falls with a thrilling jet boat ride. Craters of the Moon is a nearby geothermal reserve with well formed walking tracks around its many boiling pools and steaming vents.

Taupo

The town of Taupo sits on New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo and this beautiful and serene body of water is reason enough to visit. The lake is actually a volcanic caldera formed following a massive eruption in the year 186 and is considered to be one of the most massive and violent eruptions known. Overlooking the lake are the cones of long extinct volcanoes, further evidence of the regions fiery past. To the south-west Mt. Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park can be seen. The town itself is a lively place with many shops, bars and cafes all catering for the traveller and visitor.
A whole host of activities can be undertaken here such as bungy jumping, sky diving, fishing for trout in the lake and rivers, kayaking, sailing, horse riding and walking and hiking to name but a few.
Stop in at the quirky L'Arte Cafe and Gallery, home to the famous mosaic outdoor living room and the well-recognised ‘Alice’s Chair’ sculpture.
Just to the north of the town centre is the Wairakei geothermal power station and a little further north is Craters of the Moon, a geothermal wonderland where you can explore colourful sulphurous lakes, bubbling mud pools and hot water geysers from the safety of boardwalks. The nearby Huka Falls are a spectacular sight and a jet boat ride will give you a very exciting ride to view the thundering water from below.

Taupo Coach Depot to Taupo Accommodation with Taupo Private Transfers

You will be collected from Taupo coach depot and transferred to your accommodation.

Maori Rock Carving Cruise

Sit back and relax in luxury bean bags on board the yacht Barbary as you enjoy a scenic sail across Lake Taupo to the 10-metre high Maori rock art, only accessible by boat. You're guaranteed amazing photo opportunities as you experience one of life's postcard moments on this Maori tour. Glide across a smooth lake as you soak up the warming sun or go for a swim before you enjoy free light refreshments at the rock carvings. If you're looking for a little more activity you can help hoist the sails or take a turn at the wheel. Taupo's Maori rock carvings may look like the remains of a 1,000-year-old Maori village, but these rock carvings were created in the late 70s by local artists lead by John Randall. Duration of cruise is 2 to 2.5 hours.

Your accommodation: Anchorage Resort

Anchorage Resort boasts stunning views of Lake Taupo and has a wide range of facilities including a heated swimming pool, hot tub, outdoor barbeque area and trampoline for the kids! The resort is just a 5-minute drive to central Taupo with a range of restaurants, cafés, shops and access to all the region has to offer.

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Volcanic Pathways - Day 5
Taupo Accommodation to Taupo Coach Depot with Taupo Private Transfers

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Taupo Intercity coach stop.

Taupō to Wellington by Intercity Coach

Your coach journey will skirt around the edge of New Zealand largest lake and lead you to Turangi, the self proclaimed Trout Fishing Capital. You then travel up onto the central plateau and the high country Rangipo Desert. Nearby is Tongariro National Park, one of New Zealand's three world heritage sites and if the weathers clear you can see the 2,500 metre peak of the still volcanically active Mouny Ruapehu. You might recognise the symmetrical shape of Mount Ngauruhoe as this was used as the scenery of Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Heading south you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the Kāpiti Coast which is the outer limits of greater Wellington. Wellington City is New Zealand's capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre) and so exploring on foot is relatively easy.

Taxi Transfer to your accommodation
Wellington City

Wellington home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini Melbourne', this (self-described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food, and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner-city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.
Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay - the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique, fashion wander through Cuba St to sample some of the city's best vintage stores. Break for coffee at a hipster cafe and be sure to snap a pic outside the ‘Beehive,’ New Zealand’s parliamentary debate chamber.
Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop Experience, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. If you're a foodie at heart, a two-hour round trip to Martinborough is a must-do. Take your time as you wind through spectacular wine country, and be sure to stop in at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough. For an educational day out, learn about New Zealand's native species at Zealandia, the world's first fully-fenced eco-sanctuary and home to over 40 types of endangered and native birds.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Zealandia By Day Wildlife Sanctuary Tour

Taking a day tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.
Walk through the gates of the Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kaka, Kakariki, Takahe, Tuatara, Saddleback, Whitehead, Weta, Kereru, Hihi and the Bellbird. New Zealand has some of the most unique biodiversity and advanced conservation techniques in the world. Soak up the beautiful scenery while learning more about our unique ecological history.

Your accommodation: Naumi Hotel Wellington

Naumi Studio Wellington, an iconic heritage landmark in the heart of the Cuba Street precinct. After an extensive renovation, this 116-room property has transformed into visual feast for the senses, enthralling guests with eclectic spaces inspired from seafaring, the library world and enduring love.

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Volcanic Pathways - Day 6
Wētā Workshop Experience + Guided Transfers

Get the full experience to Wētā Workshop and back with a guided transfer. Also, bag some other cool perks that will make your experience extra special. Learn about the real props, costumes and creatures created for your favourite films. Interact with cool stuff from the Weta workshop creative departments and catch an artist at work on the tour stage. Discover the filmmaking technique of miniature effects and learn how they are built for hit TV and film productions. Get up close to the props, weapons and costumes created for The Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, The Great Wall, Avatar, District 9, and more.

Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand

New Zealand’s national museum tells the great stories of New Zealand’s past, present and future. Over 20 galleries house imaginative exhibitions and interactive experiences that explore New Zealand’s unique natural environment, the triumphs and tragedies of colonial history, and the warmth and vitality of the Maori people.

Your accommodation: Naumi Hotel Wellington

Naumi Studio Wellington, an iconic heritage landmark in the heart of the Cuba Street precinct. After an extensive renovation, this 116-room property has transformed into visual feast for the senses, enthralling guests with eclectic spaces inspired from seafaring, the library world and enduring love.

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Volcanic Pathways - Day 7
Private transfer to Wellington train station

You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to Wellington train station to meet your train.

The Northern Explorer Scenic Train: Wellington to National Park

The Northern Explorer is a journey through the heart of the North Island, travelling between Wellington, New Zealand's capital city, to Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. Your journey today from Wellington travels along the spectacular Kapiti Coast, past the rolling countryside of the Manawatu region to the mountainous Tongariro National Park. Enjoy fantastic views from the panoramic windows in your carriage or the open-air viewing deck at the rear of the train.

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park, New Zealand's oldest national park, is also the fourth place on earth to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park features three prominent volcanoes: Mount Tongariro, Mount Ruapehu, and Mount Ngauruhoe. Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu are two of the world's most active composite volcanoes, with notable eruptions from Ruapehu in 1995 and 1996, and Tongariro in 2012. Despite this activity, the volcanoes are closely monitored to ensure visitor safety. When visiting Tongariro National Park, take advantage of the incredible outdoor activities available. In the winter, you can ski or enjoy snow play on Mt Ruapehu Ski Field. In the summer, the world-famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a must-do. This one-day hike, taking 6 to 8 hours, is one of New Zealand's Great Walks and will lead you past the stunning Emerald and Blue Lakes and unique volcanic landscapes. For those looking for other hiking options, the park offers a variety of tracks and trails suitable for all abilities, including shorter walks and a guided 3.5-day Tongariro Northern Circuit. You can also experience true isolation by exploring deep canyons and ancient forests along the Whanganui River or walking along ancient lava flows and glacier streams to the Taranaki Falls. After a day of exploring, stop by Pataka Café at Whakapapa to enjoy a meal with an incredible mountain view.

Your accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge

Tongariro Crossing Lodge is a small boutique, colonial-inspired accommodation whose buildings date back to the early 1900s. The lodge is made up of just six well appointed, large, warm rooms with their own bathrooms.

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Volcanic Pathways - Day 8
Half Day Volcanic Explorer Guided walk with Adrift

If for whatever reason you are unable to spend the day walking the Tongariro Crossing but want to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Tongariro National Park then the 4 hour half day Tongariro Volcanic tour is an ideal option. Your morning will start by making your way to Adrift Tongariro's base in National Park Village, the tour will consist of a series of small walks depending on the groups desires and ability. Your guide will ensure you get to see and enjoy all you can in the 4 hours. Learn from your guide all things relevant to Tongariro and New Zealand including recent and past eruptions geology flora and fauna discovery and settlement of NZ myths and legends. Last but not least, your guide will show you Lord of the Rings filming sites included and not included in the trilogy.

It is important you read and understand the risks associated with this activity. For more information see here.

Walking tracks in and around Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park

There are a plethora of walks in and around Whakapapa Village and Tongariro National Park. From short 15 minute hikes to longer 5 hour treks, there is something for every level of fitness. All established tracks are maintained by the Department of Conservation and before heading out on a walk, it is best to check the track conditions and suitability at the local DOC information office in the centre of the village. Below are a selection of the best walks to do:

  1. Whakapapa Nature Walk,15 min loop track
  2. Mounds Walk, 20 min one way
  3. Tawhai Falls, 20 min one way
  4. Ridge Track, 40 min return
  5. Taranaki Falls, 2 hour return
  6. Whakapapanui Walk, 2 hour return
  7. Tupapakurua Falls Track, 5 hour return

Your accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge

Tongariro Crossing Lodge is a small boutique, colonial-inspired accommodation whose buildings date back to the early 1900s. The lodge is made up of just six well appointed, large, warm rooms with their own bathrooms.

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Volcanic Pathways - Day 9
The Northern Explorer Scenic Train: National Park to Auckland

The Northern Explorer is a journey through the heart of the North Island. Your journey today takes you through to the vibrant city of Auckland. Along the way you'll see fantastic views of New Zealand farmland, the volcanic plateau, Mount Ruapehu, the world famous Raurimu Spiral, and stunning river gorges - all from panoramic windows or open-air viewing decks. All carriages feature large panoramic windows giving sweeping views of the magnificent North Island.

Private Transfer Auckland Train Station to Auckland accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland Train Station and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Your accommodation: Sudima Auckland City

Conveniently located within easy walking distance of Auckland’s bustling shopping, arts, dining and entertainment precincts and opposite the New Zealand International Convention Centre.

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Volcanic Pathways - Day 10
Private Transfer Auckland accommodation to Auckland Airport with Tourcorp

You will be met at your Auckland accommodation by the driver and transferred to the airport.

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