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  • Best of North Island New Zealand Touring Holiday


    Best of the North Island Touring Holiday 

    12 Nights / 13 Days
    Auckland – Bay of Islands – Rotorua – Taupo – Napier and Hawke’s Bay – The Wairarapa – Wellington
     
    About this tour 
    The Best of the North Island Touring Holiday is the perfect holiday for those looking to discover this incredible, inspiring region of New Zealand. Perhaps you only have time for a shorter trip and don’t want to feel rushed on a full tour of the country, perhaps you have been to the South Island before but never really made it North, perhaps you want to comprehensively discover the North Island. No matter what your interest, this 12-night tour promises to show you some of New Zealand’s best scenery, wildlife and cultural hubs, and is perfect as a tour on its own, or when coupled with one of our other tours in Australasia. You will see Auckland and the Bay of Islands, Rotorua and Lake Taupo, Napier and Hawke’s Bay, and The Wairarapa and Wellington. 
    Highlights 
    This list includes optional activities possible in the featured locations of the tour, they will entail an additional cost on the base price of the itinerary.
    • Take in the panoramic views of the city and the Pacific Ocean from Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower
    • Explore the vineyards of Waiheke Island or some of the West Coast’s best beaches in Piha
    • Road trip north through the rugged and lush Pacific Coastline of the Northland  
    • Find paradise in the tropical beaches and crystal-clear water of the Bay of Islands
    • Come face to face with Maori culture and geothermal wonders in Rotorua
    • Trek through the pristine rainforest of Whirinaki
    • Hike on the iconic Tongariro Crossing or sail on Lake Taupo to find ancient Maori rock carvings
    • Meander through the vineyards, orchards and rolling green hills of Hawke’s Bay
    • Discover the striking art deco streets of charming Napier
    • Find classic rural New Zealand scenery in the green hills of The Wairarapa 
    • Sample the wines of Martinborough or visit the seal colonies of Cape Palliser
    • Acquaint yourself with New Zealand’s capital city Wellington
    • Learn more about this wonderful country at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa or meet the iconic Kiwi at Zealandia  
    Tour description
    Starting in the cosmopolitan and trendy city of Auckland, this tour will take you north through a rugged and lush pacific coastline into the paradise tropical beaches of the Bay of Islands. Next you will enter the volcanic plateau of Rotorua. Stop here for incredible geothermal displays, lush rainforest, and a taste of true Maori culture, before continuing onto Taupo where a majestic lake and the Tongariro National Park await. Having sailed or hiked through this unique region, continue East to find the rolling green hills, orchards, vineyards and sparkling coastline of Hawke’s Bay, and the art deco architecture of Napier. Finally, journey south to The Wairarapa in search of the fantastic vineyards of Martinborough, a spectacular coastline in Cape Palliser, and iconic pastoral New Zealand, before concluding your tour in the capital city Wellington. 
    Our range of accommodation includes everything from luxury boutique hotels, to remote wilderness eco-lodges. Hand-crafted experiences make your bespoke holiday to New Zealand even more special, and a seemingly infinite number of possibilities are available upon request. Please do not hesitate to get in touch and let us know how we can further personalise your once-in-a-lifetime tour through New Zealand. 
    Prices 
    From £3,900 per person in ‘value hotels’.
    From £6,400 per person in ‘luxury hotels’.
    Please see our hotel list for more information on what is included in these basic rates. 
    Dates 
    This holiday can be arranged throughout the year. Timings may vary depending on the month and day of the week. 
    What’s Included 
    • Return scheduled flights with British Airways, Qantas, Air New Zealand or Emirates from London to Auckland, returning from Wellington to London in economy class. 
    • Car hire where specified in our itinerary. 
    • Accommodation for a family of four sharing one or two rooms depending on the hotel. Please see our suggested list of hotels for details of base accommodation type. 
    • The meals included with your tour will vary by chosen accommodation. Please see our hotel suggestions for included board basis. 
    What’s not included 
    • Meals and drinks, except as specified in our hotel suggestions. 
    • Optional tours and activities within each location, except where explicitly specified as included in our itinerary, or by hotels in our hotel lists. 
    • Personal expenses. 
    • Insurance.
    • Visa and Passport. 
    You will need a full British passport with at least six months validity. To do not need a Visa for travel to New Zealand as a British Passport will allow the holder a six month stay upon arrival. More details are available from https://www.newzealand.com/uk/visas-and-immigration/

    Day One: Auckland
    Arrive in Auckland and settle into the time-zone, and your luxury accommodation. Soak up the sights and sounds of the iconic city of Auckland. For the best of the views, visit the 328-meter Sky Tower, or otherwise hike up Mount Eden, a volcanic peak that casts views over the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, and the iconic Eden Park – home of the All Blacks. For a different sense of perspective, you could choose to sail in the gloriously protected water of the bay on a real America’s Cup Yacht. With the wind ruffling your hair, and the skyline of Auckland as a backdrop, this is a fantastic way to introduce yourself with what a holiday in New Zealand is all about. 
    Day Two: Auckland
    Today could be spent living as a true New Zealander by journeying to one of the classic city escapes from Auckland. To the east lie the Hauraki Gulf Islands, and the largest, Waiheke Island, offers something for everyone, with both beautiful beaches, fashionable streets and some excellent vineyards. Take a stroll on one of island’s trails which take you from cliff top vistas into the cool and dense envelope of the native forest. To the west, volcanic beaches and great surfing await in Piha, a fantastic climax to an easy day’s road trip.
    Day Three: Northland and the Bay of Islands
    Picking up your 4x4 hire car, your first taste of rural New Zealand awaits. Today you drive north through the lush vegetation, spectacular coastline, orchards of citrus trees and roadside fruit stalls, bumpy volcanic peaks, and, of course, pastures of sheep. Arrive in the Bay of Islands to find your spectacular panoramic accommodation perfectly positioned to make the most of the evening sunshine. Spotting dolphins playing in the ocean below you whilst unwinding on your private deck or in a jacuzzi, sundowner in hand. 
    Day Four: Bay of Islands
    A stay in the Bay of Islands really is about exploring the idyllic coastline that surrounds you. Lush fern filled valleys turn to cliffs, bays, inlets and beaches, and into the crystal-clear waters of the Southern Pacific. Choose from a range of activities including sea kayaking, swimming with the resident dolphins, or sailing. Land lovers may choose to admire the vistas on horseback, or by hiking. Otherwise, simply get onto the beaches and soak up the Southern Hemisphere sunshine. 
    Day Five: Rotorua
    Driving to Kerikeri Airport in the Bay of Islands, you will drop your hire car and board your flight to Rotorua. This flight will take you deep into the volcanic heartland of the North Island, where geothermal wonders, bubbling hot pools, exploding geysers, and lush rainforest. Pick up your new hire car, and perhaps join an evening Maori cultural display in a local Maori village. Rotorua is often considered the heart of Maori culture in New Zealand, so there is no better place to learn of their historic traditions and watch fascinating song and dance before settling down to an authentic feast cooked beneath the ground on hot stones. 
    Day Six: Rotorua 
    Today would be best spent uncovering the geothermal wonders of the region. To do so, visit Te Puia – a 70-hectare park that contains the world famous Pohutu geyser, as well as mud pools, hot springs and silica formation. Indeed, here you will also find the Kiwi bird, and national schools of Maori wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving. The highlight of the experience is undoubtedly Pohutu geyser, an ancient geothermal feature, and the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. She erupts twice every hour and sometimes reaches heights of 30 metres. Next, travel to Whirinaki forest, where lush rainforest supports a great diversity of wildlife including many rare birds. A network of trails makes walking and mountain biking a joy amongst the awe-inspiring trees. 
    Day Seven: Taupo 
    A short and easy drive South will take you past yet more steaming geothermal sites before arriving at the pretty shores of the majestic Lake Taupo. Here, you could enjoy an afternoon sail to the ancient Maori rock carvings on a beautiful yacht and marvel at the scale of the mountain fringed Lake. For those feeling a bit more active, head out on the Tongariro Crossing in the Tongariro National Park. This volcanic hike casts incredible views over the Central North Island, and hikers can even scale ‘Mount Doom’ from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s a tough hike, but absolutely worth the views from the top. 
    Day Eight: Hawke’s Bay 
    Meander South East through the forested hills of Kaimanawa and Kaweka before reaching the art deco treasures of Napier and the fertile and sunny plains of Hawke’s Bay. This afternoon could be rightly spent exploring the architectural treasures of Napier, which was rebuilt in a striking art deco design following a catastrophic earthquake in the 1930s. Also of interest would be to pay visit to Napier’s aquarium and dolphin displays, or pop to the pretty village of Havelock North. 
    Day Nine: Hawke’s Bay 
    Having appreciated architecture and villages yesterday, turn your attention to the highlights of Hawke’s Bay today: its wine, food and landscape. The best way to do this would be through a self-tour of some of the wineries in the region, which could be done by car or by bicycle on one of three Hawke’s Bay Trails. Many of these wineries offer fantastic restaurants and al-fresco dining, or for an alternative stop for lunch at Sileni or Black Barn. In the afternoon, take a scenic drive along the Tukituki River. The rolling green hills will charm as they contrast romantically with sparkling blue of the Pacific Coastline. 
    Day Ten: The Wairarapa 
    Follow the wild and green line of the mountainous Ruahine and Tararua Forest parks, stopping in Greytown for a quick rest and a stroll around the stunning architecture, before arriving in Martinborough for lunchtime. Famous for its stunning pastoral scenery, and its rich pinot noir wines, take your time to drink in the best of the landscape before exploring the pleasant town centre. Many of the best vineyards of Wairarapa are walkable from Martinborough, and present a very pleasant way to while away a sunny afternoon. Alternatively, experience true Kiwi life by visiting one of the many working sheep farms in the area. 
    Day Eleven: The Wairarapa 
    Enjoy your final day in the New Zealand great outdoors by visiting one of the scenic excursions possible from Martinborough. To the South East lies the rugged Pacific coastline of Cape Palliser, famous for its seal colonies and stunning wilderness. Alternatively, join one of the sections of the exhilarating Rimutaka Cycle Trail, promising wonderful bike rides through a variety of landscapes including mountains, farmland, rugged coastline and the Orongorongo River. There is so much to pick and choose from, but the key idea today is to embrace the best of New Zealand’s landscapes.
    Day Twelve: Wellington 
    New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, is located on a picturesque harbour at the southern tip of the North Island. The city prides itself as a centre for culture and the arts and has a plethora of restaurants, cafes, nightlife and activities, as well as being home to the country’s parliament and national treasures. Enjoy a leisurely final day in New Zealand perhaps learning about this magical country at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Alternatively, head South West to the superb Zealandia, where you can come face to face with the elusive symbol of New Zealand – the Kiwi! 
    Day Thirteen: Return Home 
    With memories to last a lifetime, drop your hire car at Wellington Airport and catch your flight home.

    Best of North Island Touring Holiday

    Value Hotels
    Auckland
    Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

    Perched on the waterfront at Waitemata Harbour, and positioned near to the attractions of the new Wynyard Quarter, the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour is an affordable and chic 5-star hotel. We include room only for two sharing 1 x Superior Room. 
    Bay of Islands
    The Sanctuary at Bay of Islands

    ‘The Sanctuary’ is an apt name to describe this luxury hidden gem, which casts wonderful views over the native bushland, and onto the South Pacific and the islands that dot the coastline. We include Breakfast for two when sharing 1 x Sea and Bush View Suite. 
    Rotorua
    Black Swan Lake Side Boutique Hotel

    Set on one acre of grounds overlooking the magnificent Lake Rotorua, the elegant Black Swan boasts impressive facilities for just 9 rooms, with rose gardens, sweeping lawns, a swimming pool, sauna, secret grotto, sandy beach, and a private jetty. We include Breakfast for two when sharing 1 x Lake View Room. 
    Taupo 
    Hilton Lake Taupo
     
    Originally opened in 1889, the Hilton at Lake Taupo is an architectural icon in the Onekeke Valley and boasts stunning views across the Lake. Natural thermal water is pumped around the hotel and a warm and cosy feeling prevails. We include room only for two sharing a Junior Suite. 
    Hawke’s Bay 
    Mangapapa
     
    With a refined and sophisticated ambience, Mangapapa Hotel is comprised of traditional Kiwi architecture set amongst beautiful orchards and gardens in the heart of the Hawke’s Bay wine region. We include Breakfast for two when sharing 1 x Homestead Junior Suite. 
    The Wairarapa 
    Martinborough Hotel
     
    At the entrance of The Square in the wine region of Martinborough, this hotel has a heritage feel coupled with charming grounds and excellent culinary fare. We include room only for two sharing 1 x Superior Garden Suite.
    Wellington
    The Intercontinental Wellington

    This stylish and contemporary hotel is the only internationally recognised 5-star in the capital city, boasting a wonderful location, great facilities, and fantastic hospitality. We include room only for two when sharing 1 x Deluxe Room.
    Luxury Hotels
    Auckland
    Hilton Hotel Auckland
     
    With stunning views over Auckland, a true nautical ambience, and an inspiring setting 300 meters out to sea, the Hilton Hotel Auckland is the flagship of luxury in this iconic city. We include room only for two when sharing 1 x Deluxe Harbour View Room. 
    Bay of Islands
    Eagles Nest

    A stunning and romantic retreat for two, the First Light Temple at Eagles Nest is the utmost in luxury offerings in the Bay of Islands, casting incredible views over the coastline. We include Breakfast Provisions for two when sharing the First Light Temple. 
    Rotorua
    Solitaire Lodge

    With a premium waterfront location on Lake Tarawera, Solitaire Lodge offers unparalleled views of the water, and the natural bush and volcanic backdrop, in a truly luxury setting. We include Dinner and Breakfast for two when sharing 1 x Executive Suite. 
    Taupo
    Huka Lodge

    Occupying a privileged position on the banks of the Waikato River, Huka Lodge is a magnificent and cosy lodge that regularly ranks as one of the world’s finest retreats. We include Dinner and Breakfast for two when sharing a Junior Lodge Suite.
    Hawke’s Bay
    The Farm at Cape Kidnappers

    Boasting stunning suites, a well-equipped spa, and one of the world’s best golf courses, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a special place to stay in Hawke’s Bay. It was recently voted in the world’s top 20 hotels by Cande Nast Traveller. We include Dinner and Breakfast for two when sharing 1 x Hilltop Suite.
    The Wairarapa 
    Martinborough Hotel

    At the entrance of The Square in the wine region of Martinborough, this hotel has a heritage feel coupled with charming grounds and excellent culinary fare. We include room only for two sharing a Superior Garden Suite.
    Wellington 
    The Intercontinental Wellington

    This stylish and contemporary hotel is the only internationally recognised 5-star in the capital city, boasting a wonderful location, great facilities, and fantastic hospitality. We include room only for two when sharing 1 x Club Room.

    An introduction to New Zealand
    All about New Zealand

    New Zealand is a country whose name immediately conjures halcyon images of exploration and adventure, of natural splendour and wholesomeness. Yet for many the magic of New Zealand is considered too far way, and it is all too frequently relegated as an impossible dream for the future. For this reason, any journey to this fabulous country must carefully balance a degree of efficiency in experiencing its astonishingly diverse landscapes, and enough time to really soak up the scenery and culture in each locality. That is to say, the best way to holiday in the mystical enigma of New Zealand is via a bespoke touring itinerary. The majesty of New Zealand’s landscapes overwhelms from the moment of arrival. They change dramatically from locality to locality, along with the climate, and result in a patchwork quilt of achingly pretty vistas, and individualised experiences. From skiing in the aptly named Remarkables in Fiordland, to snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters of the Bay of Islands. From boating into the rich and cetacean infested waters of Kaikoura to discovering the erupting geysers and serene hot pools of Rotorua. Of course, this is a nation that thrives on the outdoors, and a range of activities are possible in New Zealand to match all energy (and adrenaline) levels. Yet in contemporary New Zealand, the thriving cosmopolitan city centres are also important sites of interest in their own right. Here you will find distinct local cultures, and a chic and fashionable ambience that feels sophisticated and refreshingly laid-back simultaneously. Indeed, the incredible rise of New Zealand’s culinary and wine scene, from the vineyards of Marlborough in the South to Hawke’s Bay and Waiheke Island in the North, have only compounded the sense of cultural refinement in this magnificent country. 
    Based upon our experience of travelling around New Zealand, we have put together several suggested itineraries, aimed at doing as much justice to the variety and scale of New Zealand as is possible within a reasonable length of time. These are merely suggestions, and any itinerary created by Expressions Holidays is bespoke and completely tailored to the interests and needs of our clients. 
    The price is upon request and will depend on the exact details of the touring itinerary, and the accommodation chosen at each locality. 
    New Zealand facts 
    Location: New Zealand is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean consisting of 2 main islands. It is situated approximately 1,500 km east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly 1,000 km south of the Pacific Islands of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga.
    Time difference: Wellington has a time zone of GMT + 12 hours. 
    Language: English
    Population: 4.88 million.
    Size: 268,021 km2, roughly 990 miles from north to south and 250 miles from east to west. 
    Currency: New Zealand Dollars (about 1.88 to the pound) 
    Capital: Wellington, located at the southern tip of the North Island.
    Geography and climate 
    New Zealand enjoys a maritime climate, which explains partly the lush vegetation and rich pastures, but it also makes the weather rather changeable. It is subject to prevailing winds from west to east, although most rain falls in the winter (July to August) and the summer months (December to March) are generally drier. Generally, the southern and western parts of the country are wetter than the northern and eastern parts. On top of this longitude and altitude plays a role, with the northern part of the North Island enjoying a subtropical ‘winter-free’ climate, whereas the South Island is home to sterling ski resorts in the winter months, and glaciers and snow-capped peaks are found year-round.
    Cities and Culture 
    New Zealand is well known as a land of stunning views, wilderness expanses, and pristine ecosystems. Yet it is important to note that modern New Zealand is home to a scintillating array of urban centres, which offer a different appeal to tourists. Here, clients will find a burgeoning food and wine scene, as well as great shopping, inspiring architecture, and refreshingly laid-back and welcoming Kiwi culture. Of interest might be Auckland in the North where a historic feel meets strikingly modern architecture such as the 328-meter Sky Tower. A café culture and a truly nautical feel conspire to create a relaxing base from which to start one’s tour in New Zealand. The capital city of Wellington at the bottom of the North Island has a different feel altogether, situated on a hook-shaped harbour ringed with ranges that wear a cloak of snow in winter. Discover the dramatic scenery, theatrical climate, Victorian architecture and the cosmopolitan centre, as well as wilderness surrounds with bushy hillsides that resonate with native bird song. Finally, famously adventurous Queenstown at the foot of the South Island enjoys a magnificent setting in the mountains of Fiordland, and a culture of outdoor pursuits. 
    Landscape and Coastline 
    Despite New Zealand’s modest size, the variety of landscapes on offer are truly staggering, and pay testament to its volcanic history. In the North Island, a beautiful coastline and lush vegetation in the Northland meet the rolling green pastures of sheep farms and wineries in Hawke’s Bay. Elsewhere in the Central North Island, tourists will find pristine rainforest in Whirinaki, an active volcanic plateau in Rotorua, and vast expanses of Lake and the mountains of the Tongariro Crossing in Taupo. On the South Island, the landscape varies even more dramatically, from the Canterbury Plains that encircle Christchurch to the idyllic waterways of the Marlborough Sounds and Abel Tasman National Park, to the mountainous and glacial environment of the Central South Island and the iconic Fiordland. The coastline throughout New Zealand matches this diversity, and whilst tourist may find themselves snorkelling with tropical fish in the Bay of Islands, they will find cool glacial water in the world-famous Milford Sound, and superb surfing beaches on the Western Coastline of the North Island.
    Wildlife and Ecology
    New Zealand’s isolation as a remote island has resulted in a truly unique set of ecosystems. Many of the species found here are endemic, meaning exclusively found in New Zealand, and their often-inquisitive manner leads to truly once-in-a-lifetime encounters for many visitors. On the North Island, lush vegetation and pristine rainforest have provided a sanctuary for many tropical species, whereas the South Island is made famous primarily for its bird life. On Stewart Island for example, tourists will find an extraordinary abundance of native species including the bell bird, tui, kaka, tomtit, grey warbler, kakariki, and the New Zealand wood pigeon. Also found here is the iconic Stewart Island Brown Kiwi, as well as albatross, and several species of penguin including the Southern Blue Penguin, Yellow-eyed Penguin, Rockhopper Penguin, Fiordland Crested Penguin and Snares Crested Penguin. 
    In terms of the underwater world, New Zealand is perhaps even more special still. On the North Island, clear and warm waters are found, creating an ecosystem where many tropical species, often also found on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as temperate marine life can co-exist in harmony. Poor Knights Island, to the east of the Northland, is a fantastic example of this, and intrepid snorkelers or scuba divers will find soft corals, sponges, vibrant anemones, and kelp forests, as well as sting rays, manta rays, and a myriad of other lifeforms. Another fantastic place to search for incredible marine life is Kaikoura on the East Coast of the North Island. Brimming with dolphins, whales, orcas, seals, albatross and more, these rich waters are often featured in nature documentaries, and they have recently been championed by Sir David Attenborough. Tourists can swim, scuba dive, sail or kayak through the waters in search of a variety of once-in-a-lifetime encounters. 
    Government advice 
    The UK government has an excellent website www.fco.gov.uk which you must use to obtain up-to-date information about worldwide destinations. This site gives details about trouble spots but also general advice about most countries. We advise most strongly that you check notices about your intended destination before you book and travel. 
    Passport and Visas 
    A full British passport is required for travel to New Zealand. Please bear in mind that it is your responsibility to ensure that your passport is valid and still has six months validity before you book your holiday and it can take some time to obtain a new one. Everyone needs his or her own passport so if you are thinking of taking an infant, allow plenty of time to get a passport. Visas are not generally required for travel to New Zealand, although full details should be obtained with the New Zealand authorities. More information is available from https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas 
    Health 
    There are no required vaccinations for travel to New Zealand but you should nevertheless always check with your doctor before travelling. A leaflet is available from the Department of Health called ‘Health Advice to Travellers’, by telephoning 0800-555777. If you are suffering from any disability or illness, this should be communicated to us at the time of booking. Please note that pregnant passengers are not accepted by airlines usually after about 28 weeks into the pregnancy. You should check this with us before you make a booking. 
    Insurance 
    It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are adequately insured for your holiday. Please refer to our statement on insurance in our booking conditions. Insurance for the activities you choose to undertake during your holiday is also your own responsibilities. Additional requirements are needed for scuba diving, such as a doctor’s certificate. 
    Security and personal safety 
    When travelling you should take sensible precautions wherever you are and take care of money and personal valuables when passing through crowded and public places and cities in particular. In New Zealand, you should advise your accommodation when you set out on a long walk, drive, or venture into the wilderness. It is sensible to top up with petrol whenever you are about to leave a town for a long rural drive. 
    Wildlife hazards 
    Mosquitoes are a fact of life in the tropics. In fact, it is advisable to take your own anti-mosquito creams and lotions with you. Other insects (large beetles, cockroaches, sand flies etc) and some rodents are also common in tropical places. We cannot prevent these creatures from entering your accommodation. If this is a worry, perhaps a holiday to the tropics is not right for you. Guide books available will give you more advice on wildlife hazards. 
    Getting around 
    Main roads in New Zealand are very good. Some roads are not surfaced, particularly side roads, rural roads and private roads. These often lead to lodge accommodation. 
    What to wear 
    Due to the incredible diversity in climate and landscape, a trip to New Zealand will require a range of clothing. We advise you to check local recommendations. 
    Tipping 
    Tipping is generally expected for many services throughout New Zealand. Around 10 per cent of the bill is sufficient. This does not apply to your hotel stay.

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