DAY 01: Auckland to Bay of Islands (Paihia/Russell) (240km)
On State Highway 1, travel north from Auckland past Warkworth and Leigh, through Wellsford and on up to Whangarei. Along the way, there are many forests to explore. You could also take off to the east and visit some of the surf beaches along the coast, such as Langs Beach, near Waipu. Whangarei (population 44,000) is the commercial and cultural heart of Northland. The city is surrounded by forested hills and is situated a harbour which houses yachts from around New Zealand and the world. If you are interested in clocks, the Clapham Clock Museum is worth a visit, with nearly 1000 unusual timepieces from around the world. It is located in the Town Basin, 5 minutes from the town centre. Continue on to Kawakawa, which has a railway line running down the main street, which was originally built for trains to haul coal to Opua.
DAY 02: Bay of Islands
Today you have time at leisure to explore the magnificent Bay of Islands. The area provides a maritime park of over 144 islands and bays with miles of white sandy beaches to explore. It is a very popular for water sports such as sailing, swimming with the dolphins and fishing. Alternatively, visit the Treaty House at Waitangi, where in 1840 the British Government and Maori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi.
DAY 03: Bay of Islands to Coromandel Peninsula (380km)
A choice of routes back south today – you can travel back down State Highway 1 straight into Auckland, or try a different route – over to the west coast through Opononi, along the beautiful coast. Further south on this route is the Waipoua Forest, which holds a reserve of 2639 hectares of Kauri, the largest surviving stand of these magnificent trees, which once covered much of the northern half of the North Island. Carry on the main State Highway 1 through Auckland again and onto Highway 2 towards the Coromandel Peninsula. Along the coast of the Firth of Thames is the township of Thames, which provides a reminder of the gold rush, which began in 1867. From Thames it is a short trip over the beautiful Coromandel Ranges mountains to Whangamata or Pauanui.
DAY 04: Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel Peninsula is a beautiful area, with cool forests, picturesque beaches, rugged coastlines and swimming holes. Take a bushwalk, a walk on the beach, dangle a line, or do nothing at all.
DAY 05: Coromandel Peninsula to Rotorua (215 km)
Travel South past many more beautiful beaches, and the township of Tauranga, one of the North Island’s largest ports. Your route takes you through the Kiwifruit Country around Te Puke and on to the heart of thermal activity and cultural centre of New Zealand, Rotorua. Rotorua is on the central North Island volcanic plateau, which causes the geysers, pools of boiling mud and water, steam vents and terraces of silica. The most well know thermal area is the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve. Tonight you will experience a traditional Maori Hangi & Concert.
DAY 06: Rotorua
Time today to visit some of the major tourist attractions in and around Rotorua.
DAY 07: Rotorua to Auckland (235kms)
Return to Auckland today via the small townships of Tirau and Cambridge. Alternatively, you could take a detour via the Waitomo Glowworm Caves or Matamata for a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set on your way back to Auckland.
Your programme ends today.