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New Zealand's North Island Culture and Heritage Tour

New Zealand is a small island nation, with a fascinating history.This self drive itinerary embraces the heritage and culture of New Zealand's North Island. Historic accommodations have been selected to provide a sense of place, and the landmark locations that celebrate the architecture, art,  history and culture of New Zealand are included in this itinerary.

Historical Cream Cruise, Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Kauri Museum, Maori Cultural Evening, Natural Hot Pools, Napier - Art Deco City, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Reserve, Te Papa National Museum

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Itinerary

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1
Welcome to Wellington

Wellington is the undisputed 'Arts Capital' of New Zealand, possibly due its windy temperament fanning the creative juices of the locals. The city is the country's centre for culture, politics, and home to the National Museum, Te Papa.  Wellington’s thriving cafe scene is globally recognised by the coffee cognoscenti, and of course is the centre for movie production with Lord or the Rings and Hobbit trilogies. If you are a people person there are some interesting one's living here.

National Museum Te Papa - Māori Highlights Tour
Take an in-depth journey and discover Te Papa’s taonga (Māori cultural treasures). From historic, artistic, and contemporary perspectives, this tour will enrich your understanding of what makes New Zealand’s Māori culture unique.

Vogue: "coolest little city in the world: Wellington, New Zealand".

Accommodation Wellington - 1 night

2
Art Deco Napier

Napier
This is a colorful, sunny city with the air of an affluent English seaside resort. A devastating natural disaster flattened Napier in 1931 leaving a blank canvas for city leaders to rebuilt in the favored style of the day - and that was Art Deco. Napier now proudly represents one of the few fully intact Deco city's remaining today. Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical buildings pepper Napier and thanks largely to the Art Deco Trust the heritage integrity of Napier has been preserved with many buildings saved from demolition and redevelopment. These treasures are not lost on the locals as they host many Art Deco themed festivals, parties throughout the year - don't be at all surprised if from time to time you think you are on the set of 'The Great Gatsby' as often folks dressed in 1920's and 30's costumes can be seen wandering the streets.

Lonely Planet: A ‘charismatic’ New Zealand city ‘can provoke a Great Gatsby swagger in the least romantic soul’.

Approximate Distance: 309 kms | 192 miles  Total Driving Time: 4 hours

Accommodation Napier - 1 night

3
Art Deco Walking Tour | Rotorua - Maori Cultural Evening

Art Deco Walking Tour
Napier is the world’s finest example of the Art Deco age and your guide will bring Napier's fascinating architecture to life for you as you take an easy stroll through the compact Art Deco Quarter in the vibrant city centre. The travel on to Rotorua the geothermal wonderland of the North Island.

Maori Cultural Evening - Village, Hangi & Music
Spend an evening sharing and feasting on a selection of foods cooked the traditional Maori way - on hot stones in an authentic earthen oven (a Hangi). This Traditional Maori Cultural Evening helps you understand the spiritual significance of the moko (facial tattoo) as warriors demonstrate with tools made of fine bird bone and sharpened greenstone and then perform a concert including the world famous ‘Haka’. An educational and enlightening experience, coupled with a ‘good feed’ and sing-a-long makes for a unique and entertaining experience!

Not for you? Well maybe it is - read our full review Tamaki Māori Village Experience.

Approximate Distance: 224 kms | 139 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 50 mins

Accommodation Rotorua - 1 night

4
Natural Hot Pools & Thermal Reserve | Takapuna

Natural Hot Pools & Wai-O-tapu Thermal Reserve
Enjoy a soak in one of New Zealand's picturesque wild hot springs, Kerosine Creek is a beautiful hot stream with a waterfall right in the middle of lush native bush. Close to the hot-pools is Wai-O-tapu, a wonderland of geothermal activity. This is the home to the world famous Champagne Pool, seen by many as the most beautiful example of geothermal activity around. The steaming vents with New Zealand’s largest bubbling mud pool is surrounded by huge volcanic craters making the experience very other worldly - but wait, there is more... the Highlight is the Lady Knox Geyser that spectacularly erupts daily at around 10.15am (ish)

Approximate Distance: 225 kms | 140 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 45 mins

Accommodation Auckland - 1 night

5
West Coast | Kauri Museum | Bay of Islands

Kauri Museum
Heading North from Auckland take the opportunity and drive across to the West Coast on the road less traveled. The west coast village of Matakohe houses the 'Kauri Museum' which is considered by many as one of New Zealand’s more substantial museum giving an interesting insight into Northland’s pioneering past  through the use of kauri timber and kauri gum. There are many fascinating displays and galleries inside the museum from the magnificent collection of antique kauri furniture and the largest collection of kauri gum in the world including restored steam operated forestry machinery.

The Historic Seaside Town of Russell
After your drive to the Bay of Islands its a quick car ferry ride across the water to the historical seaside town of Russell. Providing shelter and good old Kiwi hospitality as far back as the eighteenth century Russell is a superb place to get away from the other tourist traps across the water.  Its relatively isolated location gives an island quality and feel that reflects the tranquility of days gone by. Despite this, it is a vibrant community that attracts visitors from all over the world. Russell was the first capital of this country and one of our first European settlements, the town’s Victorian atmosphere has been carefully preserved and here you will find two of New Zealand’s oldest buildings, Pompallier House (1841) and Christ Church (1836) The Russell Police Station built in 1870 originally as a Customs House is still in use today. On a more relaxing note there are numerous waterfront cafes and restaurants, making this a great place to soak up the atmosphere, it is here you will be staying on the waterfront in the location of New Zealand's oldest hotels - The Duke Of Marlborough.

Approximate Distance: 242 kms | 150 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 40 mins

Accommodation Russell - 2 nights

6
Historical Cream Cruise | Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Historical Cream Cruise
Combine history with a fabulous cruise in a pristine marine environment. The 'Cream Cruise' is the most comprehensive one day cruise in the Bay of Islands and follows the original Fullers trip that started back in 1927 delivering mail, essential supplies, and collecting cream from the early settlements dotted throughout the bay of Islands. Today the cruise is onboard a very modern, multi-level catamaran you’ll experience the many idyllic bays, locals homes and the prominent natural landmarks like the 'Hole in the Rock' near Cape Brett. The opportunity to stop at the tranquil (yet hard to pronounce)  Urupukaopuka Island to go for a bush walk or just relax on the beach. Marine mammals are abundant so the chance to see whales, seals, dolphins and other wildlife is high. If you wish to swim with the dolphins this option is also available.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds
This is the location of the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document and the accord between Maori Chiefs and the British Crown in 1840. Gain a deeper understanding during a guided tour of Waitangi with one of the traditional guides and enjoy a high quality cultural performance in the beautiful carved meeting house (Whare Rūnanga). Explore one of New Zealand’s oldest and most visited historic homes and learn about the treasures within, visit treasures such as the Treaty House, Meeting House, Flagstaff and Ceremonial War Canoe.

7
Auckland City Tour

Get to know the city’s past and present and view one of the biggest collections of Māori and Pacific treasures on a superb morning tour around New Zealand’s largest city. Visiting historical area's such as Parnell Village, Tamaki Drive, iconic Karangahape Road and the stylish suburb of Ponsonby, the Viaduct Harbour and the central city's main old road Queen Street. while enjoying grand views of the Hauraki Gulf and city skyline. Last but not least is the Auckland Domain, Auckland's oldest park, situated on a 62 thousand year old volcano and perched on top is the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Here you will enjoy a Māori cultural performance from members of the Auckland-based Ngāti Whātua iwi (tribe), including songs, dances and haka. The Museum holds Māori and Pacific treasures, impressive natural history resources and major social and military history collections, as well as decorative arts.

Approximate Distance: 242 kms | 150 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 40 mins

Accommodation Auckland - 1 night

8
Homeward Bound

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!

There maybe time for some last minute sightseeing or shopping before making your way for your outbound flight.

We know you will love the New Zealand's North Island Culture and Heritage Tour and our promise to you is to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible - ensuring that today you leave with a memory card full of photos, and huge smiles on your faces when recalling your time in New Zealand! Have a great homeward journey, farewell and hope to see you again soon in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Ready to find out more? Talk to us here in New Zealand about 'New Zealand's North Island Culture and Heritage Tour'  - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!