New Zealands Self Drive Volcanic Adventure Trail

Who says that the North Island isn't suited to the adventurous? With this off the beaten track action packed 10 day New Zealand Self Drive adventure, we aim to set the record straight. Hurtling through thin air, abseiling into a subterranean wilderness, cresting volcanic mountain tops, ocean waves & rapids - we get it - you want to be challenged! And when you're finished come back and see the South Island!

Auckland Sailing, Surfing Raglan, Caving Waitomo, Explore and Active Volcano, Tongariro Crossing, Rafting Grade 5 Rangitikei River.

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Welcome to Auckland - Americas Cup Sailing Race

Welcome to Auckland!. Today is a day to relax after your flight as the next ten days will provide some of the most pristine landscapes and thrilling experiences imaginable on your New Zealand self drive adventure.

This afternoon provides the perfect opportunity to get out into Auckland's Beautiful Harbor. Usually the domain of billionaires and elite professional yachties, NZL 40 and NZL 41 offer the unique opportunity for everyone to take part sailing on these grand prix racing machines. You become the crew on this America's Cup Yachting Experience. You are encouraged to take the helm, exert energy on the grinders or simply sit back and enjoy the action as we sail down the Auckland Harbour.

Accommodation Auckland - 1 night

Travel to Raglan, a surfers paradise

The ruggedly beautiful West Coast is where the mighty surf of the Tasman Sea tumbles and crashes onto vast black sand beaches. The untamed natural beauty you’ll find here nourishes the soul; isolated and wild, you’ll feel worlds away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You’ll need to take the Southern Motorway before heading back out to Raglan, near Hamilton.  A creative, relaxed town, Raglan is home to one of the best left-hand breaks in the world and is the perfect place to stop for fish & chips or an ice cream.

Note: No need to be an expert here - take a 2 day surf package including board & wetsuit hire and lessons.

Approximate Distance: 148 kms | 92 miles  Total Driving Time: 2 hours 

Accommodation Raglan - 1 night

After your surf lesson continue to Waitomo

Drive further south to Waitomo, the focal point of the region’s subterranean wonders. The caves at Waitomo are one of New Zealand's most commanding wonders – a celebration of nature's work over the last one hundred thousand years. There are hundreds of miles of labyrinthine caves, glow-worms, under ground lakes, stalactites and stalagmites, and all manner of limestone crustaceans - a lost world waiting to be discovered. Above ground, the area around Waitomo is also popular for horse riding and bush walking.

Note: Not so keen for a surf? No problem, we have an awesome kayaking option available, just let us know and we will swap it over.

Approximate Distance: 102 kms | 63 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 20 mins

Accommodation Waitomo - 1 night

The Lost World Caving and Abseiling

Waitomo’s ultimate adventure, the Lost World Caving and Abseiling Epic Journey is a dramatically unique underground experience. Begin with the world’s longest commercial caving abseil, slowly dropping 100 meters (330ft) into the beautiful cavern known as the Lost World. Once you’ve reached the bottom, you’ll embark on an exciting and challenging journey back to the surface through a spectacular caving system. 

Following an underground river upstream, you’ll swim, climb ropes, pass through cathedral-size vaults, move through tight gaps and jump into inky-black pools as you head towards the surface. Climbing up waterfalls and past stalactites, you’ll marvel at the beauty of this underground wonderland. This is an epic caving adventure – not a simple cave tour. Being of average to good fitness is important, and you need to be prepared to get wet and muddy. A challenging and spectacular underground journey that’s packed full of adrenaline, this is a quintessentially New Zealand experience that’s a must-do for those embarking on a New Zealand Self Drive adventure.

Approximate Distance: 137 kms | 85 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 50 mins

Accommodation Rotorua - 1 night

Expedition onto an Active Volcanic Island

White Island is one of the most fascinating and accessible volcanoes on earth. This is a rare and unique opportunity to actually visit an active island volcano. The White Island Adventure is like walking on the moon, no vegetation survives the harsh acidic environment inside the crater. Instead lush beds of yellow and white sulphur crystals grow amongst hissing, steaming, bubbling fumaroles. The largest crater is over 100 metres deep and holds a lake (usually fluorescent green in colour) and a rumbling vent from which the power of the inner earth constantly belches forth in the form of super-heated steam.  Bright yellow sulphur chimneys comprised of delicate crystals grace the crater walls, further enhancing this alien landscape.  White Island is always active, constantly steaming.  Misty, roaring, ashing, rumbling, who knows what mood she’ll be in if you are lucky enough to visit....

Approximate Distance: 85 kms | 53 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 12 mins

Accommodation Whakatane - 1 night

Kayak to the Great Māori Carvings on Lake Taupo

Today gives you the opportunity to re-charge your batteries, enjoy a sleep in and have a hearty breakfast before heading to Great Lake Taupo for lunch. Lake Taupo is the southern hemisphere's largest crater lake (in fact, it is the size of Singapore!) and the Taupo Eruption (also known as the Hatepe eruption) that occurred about 1,800 years ago, represents the most violent eruption in the world in the last 5,000 years.

Only accessed by boat or kayak the carvings at Mine Bay in Lake Taupo are a awe-inspiring Maori Rock Carvings - perhaps Maoridom most ambitious. Venture off the beaten path on a unique and exciting Guided Kayaking Adventure to the impressive carvings at Mine Bay. Surrounded by stunning views of three majestic volcanos, you can enjoy a swim from the sheltered rocks of the carvings and hear the history of the carvings and the regions Maori legends.

When you arrive at National Park, there are plenty of short walks available to give you a taste of the terrain in New Zealand's oldest National Park with dual World Heritage status recognizing both the cultural & spiritual importance to Maori along with its outstanding volcanic setting.

Approximate Distance: 270 kms | 168 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 15 mins

Accommodation National Park - 2 nights

Fancy a Walk on the Moon? The Tongariro Crossing

The Tongariro Crossing - often referred to as one of the best day walks in the world, as the track winds its way through the otherworldly landscapes of Tongariro National Park. This National Park was New Zealand’s first, and was created in 1887 when its three spectacular volcanoes – Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe – were gifted to the people of New Zealand by the Tuwharetoa tribes. Today, the park covers a total area of 78,651 ha and its unique environment makes it the perfect setting for a hiking adventure.


Travel to Taihape via the Desert Road

Today your New Zealand self drive adventure has you traveling over the North Islands volcanic plateau. The road between Rangipo and Waiouru is commonly known as the Desert Ride, approximate 1074 metres above sea level (3,500 ft), which is the highest point on the New Zealand road network. The highway enters the  Manawatu - Wanganui region and travels through Waiouru where the New Zealand army is based and runs operations. From Waiouru, the highway follows the tributaries of the Rangitikei River through to Taihape.

Approximate Distance: 83 kms | 52 miles  Total Driving Time: 1 hour 14 mins

Accommodation Taihape - 2 nights

Rafting Grade 5 Rangitikei River

Today you will experience exhilarating Grade 5 Rapids. This is a world class half day white water rafting trip on the Rangitikei River. With famous rapids such as Max's Drop, Fulcrum and Foamy there is plenty to get excited about. In fact there are 10 major Grade 4-5 rapids on this 12 km run, plus numerous smaller rapids. This river is out of the way from the usual rivers rafted on the 'tourist circuit' the chances in seeing another raft are slim, just another good reason to enjoy a New Zealand self drive adventure.


It is a three hour run down to Wellington as you travel through the market gardens of the Kapiti Coast following the highway down the coast to the capital city of New Zealand. Plenty of time to meet an outgoing flight. 

"Haere rā" Goodbye! and Bon Voyage!
We know you will enjoy your New Zealand Self Drive adventure and our promise 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. 

Approximate Distance: 261 kms | 163 miles  Total Driving Time: 3 hours 35 mins

Ready to find out more? Talk to us here in New Zealand about the 'New Zealand Self Drive Adventure'  - We Guarantee it will be the Holiday of a Lifetime!