North Island Culture and Heritage Tour Itinerary


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Wellington: New Zealand’s Capital of Culture

‘Haere Mai’ … Welcome to New Zealand!

On arrival into the Capital City, you will be transferred to your accommodation. After checking in, head out and start exploring the beautiful city! Known for its arty, creative residents, Wellington is filled with character and colourful streets. Packed with quirky shops and great galleries, it's lots of fun to wander around. Take a walk to the top of Mount Victoria for great views across the city and the harbour. It's a great place to start exploring after you settle into your accommodation.

Te Papa National Museum - Māori Highlights Tour 
Head to the waterfront to explore the amazing Te Papa (Museum of New Zealand) with a knowledgeable guide. The hosted cultural tour will weave through the Maori exhibition spaces at Te Papa to experience our unique history through stories and objects. You will follow the incredible ocean journey of our Maori ancestors as they discover New Zealand and build a life here. With incredible displays of flora and fauna throughout, Te Papa offers a great introduction to our natural history too. You'll be a New Zealand expert before you know it!

Vogue: "Coolest little city in the World" about Wellington.

Accommodation: Wellington - 1 night

This self-contained bed and breakfast is located in the fashionable seaside suburb of Seatoun, home to Wellington's film industry. Choose from two beautiful self-contained studios complete with private courtyards. Enjoy free internet, free on-street parking and only a 10 minute drive from downtown Wellington. 

boutique studio


Wellington to Napier: Art Deco Treasures

Collecting your rental car today, you'll journey to the coastal city of Napier, whose exquisitely preserved 1930s architecture gives a unique feel and atmosphere — it's like stepping back in time.

This colourful, sunny city was flattened by an earthquake in 1931. It was rebuilt in the favoured style of the day. Today, Napier is one of the few fully intact Art Deco cities in existence.

Napier's architectural treasures are not lost on the locals: Art Deco themed festivals and parties abound throughout the year. Don't be surprised to see folks wandering the streets in the 1920s and 30s attire, as if they just stepped off the set of 'The Great Gatsby'!

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

Accommodation: Napier - 1 night


Overlooking the waterfront in the historical village of Ahuriri is The Crown Hotel. A boutique property offering a selection of studio, one bedroom and two bedroom options with a total of 42 elegant rooms. Enjoy local and fresh produce, seafood, meats and delectable wines.

The Crown Hotel Napier


Napier to Rotorua: Architectural Gems & Maori Culture

This morning enjoy a guided tour of the Napier's architectural gems, before journeying to Rotorua for a Maori cultural experience to be remembered.

Art Deco Walking Tour 
See Napier's heritage come to life with an easy guided stroll through the compact Art Deco Quarter. Your professionally trained Art Deco guide will tell you about the devastation of the earthquake in depth,  and you'll discover how the city came to be dramatically rebuilt in only two years.Your journey then continues to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Sitting squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Rotorua's landscape is unique: arriving here is like landing on the moon! This is Earth's crust at its most exciting.

Maori Cultural Evening & Hangi Banquet 
In the evening you will experience the wonderful hospitality of New Zealand Maori at a Cultural Evening and Feast. Enjoy a banquet of foods cooked the traditional Maori way - on hot stones in an underground oven (a Hangi). Learn about Maori culture and spirituality through joyous song and dance performances. Seeing the Haka demonstrated right in front of you is unforgettable.

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

Accommodation: Rotorua - 1 night

Built in 1897, the Historically Boutique Hotel, the Princes Gate Hotel Rotorua was New Zealand's first private hotel. Beautifully restored with great attention to detail she offers glamour, style and sophistication that depicts a bygone era coupled with a time honoured commitment to service, the glamorous historically Boutique Princes Gate Hotel in Rotorua is not just a hotel but also a Rotorua attraction in its own right. A visit to the Princes Gate Hotel is an exciting escape back in time.
Princes Gate Hotel Rotorua


Geothermal Landscapes and Harbour Lights - Auckland

Marvel at Te Puia Thermal Reserve's unique geothermal landscapes today, and venture north to Auckland, our City of Sails.

Te Puia Centre for Maori Culture and Geothermal Wonders
Tucked away in the stunning Whakarewarewa Valley, Te Puia's 70-hectare park is at the heart of Rotorua's geothermal action. You'll witness restless forces boiling to the surface in the superheated mud pools, and huge geysers gushing hot steam and water in spectacular fashion.

Continuing your journey north, Auckland's glittering skyline and lively harbour await you this evening. Situated amongst a cluster of extinct volcanic cones, the Auckland isthmus straddles a slim piece of land with a coastline facing both the Pacific Ocean and, on the West Coast, the wild Tasman Sea.

Crossing the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge, you'll be staying bayside in the relaxed beach suburb of Takapuna, which boasts breathtaking views out across the Hauraki Gulf.

Some alternative excursions in and around Rotorua are:

See Geysers & Boiling Mud     Polynesian Hot Springs   Whirinaki Forest Walk
Thermally Active Golf Biking the Mighty Forests Flight to Volcanic Island
Museum of Art & History Evening Cultural Experience    White Water Rafting


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

Accommodation: Auckland - 1 night

Nestled amongst sub-tropical gardens close to Takapuna Beach on Auckland's North Shore, Emerald Inn offers top quality self-contained motel accommodation for business travellers and holiday visitors in a relaxed beachside environment handy to downtown Auckland city. Emerald Inn has 39 superbly appointed studios and 1 & 2 bedroom motel apartments, swimming pool, breakfast room, wireless internet and free parking. We also have Emerald Cottage, a luxury Cape Cod style Auckland holiday home available for your exclusive use.
Emerald Inn Auckland


Bay of Islands: Ancient Trees and Hidden Bays

Continuing towards the Bay of Islands, discover the secrets of some of New Zealand's most beloved elders: the ancient Kauri trees of the Northlands.

Matakohe Kauri Museum
The award-winning Kauri Museum in Matakohe explores what became of Kauri trees after they were felled by humans. Their strong, durable timber and gum were highly prized by settlers, leading to a flourishing industry that shaped New Zealand's future. In addition to preserving our past, the Museum plays a vital role in conserving the future of the mighty Kauri.

Arriving in the Bay of Islands, you'll travel back in time to peaceful Russell: this exquisite historic village was New Zealand's first ever capital, known as "The Hell Hole of the Pacific" and once famed for its lawlessness!

Sleep soundly tonight at New Zealand's first ever licensed hotel – the iconic Duke of Marlborough – right by the waterfront, where you'll have a front-row seat for the sunset over the harbour and beyond.

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

Accommodation: Russell - 2 nights

The Duke of Marlborough Hotel is New Zealand's first licensed hotel, bar, and restaurant and is beautifully located on the waterfront in the historic village of Russell. There are three levels of accommodation each increasing in comfort and style. Available to all is the use of two excellent restaurants and a sundeck lounge from which to take a rest and enjoy the activity on the waterfront in the Bay. This truly historic establishment is a favorite amongst the locals and holidaymakers in the know.


Bay of Islands: Historical “Cream Trip” Cruise

A stunning Maritime Park spanning 144 islands, the Bay of Islands is a sub-tropical paradise brimming with hidden bays and abundant marine life. Today you'll discover the Bay in the very best way — by taking to the water.

Historical "Cream Trip" Cruise 
This fabulous day-long excursion is the most extensive historical cruise in the Bay of Islands. In 1927, Ernest Fuller began delivering mail and supplies to the bay's inner islands by boat, collecting cream from the farmers to take back to the mainland. He soon began inviting tourists to tag along for the "Cream Trip” and the rest is history.

These days the journey is more comfortable on a modern, multi-level catamaran, but you’ll experience the same idyllic bays, local homes and the prominent natural landmarks like the 'Hole in the Rock' near Cape Brett. Marine mammals are abundant so the chance to see whales, seals, dolphins and other wildlife is high. The leisurely pace allows you to get up close and even swim with the dolphins if conditions permit!


Travel to Auckland, the City of Sails

Visit the historic birthplace of New Zealand before returning to Auckland for an in-depth guided city tour.

Waitangi Treaty Grounds 
This morning you will visit the "birthplace of New Zealand": the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This multi-award-winning attraction brings our history to life before your very eyes. Find out how the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi between Maori and Pakeha (European settlers) shaped the future of the New Zealand nation. After strolling the museum and grounds, you will enter a beautifully carved Whare Rūnanga (meeting house), for an awe-inspiring Maori cultural performance that will give you chills.

Auckland City Tour 
Get to know the Auckland’s past and present on a superb tour around New Zealand’s largest city. You'll explore historical suburbs such as charming Parnell Village and stylish Ponsonby, and stroll around the Viaduct Harbour enjoying grand views of the Hauraki Gulf. At Auckland Domain you'll visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum, perched atop a 62,000-year-old volcano. The Museum holds Māori and Pacific treasures, impressive natural history resources and major social and military history collections, as well as decorative arts. Here you will enjoy a Māori cultural performance from the Auckland-based Ngāti Whātua iwi (tribe), including songs, dances, and haka.

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

Accommodation: Auckland - 1 night

The modern and spacious Skycity Hotel Auckland is located right in the CBD and allows you to relax in style while enjoying more than 20 restaurants, cafes and bars, a theatre, free live entertainment on selected nights and the iconic Sky Tower - all right at your doorstep. Each air-conditioned room includes a private bathroom, minibar, satellite TV, including CCTV channels, and 24-hour room service. All rooms have a view of the courtyard, city skyline or Auckland Harbour.
Skycity Hotel - Auckland


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. 

Profile picture for user Steve
What Steve says about this tour: It’s surprising the depth of cultural diversity in such a relatively young country. This tour is fabulous. From the Waitangi Treaty grounds, through the art deco centres, Indigenous history and culture in Rotorua and even a historic cruise in the Bay of Islands - throw in some breathtaking scenery, while staying in some equally interesting accommodation and you have a really great tour.
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