Land in Auckland ready to explore and enjoy New Zealand’s most populated city. Sky Tower, the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere, tops the city skyline, the spiraled point sticking into the clear sky. Wander through lively Queens Street on your way to the harbors where the heart of the city can be seen pulsing. The salty smell of the ocean comes on the back of the breeze that blows through the streets. The sails from boats lining the harbor jut into the air giving the city its nickname, “City of Sails.”
Visit the Auckland museum located in one of New Zealand's most historical buildings situated in a central city pleasure garden. The scent of roses lingers beneath your nose from spring to autumn and the crisp cool breeze blows in the winter. The exhibitions are exciting, full of artistic integrity and Pacific culture. Monumental carvings decorate certain exhibits, shaved from local trees, polished and shiny in their frozen faced adaptation of traditional spirits. Canoes and replicated communal buildings remain unobstructed and unimpeded for everyone to understand the cultures that have made up the current face of New Zealand. The Auckland War Memorial Museum is another of the museum’s efforts to commemorate the country’s past. An empty tomb on a pedestal stands without decoration or religious symbols to help honor those that fought for the Common Wealth during World War I. The contrast of commemorating the native soldiers lost in battle with commemorating the native culture is among the important understandings of a country coming to terms with its past and is part of the beauty that New Zealand offers as a reward to those willing to find it.
Spend the day away from the city by traveling to the stunning beauty and flavors of Waiheke Island. The island is chockfull of beaches, vineyards, olive groves, and lovely villages. Venture from Auckland harbor and take the ferry to Waiheke. The water is an opal blue. The boats in the harbor rock back and forth as the sails sway in the wake before shrinking in the distance. Reaching the island brings the stunning faded sand and pearl blue water of the beach. The lush hills roll into the distance.
For lunch you will taste the delicacy of Stoneyridge winery. The hills are almost indistinguishable from the vines as they wrap around and over the horizon. The salty sea air is still drifting from the water and mixes with the fresh soil of the vineyard. Mentioned in the February 2003 issue of UK Wine Magazine under “Cult Wines of the World,” Stoneyridge wines have a rich and varied flavor due to the miscellaneous terrain. Larose wine is a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. A Bordeaux-style red wine with dark, wild berry fruits and freshly ground cinnamon on the nose and a firm, medium finish underlying a palate of sweet fruit. Enjoy a tasting of the wine or a full glass as you dine on the rich and citrusy flatbread pizza. The menu boasts fresh, local ingredients that highlight every flavor. The sweet citrus of tomato and the delicate richness of an aioli topped on a crispy pesto flatbread will make the day melt away.
Wander through the incredible sculptors showcased at Connells Bay where art & nature are united to create space dedicated to specific sculptures. Sit along the fresh grass, the green hills rolling behind you while the seaside is framed in the large-scale wired vase. This is a perfect place for you to watch the sun set on the horizon; the warm colors stretch in the sky, and the sun fits perfectly in the frame as if it were painted there. Before the sky darkens completely the ferry will take you back to Auckland where another adventure soon awaits.
With your independent spirit whirring, you will head down to Rotorua, the “Cultural Capital” of New Zealand. A city surrounded by the cultural history of the Maori, the beautiful geysers and hot springs of the volcanic region, and the history of the 19th century resort town, Rotorua offers a sense of beauty in its present and its past. Hot pools feed into the lake making steam drift from the water’s surface and the sound of geysers thunder in the distance.
Visit the buried town of Te Wairoa hidden but not forgotten in the volcanic eruption of 1886. Ash covered many buildings and other features of the village that have preserved 19th century life making the site a Kiwi Pompeii. The village is surrounded by lush, dense jungle. Village huts and remnants of civilization speckle the area. A hiking route can take you to the stunning panorama of Wairere Falls. The water careens down the rocky path carving through the trees. Mist rises from the sunken pool and drifts into the air, the spray carried on the back of the breeze. At night you will watch the cultural history of the Maori unfold before you. Warriors in traditional grass woven skirts paddle an ancient warrior canoe through the stream. The clear water is full of trout and it flows directly from the sacred spring. The warriors’ faces are decorated with Tā moko, different from a tattoo due to its application; the Tā moko connotes a social status and creates eccentric patterns that encompass the face. Watch your traditional hangi, a type of buried Maori BBQ, lift from the ground, the smell of succulent meat and decadent vegetables roasting in the air.
Travel from the cultural beauty of Rotorua to the incredible seaside town of Napier. Rebuilt in 1931 after a massive earthquake, the town of Napier celebrates the Art Deco style in kiwi fashion. A guided tour of the city brings with it the elegant flare that is unique to Napier’s streets alone. The architecture symbolizes optimism in the wake of disaster. The buildings and streets are decorated with bright colors; the semi Victorian homes open themselves to the streets with warm blues and greens reflecting the oceans beauty in the houses’ colorful frames. Weekend Summer Festivals celebrate the reconstruction of the city and continue to give Napier an elegant and graceful atmosphere where the Art Deco buildings are more than just a history to be remembered but are a present to be celebrated. Music echoes through the streets. Performers dancing and sing along the sidewalks. The grass sways in the breeze. Waves crash along the shore. People make lovely picnics and vintage style frivolity keeps a fun filled past alive. Surrounded by the luscious tastes of Hawkes Bay vineyards, venture beyond the colorful streets of the city and enhance the ambiance with a taste of Trinity Hill’s Chardonnay. With citrus, white flowers, and stone fruit on the nose, the lovely aromas are complemented by a creamy rich texture and is an incredible way to bid farewell to the day.
Transfer from Napier to Wellington to begin your two-night exploration of New Zealand’s capital. The city is bordered by mountains and sea, one side showing the beautiful peak of Mount Victoria while the other side shows the opulent blue of the calm Cook Strait. The city sprawls out from under any view and offers great sightseeing within its confines as well. For a fabulous panorama of the city and the waterway that curbs its edges, enjoy a ride on the cable car up to the Kelburn Gardens.
The cable car travels through some of the tallest buildings in Wellington before making the steep climb to Kelburn, one of the area’s suburbs. The city glows in the reflection of the sun off of the bay. Once in the gardens the smell of tulips fills the air. The bright red, purple, and orange flowers patch the entrance. Lily pads float along the pond’s surface, the white petals open and glistening on the water. Branches hang over the walkways and offer shade in the warm sunlight. Manicured shrubberies climb walls making designs. Visit the gazebo at the edge of the pond. The water is still in the afternoon light. Ducks quack on the shore ready to swim among the lily pads. Eventually you will make your way back to the city center, down the cable car, and away from the gardens.
Enjoy another day of exploration during your second day in Wellington. Wander around the city and visit the Beehive, the name locals have affectionately given the executive wing of the parliament building. The structure boasts pillars circling around the base as the top tiers of the building contract the higher the building climbs. With architectural gems like the beehive and an urban collection of people, Wellington is as easily enjoyed by walking through the city as it is by visiting one of its fantastic museums. Explore the cafe buzz like a regular and watch the locals pass life by. Sit along the Matterhorn in the outside area complete with a warm open fire and surrounding heaters in the winter. This is a popular café for locals to come to socialize; the smell of fresh, dark roast coffee lingers in the warm sun. Wellington, whether action packed or leisurely strolled through, is a wonderful city for the independent minded to journey to and through.
On your final day in New Zealand you will depart Wellington by way of the airport ready to make your way home. The beauty of New Zealand is not hidden but rather is apparent in its landscape, its people, and its culture. However, by seeing the North Island’s wonders and experiencing new adventures, you were rewarded with memories and grand times. The true treasure of New Zealand, you found, was not in the pictures you take but in the memories you make.
If this 7-day trip isn't long enough for you, consider extending your time in New Zealand. See the reviews of New Zealand trips for additional ideas and real traveler reviews.
Enjoy the independent journey through the beauty of New Zealand’s North Island on this 7-day tour packed with the beauty of the island and its people. No matter the season, New Zealand is a treasure trove of beauty. The coast is dotted with sails, the inland is decorated with pristine lakes, lush fields, and looming mountains. Traverse the scenery while enjoying the flavors of the country, from local farms to local fisheries, from the northern end of the island to the southernmost tip, there is a never ending joy to the luxuries of New Zealand
Begin your adventure with two days in Auckland and its surroundings. Experience the vibrant urban life of Auckland harbors and take the time to explore the wonders of Waiheke Island just across the Tamaki Strait. The island is decorated with incredible art, sensual landscapes, and divine eateries, and as you wander the island there will be no excess to your indulgence. Exploring Rotorua gives you a sense of the country’s history through its cultural resurgence and historical town. There is no shortage of sites to see and wonders to experience while visiting Rotorua, from luxurious spas to cultural dinners, geysers to hot springs, the city and its surroundings are filled with continuous unforgettable wonders.
Travel from Rotorua to Napier and bask in the warm colors of the Art Deco seaside village. The city relishes its title based in a Great Depression memory that has shaped the past, present, and future of the city. You will be rewarded with delight whether you are walking along the incredible shores of the sea or through the city streets. Wellington brings along the final adventure as you traverse the depths of New Zealand’s capital. For two nights you will wander through the bustling streets and surrounding mountains to see the city’s beauty as the sun glistens along the stunning bay. All the majestic wonders of New Zealand’s North Island are shown and experienced in this adventure, a reward for the independent spirit, a reward for you.
$1745 per person (excluding international flights)
Tell us all about your
We match you with top
travel agents who
compete for your trip.
Book only once your
itinerary is refined to