16 days in North Island & Te Anau Itinerary

16 days in North Island & Te Anau Itinerary

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Route & dates

16 days in North Island & Te Anau Itinerary

Start: Auckland
1
Auckland
— 1 night
2
Waitomo Caves
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h
3
Tauranga
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h
4
Rotorua
— 4 nights
Fly:  3​h
5
Wellington
— 1 night
6
Te Anau
— 2 nights
bus + Fly:  8​h
7
Paihia
— 3 nights
Fly + bus:  2​h 45​min
End: Auckland

1
night
Auckland

Auckland ©
The largest and most populous city in New Zealand, Auckland combines a rich history and thriving contemporary culture in an abundance of museums, art galleries, and performance venues.
Start off your visit on the 28th (Wed): meet the residents at Auckland Zoo, then get engrossed in the history at Auckland Museum, and then stop by Pauanesia.

To find where to stay, photos, ratings, and other tourist information, you can read our Auckland trip itinerary maker.

Use the Route module to see travel options from your home to Auckland. In December, daily temperatures in Auckland can reach 19°C, while at night they dip to 19°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 29th (Thu) early enough to drive to Waitomo Caves.

Things to do in Auckland

Zoos & Aquariums Parks Museums
Find places to stay Dec 27 — 29:
Highlights from your plan
Auckland Zoo ©
Auckland Zoo
Auckland War Memorial Museum ©
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Pauanesia ©
Pauanesia

1
night
Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Caves ©
Head deep beneath the surface of the earth at Waitomo Caves, a village and cave system that draws both extreme sports enthusiasts and those wanting something a little more relaxed.
On the 29th (Thu), explore the fascinating underground world of Spellbound Glowworm & Cave Tours and then Head underground at Waitomo Glowworm Caves. On the 30th (Fri), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: identify plant and animal life at Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park and then identify plant and animal life at Ruakuri Caves & Bush Scenic Reserve.

To see maps, photos, where to stay, and more tourist information, read our Waitomo Caves online itinerary creator.

Traveling by car from Auckland to Waitomo Caves takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and taxi. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 30th (Fri) so you can go by car to Tauranga.

Things to do in Waitomo Caves

Parks Outdoors Wildlife

Side Trip

Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park
Find places to stay Dec 29 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
Waitomo Glowworm Caves ©
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Ruakuri Walk ©
Ruakuri Walk

2
nights
Tauranga

Tauranga ©
The largest city in the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga features extensive sandy beaches, well-maintained hiking paths, and a good range of accommodations.
On the 31st (Sat), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: kick back and relax at Maunganui Beach.

For photos, other places to visit, more things to do, and more tourist information, go to the Tauranga travel itinerary planner.

You can drive from Waitomo Caves to Tauranga in 2 hours. Another option is to take a bus. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 1st (Sun) early enough to drive to Rotorua.

Things to do in Tauranga

Parks Outdoors Trails
Find places to stay Dec 30 — Jan 1:
Highlights from your plan
Mt Maunganui Main Beach ©
Mt Maunganui Main Beach

4
nights
Rotorua

Rotorua ©
Surrounded by lakes and featuring impressive areas of geothermal landscape, the city of Rotorua offers an otherwordly landscape and a welcoming, peaceful environment, with the culture of the native Maori people very much in the foreground.
You'll visit kid-friendly attractions like Agrodome and Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre. Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around Rotorua: Taupo (Volcanic Activity Centre & Huka Falls). And it doesn't end there: witness a stunning natural landmark at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, experience rural life at aMAZEme, do a tasting at Volcanic Hills Winery, and look for all kinds of wild species at Rainbow Springs Nature Park.

To find photos, more things to do, maps, and other tourist information, read Rotorua vacation builder.

You can drive from Tauranga to Rotorua in an hour. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Finish your sightseeing early on the 5th (Thu) to allow enough time to travel to Wellington.

Things to do in Rotorua

Parks Wildlife Nature

Side Trip

Taupo
Find places to stay Jan 1 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland ©
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Huka Falls Walkway ©
Huka Falls Walkway
Rainbow Springs Nature Park ©
Rainbow Springs Nature Park

1
night
Wellington

Wellington
Wellington, the world's southernmost capital city and New Zealand's second most populous urban area, combines the nation's rugged history and nature with its modern and cosmopolitan present.
Start off your visit on the 5th (Thu): examine the collection at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, take in nature's colorful creations at Wellington Botanic Garden, and then look for all kinds of wild species at ZEALANDIA Sanctuary. On the 6th (Fri), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: get a taste of the local shopping with The Weta Cave, then meet the residents at Wellington Zoo, then admire the striking features of Old St Paul's, and finally catch a ride on Wellington Cable Car.

To see photos, more things to do, ratings, and other tourist information, refer to the Wellington sightseeing planner.

You can do a combination of bus and flight from Rotorua to Wellington in 3 hours. Other options are to drive; or take a bus. In January, plan for daily highs up to 23°C, and evening lows to 17°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 6th (Fri) early enough to travel to Te Anau.

Things to do in Wellington

Parks Zoos & Aquariums Wildlife

Side Trip

Wellington Botanic Garden
Find places to stay Jan 5 — 6:
Highlights from your plan
ZEALANDIA Sanctuary ©
ZEALANDIA Sanctuary
Wellington Zoo ©
Wellington Zoo

2
nights
Te Anau

Te Anau ©
Set among the picturesque peaks and glacially carved fiords of Fiordland National Park, Te Anau offers those wishing to explore the park a great place to stay and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of a small town in an enviable location.
On the 7th (Sat), explore the activities along Doubtful Sound and then contemplate the waterfront views at Lake Te Anau. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: explore the wealth of natural beauty at Fiordland National Park (Te Wahipounamu).

For photos, maps, reviews, and other tourist information, you can read our Te Anau vacation trip planner.

Do a combination of bus and flight from Wellington to Te Anau in 6 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of ferry and bus. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 9th (Mon) to allow time for travel to Paihia.

Things to do in Te Anau

Nature Parks Wildlife
Find places to stay Jan 6 — 9:
Highlights from your plan
Doubtful Sound ©
Doubtful Sound
Te Anau Glowworm Caves ©
Te Anau Glowworm Caves
Lake Te Anau ©
Lake Te Anau

3
nights
Paihia

Paihia ©
The main tourist town in the Bay of Islands area, Paihia gives visitors a good range of accommodations, a convenient town center, long sandy beaches, and interesting architecture.
On the 10th (Tue), take in the dramatic scenery at Rainbow Falls, admire the sheer force of Haruru Falls, and then look for all kinds of wild species at Paihia Harbour. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: take in nature's colorful creations at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, then fly like a bird with a parasailing or paragliding tour, and then see some colorful creatures with a scuba or snorkeling tour.

To see reviews, ratings, where to stay, and other tourist information, you can read our Paihia tour planner.

You can do a combination of bus, flight, and taxi from Te Anau to Paihia in 8 hours. Another option is to do a combination of bus, ferry, and car. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 12th (Thu) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Paihia

Wildlife Parks Tours

Side Trip

Rainbow Falls
Find places to stay Jan 9 — 12:
Highlights from your plan
Paihia Harbour ©
Paihia Harbour
Scuba & Snorkeling
Nature & Wildlife Tours

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