Travel via New Zealand’s famous Thermal Explorer Highway touring route taking in the special region of Hamilton through the beautiful countryside of Waikato and King Country. Our very experienced and knowledgeable local Host-Guides will tell you about New Zealand and its extraordinary places you’ll see along the approximately 2.5-hour journey to and from Waitomo.
Waitomo Caves is an amazing natural wonderland which offers a vast range of unique sights and experiences. You can see the Kiwi, our national bird and emblem, as well as many of our native flora and fauna at the Otorohanga Kiwi House.
When arriving at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, you have a choice of several amazing options to marvel at an extraordinary Glowworm cave in total darkness. Each tour option brings you close to the beautiful Glowworms in Waitomo.
Accommodation is at or near Waitomo Caves
After a short drive to Piopio just south of Waitomo Caves, you have the option to visit the “Hairy Feet” Scenic Film location where about 22 minutes of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” was filmed. You can simulate movie scenes, step in Gandalf’s footprints and even hold Bilbo’s sword! On the tour you will also see towering limestone cliffs, massive rock formations and a primeval forest on the farm that was chosen as the location for Staddle Farm and Trollshaw Forest from “The Hobbit - an Unexpected Journey”.
We then set off for the Central Volcanic Plateau of New Zealand’s North Island with the huge volcanic caldera Lake Taupo as its centerpiece and New Zealand’s largest lake. When we arrive in Taupo, you can just relax or have a range of activity options in the evening, including some very nice restaurants. You can also have a swim in Taupo’s thermal pools and/or enjoy a wonderful spa experience.
Browse in the town’s mix of local shops, or picnic along the lakefront. We can book from a range of additional tour options (own cost), or we can show you around this stunning area as part of our tour. Additional tour options are:
• A scenic cruise on beautiful lake Taupo to Maori rock carvings.
• Trout fishing - Fly Fishing or from a boat - in various locations in or around Lake Taupo, which is reputed to be one of the world’s best Trout fishing spots.
• Jet boating along the Waikato River and right up to Huka Falls
• Huka Prawn Park, where we can also stop for lunch if you like Prawns.
• An afternoon of golf at Wairakei Golf Course, voted one of the world's finest 100 golf courses
On the way to Rotorua, we stop at a viewpoint for a spectacular view of Huka Falls on the mighty Waikato River.
We can also show you the impressive Aratiatia Rapids, an amazing spectacle when a lock in the Waikato River is lifted and the river is allowed to roar through at amazing force and speed a few times per day. The Aratiatia Rapids were used for an extensive scene in Peter Jackson’s famous movie trilogy “The Hobbit”.
We then head north towards Rotorua, the famous region which is home to several of New Zealand’s most impressive thermal areas. We suggest visiting at least one of Wai-o-Tapu, Orakei Korako or Waimangu Volcanic Valley, where you can experience the full might and majesty of this unique and spectacular volcanic landscape, for which Rotorua and Taupo are world-renowned.
After settling into your accommodation at our specially chosen hotel (we have a range of hotel and accommodation options for you, depending on your preferences and budget), in the evening we highly recommend a unique Maori cultural experience in Rotorua. Here you can enjoy a traditional Kai Maori (Maori food) cooked in a Hangi (earth oven) and enjoy a performance of song and dance in a traditional Maori village setting, including the Haka, the Maori war dance made famous by our national Rugby Team, the “All Blacks”.
As part of your Private Tour with us, we can show you (all part of our tour):
We can also arrange extra tour options (at your cost) including:
After an exciting morning in Rotorua we drive to the Eastern Bay of Plenty region in the afternoon and give you enough time to relax in or around the Whakatane/Ohope Beach area. Accommodation in Whakatane or Ohope Beach.
In this area, we also offer you different options:
• A Mount Maunganui walking tour to hear the history of this extinct volcano while enjoying stunning views over the ocean and untamed wildlife on your way up to the summit.
• A fun tour through abundant landscape on which you will hear lots of information about the Kiwifruit Industry and of course a tasting at the end.
• A dolphin safari where you will see the amazing wildlife in the Bay of Plenty region and have the unique chance to swim with wild dolphins.
• A stop at Comvita to learn about our Manuka Honey and many other natural skin care products that New Zealand is famous for.
• Further on towards Auckland, a Karangahake Gorge Walking Tour that will lead through dark miner’s tunnels and over swing bridges crossing the Ohinemuri River and on the way back you view a working mine, sculptures and mural art.
After a day full of adventures in the Bay of Plenty region we drive back to Auckland in the afternoon. You can just relax in our luxury vehicle and enjoy New Zealand’s stunning scenery on the way back to your accommodation, Auckland airport, cruise ship or other location.