The Ultimate North Island Itineraries

New Zealand is one of those travel ‘bucket list’ destinations that absolutely everybody needs to see.  It is chock full of iconic tourism activities and attractions that the crowds all flock to, but the real New Zealand is best experienced once you get off the beaten track. Why not venture beyond the usual locations and head to the central North Island region… you’ll be so glad you did! Get to see, touch and taste authentic kiwi life where every experience will be unique. You can stay a day, 3 days or even a week – there’s so much to do.

The central North Island is a fantastic destination and so much can be enjoyed in a short amount of time due to the close proximity of the region’s offerings. Visit towns and cities such as Hamilton, Tauranga, Raglan, Cambridge, Waitomo, Rotorua and Taupo. Attractions include authentic movie sets, wildlife sanctuaries, surf and swim beaches, jet boat rides, horse trekking, bike riding, farm tours, hot pools, amazing food, fabulous lodges, geothermal wonderlands and so much more.

Planning an unforgettable day in the Waikato

The ultimate one-day Waikato itinerary would be action packed, scenery driven, history laden and adventure filled, yet still be an intimate and memorable day to be experienced by families, friends and small groups alike. Stay the night in the luxurious Lakeview Lodge overlooking Lake Karapiro, then start the following morning with a tour at Hobbiton Movie Set. Afterwards head to Te Waihou Blue Springs for a leisurely walk while viewing the crystal clear waters. 

Grab some lunch in the village of Putaruru and be sure to sample the delicious produce at Over the Moon artisan cheese store. Then it’s a short drive to the fabulous Sanctuary Mountain at Maungatautari, a true New Zealand wildlife success story. Head back via the swing bridge at Arapuni, and if you’re keen you can bike a section of the Waikato River Trail. Finally grab a bite to eat on the shores of stunning Lake Karapiro prior to heading out for a magical twilight kayak glowworm tour with the fun crew at Lake District Adventures – what a way to finish an amazing day!

Three days in the Central North Island with kids

If you're able to stay a few more days with the children over the school holidays, we recommend you base yourselves in the quaint town of Cambridge and head out for day trips. The family can enjoy a tour of the world famous Hamilton Gardens; try biking on the Waikato River Trail or the Te Awa River Ride; go kayaking on Lake Karapiro; see native birds at Sanctuary Mountain / Maungatautari; head to Waitomo to explore the incredible cave systems; try surfing or paddleboarding at renowned Raglan; take a cruise on the Waikato River Explorer or get your pulse racing with Camjet jet boat tours. These are just a few of the options the whole family can enjoy together.

One week through the North Island

This ultimate 7-day North Island experience is exactly what I’d plan for my own family holiday! We’d kick off at the wineries on Waiheke Island, then head to the Coromandel to explore golden beaches and charming seaside towns. The Waikato would come next – a day spent at Hobbiton, the Hamilton Gardens, on the Waikato River and a glow worm tour at Lake Karapiro in the evening. Continuing south, we’d explore the cultural and geothermal wonders of Rotorua, and then give fly fishing, sky diving and golf a go on the edge of Lake Taupo. The Art Deco capital of Napier would be fun – think bike trails and more vineyards – and we’d end the week exploring Te Papa, the Beehive, Oriental Bay and the foodie scene of Wellington, our capital city. Phew!

How much more memorable is a holiday when you feel like you’ve got off the beaten track? Seeking out local gems, experiencing what life is really like and staying away from the crowds is the best way to really explore a new country. At Lake District Adventures, this is our ethos – we’re all about helping guests to experience our very own backyard, in a unique and special way. We’ll show you a slice of authentic Kiwi hospitality and help create memories that will last you a lifetime.