4 day New Zealand North Island Itinerary

We visited the North Island of New Zealand in 2018 for 4 days (full days). It was a short amount of time to see this vast country. We jam packed as many activities as we can to maximize our time and had tons of fun. Of course we picked what we think is the best that the North Island has to offer. The 4 of us were able to enjoy fully every single activity on the list.

You will find our itineraries heavily skewed to family-friendly activities because we need to make sure the 2 kids are enjoying it. Happy kids, happy parents.

I tried my best to update the information such as hours and prices for each place at the time of writing this update in 2024. But please make sure to double check for changes subsequent to the post.

This took quite a bit of time to compile so I really hope this will be useful to everyone including families who’s looking for ideas for their itinerary to the North Island.

Driving distance indicated below is only indicative. It will depend current traffic conditions so do build in extra time if you have to arrive at the next destination by a certain time.

Highlights

  • Length: 4 days (full days)
  • Flew in and out of Auckland Airport (AKL)
  • Auckland -> Waitomo Caves -> Rotorua -> Matamata (Hinuera) -> Auckland
  • Highlights: do not miss the Ruakuri Cave!

Day 1 – Auckland (1 Night)​

Mount Eden

Family Travel Mount Eden Auckland New Zealand

Dominated by a volcanic peak also known as Maungawhau, with hiking and jogging trails leading to views over the Hauraki Gulf.


Sky Tower (Optional)

One of the tallest freestanding structures in the world, this impressive downtown landmark is a popular dining and bungee-jumping destination.


Viaduct Harbour Waterfront

  • Read what we think of it!
  • Suggested Duration: 2 hours
  • Hours Mon-Sun: All day
  • Price: Free
  • Address: Viaduct Harbour Ave, Auckland Central, Auckland 1010

Formerly Auckland’s busy commercial port, Viaduct Harbour now serves as an upscale residential and dining area.


 

Day 2 – Waitomo (onto Rotorua)

Ruakuri Cave

  • Read what we think of it!.
  • Suggested Duration: 2 hours
  • Hours: Sun – Sat 9am – 3pm
  • Price: Adult $107 Child $41 Family $260
  • Address: Waitomo Caves 3977, New Zealand
  • Website

Ruakuri Cave has an impressive 15m-high spiral staircase, bypassing a Māori burial site at the cave entrance. Tours lead through 1.6km of the 7.5km system, taking in caverns with glowworms, subterranean streams and waterfalls, and intricate limestone structures.


Waitomo Glowworm Caves

  • Read what we think of it!.
  • Suggested Duration: 1.5 hours
  • Hours: Sun – Sat 9am – 3pm
  • Price: Adult $75 Child $34 Family $191
  • Address: 39 Waitomo Village Rd, Waitomo Caves, Otorohanga 3943
  • Website

The guided tour of the Glowworm Cave, which is behind the visitor centre, leads past impressive stalactites and stalagmites into a large cavern known as the Cathedral. The highlight comes at the tour’s end when you board a boat and swing off onto the river.

See also  One day Beijing itinerary recommendations

Waitomo Labyrinth Black Water Rafting

  • Optional in our opinion, especially for family with young kids .
  • Suggested Duration: 3 to 5 hours
  • Hours: Every hour daily from 7am with the last tour at 2pm
  • Price: $179 and up
  • Address: 585 Waitomo Caves Rd, Waitomo Caves

If your schedule permits, you can check out the tours offered by either Legendary Black Water Rafting or Kiwi Cave Rafting.


Day 3 – Rotorua (2 Nights)

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

  • Read what we think of it!.
  • Suggested Duration: 2 to 3 hours
  • Hours: Sun – Sat 8:30am – 4:30 pm (last admission at 3pm)
  • Price: Adult $45 Child $15 Family $105. Get your tickets here.
  • Address: 201 Waiotapu Loop Road | Rd 3, Rotorua 3073
  • Website

A natural geothermal area stretching over 18 sq km (7 sq mi). Choose one of three self-guided trails, each of which boasts numerous colorful lakes, rock formations, and mud pools. Enjoy the vivid hues of the geothermal pools, and take stunning shots of the eerie, sulphuric hot springs. Should also check out the Lady Knox Geyser.


Government Gardens

Rotorua Government Gardens
  • Read what we think of it!.
  • Suggested Duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • Hours: Sun – Sat all day
  • Price: Free
  • Address: Hinemaru Street, Rotorua

Government Gardens boasts a nusery which annually produces 420,000 bedding plants for display within the city’s 150 flower beds.


Ohinemutu

  • Optional in our opinion .
  • Suggested Duration: 1 hour
  • Hours: Daylight hours
  • Price: Free
  • Address: Mataiwhera St, Rotorua

Ohinemutu is a living Māori village set on the picturesque shores of Lake Rotorua.


Kuirau Park

Free geothermal pools at Kuirau Park
  • Read what we think of it!.
  • Suggested Duration: 1 to 2 hours
  • Hours: Sun – Sat all day
  • Price: Free
  • Address: Ranolf Street and Lake Road, Rotorua

Kuirau Park, in the heart of Rotorua is New Zealand’s only geothermal public park


Day 4 – Rotorua (continued)

OGO Rotorua

  • Read what we think of it!.
  • Suggested Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours
  • Hours: Sun – Sat 9am – 5pm
  • Price: Starting at $45pp
  • Address: 525 Ngongotaha Rd, Fairy Springs, Rotorua 3015
  • Website

Step inside a giant transparent orb and prepare to roll, bounce, and race at OGO Rotorua, the largest ball rolling park in the world.


Luge Rotorua

  • Read what we think of it!.
  • Suggested Duration: 3 hours
  • Hours: Sun – Sat 9am – 5pm
  • Price: Gondola Adult $40 Child $26 Gondola + 3 Luge rides Adult $72 Child $47
  • Address: 178 Fairy Springs Rd, Fairy Springs, Rotorua 3015,”
  • Website

Adventure centre with a gondola, luge tracks, a high-adrenaline swing, zip-line & panoramic dining.


Hobbiton Tour, Hinuera

Revisit Middle Earth at Hobbiton Movie Set, used extensively in both “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” film series. As your guide takes you around the Shire, you’ll discover just how filmmaker Peter Jackson made his movie magic here. The journey across the 4.8 hectare (12 acre) set includes stops at Hobbit holes, the Mill, and the Dragon Inn, where you’ll be able to enjoy a special beverage.

See also  Hobbiton Movie Set

And there you have it, our fully-packed family-friendly 4 day itinerary to the North Island of New Zealand. Everyday was a tremendous experience for us.

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