New Zealand North Island: 4-day Itinerary

A whirlwind tour of the New Zealand’s North Island in 4 days?  Yes!  It was jam-packed but we were able to fit in some amazing adventures!  We experienced the beauty of glow worm caves underground to exploring the natural technicolor sulphur springs at Wai-o-Tapu.   Of course with kids, we packed in some fun times as well!   We let gravity do its thing as we raced down the side of a mountain in luges, and tumbled down hills inside a giant inflatable ball.    And of course, who could visit New Zealand without experiencing a little bit of Middle Earth!   Did we explore every corner of the  Island?  As you can see the size of the area on the map of New Zealand North Island, of course not.  Did we enjoy every single moment of it?  Absolutely.

Here’s how we explored the North Island of New Zealand in 4 days:

Day 1:  Leisure Day in Auckland

Okay.   The very first day, we took it relatively easy… keep in mind we just landed in the morning after a 16-hour flight!  But we did take the chance to explore a bit of the city of Auckland – which reminded us a lot of our home town of Vancouver.  We explore a bit of the harbour area, hiked up Mount Eden, and enjoyed some great food and coffee.

Family Travel map of North Island New Zealand

Day 2:  Waitomo & Ruakuri Caves

After a good nights' rest we were ready to begin our road trip!  First stop was to explore the incredible caves at Waitomo.  It was a bit of a drive (3 hours) but absolutely worth it!  This was easily one of the highlights of our Oceania vacation!

We finished our  caves adventures by mid-afternoon, and hit the road again to head to our 2-night destination, Rotorua.

Day 3:  Rotorua Geothermal Springs 

Amazingly.  Relaxingly.  Adventurously Explore Rotorua.   This the slogan from the region’s official website.  I’m not so sure about the Kiwi grammar, but we did have an amazing, relaxing, and adventurous time.   There was a lot to do in this area and we could have easily added 1, 2 or even 3 more days to the itinerary, but we were able to both explore the unique natural phenomenons of the sulphur springs while having some exciting activities for the kids as well!   For our full day in Rotorua, we decided to explore these attractions:  Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Government Gardens, and Kuirau Park.

Day 4 Morning:  Rotorua Fun Attractions

By the fifth day of the trip (including the flight from Vancouver), we thought it would be time to reward the kids by adding some exciting fun to the itinerary.   So our morning was packed with gravity-powered fun:  zorbing (rolling down a hill inside a giant inflatable ball) at OGO Rotorua, and speeding down the race courses at Skyline Luge.   It was such a blast!  Check out our reviews and some videos of the attractions:

Day 4 Afternoon:  A visit to Bag’s End

After lunch, it was time head out to our final tourist destination – the home of the Hobbits.   Even though I was the only Lord of the Rings fan in the family, all four of us enjoyed the  tour of the home of the hobbits, taking pictures, and listening to the behind-the-scene stories of one of the most ambitious and successful movie franchises ever.

After a enjoying a much needed ale at the Green Dragon Inn, we hopped back into the car for a 2 hour drive back to Auckland, where we stayed the night before our next Oceanic destination – Australia.

And that was our whirlwind tour of New Zealand’s North Island!  

Click on the links above to read in more detail about our adventures at each of these wonderful areas!

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