Volcanic Pathways
10 days from Auckland to Auckland
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New Zealand tour itinerary name and information
Thrifty Tours

Volcanic Pathways

Begin the journey in Auckland, and take a tour through Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton on your way to Rotorua. Rotorua is a natural and cultural hotspot where you can indulge in natural hot springs and embrace Maori Culture with a traditional Hangi Dinner meal. Next stop is Taupo, a serene lakeside town with a boardwalk of restaurants. Consider getting out on the water and cruising to see the Maori Rock Carvings! The next morning sees you off to the capital city Wellington, including a chance to see the heart of Middle Earth at Weta Workshop and explore the wonders of Zealandia. Journey back through the centre aboard the Northern Explorer Train, first stop at Tongariro National Park. Tongariro is famous for its volcanic activity and prehistorical vistas. Slow down and unwind in Tongariro before boarding the train back to Auckland.

Tour special blurb

**Please Note: Some elements of this tour may only run on certain days of the week. Speak to one of our travel specialists today to find a departure date that works for you.

Tour summary and feature

Tour overview

Departs every day - flexible independent travel

This suggested tour costs from NZD$4,085 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Auckland

10 days/9 nights

Hotel 3 star

 Customisable? YES

 Viewed 32 times in the last 7 days

This tour also includes
- Taupo Accommodation to Taupo Coach Depot - Private Transfer
- Private Transfer Auckland accommodation to Auckland Airport
- Private Transfer Auckland Train Station to Auckland accommodation
- Private transfer Wellington hotel to train station (IST)
- Private Taxi Transfer - Wellington Coach Depot or Railway Station to Accommodation
- Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland accommodation
- Taupo Coach Depot to Taupo Accommodation - Private Transfer
- Rotorua Accommodation to Rotorua Intercity Bus Stop with Ready2Roll
1 lunch, 1 dinner, 1 special dinner
Looking for something slightly different?

We can customize this tour suggestion to suit you perfectly. Add more time in favourite locations, stay in different accommodations, experience activities that interest you - we can arrange it all. Just get in touch to get your Tailor-Made itinerary

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Welcome to Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand's self-proclaimed "City of Sails" is the country's largest metro area. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests, and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Explore the central museums and galleries on foot, or get out onto the water to experience the best views of the city.

Private Transfer Auckland Airport to Auckland Accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland airport by the driver and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Harbour Dinner Cruise with Explore

This unique on-water dining experience is not to be missed while you're in Auckland. Enjoy smooth sailing on the Waitemata Harbour - then watch this photogenic city come alive with twinkling lights. Enjoy your meal as you sail around the beautiful Auckland Harbour taking in the view as the sun slowly sets. You'll be treated to canapes and a drink as you set off towards Westhaven Marina. Choose between dining in the downstairs cabin or on deck to take in the iconic sights of the Auckland Harbour. To finish the evening off, savour your dessert course as you leisurely sail back to Auckland's vibrant Viaduct Harbour.

Your accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Admirably positioned in the hub of the city's business, retail and entertainment district, the City Life Hotel is perfect to explore Auckland. Their self-contained suites are equipped with everything you will need to enjoy your stay.
Meals included: Dinner

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Auckland to Rotorua with Hobbiton & Waitomo Glow Worms Tour with FlexiTours - Lunch Included

Travel from Auckland to Hobbiton and the Waitomo Caves on your way to Rotorua. Become immersed in The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit films when you visit the actual Hobbiton movie set. On this 2.5 hour tour you will be taken through Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn where you will enjoy a complimentary drink, The Mill and the Party Tree while your guide shares behind-the-scenes tales and fascinating insight into the making of the films.
At Waitomo, explore a 30 million year old cave network spread across three levels. You'll travel deep underground through the limestone caves viewing stalactites and stalagmites as well as hearing about the cave's historical and geological significance. You'll then hop into a boat and glide silently through the glow worm grotto - a galaxy of tiny living lights. Your included lunch is at 'The Homestead'.
From Waitomo, you'll head to Rotorua, your destination for the day.

Rotorua

Rotorua sits on top of one of the world's most active volcanic regions. Below the surface the earth's crust grinds and moves producing heat and molten rock. Throughout the city and its surrounds the evidence of this is surprisingly common. Steam rising from cracks in the road, bubbling and hissing water in pools along the lakes edge and of course the strong smell of sulphur. The original Maori inhabitants recognised the great potential of this natural resource and applied it to cook their food and a plentiful supply of hot water to relax and bathe in didn't go unnoticed by the early European tourists.
Today Rotorua offers a myriad of activities for all to enjoy. Its compact city centre is ideal to stroll and enjoy the cuisine and hospitality. Government gardens provide a wonderful respite and in the centre the Rotorua Museum is a must see. A walk along the lake edge will deliver you to one of the country's oldest Maori villages at Ohinemutu or a float plane can whisk you over the craters of nearby Mt. Tarawera. Surrounding the city are thermal reserves such as Whakawerawera and Wai-O-Tapu, and here you can walk amongst bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers and sulphur ponds. Just a few minutes from the town centre Mt. Ngongotaha and the Skyline Gondola and luge overlook the lake and a little further on the Agrodome centre is where you head for adventure and an adrenalin rush. Here you can ride the Zorb, travel at up to 100kph on a jet boat, simulate sky diving or take the plunge on a giant swing. An agricultural exhibition and show is also based here. No visit to Rotorua would be complete without experiencing Rotorua's original tourist attraction - a relaxing spa treatment.

Your accommodation: Sudima Lake Rotorua

Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua boasts a location that is second-to-none, right on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua. Adjacent to the world-famous Polynesian Spa complex and just a short stroll to all the attractions in Rotorua.
Meals included: Lunch

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Mountain Jade - Highlights Tour

This 30 minute highlights tour is a rare opportunity to spend time with New Zealand Jade artists. New Zealand Jade known as Greenstone, but more commonly known in New Zealand as Pounamu has a rich history within Maori culture. The expert guide will show you the intricate process of Pounamu carving first hand in the Mountain Jade studio. The local artist will be there to personally demonstrate the carving process and share their stories and knowledge with you. To top off the tour, you will get to select your very own piece of Pounamu and learn to string it yourself so you can take it home.

Polynesian Spa Adult Pavilion Pools & Priest Spa

Just for adults, this popular area offers seven hot mineral pools with views of Lake Rotorua. The pools are fed with hot mineral spring water from two different springs.
Three cascading, marble-lined pools (38˚C to 39˚C), feature alkaline water, renowned for its natural antiseptic action due to the high sodium silica content. The smooth terraced walls provide a popular resting spot for bathers!
The large deeper alkaline pool (38˚C) is an excellent place to stretch out for some light activity. Historically it was said that those who bathe in the Rachel Spring water will be blessed with ageless beauty!
The three Priest Spa pools (38˚C to 41˚C), offer special thermal bathing in acidic water from the Radium hot spring, long renowned for its therapeutic properties. The Priest Spa was named after a Catholic priest, who in the late 1800s gained great relief from arthritis when bathing in the hot spring waters.
Spacious changing rooms are provided and a choice of storage tubs and pay-lockers are available for your belongings and valuables.

Te Pō - Indigenous Evening Experience

Enjoy an in depth experience of the customs and traditions of Māori, with a traditional pōwhiri (Māori welcoming ceremony), a warrior's challenge and a full kapa haka (Māori performing arts) concert. Feeding guests is regarded by Māori as an honour and a sign of a tribe's mana (standing), so a sumptuous banquet is provided during the evening. This banquet combines contemporary cuisine with a traditional hangi (earth-cooked oven meal). Following dessert, you will be transported to enjoy the spectacular lighting of the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. Guests can wander around the illuminated natural attractions, including the world famous Pohutu geyser, while enjoying more Māori-inspired delicacies and a hot drink.

Your accommodation: Sudima Lake Rotorua

Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua boasts a location that is second-to-none, right on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua. Adjacent to the world-famous Polynesian Spa complex and just a short stroll to all the attractions in Rotorua.
Meals included: Speciality Dinner

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Private Transfer - Rotorua Accommodation to Rotorua Intercity Bus Stop with Ready2Roll

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Rotorua Intercity Bus Stop.

Rotorua to Taupō by InterCity Coach

Today you will travel along the geothermal highway between Rotorua and Taupō. The town of Taupō sits on New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupō. Just north of the town are the Huka Falls, the Huka Jet can get you much closer to the falls with a thrilling jet boat ride. Craters of the Moon is a nearby geothermal reserve with well formed walking tracks around its many boiling pools and steaming vents.

Taupo

The town of Taupo sits on New Zealand's largest lake, Lake Taupo and this beautiful and serene body of water is reason enough to visit. The lake is actually a volcanic caldera formed following a massive eruption in the year 186 and is considered to be one of the most massive and violent eruptions known. Overlooking the lake are the cones of long extinct volcanoes, further evidence of the regions fiery past. To the south-west Mt. Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park can be seen. The town itself is a lively place with many shops, bars and cafes all catering for the traveller and visitor.
A whole host of activities can be undertaken here such as bungy jumping, sky diving, fishing for trout in the lake and rivers, kayaking, sailing, horse riding and walking and hiking to name but a few.
Stop in at the quirky L'Arte Cafe and Gallery, home to the famous mosaic outdoor living room and the well-recognised ‘Alice’s Chair’ sculpture.
Just to the north of the town centre is the Wairakei geothermal power station and a little further north is Craters of the Moon, a geothermal wonderland where you can explore colourful sulphurous lakes, bubbling mud pools and hot water geysers from the safety of boardwalks. The nearby Huka Falls are a spectacular sight and a jet boat ride will give you a very exciting ride to view the thundering water from below.

Taupo Coach Depot to Taupo Accommodation with Taupo Private Transfers

You will be collected from Taupo coach depot and transferred to your accommodation.

Maori Rock Carving Cruise

Sit back and relax in luxury bean bags on board the yacht Barbary as you enjoy a scenic sail across Lake Taupo to the 10-metre high Maori rock art, only accessible by boat. You're guaranteed amazing photo opportunities as you experience one of life's postcard moments on this Maori tour. Glide across a smooth lake as you soak up the warming sun or go for a swim before you enjoy free light refreshments at the rock carvings. If you're looking for a little more activity you can help hoist the sails or take a turn at the wheel. Taupo's Maori rock carvings may look like the remains of a 1,000-year-old Maori village, but these rock carvings were created in the late 70s by local artists lead by John Randall. Duration of cruise is 2 to 2.5 hours.

Your accommodation: Anchorage Resort

Anchorage Resort boasts stunning views of Lake Taupo and has a wide range of facilities including a heated swimming pool, hot tub, outdoor barbeque area and trampoline for the kids! The resort is just a 5-minute drive to central Taupo with a range of restaurants, cafés, shops and access to all the region has to offer.

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Taupo Accommodation to Taupo Coach Depot with Taupo Private Transfers

You will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Taupo Intercity coach stop.

Taupō to Wellington by Intercity Coach

Your coach journey will skirt around the edge of New Zealand largest lake and lead you to Turangi, the self proclaimed Trout Fishing Capital. You then travel up onto the central plateau and the high country Rangipo Desert and on to Tongariro National Park. Heading south you pass through the rural towns of Taihape, Mangaweka and Bulls before arriving on the Kāpiti Coast which is the outer limits of greater Wellington. Wellington City is New Zealand's capital. It sits on a wonderful deep natural harbour and is surrounded by bush clad hills. The city centre itself is quite compact (only around 1 square kilometre) and so exploring on foot is relatively easy.

Taxi Transfer to your accommodation
Wellington City

Wellington home to New Zealand’s centre of government has a largely cosmopolitan feel. Often referred to as ‘mini Melbourne', this (self-described) windy city is a melting pot of art, culture, food, and fashion. Quirky laneway bars, underground art shows, and hipster eateries make up its inner-city vibe, while a host of sandy beaches outside the urban bustle bring a cheerful holiday feel.
Head to Te Papa Museum for a history lesson and a ticket to one of its many international exhibitions or jump aboard the Wellington Cable Car at Lambton Quay - the only running funicular railway in the country. For those with an eye for boutique, fashion wander through Cuba St to sample some of the city's best vintage stores. Break for coffee at a hipster cafe and be sure to snap a pic outside the ‘Beehive,’ New Zealand’s parliamentary debate chamber.
Go behind the scenes at Weta Workshop Experience, the Oscar Award Winning design studio behind Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit, and Avatar. If you're a foodie at heart, a two-hour round trip to Martinborough is a must-do. Take your time as you wind through spectacular wine country, and be sure to stop in at Martinborough Wines or Ata Rangi Martinborough. For an educational day out, learn about New Zealand's native species at Zealandia, the world's first fully-fenced eco-sanctuary and home to over 40 types of endangered and native birds.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Zealandia By Day Wildlife Sanctuary Tour

Taking a day tour of Zealandia wildlife eco-sanctuary is an unforgettable experience and one that comes highly recommended. A conservation success and safe haven for some of New Zealand's rarest native animals, Zealandia is home to many remarkable species of birds, reptiles and insects living wild within a beautiful 225 hectare (one square mile) valley - just 10 minutes from the central city.
Walk through the gates of the Zealandia predator-exclusion fence into the sanctuary. Your guide will then lead you on a walk through the native New Zealand bush. Possible sights include Kaka, Kakariki, Takahe, Tuatara, Saddleback, Whitehead, Weta, Kereru, Hihi and the Bellbird. New Zealand has some of the most unique biodiversity and advanced conservation techniques in the world. Soak up the beautiful scenery while learning more about our unique ecological history.

Your accommodation: Naumi Hotel Wellington

Naumi Studio Wellington, an iconic heritage landmark in the heart of the Cuba Street precinct. After an extensive renovation, this 116-room property has transformed into visual feast for the senses, enthralling guests with eclectic spaces inspired from seafaring, the library world and enduring love.

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Wētā Workshop Experience + Guided Transfers

Get the full experience to Wētā Workshop and back with a guided transfer. Also, bag some other cool perks that will make your experience extra special. Learn about the real props, costumes and creatures created for your favourite films. Interact with cool stuff from the Weta workshop creative departments and catch an artist at work on the tour stage. Discover the filmmaking technique of miniature effects and learn how they are built for hit TV and film productions. Get up close to the props, weapons and costumes created for The Lord of the Rings, Power Rangers, The Great Wall, Avatar, District 9, and more.

Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand

New Zealand’s national museum tells the great stories of New Zealand’s past, present and future. Over 20 galleries house imaginative exhibitions and interactive experiences that explore New Zealand’s unique natural environment, the triumphs and tragedies of colonial history, and the warmth and vitality of the Maori people.

Your accommodation: Naumi Hotel Wellington

Naumi Studio Wellington, an iconic heritage landmark in the heart of the Cuba Street precinct. After an extensive renovation, this 116-room property has transformed into visual feast for the senses, enthralling guests with eclectic spaces inspired from seafaring, the library world and enduring love.

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Private transfer to Wellington train station

You will be collected from your hotel and transferred to Wellington train station to meet your train.

The Northern Explorer Scenic Train: Wellington to National Park

The Northern Explorer is a journey through the heart of the North Island, travelling between Wellington, New Zealand's capital city, to Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. Your journey today from Wellington travels along the spectacular Kapiti Coast, past the rolling countryside of the Manawatu region to the mountainous Tongariro National Park. Enjoy fantastic views from the panoramic windows in your carriage or the open-air viewing deck at the rear of the train.

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park, established in 1887 after the Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV gifted the sacred peaks to the nation. It was also only the fourth place on earth to be given recognition as a World Heritage area. At the heart of the park are three volcanoes, Mount Tongariro, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe. Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Ruapehu are considered the two most active composite volcanoes in the world with the latter erupting in 1995 and 1996 sending ash up to 30, 000 feet into the air.  In 2012 Mt Tongariro also erupted, but these volcanoes are constantly monitored to ensure visitor safety.
Despite the barren and sometimes inhospitable environment, the region abounds with flora and fauna. Alpine herbs and flaxes thrive on the upper slopes while dense beech forests cover the lower regions. New Zealand's only native mammals, the short and long tailed bat also make their homes here.
The 1 day Tongariro Crossing is one of New Zealand's Great Walks, taking around 6 to 8 hours to complete.  This magnificent walk will take you past the remarkable Emerald and Blue Lakes and through volcanic terrain you won’t see anywhere else in New Zealand. There are many other tracks and trails in the park to suit all abilities, including shorter walks and a guided Tongariro 3.5 day walk. Also lying within the park is New Zealand's largest ski area, Mt Ruapehu Ski Field, encompassing Whakapapa and Turoa.

Your accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge

Tongariro Crossing Lodge is a small boutique, colonial-inspired accommodation whose buildings date back to the early 1900s. The lodge is made up of just six well appointed, large, warm rooms with their own bathrooms.

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Half Day Volcanic Explorer Guided walk with Adrift

If for whatever reason you are unable to spend the day walking the Tongariro Crossing but want to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the Tongariro National Park then the 4 hour half day Tongariro Volcanic tour is an ideal option. Your morning will start by making your way to Adrift Tongariro's base in National Park Village, the tour will consist of a series of small walks depending on the groups desires and ability. Your guide will ensure you get to see and enjoy all you can in the 4 hours. Learn from your guide all things relevant to Tongariro and New Zealand including recent and past eruptions geology flora and fauna discovery and settlement of NZ myths and legends. Last but not least, your guide will show you Lord of the Rings filming sites included and not included in the trilogy.

Walking tracks in and around Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park

There are a plethora of walks in and around Whakapapa Village and Tongariro National Park. From short 15 minute hikes to longer 5 hour treks, there is something for every level of fitness. All established tracks are maintained by the Department of Conservation and before heading out on a walk, it is best to check the track conditions and suitability at the local DOC information office in the centre of the village. Below are a selection of the best walks to do:

  1. Whakapapa Nature Walk,15 min loop track
  2. Mounds Walk, 20 min one way
  3. Tawhai Falls, 20 min one way
  4. Ridge Track, 340 min return
  5. Taranaki Falls, 2 hour return
  6. Whakapapanui Walk, 2 hour return
  7. Tupapakurua Falls Track, 5 hour return

Your accommodation: Tongariro Crossing Lodge

Tongariro Crossing Lodge is a small boutique, colonial-inspired accommodation whose buildings date back to the early 1900s. The lodge is made up of just six well appointed, large, warm rooms with their own bathrooms.

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The Northern Explorer Scenic Train: National Park to Auckland

The Northern Explorer is a journey through the heart of the North Island. Your journey today takes you through to the vibrant city of Auckland. Along the way you'll see fantastic views of New Zealand farmland, the volcanic plateau, Mount Ruapehu, the world famous Raurimu Spiral, and stunning river gorges - all from panoramic windows or open-air viewing decks. All carriages feature large panoramic windows giving sweeping views of the magnificent North Island.

Private Transfer Auckland Train Station to Auckland accommodation

You will be met at the Auckland Train Station and transferred to your Auckland accommodation.

Your accommodation: CityLife Auckland

Admirably positioned in the hub of the city's business, retail and entertainment district, the City Life Hotel is perfect to explore Auckland. Their self-contained suites are equipped with everything you will need to enjoy your stay.

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Private Transfer Auckland accommodation to Auckland Airport with Tourcorp

You will be met at your Auckland accommodation by the driver and transferred to the airport.

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