AUCKLAND – ROTORUA (via Hamilton, Cambridge and Tirau)
Travel Distance is approximately 237kms (148 miles).
Allow at least 3 hours and 35 minutes drive time (not including stops).
Part of the Thermal Explorer Highway.
Take a fabulous self-drive tour through the heart of the North Island via the Thermal Explorer Highway and the Waikato region. The Thermal Explorer Highway is a popular driving route with plenty to see and do along the way, including Maori culture, exciting outdoor pursuits, geothermal attractions and breath-taking landscapes.
The Thermal Explorer Highway is part of the Great New Zealand Touring Route and starts from New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, and takes you on a fabulous journey through the Waikato region before arriving in the popular tourist geothermal area of Rotorua. (The complete Thermal Explorer Highway actually takes you through to Hastings).
Hamilton is the heart of the Waikato region and boasts a lush countryside of bush and farmland and is a wonderful place to base yourself for a Central North Island holiday. If you are planning on spending some time in Hamilton, you will find yourself spoilt for choice when it comes to visitor attractions and activities. Highly recommended Hamilton tourist attractions include…
Hamilton Gardens – With over a million visitors a year this has to be the most popular tourist destination in the Waikato! Hamilton Gardens offers an unique opportunity to experience gardens from around the globe.
Hamilton Zoo – Check out over 450 exotic and endangered animals and birds from around the world and the largest walk in aviary in the Southern Hemisphere!
Waikato River Cruise – Enjoy a paddle steamer cruise on the mighty Waikato River aboard the M V Waipa Delta.
From Hamilton travel South for a further 20 minutes to New Zealand’s thoroughbred and equestrian capital of New Zealand, Cambridge (also known as the Town of Trees and Champions). The picture perfect tree-lined entrance into the township is fabulous and visitors to Cambridge should make the time to view the Equine Stars Walk of Fame in the CBD.
From Cambridge the journey leads you to the quaint town of Tirau, famous for ‘over-the-top’ icons, including the largest the largest corrugated iron sheep and sheepdog in the world! This is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy a coffee before the final stint into Rotorua.
ROTORUA (2 Night Stop-over)
Rotorua not only boasts 16 lakes within the District, this is the heart of New Zealand’s Maori culture and the popular geothermal attractions.
When you first arrive in Rotorua you will be welcomed with a truly unique Sulphur smell, which is generated from geothermal activity, including springs, ponds, mud pools and geysers. With so much culture and natural wonders to be experienced, we suggest you enjoy…
Hells Gate Thermal Reserve – Rotorua’s most active thermal park and New Zealand’s only mud bath complex with geothermal mud and therapeutic water.
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland – Located a 20 minute drive out of Rotorua, this is one of areas most visited geothermal areas. From the world famous Champagne Pool to bubbling mud, large volcanic craters, steaming ground and the daily eruption of Lady Knox Geyser, this is a ‘must see’ on your Rotorua itinerary.
Agrodome Sheep Show & Farm Tour – Enjoy an hour long live show of working New Zealand sheep and dairy farming in an interactive and truly enjoyable display.
Buried Village – Visit the Museum of Te Wairoa and take a special journey as the fascinating story of the village of Te Wairoa unfolds, including the voyages to the Pink and White Terraces and the eruption of Mt Tarawera.
Rotorua offers a plethora of cultural experiences, including genuine Hangi and Maori performances, geothermal marvels and for nature lovers, lakes and forests galore for fishing, mountain biking, hiking, rafting, tours and much more!
New Zealand Itineraries: North Island Suggested Itineraries
Our modern self-drive travel Itineraries have routes specifically for the North Island as well as the South Island, ranging from 5 to 11 days, plus there are some travel routes that take in both the North and South Island’s. Our range of travel itineraries include information regarding travel distances and time to ensure that you can make the best of your time in New Zealand, no longer how short your visit!
- 5 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
- 6 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Coromandel, Coromandel – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua and Rotorua – Auckland
- 6 Day Itinerary (route 2): Auckland – Dargaville, Dargaville – Kaitaia, Kaitaia – Paihia, Paihia – Whangarei and Whangarei – Auckland
- 7 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Napier and Napier – Wellington
- 8 Day Itinerary: Wellington, Wellington – Masterton, Masterton – Wellington, Wellington – Nelson, Nelson – Blenheim and Blenheim – Christchurch
- 9 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Coromandel, Coromandel – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Gisborne, Gisborne – Napier, Napier – Taupo, Taupo – Rotorua, Rotorua – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
- 9 Day Itinerary (route 2): Auckland – Whangarei, Whangarei – Paihia, Paihia – Hokianga, Hokianga – Auckland, Auckland – Rotorua, Rotorua – Taupo, Taupo – Waitomo Caves and Waitomo Caves – Auckland
- 11 Day Itinerary: Auckland – Whitianga, Whitianga – Tauranga, Tauranga – Rotorua, Rotorua – Gisborne, Gisborne – Napier, Napier Taupo Napier, Napier – Wellington, Wellington – New Plymouth, New Plymouth – Waitomo and Waitomo Caves – Auckland