TAUPO – WAITOMO (via Te Kuiti)

Driver Information
New Zealand ItinerariesTravel Distance is approximately 163kms (102 miles).
Allow at least 2 hours & 35 minutes drive time (not including stops).
Part of the Thermal Explorer Highway.

After enjoying a hearty breakfast in Taupo, prepare yourself for a change of scenery as you head across to Te Kuiti and on up to the Waitomo Caves, still following the Thermal Explorer route.

Travel past a blend of the best Waikato countryside, including lush farmland and towering forests before arriving at the magical limestone glowworm caves in Waitomo.

Some notable stops along the route to Waitomo include:

Straddling the Hauhungaroa and Rangitoto Ranges, this is referred to by DOC as a “hidden wonderland of tall trees, clear rivers and rare wildlife”. Popular with mountainbikers and hunters, this is a great place to stop and stretch your legs. Make sure you visit the Forest Tower, which is only a 10 minute walk from Biscmarck Road carpark, and is a great spot for observing native birds such parakeets, forest parrot and native pigeon.

This small town is located in the Waikato region and is 19km’s south-east of Waitomo in an area commonly know as the ‘King Country’.

Referred to as “The Shearing Capital of the World”, Te Kuiti is home to the world’s largest shearer, measuring a whopping seven metres high! This is also home to the famous Te Tokanganui-a-noho, the carved meeting house which now stands at the south end of Te Kuiti’s main street.

The Waitomo region is famous for ancient limestone caves and is one of New Zealand’s most popular natural tourist attractions while providing loads of adventure in the form of caving, blackwater rafting, abseiling, horseriding quad-biking and much more.

Highly recommended Waitomo Caves tourist attractions include…

Otorohanga Kiwi House & Native Bird Park – Here is your opportunity to view a huge range of reptiles and indigenous birds of New Zealand. Take a guided walk through displays of wetland areas, birds of prey, forest birds, tuatara, geckos and see a Kiwi!

Ruakuri Caves – Welcome to a spiritual world of mystery and intrigue as you delve down into the caves on a guided journey of natural wonders, including glowworms, stalactite straws, flowstone and majestic underground formations.

Billy Black’s Kiwi Culture Show – The hour long “Kiwi Culture Show” is a popular visitor attraction at Woodlyn Park, showcasing Kiwi humour combined with audience participation for a truly fun-packed show. Don’t miss the demonstrations of tree felling, live explosions, the famous dancing pig, a kiwi bear, sheep shearing and farm dogs working.

Waitomo Museum of Caves – This award winning museum is ‘must’ for all visitors before doing a Waitomo Cave tour. Popular with all the family, learn about caves and geological marvels through interactive displays, giant fossils, multi-media shows and much more.

Black Water Rafting – Imagine going down into spectacular caves and navigating through underground networks with streams, hidden waterfalls and rocky chutes on a guided tour with a black tube! Sounds crazy but incredibly popular with all ages.

Waitomo is fast developing a name for great eco-tourism, outdoor adventure and dramatic scenery. Accommodation and dining options continue to increase ensuring a wide variety of services are available to meet most budgets and expectations.

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