The Best of the North Island
An epic ten-day trip encompassing volcanoes, vineyards and the beautiful Bay of Islands
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- Privately guided tours and experiences
- Helicopter flight to White Island
- Wine tasting
- Luxury accommodation throughout
- Private transfers
- Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
At a glance
Experience the natural beauty and traditional culture of New Zealand‘s North Island. This ten-day trip takes you from the idyllic scenery of the Bay of Islands to the lunar-like landscape of Rotorua, with plenty of world-class food and drink along the way.
Your adventure starts in the vibrant city of Auckland. Dip in and out of its museums and galleries and world-class restaurants and experience the great outdoors at the nearby beaches. Visit island of Waiheke, where you’ll visit the vineyards and enjoy tasting some of New Zealand’s finest wine.
You will then spend three nights exploring the Bay of Islands, a collection of 144 islands scattered across sparkling waters. Swim, dive and kayak to your heart’s content, learn about indigenous history or simply spend time relaxing at your luxury lodge. From here you will fly to Rotorua, a land of bubbling mud pools, steaming sulphur lakes and erupting geysers, as well as the beautiful Lake Taupo.
The last leg of your trip takes you to Hawke’s Bay, the North Island’s wine country. You’ll find some of the country’s best food and wine here, touring Art Deco Napier in a vintage car with some private tastings to, a fine way to end your epic exploration.
Example Trip Itinerary
Meet and greet at Auckland airport
Private transfer to your hotel
Accommodation in Auckland
- 172 Rooms
- Two Restaurants
- Swimming pool
Located in the heart of the city’s vibrant restaurant and entertainment precinct, Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour, blends French ‘art de vivre’ with the natural beauty of New Zealand’s largest city. The elegance of old-world values meets new-world energy at this luxury hotel, where service and style are always in sync. Guests are surrounded by water and light and treated to panoramic views of Waitemata Harbour. The 172 bedrooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, oversized bath tubs and Juliet balconies that open into the fresh air. Natural tones in the décor are reminiscent of the sea and sky. One of the most striking features of the hotel is the water wall in the lobby. It descends into a pool where a Maori water god sculpture watches over guests. You’ll also find Maori and Pacific art exhibited on the walls, paying homage to New Zealand’s rich culture. Expect flavour and flair at Lava Dining, where the menu blends the best local produce with a refined French touch. The amber glow of its back-lit marble wall is inspired by Auckland’s volcanic origins. For something lighter, pop into 21 Viaduct Café, the silvery water reflecting city buildings, as you sip on an espresso. Or celebrate life like an emperor at the Sabrage champagne bar. Guests can restore some balance at So Spa and then take advantage of the gym, sauna, steam room and lap pool.
- 166 Rooms
- Cocktail bar
- Outdoor pool with underwater window
- Fitness centre
- Jogging track
The waterfront Hilton Auckland has it all – sleek rooms, gorgeous views of the harbour and close proximity to the city’s restaurants, shops and attractions. With sundecks, private balconies and unrivaled views, the hotel is the perfect place to make your stay in the city a remarkable one. Each of the 166 room and suites has floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony, some looking out over Auckland Harbour and the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Décor is neat and contemporary, in calming neutral tones. Book into a Bow Suite for a balcony shaped like a cruise liner. The harbour informs much of the hotel’s design, including the FISH restaurant with warm timber tones and an outdoor deck with a fireplace. The dynamic menu focuses on creativity inspired by Chef Fraser Shenton and celebrity chef Gareth Stewart. Bring the day to a stylish close at Bellini Bar with over 130 cocktails to choose from. There are also cocktail classes available and a Twisted High Tea. Head to the fourth floor and spend some time in the spectacular outdoor lap pool which has a window at one end allowing for an amazing view of the harbour; it’s the only underwater viewing point in Auckland.
- 411 rooms
- Spa and fitness centre
At the Cordis, Auckland is a modern hotel in the city’s lively uptown area, with its fashionable boutiques, galleries and museums within easy reach. There are 411 rooms and suites offer views of the lush green Auckland Domain and the city skyline. Colour palettes are neutral pastels, with hardwood furniture offset by rich textiles and luxurious fittings. Large windows let in the light and showcase the hotel’s prime location. Expand your culinary horizons at Eight, where you get to sample classic and contemporary Asian and Western cuisine from eight interactive cooking stations. From American grills to sushi and Indian curries, it’s a gastronomic adventure. The stylish lobby lounge bar the dazzling heart of the hotel. Enjoy a light meal, or indulge in the exquisite afternoon tea served. Recharge at the fitness centre, with access to state-of-the-art gtym equipment and free weights and an award-winning spa. The hotel’s heated outdoor pool is ideal for brisk early morning laps, as well as energising night swims beneath the stars.
- 25 rooms
- Two bars
Straddling two unique precincts in downtown Auckland, this iconic building has been transformed into a stylish boutique hotel. The 25 individually designed rooms and suites feature eclectic furniture, as well as local art and photography. Each room has its own style, and the bespoke carpets throughout the hotel are made from 100% hand- woven New Zealand wool. A focal point of DeBretts Kitchen is the glass-roofed atrium and courtyard where guests can tuck into contemporary New Zealand cuisine. Get the evening off to a great start with local craft beers and boutique wines at the Art Deco-inspired House Bar, or the retro Cornerbar.
New Zealand’s largest cosmopolitan centre is a lively mix of culture, cuisine, music and art with ample green spaces and easily accessible beaches. It is the modern melting pot of the Pacific with influences from Asia, the Pacific islands and Europe along with traditional Maori culture. A fresh and vibrant city, Auckland boasts some of the best restaurants in the country, and the harbour, which underwent a revamp before hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2011, is now a wonderful place to soak up the buzz of this exciting city.
Take a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland over to Waiheke Island where you will meet your guide, a local wine expert. Explore the island's wineries, learning what makes New Zealand wine some of the best in the world, and tasting some of their signature cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and chardonnay.
Bay of Islands
Enjoy a visit to the well known Morris and James Pottery. Using clay harvested from the banks of the Matakana River, Morris and James create a vast selection of colourful ceramics, pots, home decor and gardenware. You'll also visit the Omaha Gallery and the stunning Tawharanui Beach. Set on a remote peninsula, the regional park boasts some of the most beautiful white sand beaches, rolling pastures, shingled bays, native coastal forest and regenerating wetlands. There is the option to hike the North to South Coast Trek with is approximately 8km. After lunch visit Parry Kauri Park to view the famous Kauri Trees before heading on to your lodge.
Lodges in the Bay of Islands
- 22 suites
- Two-bedroom Owner's Cottage
- Living room
- Indoor and outdoor swimming pool
- Tennis courts
Located within 6,000 acres near Matauri Bay, The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs enjoys uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean and native forest. 22 suites are located within guest cottages dotted around the grounds, with each cottage housing two suites. Guests will have the feeling of staying in a private home, with a spacious bedroom and living area, open fireplace and oversized bath tub. There are suites specially designed for families that feature a large private balcony. The Owner’s Cottage is perfect for families or groups with two en-suite bedrooms, each with their own fireplace, a living room and a beautiful private infinity pool and outdoor Jacuzzi. In the main lodge you’ll find the dining room where chefs create a mouthwatering menu using locally sourced produce. Breakfast, pre-dinner drinks and dinner are all included with a stay at Kauri Cliffs. Guests can also choose to dine on the verandah overlooking the ocean, or enjoy a truly unique dining experience with a picnic on a secluded beach or by a waterfall. A day spa is set within the native Totara Forest and there is a fitness centre with indoor lap pool and Jacuzzi, as well as an outdoor swimming pool and two tennis courts.
- Five villas - four of which have a private pool
- Wine cellar
- Spa therapists for in-villa treatments
- Personal chefs
Set within a 75-acre estate on its own private ridgeline dropping into a valley is Eagle’s Nest, a collection of five luxury villas in the heart of the Bay of Islands. Dotted along the peninsular and hidden among the native bush, each of the villas enjoy sweeping views across pristine landscape, the calm oceans waters and surrounding islands. Contemporary in design, each villa offers plenty of indoor and outdoor space and four of the five come with their own private pools. With up to four bedrooms, the villas are perfect for families and groups while those looking for a secluded getaway will love the First Light Temple villa, an idyllic getaway for two. The Bay of Islands is an outdoor lover’s dream with everything from fishing, kayaking and diving to mountain biking and helicopter rides on your doorstep. There is also the nearby town of Russell just a few minutes away, and a team of spa therapists offering in-room treatments for when you want to simply relax and unwind.
- Five suites
- Fine dining restaurant
- Informal and formal dining areas
- Swimming pool
- Tennis court
Helena Bay Lodge is nestled in its cove in the top corner of New Zealand’s North Island, an intimate and exclusive luxury retreat backed by forest and looking out on its private length of coastline. There are just five individual suites, each named after native birds, with balconies and views to the South Pacific Ocean. The two larger villas have their own fireplaces and bathtubs. Leica binoculars are provided for the opportunity to spot visiting whales and dolphins. In the Main House, which forms a U-shape around the heated outdoor swimming pool, discover the owner’s eclectic artwork and treasures, which have been collected on travels around the globe, as well as a gym, sauna, library, lounge areas and an outdoor fire pit. Dining here is a highlight, Helena Bay having tempted Head Chef Michele Martino from Italy’s Michelin-starred Ristorante Don Alfonso to create an incredible ‘estate to plate’ menu of lamb, beef and honey come from the on-site farm and home-grown organic vegetables, fruit and herbs. Explore the Helena Bay Estate on hiking and cycling trails (two of the latest mountain bikes here feature assistive electric motors), nature walks and farm tours. Spend the day relaxing on the beach of take to the water paddle boarding, kayaking or spend some time fishing from the pontoon.
- 4 residences
- 6 private beaches
- Culinary options
- Tennis courts
Hidden away in the waters of the Bay of Islands, The Landing is set in one of the most historically and culturally significant places in New Zealand. With six private beaches, verdant hills and oceans stretching off towards the horizon, this private residence is a haven of tranquility amongst coastal wilderness. The four beautifully appointed houses focus on being distinctly private and exclusive spaces, individually tailored to their idyllic surroundings and designed to be environmentally friendly by an award-winning architect. Guests can choose from The Boathouse, the Cooper Residence, the Vineyard Villa and the Gabriel Residence. Seaside panoramas and private landscaped gardens accompany each lodge. Chefs use local produce in their outstanding menus while pairing dishes with superb regional wines grown at The Landing’s own vineyard. Walk down to one of the various beaches to soak up gorgeous New Zealand sun in privacy or take out the kayaks, paddleboards or mountain bikes available to guests to discover more of this stunning region. Work on your forehand on the tennis court, let off some steam in the sauna or drift away under the instruction of a yoga or Pilates instructor. Kauri Cliffs, an internationally-renowned golf course, is also a short helicopter trip away.
The Bay of Islands encompasses 144 islands dotted between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula. Take to the sparkling waters and paddle through its turquoise inlets in a sea kayak, try your hand at deep-sea fishing, discover the underwater world on a diving excursion, or head into the maritime playground to swim with dolphins. Back on dry land, explore the many walking trails that wind their way through verdant forests and past secluded beaches, and set aside some time to relax in the quaint seaside towns.
The range of activities will depend on your chosen lodge, but each has a real passion for helping guests get the very best out of this beautiful region. Explore the waters by kayak, go fishing or mountain biking, or simply relax and take in the views with a glass of crisp New Zealand wine in hand.
You'll start by taking a drive around Northland’s beautiful coastline, taking in breathtaking views over the Pacific Ocean. Dip your feet in the pristine clear waters of its many golden beaches on the way.
You will then wind your way back to the serene waters of the Whangaroa Harbour (the deepest harbour in the Southern Hemisphere), and north to the small fishing village of Mangonui. Enjoy lunch at the world-famous fish and chip shop overlooking the beautiful Mangonui Harbour.
Today you'll spend some time with Hone Mihaka. Hone is a Nga Puhi warrior descended from chiefs who signed the Treaty of Waitangi, the document signed with the British in 1840 and sometimes referred to as New Zealand's founding document. Hone also spent some time with the New Zealand Army as well as some less formal Maori fighting elements. He continues fighting today, representing his people with Treaty of Waitangi negotiations with the New Zealand Government. Hone has an infectious enthusiasm for his culture and his people and is a born storyteller with an incredible depth of knowledge.
Private transfer to Taupo
Lodges around Taupo
- Four suites
- Spa treatments
- Mountain bike hire
On the shores of Lake Taupo sits the Acacia Cliffs Lodge, in an enviable position overlooking this most scenic of waters. The four boutique suites are stylish and modern, without compromising on the charm of a holiday retreat. Each room is large and spacious, coming with either a large private deck with breath-taking lake views or a private garden courtyard. The communal areas drink in the landscape through vast glass walls, with the dining area particularly spectacular, a fitting setting for wonderful meals complimented by local wines. Acacia Cliffs Lodge is a great base from which to explore everything Taupo has to offer, whether a scenic flight over the lake and nearby active volcanoes, fly fishing, golf, hiking and more. The nearby town of Taupo has a great selection of cafes, galleries and restaurants, easily reachable by bike, and you can look forward to returning to a selection of in room spa treatments.
- One- and two-bedroom villas and junior suites
- Golf course
Set in the tranquil 254-hectare grounds of the Kinloch Club course on the shores of Lake Taupo, is The Kinloch Club. This modern, luxury lodge was designed to emulate a Scottish castle but with a distict, 21st-century feel. The main lodge with its schist stone exterior looks out over the magnificent golf course and Lake Taupo. On arrival, guests will pass through the central courtyard with outdoor fireplace and reflecting pool. Inside, the great room, dining room, bar and den are cosy and luxurious with splashes of velvet and cowhide and a warm and inviting colour scheme. A short walk from the main lodge are one- and two-bedroom villas as well as suites, each offering magnificent views. Freestanding bath tubs and sumptuous handmade New Zealand rugs ensure a comfortable stay, and those staying in the villas will enjoy use of their own private terrace. The Kinloch Spa is the perfect escape and when hunger strikes, the restaurant offers gourmet cusine to be enjoyed with New Zealand’s world-class wine. You can also choose to dine in the comfort of your own villa or suite.
- Main Lodge and seven cabins
- Exclusive use Blake House
- Safari Camp
- Gourmet cuisine
- Archery and shooting range
Poronui is a magical wilderness retreat, a 16,000-acre private estate in the breathtaking Taharua Valley in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island. The collection of luxurious lodgings make it the ideal getaway for hikers, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Dotted across the reserve, places to stay include the main lodge and seven individually appointed guest cabins that have transformed a rustic fishing camp into one of the world’s finest sporting lodges, with a kitchen serving up gourmet seasonal cuisine – much of it sourced on the estate – and a convivial feel to be found around the crackling fires. There’s also the private use Blake House, sat overlooking the Taharua River, with two grand suites as well as two bunkrooms making it ideal for families and small groups. The kitchen here is well equipped for either guest use or with your own personal chef. Finally, the two canvas and wooden huts of the rustic Safari Camp provides an authentic wilderness experience without foregoing creature comforts like crisp cotton sheets, hot running water, flushing toilets, gourmet food and fine wine. For the use of all the guests at Poronui, the stables contain modern gym and health club facilities – including steam, sauna, and massage treatment rooms. Also located in this complex is a full-sized antique English billiard table and two additional dining venues – the cabana (outdoor barbeque) and the atmospheric underground wine cellar. Activities at Poronui are suitably outdoorsy, and range from incredible fly fishing to horse riding, guided walks, hikes, cultural experiences with the Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe of the Maori, mountain biking, archery and shooting. Poronui is also close to various attractions such as the geothermal lands of Central North Island, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and adventure sport enthusiast favourite Taupo.
Steaming mud pools, erupting geysers and Maori traditions all make Rotorua and Taupo a special area to visit and one that is distinctively unique to the rest of New Zealand. Explore geothermal parks before heading into nearby native forests for hiking or mountain biking the numerous world-class trails. Lake Taupo is actually a volcano crater, the lake’s deep blue waters draw visitors with its idyllic swimming holes, reputable fishing and adventure sports. On a clear day the views stretch out over the glassy water to the snowcapped volcanoes of Tongariro National Park in the distance.
Enjoy a scenic charter on Lake Taupo and cruise around the northern bays. Enjoy breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains as you make your way to the Maori rock carvings and to Kaipo Bay, learn about the geological history and Maori mythology surrounding the lake from your friendly skipper. Should you wish there is also the opportunity to enjoy some fishing on the lake today. Lunch on board is included.
Private transfer to your lodge in Hawke's Bay
Lodges in Hawke's Bay
- 22 Suites
- 4 Bedroom Owner's Cottage
- Wine Cellar
Set atop 6,000 rolling acres of pasture-land in Hawke’s Bay, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is the perfect place for a getaway. With spectacular views of the ocean, the luxury lodge combines the rustic and textured aesthetic of a working farm with chic modern and genuinely luxurious touches. Each of the 22 spacious suites has a private balcony with views over the farmlands, golf course and the Pacific. Ideal for a family, or group, The Owner’s Cottage offers boutique hotel facilities for up to eight people. Relax in front of the stone fireplace, or soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi. The culinary team aims to source produce as locally as possible, and with the Cape Kidnappers’ vegetable garden now fully established, the chefs can create daily menus based on the freshest ingredients. And they are delighted when guests ask to see the garden. The pastry chef makes everything from scratch on site – from cereals, cookies and bread, to jams, pastries and ice cream. Enhance your stay by spending an indulgent day at the Cape Kidnappers Spa on the hillside above the lodge. Soak up the views across the valley, towards the sea or over the forest to snow-capped Mount Ruapehu. There are a broad mix of activities on offer here, seasonal and changing daily, including farm tours, guided walks, star gazing, wine tasting, clay pigeon shooting, bird watching, golf, horse treks, mountain biking and more.
- 5 Suites
- Wine Cellar
- Guest Lounge
The peaceful Breckenridge Lodge is the perfect place to experience superb Kiwi hospitality, gourmet food, local wine and beautiful scenery. Nestled in the picturesque valley of Omarunui in Hawke’s Bay Wine Country, the lodge offers private, luxury accommodation and the freedom to explore the two acres of gardens and surrounding countryside. Make yourself at home in one of five well-appointed guest rooms which overlook the vineyard and expansive rural landscape. The guest dining room is the focal point of the house. With its inviting, relaxed atmosphere, it’s the ideal place to swap stories with other guests and share tales of your day’s adventures in Hawke’s Bay. Or simply immerse yourself in one of the books or albums available to enjoy. Host and Chef Malcolm Redmond uses fresh seasonal produce from his own organic garden and orchard, as well as local markets. The dinner menu features five courses, each paired with wine, and changes according to what produce is available. For those inspired by the chef’s sumptuous feasts, there are also cooking classes in which he shares some of his tips. The lodge is committed to continually working towards the best environmentally conscious business practices – finding the balance between luxury and responsibility.
- 3 Suites
- 2 Lodge Rooms
- Dining Room
- Billiard Room
- Swimming Pool
This intimate, serene and historic homestead is situated in the heart of Hawke’s Bay, with over 50 wineries, farmers’ markets and organic produce stores nearby. Perched on a hilltop with mature trees, overlooking verdant farmlands, the homestead features suites which open out onto wide verandas overlooking the gardens. The lodge includes three suites, two lodge rooms and a separate cottage with an outdoor bath. Four of the suites are named for notable characters in Greenhill’s history, from the first owner, Archibald McLean, to the architect who designed the lodge. Floor-to-ceiling windows with hand-painted lead lights look out onto country vistas, the central courtyard or pottage herb garden. The cottage is the perfect secluded hideaway for honeymooners or families with children. The area is known as the ‘fruit bowl of New Zealand’ and Greenhill proudly showcases the best of what Hawke’s Bay has to offer when it comes to gourmet food and fine wines. Pairings are a speciality and the lodge tailors a four-course Table d’hote menu to guests’ preferences. Or enjoy a picnic hamper in the gardens. To make the most of the lodge’s vantage, climb to the top of the three-storey viewing turret which sports a small sitting room complete with a telescope. The old homestead stables have been converted into a gym, and there is also an outdoor recreational area, swimming pool and log fireplace. Explore the area taking in the surrounding vineyard, cycle through the rolling hills, fly fish on a Hawke’s Bay river or try any number of equestrian experiences from polo to rides on the beach.
The North Island’s wine country is one of New Zealand’s warmest, driest regions with golden colours stretching across arid plains. The scene here is made up of vineyards and orchards laden with fruit, fertile farmlands that sweep to the perfect waves on the coast and laidback seaside settlements.
Napier was levelled by an earthquake in 1931 and the town's centre was rebuilt in the glamorous Art Deco style, and today it appears as something of a microcosm of the time. Explore the township's wonderful 1930s architecture aboard a classic 1938 Packard automobile, as well as having the opportunity to meet one of these talented artists in their studio and visit the factory of world famous designer David Trubridge.
Next up is another excellent vineyard, Craggy Range, for wine tasting and lunch. The chief wine maker here was voted by the international Wine State magazine as one of the top 50 wine makers in the world. After a leisurely meal your guide will drive you up to the summit of Te Mata Peak for stunning vistas out to Hastings and the Heretaunga Plains, Napier, Cape Kidnappers and the sea beyond before continuing on via the quaint township of Havelock North and the city of Hastings.
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The Best of the North Island
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We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.
Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.
From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.