14-Day Luxury Itinerary for the North Island
If you only have two weeks to explore New Zealand, you’ve made the right choice to stick to just one of the main islands. Furthermore, you’ve made the right choice coming here to this North Island luxury itinerary for two weeks to plan an eclectic and premium trip.
Off-shore islands, vineyards, geothermal parks, the Maori culture, vibrant cities and diverse landscapes are covered in this North Island luxury itinerary for 14 days. Plan your luxury North Island vacation using our premium destination, accommodation and activity recommendations.
How to Get Around the North Island in Two Weeks
This North Island itinerary is best done as a self-drive holiday. It also incorporates a few other transport methods such as ferries and connecting flights. However, if you don’t like the idea of driving yourself, check out the final point. In the meantime, here’s how to get around the North Island in two weeks:
- Rental car or campervan – This itinerary is best done by driving yourself in a rental vehicle. Use a rental company that has depots in Auckland and Wellington, as you will require a one-way rental. Start your research using The Guide to Renting a Car or Campervan in New Zealand.
- Helicopter transfers – Part of this itinerary recommends a helicopter transfer as a quick way to get between Auckland and Waiheke Island. Inflite and Heletranz both offer this service.
- Ferries – This itinerary includes a ferry trip between Auckland and Waiheke Island. Learn more in our guide to Public Transport in Auckland.
- Domestic flights – The below itinerary begins in Auckland and ends in Wellington. Both cities have international airports and are well connected with domestic flights.
- Train – Alternative to flying from Wellington back to Auckland, should you need to loop back to Auckland, the Northern Explorer train provides a more scenic (and less polluting) journey. Book your ticket on Viator or Tripadvisor.
- Escorted tours – Finally, if driving and organising your own trip is something you’d rather leave to the professionals, then consider taking an escorted tour of the North Island. Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours, for instance, offers 12-day tours of the North Island with accommodation, some meals and some activities included. Note that they have their own set itinerary; not the one listed below. Check out more options in The Best 10-12-Day Tours of the North Island.
Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Waiheke Island
Travel time: 40 minutes drive then 40 minutes ferry or 15 minutes helicopter flight
Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand! Because the North Island is far from most places in the world (except, well, the South Island), chances are you’re coming here with a bit of jet lag. With that in mind, this itinerary of the North Island starts with getting over the jet lag with a wine in hand on Waiheke Island. Either get there the easy way by taking a helicopter transfer to your Waiheke accommodation or a taxi then a ferry to Waiheke Island where your accommodation provider will transfer you.
Relax with some of the luxury experiences on Waiheke Island, from winery-hopping tours to spa retreats within luxury lodges. Get a good night’s rest before heading back to the mainland tomorrow.
Luxury Activities on Waiheke Island
- Do a winery and olive grove tour with Ananda Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Indulge in a spa treatment at one of the island’s lodges
- Ride giant ziplines over vineyards and native forest with Ecozip Adventures (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Do a guided art walk (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
For more inspiration, take a look at the 9 Glorious Things to Do on Waiheke Island.
Luxury Accommodation on Waiheke Island
Day 2 – Waiheke Island to Whangarei
Travel time: 40 minutes ferry then 2h30mins drive
After some rejuvenation on Waiheke Island, it’s time to take a scenic ferry trip through the Hauraki Gulf to Auckland Central. There, you can get your car rental delivered to the ferry terminal then hit the road northward to Whangarei.
Luxury Activities in Whangarei
- Enjoy a farm experience and indulge in spa treatments at Helena Bay Lodge
- Dive the famous Poor Knights Islands
- Test your swing at the stunning Waipu Golf Club
- Tour Northland in a private 4WD with Rogue Pony (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Indulge in fine dining at TopSail, Tonic and more.
Get more details on each experience and more in the 8 Luxury Activities in Whangarei.
Luxury Accommodation in Whangarei
Discover our top picks in the 5 Best Luxury Accommodation in Whangarei.
Day 3 – Whangarei to the Bay of Islands
Travel time: 1h5mins
A little further north from Whangarei is Paihia and the Bay of Islands – a bay scattered with 144 islands. There are many ways to enjoy this piece of sub-tropical paradise between private cruises and thrilling skydives. Choose your style of experience from the list below. You’ll also have plenty of time to do something else tomorrow.
Luxury Activities in the Bay of Islands
- See the Bay of Islands from above with Salt Air (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Indulge in a spa day at one of the luxury hotels
- Skydive from 20,000ft with Skydive Bay of Islands (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Curate your own experience of the Bay on a private charter (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Have a swing at the Kauri Cliffs Golf Course.
Discover more about each experience in the 8 Luxury Activities in the Bay of Islands.
Luxury Accommodation in the Bay of Islands
- Paihia Beach Resort & Spa Hotel
- Treghan Luxury Lodge
- Magic Cottages at Takou River
- Copthorne Hotel & Resort
- Eagles Nest
For more information on our top picks, see the 10 Best Luxury Accommodation in the Bay of Islands.
Day 4 – Explore the Bay of Islands
Experience the Bay of Islands your way, whether it’s a day trip to one of the stunning golf courses like Kauri Cliffs, travelling to Cape Reinga, or simply kicking back with gorgeous views at your accommodation.
If there’s nothing listed from yesterday that takes your fancy, how about the following?
Luxury Activities in the Bay of Islands
- Experience a winery-hopping tour in a Jeep or Mustang (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Soar over the islands on a private parasailing charter (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Treat yourself at one of the fine dining restaurants or wineries.
Day 5 – Bay of Islands to Auckland
Travel time: 3h20mins (or 4h50mins via the east coast)
Do any morning activities you might have missed before setting off directly to Auckland following State Highway 1. Alternatively, take the scenic route via Omapere and the Kauri Coast, which allows you to stop at natural marvels such as the largest kauri tree in New Zealand, Tane Mahuta, as well as the Kauri Museum to learn about the significance of these trees. Find out more about tours of the museum on Viator and Tripadvisor.
You’ll then arrive in Auckland Central to experience New Zealand’s largest city. Why not dine in the revolving restaurant atop the Sky Tower or inspire yourself at the Auckland Art Gallery? Those feeling more adventurous can experience the speed of an America’s Cup Yacht at the Waitemata Harbour. Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Luxury Activities in Auckland
- See Auckland from spectacular heights in a helicopter or seaplane tour (more details on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Rejuvenate with a spa treatment
- Hit the water for a lunch cruise or on an America’s Cup Yacht (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Try your luck at the SkyCity Casino
- Discover Auckland’s historical and cultural sites on a Maori culture tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Take a look at the 10 Luxury Activities in Auckland to find out more about each experience.
Luxury Accommodation in Auckland
- Cordis, Auckland
- Stamford Plaza Auckland
- SkyCity Grand Hotel
- Grand Millennium Auckland
- Sofitel Auckland
Find out more about each accommodation in 10 Best Luxury Hotels in Auckland.
Day 6 – Auckland to Rotorua (via Waitomo)
Travel time: 2h30mins (via Waitomo: 4 hours)
Leave the big city behind for a road trip around the rest of the North Island. While you could drive straight to Rotorua, stopping by the picturesque Hamilton Gardens (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), we highly recommend taking a detour to Waitomo…
Home of New Zealand’s most famous glowworm caves, Waitomo hides a magnificent subterranean landscape with limestone formations teeming with the blue twinkling of glowworms. There are many ways to experience the caves, from private caving tours to boat tours. Compare your options in the 8 Best Waitomo Cave Tours and the 9 Luxury Activities in Waitomo.
Luxury Activities in Waitomo
- Experience an exclusive private tour of Waitomo’s caves with Glowing Adventures (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Abseil, float and scramble through the caves with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Hike the exclusive Waitomo Great Walk
- Relax with a spa treatment at Waitomo Adventures
- Fish for rainbow and brown trout with Waitomo Boutique Lodge.
See the 9 Luxury Activities in Waitomo for elaboration on each experience and more.
Continue on your journey to Rotorua, which we will elaborate on things to do in tomorrow’s listing. For now, check-in at one of the premium accommodations in Rotorua.
Luxury Accommodation in Rotorua
- Prince’s Gate Hotel
- Regent of Rotorua
- Rydges Rotorua
- Sudima Hotel Lake Rotorua
- Novotel Rotorua Lakeside
For more details on our top recommendations, browse the 10 Best Luxury Accommodation in Rotorua.
Day 7 – Explore Rotorua
One week into this North Island luxury itinerary for 14 days and you have the entire day to explore Rotorua. Fly onto one of the nearby volcanoes on a helicopter tour with Volcanic Air (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or gain a greater understanding of the Maori culture of New Zealand on a private Maori tour with Kahukiwi Experiences (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor).
After the day’s adventure, retreat to your accommodation or book a table to do some New Zealand-style fine dining at Mokoia Restaurant (at the Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort) or Regent Room (at the Regent of Rotorua).
Luxury Activities in Rotorua
- Visit Rotorua’s geothermal and volcanic highlights with Elite Adventures Rotorua Tours (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Fly onto Mt Tarawera with Volcanic Air (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Enjoy an authentic Maori tour (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Drive the 4WD courses at Off Road NZ (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- See one of the most stunning and off-the-beaten-track forests on the North Island with Foris Eco-Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
For more details on each experience, as well as other ideas, check out the 10 Luxury Activities in Rotorua.
Day 8 – Rotorua to Taupo
Travel time: 1 hour
Your final destination is Taupo on the shores of New Zealand’s largest lake. Relax your road trip aches in one of the town’s premium hot pool complexes (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) or check out the town’s eclectic dining scene. We list recommendations in The Luxury Guide to Taupo. You’ll have time to do some more elaborate activities tomorrow. For now, indulge in a couple of nights at Taupo’s most lavish accommodations.
Luxury Accommodation in Taupo
- Huka Lodge
- Hilton Lake Taupo
- The Cove
- The Reef Resort – Heritage Collection
- Millennium Hotel Lake Taupo
For more on our top recommendations, see the 11 Best Luxury Accommodation in Taupo.
Day 9 – Explore Taupo
There are countless ways to experience Taupo, so you’re sure to find something to suit your style. That style could be relaxing on a private fishing charter catching rainbow trout or jumping out of a perfectly good plane in an adrenaline-fuelled skydive (find out more about the latter on Viator and Tripadvisor). If neither suit, then there’s a lot more on offer as shown in the list below.
Luxury Activities in Taupo
- Ride the Great Lake Trails on a personalised tour (more info on Viator or Tripadvisor)
- Indulge in the mineral hot pools and spa treatments of Taupo Debretts Spa Resort (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- See the lake and volcanoes on a scenic flight
- Hit the ski slopes of Mt Ruapehu
- Play golf on some of New Zealand’s most prestigious golf courses.
For more information on each experience and more, be sure to check out the 10 Luxury Activities in Taupo.
Day 10 – Taupo to Napier
Travel time: 1h50mins
It’s time to travel over the hill to Napier and the Hawke’s Bay region, famous for its art deco architecture and for being New Zealand’s oldest wine region. Leave yourself enough time in the day to jump onto a premium wine tour. Check out the tour with Bay Tours and Charters on Viator and Tripadvisor or Vines and Views Tours, also on Viator and Tripadvisor.
For those who prefer to connect with nature, a fantastic experience is witnessing New Zealand’s largest mainland gannet colony and the dramatic cliff formations of Cape Kidnappers. Join Gannet Safaris Overland for a private 4WD tour to this hard-to-reach site. Find out more on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Luxury Activities in Napier
- Tour Napier in a vintage vehicle (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Take a private art deco tour with the Art Deco Trust (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Get the real Maori experience with Waimarama Maori Tours (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- See New Zealand’s largest mainland gannet colony with Gannet Safaris Overland (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Do raft fishing on the Mohaka River with Raft Fish NZ (on Viator and Tripadvisor).
Find out more about each experience and its location in the 10 Luxury Activities in Napier.
Luxury Accommodation in Napier
- Scenic Hotel Te Pania
- The County Hotel
- Art Deco Masonic Hotel
- The Dome
- Kalldeen Luxury Accommodation
For more information on our top recommendations, see the 8 Best Luxury Accommodation in Napier.
Day 11 – Napier to Palmerston North
Travel time: 2h20mins
Your North Island journey continues today with a drive down the Hawke’s Bay region through the Manawatu Gorge complete with stunning walks through lush native forest. The main hub of the area is Palmerston North, which is nearby some exciting experiences, like horse trekking in the Ruahine Ranges and kite landboarding at Foxton Beach.
Luxury Activities in Palmerston North
- Experience sublime scenery on a horse trek at Makoura Lodge
- Tee off at Palmerston North’s golf courses
- Do some boutique shopping
- Tackle unique beach sports at Foxton Beach
- Indulge in a luxury spa day.
For elaboration on each experience and more, see the 6 Luxury Activities in Palmerston North.
Luxury Accommodation in Palmerston North
- Distinction Palmerston North Hotel
- Copthorne Hotel Palmerston North
- Quest Palmerston North
- Distinction Coachman Hotel
- Hiwinui Country Estate
Take a look at the 5 Best Luxury Accommodation in Palmerston North for more information on our top picks.
Day 12 – Palmerston North to Wellington
Travel time: 2 hours
Today’s destination is New Zealand’s coolest little capital, the city of Wellington. There’s something for just about any city-lover here, from the national museum of Te Papa (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor) to its whisky bar and craft brewery scene. On the other hand, those who prefer the wilderness will certainly get a sense of it at the Zealandia Ecosanctuary and its special night tours to see kiwi birds. Check out Viator and Tripadvisor to find out more about these night tours.
We’ll go through some more things to do in tomorrow’s listing. In the meantime, enjoy a night in the city with one of these premium stays…
Luxury Accommodation in Wellington
- InterContinental Wellington
- Rydges Wellington
- QT Wellington
- Copthorne Hotel Wellington
- James Cook Hotel
Find out more about each accommodation in our 10 Best Luxury Accommodation in Wellington.
Day 13 – Explore Wellington
You have the whole day to explore more of the capital and tick off some of the below activities from your Wellington bucket list.
Luxurious Activities in Wellington
- See Wellington from a helicopter tour (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Play at one of Wellington’s prestigious golf courses
- Explore Wellington’s designer boutiques
- Join a wine tour of the Wairarapa wine region (on Viator and Tripadvisor)
- Try fine whisky at the city’s reputable whisky bars
Find out more about each experience and much more in 10 Luxury Activities in Wellington.
Day 14 – Wellington to Auckland
While you can fly out of Wellington Airport to your next destination, we recommend treating yourself to a scenic journey back to Auckland.
The Northern Explorer train takes you across the North Island via the volcanic Central North Island, allowing you to witness the mountains of Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. What’s more, the journey is less polluting than taking a flight back to Auckland. Book your ticket on Viator or Tripadvisor.
Goodbye, New Zealand! Next time, visit the South Island by following the South Island Luxury Itinerary: Two Weeks / 14 Days.