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 by 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. What’s more, we show you how to plan this itinerary the EASY way with First Light Travel – more on that at the bottom of the itinerary.
North Island Luxury Itinerary for 2 Weeks (14 Days): Overview
- Day 1 – Auckland Airport to Waiheke Island
- Day 2 – Waiheke Island to Whangarei
- Day 3 – Whangarei to the Bay of Islands
- Day 4 – Explore the Bay of Islands
- Day 5 – Bay of Islands to Auckland
- Day 6 – Auckland to Rotorua (via Waitomo)
- Day 7 – Explore Rotorua
- Day 8 – Rotorua to Taupo
- Day 9 – Explore Taupo
- Day 10 – Taupo to Napier
- Day 11 – Napier to Palmerston North
- Day 12 – Palmerston North to Wellington
- Day 13 – Explore Wellington
- Day 14 – Wellington to Auckland
How to Get Around the North Island in 2 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 The Guide Renting a Campervan in New Zealand.
Part of this itinerary recommends a helicopter transfer as a quick way to get between Auckland and Waiheke Island. INFLITE/Heletranz offer airport transfers.
This itinerary includes a ferry trip between Auckland and Waiheke Island. Learn more in our guide to Public Transport in Auckland.
The below itinerary begins in Auckland and ends in Wellington. Both cities have international airports and are well-connected with domestic flights. More on flights can be found in The Guide to Domestic Flights in New Zealand.
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. Learn more about taking the train in The Guide to the Train Network in New Zealand.
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.
Finally, if you’re new to the whole road-tripping thing, make sure it runs smoothly following the 10 Ways to Relax on a Road Trip.
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 from Auckland Airport or a taxi then a ferry to Waiheke Island where your accommodation provider will transfer you. Ferry tickets are available on Klook and KKday.
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 Experiences on Waiheke Island
- Do a winery and olive grove tour with Ananda Tours (more info on Viator and Klook)
- Indulge in a spa treatment at one of the island’s luxury lodges, such as Marino Ridge or Delamore Lodge
- Zipline over vineyards and native forest with Ecozip Adventures (on Viator and Klook)
- Do a guided Waiheke Island art walk with Terra & Tide.
For more inspiration, take a look at the 20 Best Things to Do on Waiheke Island.
Luxury Accommodation on Waiheke Island
Day 2 – Waiheke Island to Whangarei
Travel time: 40 minutes ferry then 2 hrs 30 mins 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 Experiences in Whangarei
- Dive at the famous Poor Knights Islands
- Test your swing at the stunning Waipu Golf Club
- Ride on the beaches with Coastal Riding Whangarei Heads
- Connect with the local culture with a small-group experience with Tu Tika Tours
- Indulge in fine dining at TopSail, Tonic and more.
Get more details on each experience and more in the 10 Luxury Experiences in Whangarei.
Luxury Accommodation in Whangarei
Discover our top picks in the 5 Best Luxury Accommodations in Whangarei.
Day 3 – Whangarei to the Bay of Islands
Travel time: 1 hr 5 mins
A little further north of 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 Experiences in the Bay of Islands
- Fly over the Bay of Islands with Salt Air
- Indulge in a spa day at one of the luxury hotels
- Skydive from 20,000ft with Skydive Bay of Islands
- Get a tailored experience of the Bay on a private charter with Sea Shuttle Bay of Islands
- Have a swing at the Kauri Cliffs Golf Course.
Discover more about each experience in the 10 Luxury Experiences in the Bay of Islands.
Luxury Accommodation in the Bay of Islands
- Treghan Luxury Lodge
- Paihia Beach Resort & Spa Hotel
- Magic Cottages at Takou River
- Abri Apartments
- Crab Cove
For more information on our top picks, see the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations 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 Experiences in the Bay of Islands
- Hire your own sailing charter with Vigilant Yacht Charters or Phantom Sailing
- Do a private winery-hopping tour with the Kernhem Group
- Soar over the islands on a private parasailing charter with Flying Kiwi Parasail
- Take a scenic tour of the bay on a V8 Tricycle
- Treat yourself to one of the fine dining restaurants or wineries.
Day 5 – Bay of Islands to Auckland
Travel time: 3 hrs 20 mins (or 4 hrs 50 mins 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.
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 with Explore. Find out more about the latter on Viator or Klook.
Luxury Experiences in Auckland
- See the city from spectacular heights in a helicopter or seaplane tour with Auckland Helicopters, Heletranz or Auckland Seaplanes
- Inspire yourself at the Auckland Art Gallery
- Hit the water for a lunch cruise or on an America’s Cup yacht (on Viator and Klook)
- Try your luck at the vibrant SkyCity Casino
- Discover Auckland’s historical and cultural sites on a Maori culture tour with TIME Unlimited Tours.
Take a look at the 10 Luxury Experiences in Auckland to find out more about each experience.
Luxury Accommodation in Auckland
Find out more about each accommodation in the 25 Best Luxury Hotels in Auckland.
Day 6 – Auckland to Rotorua (via Waitomo)
Travel time: 2 hrs 30 mins (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, 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 10 Luxury Experiences in Waitomo.
Luxury Experiences in Waitomo
- Delve on an exclusive private tour of Waitomo’s caves with Glowing Adventures
- Abseil, float and scramble through the caves with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. (on Viator and Klook)
- Experience an enchanting boat ride under the glowworms at the Waitomo Glowworms Caves
- Relax with a spa treatment at Waitomo Adventures
- Tackle a multi-day cycling experience with Timber Trail Lodge.
See the 10 Luxury Experiences in Waitomo for elaboration on each experience and more.
Continue on your journey to Rotorua, where 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
For more details on our top recommendations, browse the 20 Best Luxury Accommodations 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 Klook) or gain a greater understanding of the Maori culture of New Zealand on a private Maori tour with Kahukiwi Experiences.
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 The Regent Room (at the Regent of Rotorua).
Luxury Experiences in Rotorua
- Visit Rotorua’s geothermal and volcanic highlights with Elite Adventures
- Fly and land on the Mt Tarawera volcano with Volcanic Air (on Viator and Klook)
- Enjoy an authentic Maori tour with Kahukiwi Experiences
- Drive the 4WD challenges at Off Road NZ
- See one of the most stunning and off-the-beaten-track forests with Foris Eco-Tours.
For more details on each experience, as well as other ideas, check out the 10 Luxury Experiences in Rotorua.
Day 8 – Rotorua to Taupo
Travel time: 1 hour
It might be a short journey from Rotorua to Taupo, but we recommend breaking it up by visiting the lunar landscape of Orakei Korako.
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 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
For elaboration on our top recommendations, see the 15 Best Luxury Accommodations 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 with Taupo Tandem Skydiving. If neither suits, then there’s a lot more on offer as shown in the list below.
Luxury Experiences in Taupo
- Ride the Great Lake Trails on a personalised tour with Taupo Kayaking Adventures (more info on Viator or Klook)
- Indulge in the mineral hot pools and spa treatments of Taupo’s premium hot pool complexes, like Taupo DeBretts
- See the lake and volcanoes from above on a scenic flight with Taupo’s Floatplane or Chopper Worx Taupo
- Hit the ski slopes of Mt Ruapehu
- Play golf on some of New Zealand’s most prestigious golf courses like Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary or the Kinloch Club.
For more information on each experience and more, be sure to check out the 10 Luxury Experiences in Taupo.
Day 10 – Taupo to Napier
Travel time: 1 hr 50 mins
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, such as with Vines and Views Tours.
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 either a group or private 4WD tour of this hard-to-reach site.
Luxury Experiences in Napier
- Tour Napier and its winery in a vintage VW Kombi with Avantogo Tours
- Take a private art deco tour with the Art Deco Trust
- Get the real Maori experience with Waimarama Maori Tours
- See New Zealand’s largest mainland gannet colony with Gannet Safaris Overland
- Experience rafting in an epic river with Mohaka Rafting.
Find out more about each experience and its location in the 10 Luxury Experiences in Napier.
Luxury Accommodation in Napier
For more information on our top recommendations, see the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Napier.
Day 11 – Napier to Palmerston North
Travel time: 2 hrs 20 mins
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 Experiences in Palmerston North
- Experience sublime scenery on a horse trek at Makoura Lodge
- Tee off at Palmerston North’s premium golf courses
- Do some boutique shopping down George Street
- Tour the Arrosta Coffee Roastery
- Indulge in a luxury spa day at Hiwinui Country Estate.
For elaboration on each experience and more, see the 6 Luxury Experiences in Palmerston North.
Luxury Accommodation in Palmerston North
- Hiwinui Country Estate
- Destiny on Fitzherbert
- Quest Palmerston North
- Pin Oaks Luxury Bed & Breakfast
- City Corporate Motor Inn
For more information on our top picks, take a look at the 10 Best Luxury Accommodations in Palmerston North.
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 Klook) 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 or Klook 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
- Sofitel Wellington
- Mövenpick Hotel Wellington
Find out more about each accommodation in our 15 Best Luxury Accommodations 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.
Luxury Experiences in Wellington
- Play at one of Wellington’s prestigious golf courses
- Explore Wellington’s designer boutiques
- Join a wine tour of the Wairarapa wine region with Zozo Travel
- Try fine whisky at the city’s reputable whisky bars
- See Wellington from new heights with Wellington Helicopters (more info on Viator or Klook).
Find out more about each experience and much more in the 10 Luxury Experiences 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.
Goodbye, New Zealand! Next time, visit the South Island by following the South Island Luxury Itinerary: 2 Weeks.
Plan This Luxury Itinerary with First Light Travel
If you like this North Island luxury itinerary for two weeks but don’t like the hassle of planning everything yourself, then there’s a way to lighten the load. First Light Travel is an online travel agent specialising in luxury itineraries in New Zealand. Plus, using their service is super simple:
- First, send First Light Travel an enquiry by completing their online form
- Then, you’ll receive your customised luxury itinerary
- Review your itinerary and work with your First Light Travel agent on perfecting it
- Finally, First Light Travel will organise the rest including the bookings.
First Light Travel has access to more than 20,000 travel products, including almost all the tours and accommodations featured on this list (and more). With that and their local expertise here in New Zealand, they will create a well-catered luxury itinerary to meet your needs while also suggesting some dream travel experiences that you may have never heard of. They only work with companies where their past clients have had positive experiences, so you know you’re in good hands.
What’s more, all of the bookings are arranged by First Light Travel, so instead of having to contact each individual accommodation and operator should your travel plans change, any amendments can be done through your FLT agent – easy! Did we mention the service is at no extra cost to you?!
For more information on planning your own New Zealand itinerary, see How to Create the Perfect New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary. Or better yet, jump on firstlighttravel.com and start making your own itinerary there.
More About a North Island Luxury Itinerary for 2 Weeks / 14 Days
That’s the end of our North Island luxury itinerary for 14 days. If this itinerary didn’t take you fancy, see our alternative 14-day itineraries:
- South Island Luxury Itinerary: 2 Weeks
- New Zealand Luxury Itinerary: 2 Weeks
- North Island in 2 Weeks: New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
- North Island Family Itinerary: 2 Weeks
- North Island Honeymoon & Romance Itinerary: 2 Weeks
- North Island Food Itinerary: 2 Weeks
- North Island Budget Itinerary: 2 Weeks
- How to Create the Perfect New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in The Luxury Travel Guide to New Zealand.