I was extremely overwhelmed when trying to plan out our trip to New Zealand. Between deciphering the difference between north and south island and trying to figure out what activities were where, I went a little crazy in my attempts to build an itinerary. Luckily our fellow travel partners at Never Ending World Tour are pretty much experts at planning, so thank you to our Hillorie for taking the reigns!
Our 7 days on North Island was a combination of a lot of driving (we rented a car, which is what we recommend since everything is so far from each other), a substantial amount of sightseeing, and a couple of fun activities. Here’s everything we saw and did during our time there – we hope it helps you in your planning! If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below 🙂
Day 1 – Arriving in Auckland
Our flight arrived mid-afternoon, and this was basically just our day of getting settled in. By the time we got our rental car and checked into our Airbnb it was night time, so we just ate dinner and decided to get a good nights rest.
Day 2 – Hobbiton
We decided to sleep in this day and didn’t reach Hobbiton until about 1pm. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Auckland to Matamata (where Hobbiton is located), so make sure to get an early start if you want to fit in other activities – such as the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. We had an amazing time at Hobbiton and recommend it for any fan of the LOTR series or The Hobbit!
We did initially plan on visiting the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves as well, which is doable but would make for a tight schedule. We ultimately decided against it due to the price and not being able to take your own pictures/videography, but we would like to do it one day!
Accommodation: We stayed overnight in Cambridge, which was about 25 minutes from Hobbiton/Matamata.
Day 3 – Whakarerarewa and The Redwood Forest
We drove down south a couple hours and had our first day in Rotorua. We started off with a visit to Whakarerarewa, which is The Living Maori Village. This was a highlight for Jarden and I! We loved seeing how the Maori people still lived and worked in their village, and still participated in their cultural traditions.
We then headed to The Redwood Forest, which is rated the #1 thing to do in Rotorua on Tripadvisor. While we planned on renting bikes and speeding through the forest, we got to the rental booth a little too late, which was a real bummer! We did a half-hour walk through though and saw many bikers; it was beautiful!
Day 4 – Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and Zorbing
Our second day in Rotorua, we first visited Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland. There are a ton of thermal pools/attractions in Rotorua, but Waiotapu specifically had some eye catching highlights that we wanted to see most.
We ended the day with Zorbing, which was one of the most exhilirating activities we’ve done in a while. A tad pricey, but worth every penny to us. We recommend getting 2 hydro rides; one down the straight track with a partner if you have one, and one solo down the sidewinder track!
Day 5 – Te Puke & Mount Maunganui
On day 5 we left Rotorua and headed to Tauranga. We did two main things this day; hiked a giant mountain, and saw a giant kiwi! The kiwi was a fun little stop that Hillorie was super keen on seeing. Mount Maunganui was my favorite part of the day; an hour hike up a gorgeous mountain where you end up above the clouds.
Day 6 – Auckland City
We spent our sixth day walking around central Auckland city. While a hotspot for eateries and shopping, the sidewalks are filled to the brim with tourists, which also brought about some seemingly sketchy characters, much like many other tourist hubs around the world. It’s worth checking out, but we preferred the country side of New Zealand by far.
Day 7 – Mount Eden and One Tree Hill
On our final day we ended up heading first to Mount Eden, a giant crater located in Auckland. It’s a super easy hike (if you can even call it that) and gives you a great view of the city skyline! Definitely a cool spot in Auckland to check out.
One Tree Hill is a cute town that happens to hold the name of everyones favorite tv show. (Ha! It’s our latest Netflix binge…) Within One Tree Hill is a giant, grassy, hilly park in which we spent a couple hours taking pictures, walking through the playground, admiring herds of sheep, and trekking up to the famous monument. While a fun place to explore, I’d say One Tree Hill isn’t necessary – only go if you have extra time.
After this we headed on our plane back to Hawaii – it was definitely an eventful week! We had a great time exploring the north of NZ, and we can’t wait to go back one day to explore the south.