12 Day North Island Bays & Lakes Explorer

From Auckland to Tauranga, Napier to Wellington, west to New Plymouth and later visit all the beautiful Central Plateau lakes before returning to Auckland.

12 Day North Island Bays & Lakes Explorer

A comprehensive tour of New Zealand's North Island. From Auckland to Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty to Napier in the Hawke's Bay. North to south, east to west and all the beautiful Central Plateau lakes in the middle. This tour has it all!

Tour Type: Self Drive Tours
From: Auckland to Auckland
Departs: Daily
Duration: 12 days
Tour Code: SD12BL

Regions Visited

Click on the region name to view more information about the region

Auckland, Tauranga, Rotorua, Napier, Wellington, New Plymouth, Taupo, Waitomo

Tour Inclusions

  • 12 days car hire
  • 11 nights accommodation
  • Superior & Premium accommodation includes breakfast

Day By Day Itinerary

New Zealand Tours

Welcome to Auckland, the “City of Sails’, New Zealand’s largest and very multi-cultural city.

On arrival at Auckland Airport proceed pick up your rental car. Enjoy the day at leisure, stroll the waterfront at Viaduct Harbour, famous for America’s Cup sailing, savour the dining scene, enjoy beautiful beaches as well as boutique shopping at the Britomart, High Street and along Queen Street.

Stay: Auckland

Tauranga, North Island Tours

Leave behind the bright lights of Auckland, take a leisurely drive south. The prosperous city of Tauranga sprawls along the edge of an attractive harbour. There’s a well-developed café culture and boat charters are available to take you big game fishing, snorkelling or dolphin watching. Nearby Mt Maunganui is a destination for surfing and beach walking.

Stay: Tauranga

Hobbiton, New Zealand Tours

Make a short detour to Matamata to visit Hobbiton or meander the short drive to Rotorua. With spectacular scenery and exciting activities, there is plenty to do in Rotorua. Experience the extraordinary geothermal landscape, cultural experiences and historical sites that consistently make Rotorua one of the most visited holiday destinations in New Zealand.

Stay: Rotorua

Rotorua Skyline Gondola and Buffet Dinner Tour

Make the most of Rotorua’s many activities and attractions. Adventurous mountain bike trails and cycle ways, thrilling river jet boating, scenic helicopter flights over Mt Tarawera and neighbouring lakes. The cultural side of Rotorua offers you traditional and modern Maori performances, hangi feasts and insights into genuine Maori maraes (meeting houses). Please ask at time of booking if you would like us to book additional activities for you.

Stay: Rotorua


Geothermal reserves, vast forests and lush native bush feature on the road to Napier. There’s a bit of everything – rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and huge vistas. Napier’s trademark is its art deco and Spanish mission architecture, Norfolk Pine tree-lined waterfront, rich arts culture and vast surrounding vineyards boasting world-renowned wine labels.

Stay: Napier

y Classic New Zealand Panorama Guided Tour

Travel through the green farmland of the Hawke’s Bay region, perhaps a side trip to Martinborough wine village en route. Wind your way through the Upper Hutt region as you approach the central Wellington region. Wellington, New Zealand’s Capital City, is home to a powerful mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine.

Stay: Wellington

Wellington Sightseeing

Explore Wellington’s waterfront and Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s national museum, while the Lambton Quay area is well known for its retail shopping.

Mt Victoria and the cable car both offer outstanding city and harbour views. Join a guided LOTR film site tour for all the inside stories, visit Weta Workshop or perhaps enjoy a half day Seal Coast Safari by 4WD to view NZ fur seals at remote Cape Palliser.

Stay: Wellington


Enjoy the coastline and views of Kapiti Island and beachside towns en route to New Plymouth. With its eclectic mix of diverse cultures and contemporary style, a seaside city and bustling port fast becoming a lifestyle destination for big-city escapees. Highlights include its award-winning coastal walkway, Puke Ariki, an innovative museum/information centre and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Stay: New Plymouth

4 Day Northbound Central Tour

The drive begins with a procession of seaside villages. You drive eastward through a mixture of farmland, forest and rugged mountain country. The resort town of Taupo sits on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake and is known as a trout fishing paradise. Taupo’s other popular activities include tandem skydiving, river jet boating, scenic lake cruising to see the unique Maori rock carvings, lake kayaking, hot thermal pools and a myriad of local walking and cycling trails along the waterfront and through nearby forest.

Stay: Taupo

Caves and Kiwi Tour

The cross-country route to Waitomo Caves takes you past Huka Falls, a world-acclaimed golf course and the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. Journey through mixture of farmland, Lakeland and forest. Perhaps join a guided tour to the Waitomo Caves district famous for its subterranean splendour. Beneath the surface of this limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms. Some caves open to the public, and are easy to walk through, others require specialised caving equipment.

Stay: Waitomo

18 Day Platinum New Zealand Grandeur Guided Tour

The fertile farmlands of the Waikato pave the way to the bright lights of Auckland, the City of Sails. The beautiful Waitemata and Manukau Harbours, together with the scenic Hauraki Gulf Islands, provide a spectacular backdrop to the city. Enjoy the amazing view from the top of the Sky Tower, stroll the waterfront at Viaduct Harbour and adjacent Wynyard Quarter.

Stay: Auckland

Auckland City Tours

You have the day at leisure until you make your way to return your rental car and check in for your onward flight.

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Prices valid from 1st October 2020

Accommodation Double/Twin Single Triple
Standard $1,323 NZD $2,592 NZD $1,127 NZD Enquire / Book
Superior $2,796 NZD $5,308 NZD $2,235 NZD Enquire / Book
Premium $3,633 NZD $6,802 NZD $3,069 NZD Enquire / Book
Prices are per person and in New Zealand Dollars.

Tour Type: Self Drive Tour
A Self Drive tour allows you to travel at your own pace on one of our comprehensive itineraries. Our experienced New Zealand based travel consultants have planned each itinerary to ensure practical driving times while allowing you the freedom for photo opportunities as you travel. Your accommodation and car hire is pre-booked and we are happy to include optional activities to coincide with driving times.
Frequently Asked Questions – Self Drive Tours

What is a Self Drive tour?
A Self Drive tour allows you to travel at your own pace on one of our comprehensive itineraries. Our experienced New Zealand based travel consultants have planned each itinerary to ensure practical driving times while allowing you the freedom for photo opportunities as you travel. Your accommodation and car hire is pre-booked and we are happy to include optional activities to coincide with driving times.

What is required to hire a vehicle within New Zealand?
A valid driver’s licence in English is required to hire a rental vehicle within New Zealand.  Please note drivers must be over 21 years to hire a vehicle, between 21 – 25 years a young driver surcharge is applicable. We recommend all clients have a credit card for car rental, the card number is then held for a bond. All vehicles are automatic transmission, we do not offer manual transmissions.

What is driving in New Zealand like?
We drive on the right in New Zealand, all rental vehicles are set up for right hand drive. Within the cities, roads are busy, there are motorways and highways. Once out of town most of our roads two lanes, there are some divided carriage ways, however most driving will be on 2 lane paved/sealed roads. It will take you a lot longer than you think looking at the map to get from point A to point B.

What dates do your tours depart?
Our self drive tours depart daily, driving times do vary each day so please consider this when booking departure flights.

What is included in the tour cost?
All tours include accommodation and rental car. Some tours include activities listed in the itineraries. Car hire is quoted including basic insurance, with the option to upgrade to fully comprehensive insurance.  A detailed travel wallet with your travel vouchers will be sent to your arrival accommodation, a comprehensive itinerary will be sent to you prior to your departure. Your personal travel consultant will contact you on arrival, allowing ease of communication whilst you are traveling.

What is not included in the tour cost?
Expenses of a personal nature such as meals (except where stated in the itinerary), beverages, travel insurance, fuel, laundry and optional sightseeing (except where stated in the itinerary) are not included in the tour cost.

How many people can I include in a self-drive tour?
Our largest hire vehicle is 9 passengers and a driver. You can travel in a group, with a number of vehicles but each vehicle must have a licenced driver.

I am travelling with children, what price will I pay?
Please contact us for information on child fares, as these vary based on the specific product you require. Some sightseeing activities are unsuitable for children.

Are any meals included in the tour cost?
Our Superior and Premium tour rates include breakfast.  There are exceptions where some activities will include lunch or dinner. We are more than happy to make recommendations, please advise if there are any dietary requirements so we can recommend accordingly. .

Is Halal and other speciality food available in New Zealand? 
Along with a small population of Muslims, New Zealand has an increasing number of Muslim visitors. Halal food and restaurants are now found in many areas of the country, let us now if you require this and we will compile a list for you. We can also offer advice in regards to Vegan and other special requirements.

How will I navigate my way around New Zealand?
You will be supplied with a map in your travel wallet. If you require a GPS, this can be arranged with your car hire, if you are wishing to use your own navigational device, SIM cards can be purchased at the airport. Our comprehensive itinerary will guide you, especially with our personal touches just for you. We are only a phone call away. Most pre booked optional activities will have an informative guide giving you an insight into the activity you have chosen.

Can I add in additional days to a tour?
Yes you can. All tours are very flexible – we will gladly work with you to make our tours suit your requirements. Please ask one of our Travel Consultants for extra day rates.

What is the difference between the three tour types Quality, Superior and Premium Tours?
Standard:  Motor Lodge, apartment style accommodation, self-contained accommodation, ensuite bathrooms. Your rental car is a small compact car.
Superior: 4 star hotel accommodation, includes breakfast. Your rental car is a mid-size car.
Premium: 5 star hotel accommodation, including breakfast. Your rental car is an SUV.
Note all accommodation is reviewed regularly by staff, we have high standards and good relationships with all our providers.

What if I cannot find exactly what I am looking for on the website?
Let us know what is on your wish list to see and do and we will be delighted to plan a customised tour to suit your requirements, using our 30 years of experience. Our local knowledge will come up with many pleasant surprises for you. 

How much luggage can I take on my tour?
You can bring as much luggage as you require, we recommend 1 piece of luggage (max 25kg each), for ease of travel. We also advise you check the maximum baggage allowance with your chosen airline.

How do I make a payment for a tour?
For bookings made more than 45 days prior to travel, Pacific Travel require a deposit of NZ$50 per person. This deposit is non-refundable. Balance of payment is due 45 days prior to travel. For bookings made 45 days or less prior to travel, full payment is required at the time of booking. Visa & MasterCard are accepted forms of payment. A 2.5% Credit Card Fee applies to all payments by credit card. You may pay via direct bank transfer to avoid the credit card fee. Bank details will be on your booking advice. All prices advertised are in New Zealand dollars and are GST inclusive.

What is your cancellation policy?
If after your booking has been confirmed you wish to cancel, the following cancellation fees will apply:
Cancellations 31 or more days prior to travel: Your deposit plus a further 10% of the total package price.
Cancellations 15 – 30 days prior to travel: Deposit + a further 20% of the total package price.
Cancellations 0-14 days prior to travel: 100% of total fare (no refund).
Booking amendments made by you: an amendment fee of 10% of total package price will be charged to cover our administration and communication costs. We may also need to pass on any amendment/cancellation fees imposed by our suppliers.

Conditions of travel
Pacific Travel reserves the right to alter fares, amend itineraries, book alternative accommodation or to cancel tours. Pacific Travel Ltd shall not be held responsible for any loss or damage to luggage or personal effects and/or damage resulting in death or personal injury, which may arise whilst travelling with Pacific Travel Ltd or its nominated suppliers. All transportation, both land and sea, is subject to the terms and conditions of the company providing the transport, some of which limit or exclude liability. These are available from the carriers concerned on request.

Will I need travel insurance?
We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance. Factors may arise that require you to cancel or amend your holiday. It is essential you are covered for any costs that may be incurred. We recommend purchasing your travel insurance locally at the same time as you book your tour and flights.

Do I need to tip in New Zealand?
If you wish to reward someone for a job well done it is always much appreciated, but not a requirement. It is certainly not expected, nobody will be offended should you wish to.

Do I need a visa to visit New Zealand?
Most visitors to New Zealand do not require a visa to enter for the purpose of a holiday or vacation under the visa waiver program. If you do need a visa to visit New Zealand then you should contact the New Zealand consulate in your home country well before your departure date. We recommend you also check with your local travel agent or airline for any visa requirements to New Zealand particularly if you are passing through Australia.

What currency is used in New Zealand?
The New Zealand dollar is the only legal tender in New Zealand. View a guide between your local currency and the New Zealand dollar. Please note: Your tour and all purchases using a credit card in New Zealand will be charged in New Zealand Dollars (NZD) at the current exchange rate at the time of purchase. The above currency conversion page is to be used as a guide only.

12 Day North Island Bays & Lakes Explorer

Tour Type: Self Drive Tours Tour Code: SD12BL From $1,127 Per Person Departs: Daily From Auckland to Tauranga, Napier to Wellington, west to New Plymouth and later visit all the beautiful Central Plateau lakes before returning to Auckland. Enquire about this tour

Where this tour will take you...