Auckland, New Zealand

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clock-o5 days (Approx.)
TransportHotel pickup offered
ticket-oMobile ticket
commentOffered in: English


Soak up all the North Island highlights on this 5-day journey from Auckland by coach, including a Bay of Islands cruise to see the Hole in the Rock. Your itinerary includes a drive along Ninety Mile Beach at Cape Reinga; enjoy an overnight stay near the bubbling hot springs of Rotorua; a visit to Waitomo Caves for a boat ride through Glowworm Grotto; and a Hobbiton Movie Set tour to see filming locations for ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Listen to informative commentary on board.
  • Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton movie set 5-day tour from Auckland
  • Take a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in Paihia and see dolphins on a Bay of Islands cruise
  • Drive along Ninety Mile Beach on a day trip to Cape Reinga
  • Enjoy a guided tour of Waitomo Caves and a boat ride through the glowworm grotto
  • Watch a Maori cultural show and eat a hangi dinner at Tamaki Maori Village
  • Visit the geothermal wonderland of geysers and boiling mud pools at Te Puia Thermal Reserve
  • Take a journey through Middle-earth on The Lord of the Rings Hobbiton Movie Set tour
  • Choice of either standard or superior accomodation
On this comprehensive 5-day tour of the North Island, you can choose from standard or superior accommodation in Paihia and Rotorua. Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and see New Zealand’s northernmost point at Cape Reinga. Then visit the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. From a traditional hangi dinner at an authentic Maori village in Rotorua to the Hobbiton Movie Set of Middle-Earth, you’ll cover plenty of ground with an informative guide.


Day 1: Auckland -- PaihiaAfter being picked up from your Auckland hotel, cross over the iconic Auckland Harbour Bridge and journey into ‘the winterless North’ to the beautiful Bay of Islands. Along the way, your driver guide will keep you informed and entertained, pointing out sites of interest as you drive through rolling farmland and lush native forest. After stopping for a brief morning tea break in Kaiwaka (own expense), continue past Whangarei to the seaside town of Paihia. Take a guided tour of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where New Zealand's founding document was signed between Maori chiefs and the British. Enjoy join a cruise into the Bay of Islands, keeping a lookout for dolphins swimming in the bay, and admire the region’s famous Hole in the Rock landmark. Returning to Paihia, spend the remainder of the afternoon and evening at your choice of accommodation.
Overnight: Your choice of standard (Kingsgate) or superior (Scenic) accommodation in Paihia
Day 2: Paihia -- Cape Reinga (L)Today you’ll travel to the northernmost point of New Zealand at Cape Reinga, where the Pacific and Tasman oceans meet. On the way, stop to explore the Puketi kauri forest with its 1000-year-old native trees. Take a short walk along an elevated walkway and learn about conservation efforts to preserve the forest today. Your tour continues through the rolling hills of Northland's rural countryside, with breathtaking coastal and forest views. Enjoy a drive along Ninety Mile Beach, and try boogie boarding down the sand dunes. Travel to Cape Reinga, a significant site where, according to Māori legend, spirits depart on their journey home to Hawaiki. Enjoy spectacular panoramic views and visit the iconic lighthouse before relaxing on the journey back to Paihia.
Overnight: Your choice of standard (Kingsgate) or superior (Scenic) accommodation in Paihia
Day 3: Paihia -- RotoruaTravel from Paihia back through Auckland and on to Rotorua, traveling through the North Island’s scenic countryside of forests and rolling farmland. In the evening, you might like to visit the Polynesian Spa or Hells Gate thermal area for a soak in a natural spring or mud pool; both are open late.
Overnight: Your choice of standard (Ibis or Sudima) or superior (Millennium) accommodation in Rotorua
Day 4: Rotorua -- Waitomo Caves (D)
Today, experience stunning scenery above and below ground on a guided tour of the fascinating Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Travel through lush farmland to the King Country region to Waitomo, then wander through subterranean caverns and learn how the stalagmites, stalactites and other spectacular limestone rock formations were formed over millions of years. To end your tour, travel through the Glowworm Grotto on a magical boat ride, surrounded by the twinkling lights of thousands of glowworms. Your afternoon is free to explore Rotorua before you are welcomed into an authentic Maori village. Discover Maori art forms, ancient rituals and traditional song and dance, then share a three-course meal with your Maori hosts.
Overnight: Your choice of standard (Ibis or Sudima) or superior (Millennium) accommodation in Rotorua
Day 5: Rotorua -- Hobbiton -- Auckland This morning you will set out from Rotorua with a scenic drive across the Kaimai Ranges to Matamata for your Hobbiton movie set tour, home to the beautiful farmland that was transformed into the Shire from Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. Your guide will show you Hobbit holes and other movie structures. Have a drink in the Green Dragon Inn before boarding your coach back to your Auckland hotel.
Accommodation Options:
Paihia - Kingsgate Hotel: The Kingsgate Hotel is located in a prime position with waterfront views across the bay. With great comfort and service, the Kingsgate is a great option for your stay in Paihia. Standard room with own bathroom facilities.

Rotorua - Ibis Hotel: The Ibis hotel offers tranquil surroundings with sensational views. The central location is easily accessible to cafes and restaurants. Standard room with own bathroom facilities.
Rotorua - Sudima Hotel: Sudima Lake Rotorua is the largest hotel in Rotorua, and is set right on the shores of beautiful Lake Rotorua. The hotel is also adjacent to the world-famous Polynesian Spa complex, Rotorua Museum and Government Garden, and just a short stroll from Rotorua's vibrant city centre. Standard room with own bathroom facilities.

Paihia - Scenic Hotel: Scenic Hotel Bay of Islands has island-influenced architecture with beautifully landscaped grounds and light, airy rooms. Situated at the entrance to the seaside town of Paihia, it’s a pleasant stroll into town to the main wharf, visitor activities, fine dining and shopping. Superior room with own bathroom facilities.

Rotorua - Millennium Hotel: Centrally located in the city beside mystical Lake Rotorua, the Millennium Hotel Rotorua is one of the most conveniently located and best appointed hotels. This child-friendly hotel has many services and facilities for younger guests, including a heated pool for toddlers and a family pool. Superior room with own bathroom facilities.

Please note: Due to operational requirements, hotel lists are subject to change by the tour operator without notice.


Viator Traveler's Reviews

29 Reviews
5 Star
4 Star
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1 Star
, Jun 2018

This is a semi-independent tour. The travel agency arranges for hotel, buses between cities, transfers to and from hotel and excursions. You will not be traveling with the same people nor on the same bus all the time. We were very impressed with the logistics! Seriously, considering that we took different buses with different drivers each way between cities, excursions and multiple transfers, we were surprised that everything went without a single issue. All the buses and transfers were on-time except the last bus from Mata Mata to Auckland which the Agency reps mentioned that regularly 15 min late. They offered to pick us up at the hotel in downtown Auckland but because our hotel coming back was by the airport, they weren’t unable to accommodate that transfer and we ended up taking a taxi.

The communication with the agency was good. I had called before the trip to let them know that I wanted to see the itinerary a bit before the 1 week mark and they complied by sending it two weeks prior. Please ensure to check your emails sent from Viator as they do not send the itinerary directly to your email. We read everything on the itinerary and made hard copies of it. During the trip I only called them to make a reservation to the Tamaki Maori Village dinner and cultural experience and on our last day as we were waiting for the bus to Auckland and were concerned because it was a few minutes late. I guess we had been spoiled with getting every single driver on time. The hotel in Paihia was ok, well situated in town’s center, close to everything. We absolutely loved our hotel in Rotorua, the Sudima hotel by the lake.

This tour covers a lot of attractions in a very short time, therefore there will be a couple of days where everything will be jam-packed and there will be a lot of driving, but to be fair, unless you plan to drive yourself and stay on each location you visit, I don’t see how you can cover all these attractions in such a short time. This tour is perfect for people like us, that do not like driving abroad and have little vacation time. The third day, it is mostly spent on two intercity buses from Paihia to Auckland and Auckland to Rotorua. They do make a few stops where you can go to the restroom and a 45 min transfer at Auckland. We were worried about this mainly to reading other people’s review but we were pleasantly surprised as it wasn’t as bad as depicted. All you have to do is make sure is to take advantage of the scheduled stops and bring some snacks for the road. You can always buy lunch at the bus station in Auckland. We arrived Rotorua a bit early in the evening, the bar tender at the Sudima recommended to visit the Town’s center and check out the market(on Thursdays only) then we headed to the Polynesian Spa next door to unwind in their hot baths.

Most drivers were very knowledgeable and extremely personable, only a couple were a bit weird. Most of them seem to be local therefore they provide good information while going sight seeing.

The only thing I would recommend to the agency is to ensure to specify on the itinerary that there are any bus changes for certain excursions or if the lunches will be provided by a different bus driver than the one that you leave for during the excursions. On our way to Waitomo cave, the driver began by saying that the bus was going to Auckland instead of specifying that some people will be returning to Rotorua on a different bus. We got a nervous and began asking questions, and then he let us know that some of us will be returning on a different bus and that lunch was going to be served on that other bus.

Overall an Excellent experience, this is a good way to see the main sights of the North Island is a very short time. Grey Sights and Gray line did a fantastic job coordinating this tour, we really enjoyed it.

, Mar 2018

Not really a tour. More of an itinerary. They use local Intercity bus lines- one trip from Pahai to Auckland had 10 stops- but no bathroom breaks. Grouchy drivers. We hauled our luggage 4 blocks both ways to meet their buses. If you've been on tours with door to door service or has a tour guide and enjoyed that experience- this is not the tour for you. This is an expensive do it yourself type thing.

, Mar 2018

The actual tours we went on were all fine, but the transportation arrangements were not what we expected. On a typical day we had to get on 3 to 4 different buses/transfers all with different drivers and sometimes with different companies. The InterCity transfers on the third day were a complete waste of our precious travel time. Basically these were simply a city/state bus like Grayhound or Badger Coach that made multiple stops in different cities on our way from Paihia to Auckland to Rotorua without any commentary at all. It took all day to travel and the morning portion was 5 hours long without any planned bathroom/restroom stop at all. This is not the way to spend a vacation and we were very disappointed with this aspect of the trip. Okay trip if your a younger backpacker/tramper, but would not recommend for anyone that is looking for cohesive tour.

, Jan 2018

This is actually an "independent coach tour", which means they book you on the various day tours and intercity buses and you need to be able to follow an itinerary sheet yourself; might be obvious for Europeans and Aussies/Kiwis who have a strong backpacking culture, but it would not be clear from the tour descriptions to Americans and Asians.

There were a couple glitches with the tour: 1. Bay of Islands cruise was canceled by the local tour operator due to rainstorm and they said they would give refund through whomever paid for the cruise, but when I asked the travel agent that is selling this tour on Viator, they said they cannot give refund to me and told me to either go get travel insurance, or they would only give refund for the cruise minus a $25 "administrative fee"; 2. On the itinerary sheet, Waitomo Caves tour title says excluding lunch but the description paragraph below says includes lunch, and when I asked the travel agent about it, she said to only read the part that says excluding lunch; 3. There was no transport provided from Sky City bus terminal back to my hotel on the last day.

It annoys me that the company that organized this tour believed that they are not accountable for any of the issues that occurred (always had excuses or said it was another person's responsibility). However I give them 3 stars for always responding very quickly and finally gave me partial cruise refund after multiple emails. The actual local tour guides and bus drivers for each of the day tours were wonderful though, always friendly and helpful. Also note that on Day 3, bus trip from Paihia to Rotorua, there is a 45-minute gap at Auckland Sky City bus terminal where we waited to switched buses, however we were responsible for our own luggage since this is an independent coach tour, so if you have a large suitcase, you might end up stuck at the bus terminal with your luggage for that time. I only had a backpack, so I was able to walk out of the bus terminal to get lunch.

, May 2017

This tour fit our needs for touring the North Island so I didn't need to stress over driving on the left side of the road.
I was very impressed when I arrived at my hotel and we received a confirmation in the form of a letter from Great Sights confirming bus pick up the next morning. I thought this would be the norm for the rest of the trip - each morning- NOT SO!.
Be aware that each day is a different tour, with a different organization.

Day 1- We had a very informative tour guide on the bus to Paihia. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds was interesting. We arrived to the pier shortly before embarking the ship, with no time to get any food. There were few choices on the ship. My advise is to prepare to bring food for each day on this tour as you don't know when you will get a chance to eat. The bay of islands was beautiful with plenty of seating on the boat. We saw dolphins and then set sail for some of the islands. You see the islands from the boat and the captain was mindful of photo ops and turning the boat around each island to capture pictures from each side. We were tired after a long day and were not prepared for a stop at the last island and were asked to disembark and tour the small island. We were tired and anxious to get back to Paihia and eat. We did get off and walked up a steep hill to get spectacular views. After being on tour all day and arriving to our hotel late we expected to be notified what time and where the bus would be picking us up the next morning. There was no notification. We asked the hotel front desk and they thought it would pick us up in the morning at the hotel between an hour scheduled time based on our tour for the day. One thing I was not happy about... we stayed at the Kingsgate great location right on the water and a block from the maritime center and beautiful sun sets. Our luggage was delivered to the hotel while we were on the boat. It stayed in the hotel lobby very small location right in front of maps and touring information for about 5 hours with access to anyone. I would have preferred it was stored in a safe location.
Day 2 - Fun day packed with great sights and adventure. 90 mile beach was exciting and the sandboarding was a lot of fun. There is ample time at Cape Reigna and each location to see all the sights and take great photos. Again after an all day tour we arrived back at the hotel with no notification for the following day. We were to travel back to Auckland and then to Rotorua. They had no idea where we were supposed to meet. There was no notification about the pick up time or where we were supposed to meet.
Day 3- After an hour of frustration trying to figure out where to meet the bus I called the information on our Viator confirmation. The New Zealand Fine Touring Group was the contact. The associate was very nice and told us where to meet the bus. She also notified us that we were supposed to have received a full itinerary we did not, and she would email it to us. This was the worse day! It was over 9 hours on a city bus. Something they don't explain is you are not on a tour today. This day is transporting you by city bus to Auckland and then on to Rotorua. It is very cramped and picking up the public at several stops. There is no time to get food or go to the bathroom. Prepare for this day! We were on our own to figure out how to get to Rotorua from Auckland also as we still had not received our itinerary. That night we arrived in Rotorua and were able to access email and the itinerary. Hallelujah! It was very informative and stated we would have a taxi pick us up at the bus stop to take us to the hotel. The bus was an hour and a half late. We called the travel agent and they scheduled a taxi to pick us up right away. We stayed at the Sudima. A nice hotel on the lake.
Day 4 - The bus driver picked us up from the hotel lobby. The countryside is beautiful this time of year - very green! The caves were wonderful. Our day in Rotorua was spent looking for a restaurant to eat. There are a lot of great things to do in the city however. The Maori dinner was wonderful, entertaining and very informative. The food was good!
Day 5 - A packed day of tours. We had a great bus driver and went to the 3 tours before arriving in Hobbiton. Hobitton is definitely the high lite of the 5 days. Beautiful scenery and though crowded, people were mindful of those taking photos. We were taken to a bus to return to Auckland. This time it was a tour bus and a straight shot to Auckland. What a difference that made.

To review the whole trip... Make sure to have your detailed itinerary before you arrive for the tours. Get food! Most of the tours don't accommodate eating at your leisure. We learned to get food each morning to last the day. New Zealand is beautiful and I feel we were there at the best time of year with mild temperatures and green, green hills and diverse scenery.

, Apr 2017


A great way to see a lot in a small amount of time. There is a lot time spent on the bus but it was worth it for the most part. Someday, I would like to go back to spend more time at Cape Regina, 90 Mile Beach and the Hots Springs. We spent a lot of time driving to locations and then we only had a short time to visit but it was the only way to cram in all of the sights.
My only complaint is that this was not a TOUR! This was several tours pieced together by the bus company. There were some occasions when I had to find my own way to the pick-up spot or my manage my own transportation back to my hotel carting my own luggage around. There is one full day of being on a bus driving from the northern part of the island to Rotorua. The trip could have been done in 5 hours but the bus made lots of stops along the way to pick up and discharge customers so it took 10 hours. We also had figure out how to change buses in Aukland. Your daily bus drivers have no idea what you are doing from one day to the next as they are only with you for the day. Everyone on the bus is doing their own customized tour for various numbers of days so don't expect them to be with you the entire tour. After Hobbiton, a group of us were dropped off at a bus stop on a street somewhere and had to wait 45 minutes for our next bus to come pick us up. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't horrible but I was expecting a traditional 5 day tour where you are picked up on day 1 at your hotel and everything is coordinated until you are dropped off at your hotel at the end of day 5. Be aware of what you are signing up for.

, Mar 2017

Overall the tour was great. What I would have liked to have known before going on the tour is that it is not a 5 day tour with the same group of people but it is instead a collection of half day/ day tours. The coaches were comfortable, had wifi and the drivers were friendly and knowledgeable. Highlights were the bay of islands - especially the hole in the rock and the Hobbiton movie set. I paid slightly extra and stayed in the Kingsgate and Hotel ibis - both very nice hotels close to local bars/ restaurants. I noticed sometimes there was not always enough time allocated to get food - usually it was a rush to arrange lunch so I would definitely recommend taking snacks to have on the coach.

, Feb 2017

We really enjoyed most of the sites and events. The only negative was too much time spent on bus rides..

, Jan 2017

Overall the tour was good. The guides were knowledgeable, friendly and informative. Waitangi treaty grounds tour was rushed and at times the guides commentary was too fast. The Intercity bus trip from Auckland to Roturua had lots of stops and the driver was somewhat rude. After the conclusion of Hobitton tour - wait for the bus back to Auckland was the most disappointing. It was a open shelter - extremely windy, cold and there was heavy downpour while waiting for the delayed bus. We were dropped off without much info other than your connection will be here shortly. Calls to your tour center was also unhelpful. For the tour costs paid for a Superioir Gold package the shortcomings were extremely disappointing.

, Jan 2017

Warning, this 5 day tour consists of a lot of riding in tour bus, so much of the enjoyment depends on who you have as a bus driver or tour guide that day. The first 2 days of the tour was very good going north of Auckland to Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga. The 3rd day of tour was not enjoyable as it is just a whole day spent riding in 2 separate buses to Rotorua. The 4th day was good going to Waitomo Caves and Mauri village for dinner/show. The 5th day is pretty packed. For us, the tour operator screwed up and did not book our tour on the 5th day, so we were stuck in the hotel waiting all morning. This really bummed us out as we were looking forward to the fully packed 5th day activities, and we were very concerned about being able to get from Rotorua back to Auckland to catch our flight back to US the following day. It took a few hours of waiting for tour operator to get their act together and we eventually got rebooked for the 5th day afternoon tour to Hobbiton, but the mistake by the tour operator really tainted our experience. To make the experience worse, when we were offered the refund for their mistake a couple of week later, the refund came in ridiculously low. I had to contact Viator a couple of times before Viator offered a fair refund amount we asked for 20 back as 1 in 5 days was ruined.

What I learned:
1. Make sure that the tour operator book you for all 5 days reconfirm with tour operator if possible this can get difficult as you are on the move during the tour, so try to reconfirm before tour begins.
2. Viator seems like a reliable company as it did ultimately offer a fair refund, but only after I contacted them a couple of times.
3. New Zealand is a beautiful country with natural and cultural wonders.

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