The Great New Zealand Touring Route

Huka Falls

The Great New Zealand Touring Route

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The Great New Zealand Touring Route is the only place in New Zealand where you can experience everything from sandy beaches to snow capped mountains, geothermal areas, spectacular rain forest, fascinating Maori culture, adventure activities, kiwi fruit orchards and award winning vineyards along the way.

The Great New Zealand Touring Route offers the unique opportunity to experience the very best of the North Island while following two well-established touring routes, Pacific Coast Highway and Thermal Explorer Highway.

The Pacific Coast Highway, traversing the spectacular east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is known as one of the great touring routes in the world. Linking AucklandCoromandel, Bay of Plenty with Tauranga, Mount Maunganui, Whakatane and the magnificent off-shore volcano White Island, the East Cape and Hawke’s Bay Wine Country, the Pacific Coast Highway travels through a truly unique region where land and sea intermingle.

The journey to Auckland on the Thermal Explorer Highway from Hawke’s Bay takes you through the centre of the North Island to encounter great Lake Taupo, the majestic Huka Falls, Mount Ruapehu, geothermal wonderland Rotorua. The regions are abundant with crystal clear lakes and streams, native bush, natural spas, ski fields, Maori culture, wineries and Waitomo’s underground cave mysteries.

Great New Zealand Touring Route Itinerary

11 Day Budget Self Drive – The Great New Zealand Touring Route

View our budget self drive tour based on The Great New Zealand Touring Route. If you’d prefer to travel in hotel, boutique or B&B accomodation please let us know- Relaxing Journeys can tailor the tour to your requirements.

The Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway is well signposted along the entire route, giving a safe and easy way to navigate through some of the most spectacular coastal scenery New Zealand has to offer.

Be among the first people to see the sun as it rises majestically over the Pacific, casting its first rays over the stunning white sand beaches along the length of the Highway. Experience pure escapism!

Sample of the world’s best seafood, innovative cuisine and award winning wines and indulge yourself in one of the many luxurious accommodation establishments along the way. Enjoy the diverse and unique heritage within the region.

You’ll find an abundance of buildings from another era, ancient Maori pa sites, countless historical delights and the living heritage of the stories and faces of the local people. Marvel at the talents of the local artists and share with them the environment that so inspires them – the slice of the Pacific paradise that is the Pacific Coast Highway.

Thermal Explorer Highway

Whether it is a maritime haven you seek or NZ culture and cafes, the charms of Auckland are well within reach. Aucklandis a region brimming with scenic diversity and an endless array of activities and attractions.

Leaving Auckland behind, travel south along the Thermal Explorer Highway, through the lush green pastures and picturesque tree-lined towns of the Waikato. The hidden black-water rivers and glow-worm chambers of the Waitomo Caves provide a memorable short diversion before arriving in Rotorua.

Here the earth’s natural forces reveal the seething interior of the earth oozing out in a ferment of boiling mud, geysers and steam. Time to soothe weary bones in one of many natural spas. Rotorua is your best opportunity to experience the pre-European culture of New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Maori. Abundant with crystal-clear lakes and streams, the central North Island has a world-wide reputation for trophy Brown and Rainbow trout – none more so than at Lake Taupo, where the lake flows out over the majestic Huka Falls into the Waikato River.

It is only a short drive to the ski-fields of Ruapehu, scene of an annual pilgrimage to the snow-filled action. The volcanic loop is a great option for those wanting to check out New Zealand’s National Parks. With two to choose from, including the World Heritage Tongariro National Park, the activities are unlimited with some of the best walks to be had anywhere in New Zealand.

The route to Hawke’s Bay provides breathtaking scenery through forested countryside. Surrounded by world renowned vineyards, Napier, the Art Deco capital of the world, is a favourite New Zealand holiday resort. A perfect break in the journey before heading north on the Pacific Coast Highway, or continuing south to experience the rest of New Zealand.

Scenic Highlights along the Great NZ Touring Route

Hawkes Bay
Hawkes Bay is a year-round holiday destination with an eclectic mix of visual and sensory experiences. Whether it’s a lazy summer alfresco lunch, a long walk on a beach in the golden light of autumn, a glass of merlot beside a toasty winter’s fire or the dazzling view from Te Mata Peak on a crisp spring morning, you’ll want to stay a while to discover Hawke’s Bay.

Lake Taupo is the perfect place to unpack and unwind while you explore the Great New Zealand Touring Route. Here we ‘Think Fresh’ – fresh water, fresh snow, fresh air, fresh trout, fresh people, fresh fun – you get the picture. The physical environment of the Lake Taupo region is what makes us so unique. Lake Taupo itself was created by the largest known eruption of the past 5,000 years – so big the sun went hazy in China. Today, what remains is a lake the size of Singapore and the largest fresh water lake in Australasia.

New Zealand’s tourism icon, Rotorua is spiritual home to the Maori of Te Arawa. Here you will experience natures awesome earth forces, bubbling mudpools, spouting geysers and hot water beaches. At the end of the day, why not wind down and enjoy a well-deserved soak in natural geothermal mineral pool.

Waitomo is one of New Zealand’s original tourist destinations and has been attracting visitors for more than 100 years. Whether above ground or below, the region is an explorer’s paradise.

The Ruapehu district has friendly towns from Taumarunui and National Park Village to Ohakune, historic Raetihi and Pipiriki and Waiouru. Tongariro National Park has magnificent walks including the Tongariro Crossing over the moonscape craters of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, lush native forest, lava formations, glaciers, crystal clear rivers and lakes.

Bay of Plenty
The coastal Bay of Plenty, one of the country’s top holiday destinations for Kiwis, offers a great mix of activities, scenic attractions, culture and top dining experiences. Whether you’re after adventure, beach life or a bit of indulgence, the Bay of Plenty has all the bases covered. Located along the picturesque Pacific Coast Highway, the region is home to a beautiful landscape in which to enjoy a full range of activities year-round. If you’re after some rest and relaxation, visit the region’s great hot pools and spas, the new Tauranga Art Gallery or top restaurants and wineries that make the most of the delicious locally grown products.

The Coromandel
The Coromandel’s unique landscapes and relaxed lifestyle make it a preferred destination for international visitors. Beautiful golden beaches, rugged, unspoiled beauty and the opportunity to unwind free of life’s complications. Located only 90 minutes from Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua, the unspoiled coastline of the Coromandel is considered by many to boast New Zealand’s best beaches and native rain forest. A favourite getaway spot for New Zealanders, it remains largely undiscovered by international tourists. This is perhaps why the Coromandel still offers the visitor a true taste of New Zealand.