Day 1: Welcome to New Zealand!
The 14-day Heritage self-drive is a wonderful showcase of the North Island's natural beauty, history, cultural diversity, lifestyle and art. Destinations include: Auckland - Bay of Islands - Waitomo - Rotorua - Napier - Hawke's Bay - Wellington.
Below is a brief trip summary. For any questions, details on optional activities, driving times, and a quote on this itinerary, please contact one of our Travel Consultants. Pricing includes pre-booked accommodation, rental car and insurance, pre-booked activities as selected, and a comprehensive packet of personalized trip notes, road atlas, and more. See Self-drive Tour Pricing on our Dates & Rates page for details.
A Black Sheep Touring Co. representative will meet you at your central city accommodation following your transfer there from the Auckland airport. He or she will advise you on your rental car pick-up and take you through your tour documentation, providing tips on travel in New Zealand. The rest of the day is free to explore. Trip notes will advise you on Auckland highlights.
Day 2: Auckland to Bay of Islands
It's a scenic drive to the Northland region, a remote area that time seems to have forgotten. Accommodation for the next three nights is in the beautiful Bay of Islands, a popular yet peaceful retreat. Your notes will point you to a self-guided hike that will allow you to rejuvenate and take in the picturesque surroundings.
Day 3: Day on the Bay
The day is free to enjoy this maritime paradise. Suggested optional activities include sailing on the bay or taking a dolphin-watching cruise amongst the islands. A Black Sheep Travel Consultant can advise of pricing and secure your booking.
Day 4: Hiking in the Bay
This day is spent enjoying the wider region. Northland was once blanketed by ancient kauri trees, true lords of the forest rivaled only by the redwoods in girth. Spend a day on a self-guided walk amongst these giants and exploring tracks (identified in your notes) that highlight the grandeur of the magnificent coastline. Alternatively, visit New Zealand's most historic site at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
Day 5: Bay of Islands to Auckland
Bid the Bay farewell and return to Auckland. Your trip notes identify scenic stops along the way. Just north of the city, on the ruggedly beautiful west coast, is one of New Zealand's largest gannet colonies. Detour here for a close-up view of these wonderful birds as they court, breed, and nest. Have a relaxed evening in the City of Sails.
Day 6: Auckland to Rotorua via Waitomo
Departing Auckland, head south to Waitomo, where you'll find a luminous subterranean world. Take an optional guided scenic caving trip before carrying on to Rotorua, a cultural center for Maoridom and an active volcanic region.
Day 7: Rotorua Immersion
Maori culture, spa rejuvenation, and adventure activities, including some of the countries best mountain bike trails, are on offer here. Details on mountain bike rental are included in your self-drive packet and can be worked around other optional activities that include a visit to the Rotorua Museum of Art & History, a geothermal spa, and a range of Maori cultural and thermal experiences as identified by your Black Sheep Travel Consultant.
Day 8: Geothermal Adventure
Explore some of the regions most extraordinary geothermal features with a variety of optional add-ons: visit the active White Island volcano, take a float-plane flight over the impressive Mt Tarawera crater rift and steaming lakes, or visit a colourful and diverse thermal reserve featuring boiling mud pools and geysers.
Day 9: Rotorua to Napier
Depart Rotorua and journey south to Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake. Your trip notes will advise of fascinating stops along the way. Descend from the Volcanic Plateau to the plains and bountiful Hawke's Bay. This is the country's oldest wine region and is renowned for its award-winning wines and fresh produce. Settle in the picturesque, seaside city of Napier, world-famous for its Art Deco architecture.
Day 10: Napier and Hawke's Bay
Spend the day exploring this golden region of simple abundance with its long sunshine hours, expansive beaches, clever artisans, and boutique produce. Your self-drive packet identifies our picks, including walking and cycling trails, wildlife encounters, farmer's markets and more.
Day 11: Napier to Martinborough
Continue south through sheep farms, forestry blocks, vineyards and market gardens before entering the Waipara's wide river valleys. Stop in at a captive-rearing facility for a number of our endangered birds, many of which can be viewed in forest aviaries. Details are included in your trip notes. Your accommodation is near Greytown, a quaint rural town of classic Victorian buildings that house cafes, antique shops and galleries. Take time to explore before settling into your comfortable Martinborough accommodation.
Day 12: Wine Country
Eating, drinking and making merry is what this region is all about. Martinborough produces outstanding Pinot Noir wines and has a wonderful selection of cafes and restaurants. There are over 25 boutique vineyards in the area, some of which are within walking distance of the town.
Day 13: Wellington
A short drive brings you to Wellington, New Zealand's picturesque capital city. As well as Parliament, Wellington is home to Te Papa, the country's spectacular national museum. The remainder of the day allows you time to take in this cultural and architectural feat (entry free) along with the other wonderful features of this vibrant city. Your trip notes are full of our guides' top recommendations.
Day 14: Haere Ra
Depending on your flight schedule, you'll have time to enjoy breakfast at one of the city's many wonderful cafes, stroll along the waterfront, visit boutique shops and bookstores and make final purchases before returning your rental car to Wellington Airport and traveling home or to your next destination--perhaps even to your Black Sheep South Island adventure.