BEST OF THE WAIKATO. 3 days.2 nights. Driver escorted throughout small group tour. (Minimum 2 - maximum 12 passengers)
Features Rangiriri battle site, Zealong Tea Estate, Hamilton Gardens, Lake Karapiro, 2.5 hour Hobbiton tour, Rotorua, Te Puia and Kuirau Park thermal areas, Agrodome farm show and tour, Skyline gondola, Lake Tarawera, Buried Village, Redwoods Treetop walk, Maori concert and hangi dinner, Taupo, Spellbound Glowworm cave cruise and limestone cave tour.
Depart Auckland March 05, April 02 (Minimum 2 passengers - other days for minimum of 4.
Day 1. Tuesday. AUCKLAND - RANGIRIRI - ZEALONG - HAMILTON GARDENS, HOBBITON - ROTORUA.
Pickup from Auckland inner city and airport hotels and Manukau, Visit the RANGIRIRI BATTLE SITE and information centre where the first battle of the Waikato land wars was foight in November 1863. We visit ZEALONG TEA ESTATE with Oolong tea tasting included. Continue to the award winning HAMILTON GARDENS voted garden of the year 2014, by the International Garden Tourism Network, with over 1 million visitors a year. Hamilton Gardens has been transformed from a rubbish dump into 21 fascinating themed gardens and we have 2 hours to explore them including Te Parapara Maori Garden, Kitchen Garden, Herb Garden, Tudor Garden, Rose Garden, Rhododendron lawn, Camellia Garden, Victorian Flower Garden, Sung Dynasty Chinese scholars Garden, Italian Renaissance, Indian Char Bargh, Japanese Garden of Contemplation, Modernist, and English Flower Garden. When you have explored the gardens relax in the cafe on the banks of the lake for a wide variety of quality food for lunch - own expense
We take a brief visit to LAKE KARAPIRO and the Karapiro Hydro dam on the mighty Waikato, New Zealand's longest river - 325 km
Continue to the fantasy world of Hobbiton. Drive through part of the 500 hectare (1,250 acre) sheep and cattle farm to the HOBBITON MOVIE SET, centre of Middle Earth. Enjoy a 2.5 hour guided tour with specialist guide. Learn from your local guide how the set was created and see the Hobbit Holes, Gardens, Bag End (Bilbo and Frodo Baggins home), Party Tree, lake, The Mill, Green Dragon Inn, and much more. Enjoy one cold drink at the GREEN DRAGON INN. Your choice of dark or light beer, apple cider, or non alcoholic Ginger Ale. New is an immersive experience inside a Hobbit Hole in Bagshot Row open to the public for the first time. Features include an entry hall, two bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen and dining area, a pantry, and a crackling fireplace to make you feel at home. Unfortunately we cannot stay the night and continue to Rotorua for 2 nights in a 4 star hotel. Accommodation is usually at Millennium, Distinction, or Novotel.
Day 2. Wednesday. ROTORUA (BD)
Visit the lakefront and gardens and explore the Kuirau Park thermal area. Visit TE PUIA for a guided tour of the Whakarewarewa thermal valley including the kiwi house, boiling mud pools, and famed Pohutu geyser.Continue to the Agrodome farm show for an introduction to 19 types of sheep and see the amazing sheep dogs working. Also enjoy a tractor trailer tour around the farm to meet the animals. Ride the Skyline gondola (included) for a panoramic view over the lake and city, and with luge and lunch options. (Buffet lunch $40 extra) or choose from a wide variety of a la carte hot and cold food available from the Market Kitchen - extra expense).
This afternoon visit the Blue and Green Lakes and Lake Tarawera and explore the remains of the Buried Village from the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886 - admission included, and take a walk among the Redwood tree tops. This evening enjoy a hangi steam cooked dinner, and introduction to Maori culture with dance, song, poi, and rousing haka
Day 3. Thursday. ROTORUA - TAUPO - WAITOMO AREA - AUCKLAND. (B)
Drive south through part of the Kaiangaroa pine forest to TAUPO. Visit the Wairakei Geothermal Valley, Honey Hive, Huka waterfall, and Taupo lakefront (Optional jet boat ride or Floatplane scenic flight over central North Island volcanoes - extra expense). Continue to the Waitomo area and be SPELLBOUND during our small group tour (maximum 12) of the limestone cave and 20 minute cruise under the amazing glowworms. Return to Auckland about 7pm.