Tour 202 WONDERFUL WAIKATO, ROTORUA, AND TAUPO. 4 days/3 nights.
Maximum 8 passengers in 12 seat mini bus
2022: September 19, December 05. (2023) February 06,
Day 1. Monday AUCKLAND - WOODLANDS - ZEALONG - HAMILTON GARDENS - HOBBITON - ROTORUA
Depart Auckland 9.00am for Rangiriri Battle Site and information centre, and WOODLANDS HISTORIC HOMESTEAD (built 1872) for a short tour of the home and visit to the beautiful gardens
Continue to ZEALONG TEA ESTATE New Zealand's only tea plantation. 48 hectares of top grade organically grown Oolong Artisan Tea in 5 grades, Green, Pure, Aromatic, Dark, and Black. Enjoy tea tasting and High Tea with tea infusd savoury and sweet delicacies, with the opportunity to purchase tea if you want. See the personal touches of the developer of the tea estate - with the bronze sculptures and teapots showing the traditional tea making process.
Continue to explore 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 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 - extra expense.
Brief visit to LAKE KARAPIRO and the Karapiro Hydro dam on the Waikato River before arriving at the Maungatautari Sanctuary Mountain, the largest ecological 'island' on mainland New Zealand and now a haven for endangered species such as kiwi, kokako, and tuatara.. Learn of the conservation efforts.
Continue to Hobbiton and the Shires Rest to join your guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie set, made famous by "Lord of the Rings, and "Hobbit" films. Drive through part of the picturesque 500 hectare (1,250 acre) sheep and cattle farm and your guide will escort you through the 10 acre Hobbiton site. See the Hobbit Holes, Bag End (Bilbo and Frodo Baggins home), Party Tree, Lake, The Mill, and the Green Dragon Inn, and learn how this Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle Earth. Enjoy a cold drink from the Green Dragon Inn and continue to Rotorua.
Day 2. Tuesday. ROTORUA (BD)
Enjoy a guided tour of the Te Puia thermal area to see bubbling mud pools, famed Pohutu geyser, and to visit the Maori carving and weaving school. Continue to the Agrodome farm show for an introduction to 19 types of sheep and see the amazing sheep dogs working. Ride the Skyline gondola for a panoramic view over the lake and city, and with luge and lunch options - extra expense. This afternoon enjoy the Redwoods Treetop Walk. You have time to relax in the hot thermal waters of the Polynesian Spa (extra expense) before enjoying an introduction to Maori culture with an exciting concert, and hangi steam cooked dinner.
Day 3. Wednesday. ROTORUA - WAIRAKEI - TAUPO (B)
Drive south to the amazing Orakei Korako thermal area then to the Wairaki Thermal Valley lookout where the steam is extracted to generate electricity and to the prawn farm. Visit the Honey Hive and Huka waterfall with optional river cruise or exciting jet boat ride available - extra expense. Also visit the Taupo bungy site - try it if you dare. The afternoon is flexible, Relax in the thermal hot pools, take a scenic flight by float plane or helicopter over the volcanic area or central North Island mountains or take a lake cruise to the Maori rock carvings. All activities except Orakei Korako admissions are extra cost.
Day 4, Thursday. WAIRAKEI - WAITOMO - AUCKLAND (B)
We take the back roads via Bennydale and Te Kuiti to the Waitomo Caves. You have a choice of EITHER the Glowworm Cave or the Ruakuri Cave and visit the Marokopa Falls before continuing to the charming seaside resort of Raglan for a short cruise on the harbour and return to Auckland late afternoon.