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Auckland to Napier: The Thermal Explorer

Auckland is New Zealand's most famous city, full of vibrance, culture and tasty offerings. Most of Auckland's top attractions are within half an hour of the city, including; hiking trails, beautiful beaches and breathtaking holiday islands. Food, wine and shopping all add to the diverse city and greater region which is full of fun things to do.

Day 1 to 3 - Auckland to Hamilton

Distance: 125km

Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

We've got our road trip snacks, directions entered into our map, and we are ready to hit the open road from Auckland. It's a simple drive from Auckland to Hamilton, as easy as jumping onto the highway and heading south, but it wouldn't be a road trip without a couple stops along the way - plus, New Zealand is one beautiful country, so it would be a shame to miss out anything.

Our first pit stop is Pukekohe, which is approximately 45 minutes outside of Auckland. Known for its produce, horse and motor racing, Pukekohe is always buzzing with activities. Take time here to enjoy an early morning coffee and some delicious eateries; then it's back on the road we go. As we drive closer to Hamilton, our next stop is the coal town of Huntly which always makes for an exciting stop with stunning walking and hiking trails; this location will offer up some gorgeous scenery. We have arrived in Hamilton! The city of Hamilton is nestled on the banks of the Waikato River and is very well known for walking trails, gardens, cafes and nightlife. Visit attractions such as the gardens, flight free aviary at the Hamilton Zoo, along with many excellent restaurants and bars at the southern end of the city's main street. Explore the labyrinth of Waitomo Caves and stalagmites and stalactites, along with the galaxies of magical glow worms, as well as black-water rafting through the caves.

Hamilton NZ

Day 3 to 5 - Hamilton to Rotorua to Taupo

Distance: 188km

Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

About 45 minutes outside of Hamilton, let's make a slight detour to visit Hobbiton. For all Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fans, a stop at Hobbiton is a must. The Hobbiton location is full of lush pastures, open lakes and stunning trails; take your time and take it all in. Journey through the heart of the Shire, where the adventures of Bilbo and Frodo began. Better yet, discover more, including; banquet and movie set tours plus many more unique experiences; this stop comes highly recommended.

Continuing our Thermal Explorer road trip and onto the geothermal city of Rotorua. In Rotorua, you will experience wafts of steam, simmering cauldrons and boiling mud pools. Rich in Maori culture, be sure to experience a hangi cooked meal - a traditional Maori custom whereby the food is cooked in the ground with the assistance of natural geothermal heat. As well as geothermal experiences, Rotorua also offers plenty of fun and adventure for all family members, such as; mountain biking, boat tours, stunning lakes, spa and wellness activities and even theme parks.

Lake Taupo is about an hours drive from Rotorua, so there is no rush at all. Once you're on the road though and arriving into Taupo, you will quickly come to realise why this location is so well-known. There are plenty of things to do while you are here in Taupo - to name a few; walking, hiking, boating, fishing, biking activities and much more. It will be hard to do it all in one visit. In Taupo, you can enjoy a range of geothermal activities, including health and wellness facilities, geothermal walkways and hot pools - which are by far some of the most relaxing spaces known to man. If you're looking to get back to nature, then consider a trip to Huka Falls. The falls show off natural hydropower with more than 220,000 litres of water per second barrelling over an 11m high waterfall—a unique experience.

Rotorua NZ

Day 5 to 7 - Taupo to Napier

Distance: 141km

Time: 2 hours

We have arrived at our final destination, but that's not the end of our trip just yet. Napier is a coastal city of New Zealand and set amid the renowned wine-producing region of Hawkes Bay. Rebuilt after an earthquake in 1931, Napier shows off stunning Art Deco buildings which have in turn made the city famous for the most complete Art Deco buildings in the world.

In line with the Art Deco buildings, you can also visit the Art Deco Centre, join a vintage car, bike or bus tour. If that isn't your flavour holiday, then venture over to some local wineries and try out the wines that are known to the region - pinot gris and syrah. The theme for this drive does have thermal activities. In Napier, there are also similar offerings, like the Ocean Spa by Marine Parade - all to help you settle into the end of your holiday.

Taupo NZ

Napier NZ

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