14 Day North Island Culture and Cuisine Discovery Tour

Experience the best of New Zealand with this comprehensive itinerary that can be customized to your time frame, interests, travel style and budget. We've curated a selection of our favorite destinations across the North Island, showcasing diverse and memorable experiences with a focus on culture and cuisine.

 

DAY 1: AUCKLAND

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki: Start your day immersed in art. This gallery houses an impressive collection of Māori and Pacific Islander art, as well as international works. 

Auckland Museum, Tāmaki Paenga Hira: This iconic museum offers a rich look into New Zealand's history, from its natural wonders to its Māori heritage. The museum's stunning architecture and panoramic views of the harbor are an added bonus.

Private Sailing Charter: Experience the beauty of the Waitematā Harbour firsthand with a private sailing charter. Relax on deck with a glass of New Zealand wine while taking in the iconic sights of the city skyline and the Hauraki Gulf.

Britomart Precinct: Stroll through this historic area, now a vibrant hub of designer boutiques, upscale restaurants, and bars. Indulge in some unique shops or simply soak up the charming atmosphere.

Cuisine: Auckland's food scene is a gourmet adventure. fresh seafood at the Viaduct Harbour, fine dining in award-winning restaurants, or modern fusion and international cuisine in the trendy Britomart precinct. Explore the diverse flavors and local ingredients that make Auckland a very special place for food.

DAY 2: WAIHEKE ISLAND, AUCKLAND

Waiheke Island Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting: Accompanied by a local guide and viticulture expert, you'll traverse the island's sun-drenched hillsides, stopping at a selection of its most acclaimed wineries.  From the ferry dock you’ll be escorted into the world of winemaking at a selection of award-winning wineries and their meticulously tended vineyards. You’ll learn about the important interplay of soil, climate, and grape varietals that shape Waiheke's distinctive wines. You’ll partake in private tastings, where you'll experience the complexity and character of Waiheke’s award-winning vintages.

A dinner at Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant:  Experience impressive culinary skills at Mudbrick's flagship restaurant, where each dish is an artful creation showcasing the finest New Zealand produce. Relish the innovative flavors and impeccable presentation, complemented by expansive views of the Hauraki Gulf and Waiheke Island vineyards. This award-winning establishment promises a sophisticated dining experience, paired with Mudbrick's celebrated wines and exemplary service, making it a great choice for discerning guests seeking an unforgettable evening.

After dinner stroll on Oneroa Beach:  When you’re done with your meal you’ll want to take leisurely stroll along the pristine shores of Oneroa Beach. This easily accessible haven, just a short drive from the ferry terminal, offers an excellent opportunity to unwind after a day of exploring Waiheke Island.  It’s quite a tranquil setting with the soft sand, ocean breezes and views of the Hauraki Gulf, with the Auckland city skyline shimmering in the distance.  The village is just above the beach for some satisfying shopping and browsing before hopping back on the ferry. 

 

 

 
DAY 3: HOKIANGA AND BAY OF ISLANDS 

Waipoua Forest guided tour: Embark on a transformative journey through the Waipoua Forest. The expert Māori guide will provide insightful commentary on the unique ecosystem and cultural significance of the majestic kauri trees, including Tane Mahuta, the largest kauri and a revered figure in Māori mythology.  You’ll will be captivated by authentic storytelling, evocative legends, and impactful chants and songs. This immersive experience promises to forge lasting memories of these ancient natural treasures.

Footprints Māori presentation: In ‘Manea: Footprints of Kupe’ you'll embark on a fascinating journey into the heart of Māori culture. This immersive 75-minute experience combines art, artifacts, film, and performance to bring the stories of their ancestors to life. Set against the superb backdrop of the Hokianga Harbour, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the Māori people’s rich heritage and connection to the land.   This is an inspiration and unforgettable cultural encounter.

Accommodation in Russell: This Peroa Bay Winery is a luxurious retreat nestled in the stunning Bay of Islands.  Each private villa has expansive bay views, while charming cottages are tucked amongst the vineyards. The highly regarded Sage Restaurant showcases the freshest local ingredients paired with award-winning wines from Paroa Bay's own vineyards. Or try the Personal Chef Experience where a gourmet meal is prepared just for you in the privacy of your villa. Whether you're seeking relaxation, adventure, or creative cuisine, Paroa Bay offers an unforgettable stay.

 

 
DAY 4: BAY OF ISLANDS

Waitangi Treaty Grounds: Head over to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. A private guided tour will delve into the history of the treaty and Māori culture. Witness a traditional Māori welcome ceremony (pōwhiri) and explore the beautifully carved meeting house (whare rūnanga).  Included in this outing is the Waitangi Museum, Te Kōngahu, which was opened in 2016 to weave together the stories and taonga (treasured objects) which bring to life the history of Waitangi and Aoteroa New Zealand’s founding documents.

Helicopter flight to Cape Reinga and Ninety Mile Beach: This private journey begins with a scenic flight from your Peroa Bay accommodation where you'll soar above dramatic harbors, beaches, and the iconic Ninety Mile Beach. Landing at a private airfield, you'll then embark on a comfortable ground tour to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, Tapotupotu Bay, and the Te Paki stream's majestic sand dunes. Your adventure continues with a picturesque flight over remote landscapes and along the stunning coastline before a delightful waterfront wine and cheese afternoon snack. This truly is the ultimate way to experience Northland’s beauty and unforgettable topography. 

Dinner at Peroa Bay, Sage Restaurant: Indulge in an extraordinary dining experience at Sage Restaurant, a culinary gem nestled high above the beautiful Bay of Islands. Awarded the prestigious One Hat in the Cuisine Good Food Awards, Sage is proud to offer the freshest local ingredients, where the sea and land unite to inspire a uniquely creative New Zealand cuisine. Enjoy the finest sustainable seafood and locally grown produce, expertly prepared and perfectly paired with wines from their own cellar door.  Immerse yourself in the natural hospitality and incredible views that complete this unforgettable culinary journey.

 

DAY 5: ROTORUA

Redwoods Treewalk: This is a fun, visually stunning and educational hike close to Rotorua. This unique 1-hour elevated walkway winds through the majestic Redwood forest, offering stunning views of the lush canopy and forest floor below. You'll learn about the fascinating history and ecology of these ancient trees, while enjoying a peaceful and invigorating walk in nature.

Accommodation: Nestled on the shores of Lake Tarawera, your lodge presents an exclusive retreat for discerning travelers.  Enjoy luxurious suites showcasing panoramic views, private balconies, and opulent soaking tubs. The cuisine is fabulous, featuring the finest local produce and award-winning wines, complemented by impeccable service. Explore the surrounding natural beauty with bush walks, kayaking, or simply relax in the lodge's tranquil ambiance. Your stay promises to be an unforgettable luxury experience, combined with a much welcomed serenity. 

DAY 6: ROTORUA

Te Puia & Thermal Valley Tour: Witness the power of Mother Earth at Te Puia geothermal park. Marvel at the Pohutu geyser's eruptions, the bubbling mud pools, and the colorful silica terraces. Learn about the Maori people's deep connection to this land at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute. Then, head to Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley for more geothermal wonders and a chance to walk through a living Maori village.

 

Maori Village Experience: No trip to Rotorua is complete without a visit to a traditional Maori village. Enjoy a warm welcome, a mesmerizing performance of song and dance, and a delicious hāngi feast cooked in the earth. 

 

Cuisine: Rotorua's culinary scene is a fusion of cultures and traditions, Indulge in contemporary New Zealand cuisine at stylish bistros or savor the unique flavors of Māori hāngī, a traditional feast cooked underground. Explore Eat Streat, a vibrant hub offering diverse international fare and pub-style classics. Sample the region's renowned wines and craft beers, which can be expertly paired with your meal.

DAY 7: TAUPO

Accommodation: Your lodge is a jewel on the Waikato River and offers travelers an exceptional experience in refined luxury. It’s nestled amidst manicured gardens, where you can stroll along the riverbank or simply relax in the serene atmosphere. Your accommodation features elegant suites with private terraces, offering picturesque views of the surrounding landscape. Each day begins with a gourmet breakfast, followed by opportunities for fly-fishing, leisurely boat rides, or excursions to nearby attractions like the Huka Falls. As evening approaches, indulge in a multi-course dinner prepared with the freshest seasonal ingredients, accompanied by an exceptional selection of wines from the lodge's cellar. The staff is wonderful and every detail of your stay is meticulously attended to.

Visit Huka Falls: This natural wonder, just north of the lodge, nestled amidst lush greenery, showcases the Waikato River's dramatic transformation as it compresses from 100 meters wide into a mere 15-meter canyon. The resulting torrent of water, a vibrant turquoise hue due to the glacial flour, creates a mesmerizing spectacle of power and grace. Take in the panoramic views from various platforms, each offering a unique perspective of this natural masterpiece. Feel the earth tremble beneath your feet as you witness the sheer force of nature on full display.

 

 
DAY 8: TAUPO

Cruise Lake Taupō: Your private, half-day cruise invites you to delve into the rich history of the Ngātoroirangi Māori rock carvings, a masterpiece accessible only by water. A knowledgeable guide will unveil the stories etched in stone, deepening your understanding of New Zealand's cultural heritage.  Afterward, you'll navigate to a tranquil cove where you can unwind and embrace the serenity of Lake Taupō. Whether you choose to swim in the crystal-clear water, bask in the sun on the spacious deck, or go standup paddle boarding, this is your time to rejuvenate. A gourmet lunch will be served onboard. This is a great blend of fun and cultural education on New Zealand’s largest fresh water lake. 

Mount Ruapehu and more helicopter tour: Our scenic helicopter tour will begin at the majestic Huka Falls, followed by an aerial journey along the eastern shore of Lake Taupō. We'll venture over the Kaimanawa Ranges, where you'll experience a unique landing on a stunning alpine peak.  You’ll fly over the World Heritage-listed Tongariro National Park, circling the volcanic wonders of Mt. Tongariro, Mt. Ngauruhoe, and the crater lake of Mt. Ruapehu. This is truly a great way to view some of the North Island’s most majestic natural beauty. 

 

 
DAY 9: NAPIER, HAWKES BAY

Private guided architecture and wine tasting tour: Your exclusive half-day private guided tour commences with a leisurely exploration of Napier's Art Deco treasures, where you'll see the intricate details of iconic buildings such as the Daily Telegraph Building and the Masonic Hotel. The tour will delve into the city's intriguing history, sharing stories of its resilience and architectural rebirth following the devastating 1931 earthquake.   You’ll venture into the heart of Hawke's Bay's renowned wine country, where rolling vineyards and picturesque landscapes await. The first stop will be the historic Mission Estate Winery, New Zealand's oldest winery, where you'll experience a private tasting of their exquisite wines while learning about their rich heritage. The next vineyard will be the elegant Church Road Winery, celebrated for its world-class Bordeaux-style blends, where you'll experience another exclusive tasting amidst the gorgeous vineyard setting. We’ll end with a meal at Church Road Winery where the food and wine blend with amazing effect.  This private tour promises a unique and enriching experience, showcasing the very best of Napier's cultural and culinary heritage.

Accommodation: Experience the ultimate in luxury and seclusion at your luxury lodge at Cape Kidnappers, where amazing Pacific Ocean views meet the rugged beauty of New Zealand's countryside. This world-class resort, set on a 6,000-acre working farm, offers spacious suites each characterized by rustic elegance and modern comforts. Treat yourself to farm-to-table cuisine, explore the championship golf course, or embark on a unique adventure, from horseback riding to kiwi bird spotting. This is your gateway to an unforgettable New Zealand experience.

 

 
DAY 10: CAPE KIDNAPPERS, HAWKES BAY

The Sunrise at Blacks Reef experience by Rosewood at Cape Kidnappers: As the sun emerges over the horizon, painting the dramatic cliffs and secluded beach in a warm glow, you'll be treated to a private gourmet breakfast picnic. This exclusive offering, available only to Rosewood Cape Kidnappers guests, provides a serene setting to enjoy sumptuous cuisine amidst the tranquil sounds of nature. It's an unforgettable way to begin your day in this coastal paradise.

Cape Kidnappers/Te Kauwae-a-Māui Gannet Reserve: Embark on a guided tour through farmland to access the gannet colony, the nesting place for over 20,000 gannet, the world's largest mainland gannet colony. Witness these majestic birds nesting and soaring above the rugged cliffs. 

The Spa at Rosewood Cape Kidnappers: Indulge in a world-class spa experience where tranquility meets luxury. Immerse yourselves in rejuvenating treatments inspired by the healing properties of native New Zealand botanicals. Relax and unwind in the serene ambiance of our private treatment rooms, each offering great views of the Hawke's Bay coastline. Our skilled therapists will pamper you with personalized services tailored to your individual needs, leaving you feeling refreshed, revitalized, and deeply connected to the natural beauty of New Zealand.

 

 
DAY 11: KAPITI ISLAND, WELLINGTON

Guided full day eco-tour of  Kapiti Island: Kapiti Island is a haven for New Zealand's native flora and fauna. Accompanied by an expert guide, traverse the island's pristine forests, encountering Along the coast, you'll spot shag, white-fronted terns and reef herons. On the lagoon at the north end of the island, look out for grey teals and brown teals, black swans and royal spoonbills.  Immerse yourself in the island's rich ecological and cultural history, gaining insights into the Māori people's deep connection to the land.  Enjoy a tasty lunch while enjoying panoramic views of the North Island coastline. This wonderful experience is an authentic encounter with New Zealand’s unique natural environment.

Cuisine:  Wellington's culinary scene is a great fusion of fresh, local ingredients and innovative global recipes. You'll find a strong emphasis on seafood, especially the tender whitebait fritters and succulent green-lipped mussels. The city's diverse cultural influences shine through in the eclectic range of cuisines, from Asian-inspired dishes to European classics with a Kiwi twist. 

 

 
DAY 12: WELLINGTON

Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand's national museum tour: Te Papa, meaning "container of treasures," houses a vast collection showcasing New Zealand’s rich history, culture, and natural wonders. You’ll be captivated by interactive exhibits, engaging displays, and a truly immersive experience. The museum offers a comprehensive journey through Māori heritage, European settlement, and New Zealand’s unique Pacific identity. You'll encounter stunning artworks, precious artifacts, and ground-breaking displays. This is a chance to explore and appreciate the very essence of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Wellington Cable Car & Botanic Garden:  Ascend to the summit of the Wellington Botanic Garden by historic cable car, enjoying panoramic city views. Explore diverse plant collections and uncover hidden gems like the Begonia House.

 

Cuisine:  Wellington's culinary scene is a great fusion of fresh, local ingredients and innovative global recipes. You'll find a strong emphasis on seafood, especially the tender whitebait fritters and succulent green-lipped mussels. The city's diverse cultural influences shine through in the eclectic range of cuisines, from Asian-inspired dishes to European classics with a Kiwi twist. 

 

 
DAY 13: BLUE DUCK STATION

Destination and accommodation: Blue Duck Station is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. This working high country sheep and cattle farm offers a unique blend of luxury and adventure, with cozy accommodations, farm-to-table cuisine, and a range of activities that showcase the region's natural beauty. Immerse yourselves in the station's conservation efforts, explore the pristine Whanganui National Park, or simply relax and soak in the stunning scenery. Blue Duck Station promises an unforgettable experience where you can connect with nature, learn about New Zealand's unique biodiversity, and create lasting memories.

Horseback riding: Embark on an exclusive ½ day horseback riding adventure traversing diverse landscapes from pristine native bush to tranquil rivers and picturesque mountain vistas. Catering to both seasoned equestrians and novice riders, the experienced guides prioritize your safety and enjoyment, ensuring a memorable journey through New Zealand's back country. This unique excursion offers adventurous guests an authentic encounter with the country's captivating scenery and rich biodiversity.

 

 
DAY 14: BLUE DUCK STATION

Kaiwhakauka Waterfall hike: This gentle 3-hour hike takes you to Kaiwhakauka Waterfall, a hidden gem nestled amongst native bush. While the trail is mostly flat and accessible to all, it can get a bit muddy, so hiking boots are a must. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for the elusive blue duck and other native wildlife. As you approach the falls, you'll hear the rushing water cascading into a picturesque canyon—a perfect spot for photos and peaceful contemplation.The 

Chef's Table at Blue Duck Station: Your evening commences with a guided safari tour of the station, showcasing its remarkable conservation initiatives and diverse landscape. As dusk settles, ascend to "Top of the World" for an extraordinary 10-course degustation menu. Each meticulously crafted dish features the finest local and seasonal ingredients, many harvested directly from the station's grounds. Indulge in this exceptional dining experience under a canopy of stars, surrounded by the majestic Tongariro and Whanganui National Parks.

Stargazing: Blue Duck Station, renowned for its commitment to conservation and eco-tourism, offers a unique stargazing opportunity. The station's remote location in New Zealand's North Island provides an unspoiled view of the night sky, free from light pollution. On a clear evening, guests can marvel at a dazzling display of stars, the Milky Way, and even the Magellanic Clouds, all visible to the naked eye. A knowledgeable guide will enhance the experience, sharing insights into the constellations and Māori astronomical traditions.

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