Thermal Explorer Highway

Tour both coastlines of New Zealand's warmest region and discover picturesque beaches and marine adventures of every description.

Discover the Thermal Explorer Highway

Explore majestic caves filled with glittering glowworms, feel the thrill of a spine tingling jet boat ride or watch in awe as a mighty geyser erupts before your eyes.

4 days

Drive from Auckland to Hamilton via Raglan

2 hr 45 minutes
Auckland to Hamilton via RaglanDay 1
Raglan Beach, Waikato
Raglan Beach, Waikato by Paul Abbitt

From Auckland travel south through suburban scenery and rolling green hills of Waikato to Hamilton, where a myriad of attractions await. 

Visit the beautiful botanic gardens or get up close to some of our native birdlife in the giant free flight aviary at Hamilton Zoo.

For those interested in New Zealand culture and heritage the Waikato Museum is well worth a visit.

Or visit the laid-back beach town of Raglan, home to one of the longest left-hand surf breaks in the world. Spend the day learning to surf or explore the town with its many cafes, surf shops and galleries.

    Drive from Hamilton to Rotorua

    1 hr 25 minutes
    Hamilton to RotoruaDay 2
    Te Puia Rotorua.
    Te Puia, Rotorua

    Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire and geothermal activity breathes through every part of the region.

    This area is also a hub for adrenalin junkies, try one of the quirky and bizarre adventure activities such as the luge, OGO and shweeb. 

    Explore the Whakarewarewa Forest via a network of bike trails, then climb into the forest canopy and discover a whole new world with a Redwood Treewalk. At night, specially designed lanterns light your way.

    End the day with a soak at the Polynesian Spa and a night of Māori culture, storytelling and traditional hāngi (earth oven) at Tamaki Village.


    • Antiques and art in Cambridge
    • Watch geysers erupt and mud boil
    • Learn the how to perform a perfect haka

      Drive from Rotorua to Taupo

      1 hr
      Rotorua to TaupoDay 3
      Huka Falls, Lake Taupo
      Huka Falls, Lake Taupo by Paul Abbitt

      As you journey towards Taupo take time to visit the magnificent Orakei Korako Cave & Geothermal Park home to some of country's most remarkable geothermal features.

      As the largest freshwater lake in Australasia Lake Taupo is a great place for all kinds of water activities. Take a boat cruise to the giant Maori rock carvings in Mine Bay or hire a kayak and discover the lake for yourself.

      At Huka Prawn Park, you can treat yourself to delicious self-caught prawns.

      End the day with a thrilling jet boat ride through the raging waters of the Huka Falls, where the 200m wide Waikato River forces itself through a 20m gap creating a torrent of stunning blue foam.


      • Take a thrilling Hukafalls jet boat ride
      • Kayak to the Mine Bay Maori carvings
      • Skydive from 15,000ft

        Drive from Taupo to Napier

        2 hr 45 minutes
        Taupo to NapierDay 4
        Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, Hawke's Bay
        Cape Kidnappers Golf Course, Hawke's Bay by Jacob Sjoman

        The road from Taupo to Napier takes you through fantastic scenery with rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and huge vistas. 

        Once in the Hawke's Bay you will discover a fertile wine-growing region that boasts one of the world's best collections of Art Deco architecture. 

        Nearby Cape Kidnappers is home to the world's largest gannet colony which can be reached on foot, by kayak or on a tractor. The Cape also happens to have one of the country's best golf courses.

        End your journey with a visit to region's many wineries on a self-drive, chauffer driven or bicycle tour.


        • Cape Kidnappers gannet colony
        • Art Deco heritage architecture
        • Winery tours and renowned golf courses

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