Today's road trip to the arty surf mecca of Raglan will give you a first glimpse of the North Island's rolling tree-lined hills and valleys. Your Haka guide has some great sights to show you en route, including the 55-metre high Bridal Veil Falls. If you have always wanted to try surfing, or if you're dying to get back on your board, Raglan is the perfect destination both for beginners and experienced surfers. Not keen on surfing? There's plenty to enjoy in this laid-back township. With an awesome blend of cafes, bars, surf shops and galleries, the streets here ooze character and creativity.
Relax on the beach and leave any lingering jet-lag behind, or enjoy a variety of bush and coastal scenery on Raglan's walking trails. For dinner tonight, tuck into New Zealand's unofficial dish – fish and chips (or fush and chups, as it tends to sound in a Kiwi accent). And what better way to enjoy a tasty meal than on a sunset boat cruise of Raglan Harbour?
Rotorua has it all: natural beauty, unique geothermal landscapes, and iconic Lord of The Rings destinations. We stay here a full day to make the very most of it. This area is world-renowned for its geothermal activity, with neon blue and red lakes, steaming rivers, violent geysers, and bubbling mud pools galore. A visit to the picturesque Hobbiton movie set is a must-do activity for many. Even if you haven't seen the films, it's impossible not to be charmed by this gorgeous hobbit village set amongst the lush green hills of Matamata.
For a truly epic brush with nature, fly high through the lush ancient forest canopy on a zipline tour complete with swing bridges crossings and treetop platforms. What better way to get to know the native plants and birds –many of which unique to New Zealand. This evening we are welcomed to a Māori village for an unmissable cultural experience featuring combat demonstrations and – of course – the breathtaking haka. This experience extends beyond the performance – you'll have the chance to see magnificent geothermal activity and get to spot kiwi birds.
Rotorua is a spectacular whitewater rafting destination, and with expert guidance it can be experienced by first timers and pro-paddlers alike. For the ultimate thrill this morning you can raft the highest commercial waterfall drop in the world – the 7-metre Tutea Falls, on the Kaituna River. If that's not your cup of tea, spend the morning exploring Rotorua's many attractions such as the ultra-relaxing Polynesian Spa, or perhaps the naturally-impressive Kuirau Park full of steaming, hissing, and boiling geothermal pools. There are also some fantastic cafes and bakeries in the area. Why not grab a sweet treat for the road – a ginger slice is as Kiwi as it gets!
From Rotorua it's a quick drive to Taupo; a beautiful lakeside town with a stunning mountain backdrop. It's a short drive but we'll take our time, checking out bubbling mud pools and thundering waterfalls en route. We finish our day nestled in Tongariro National Park, where we'll spend the next 2 nights, home to one of the 10 best one-day walks in the world – the Tongariro Crossing.