This 282-mile Highway Journey in New Zealand Has Glowworm Caves, Scorching Springs, and Erupting Geysers

With caves lit up with glow worms, mud swimming pools effervescent, and geysers erupting up from the bottom, New Zealand’s North Island is a wonderland of gorgeous pure phenomena. Whereas temperatures are beginning to drop within the northern hemisphere, it’s simply the early days of spring Down Beneath, making it a great time for a Kiwi street journey alongside the Thermal Explorer Freeway.

Beginning in Auckland and ending in Napier, the 282-mile route makes for an environment friendly and thrilling solution to expertise the island’s highlights by following a four-day itinerary curated by Tourism New Zealand. 

The journey begins by diving into the Māori tradition — the Indigenous folks of New Zealand — by first heading south out of Auckland (Tāmaki Makaurau within the Māori language) to Raglan (Whāingaroa), a surf city identified for the 180-foot waterfall Bridal Veil Falls (Wairēinga). Then proceed on to Hamilton for visits to the immaculately designed Hamilton Gardens, the 62-acre Hamilton Zoo, and the Waikato Museum. The latter spotlights the Māori tradition and heritage proper alongside the Waikato River.

From right here, a 45-minute drive to the southeast will take “Lord of the Rings” followers to Hobbiton. Alternatively, an hour’s drive south will result in Waitomo Caves, the place you may stroll, swim, float, and even zipline via the caves with glow worms lighting the best way. 

Day two of the itinerary heads over to Rotorua, which “sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fireplace and geothermal exercise breathes via each a part of the area,” the tourism board stated on its website of the world. The area is stuffed with effervescent mud swimming pools, sizzling springs, and erupting geysers — like Te Puia, which may shoot up 100 ft into the sky.

With 18 lakes rooted in historic Māori significance, the world can be in style for boating, fishing, and swimming. Adventurers of all types flock right here, whether or not it’s mountain biking or strolling via the Redwoods Treewalk in Whakarewarewa Forest. They will additionally participate in additional distinctive — and weird! — actions like rolling in an inflatable park at Zorb, the world’s largest park of its sort, or pedaling in a world’s solely foot pedal-powered monorail path on a Shweeb Racer at Velocity Valley.

Finish the day by stress-free within the geothermal waters of the Polynesian Spa or having fun with a Māori storytelling at Te Pā Tū over a four-hour feast. 

Begin the third day by stopping by Orakei Korako Geothermal Park and Cave on the best way south to Taupō, proper on Lake Taupō, which is Australasia’s largest freshwater lake. Right here, sail to see the Māori rock carving at Mine Bay or get pleasure from all issues crustaceans-related on the Huka Prawn Park. Then witness the large energy of the Huka Falls with greater than 220,000 liters roaring over the 36-foot falls each second — sure, second!

The final main stretch can be one of the picturesque with the street from Taupō to Napier passing via “incredible surroundings with rugged hills, stunning valleys, light plains, and large vistas” the location stated. Right here, it’s all about wineries and artwork deco stylings in Hawke’s Bay, whereas Cape Kidnappers simply to the south is understood for its golf programs and the world’s greatest gannet colony.

After all, as with every street journey, the most effective adventures are essentially the most spontaneous ones on the go. However the Thermal Explorer Freeway serves as a great throughway that connects so lots of New Zealand’s highlights permitting roadtrippers to “uncover one other world as you journey deep into the guts of the North Island,” the location stated.