15 days in Cook Islands & North Island Itinerary

15 days in Cook Islands & North Island Itinerary

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Route & dates

15 days in Cook Islands & North Island Itinerary

Start: Sydney, Australia
Fly:  9 h 45 min
1
Aitutaki, Cook Islands
— 2 nights
Fly:  8 h
2
Auckland, New Zealand
— 2 nights
Drive:  2 h 45 min
3
Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
— 2 nights
Drive:  2 h 30 min
4
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
— 3 nights
Drive:  1 h 45 min
5
Taupo, New Zealand
— 4 nights
Fly:  2 h 45 min
6
Wellington, New Zealand
— 1 night
Fly:  7 h
End: Sydney, Australia

2
nights
Aitutaki, Cook Islands

Aitutaki ©
Aitutaki's triangular barrier reef surrounds a turquoise lagoon of crystal clear water.
Kick off your visit on the 19th (Sat): get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports, then enjoy the sand and surf at Aitutaki Lagoon, and then tour the pleasant surroundings at O'otu Beach. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 20th (Sun): take in the awesome beauty at Mount Maungapu, then head off the coast to One Foot Island, and then head outdoors with Akaiami.

To find other places to visit, more things to do, ratings, and tourist information, go to the Aitutaki trip itinerary maker site.

Sydney, Australia to Aitutaki is an approximately 10-hour flight. The time zone difference moving from Australian Eastern Standard Time (New South Wales) to Cook Is. Time is minus 20 hours. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 20th (Sun) to allow time to travel to Auckland.

Things to do in Aitutaki

Outdoors Parks Beaches
Find places to stay Sep 18 — 20:
Highlights from your plan
Aitutaki Lagoon ©
Aitutaki Lagoon
One Foot Island ©
One Foot Island
Boat Tours & Water Sports

2
nights
Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland ©
The largest and most populous city in New Zealand, Auckland combines a rich history and thriving contemporary culture in an abundance of museums, art galleries, and performance venues.
Kick off your visit on the 22nd (Tue): contemplate the geological forces at Mount Eden, then learn about all things military at Auckland Museum, then get your game on at Sky Screamer Reverse Bungy, and finally make a trip to SkyTower. Keep things going the next day: learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at Auckland Zoo, then get your game on at Virtual Reality Studio, and then have some family-friendly fun at Gravity NZ Mt Wellington.

To find traveler tips, other places to visit, photos, and other tourist information, you can read our Auckland travel itinerary planner.

Traveling by flight from Aitutaki to Auckland takes 8 hours. Due to the time zone difference, you'll lose 22 hours traveling from Aitutaki to Auckland. In September, plan for daily highs up to 15°C, and evening lows to 15°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Wed) to allow enough time to drive to Waitomo Caves.

Things to do in Auckland

Parks Zoos & Aquariums Fun & Games
Find places to stay Sep 21 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
SkyTower ©
SkyTower
Auckland Museum ©
Auckland Museum
Auckland Zoo ©
Auckland Zoo

2
nights
Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

Head deep beneath the surface of the earth at Waitomo Caves, a village and cave system that draws both extreme sports enthusiasts and those wanting something a little more relaxed.
Start off your visit on the 24th (Thu): Head underground at Waitomo Glowworm Caves, surround yourself with nature on a nature and wildlife tour, then Head underground at Caveworld, and finally hike along Ruakuri Walk. On the 25th (Fri), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: take in the views from Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk, then explore the fascinating underground world of Ruakuri Cave, then head outdoors with Waitomo Clay Birds, and finally let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour.

For maps, ratings, more things to do, and more tourist information, refer to the Waitomo Caves trip itinerary app.

Getting from Auckland to Waitomo Caves by car takes about 3 hours. Other options: take a bus; or take a train. Finish your sightseeing early on the 25th (Fri) so you can drive to Tongariro National Park.

Things to do in Waitomo Caves

Outdoors Tours Parks
Find places to stay Sep 23 — 25:
Highlights from your plan
River Rafting & Tubing
Waitomo Glowworm Caves ©
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Ruakuri Walk ©
Ruakuri Walk

3
nights
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Tongariro National Park ©
Tongariro National Park has a long history of preserving New Zealand's pristine alpine landscape.
Tongariro National Park is known for trails, nature, and winter sports. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: hike along Tongariro Alpine Crossing, stroll through Whakapapa Nature Walk, explore the wealth of natural beauty at Te Porere Redoubt, and admire the sheer force of Taranaki Falls.

For maps, more things to do, ratings, and other tourist information, go to the Tongariro National Park trip builder app.

Traveling by car from Waitomo Caves to Tongariro National Park takes 2.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus; or take a train. Finish your sightseeing early on the 28th (Mon) to allow enough time to drive to Taupo.

Things to do in Tongariro National Park

Parks Trails Outdoors
Find places to stay Sep 25 — 28:
Highlights from your plan
Tongariro Alpine Crossing ©
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Taranaki Falls ©
Taranaki Falls
Rotopounamu Track ©
Rotopounamu Track

4
nights
Taupo, New Zealand

Taupo ©
The resort town of Taupo lies on the banks of Lake Taupo, the largest body of water in the whole of Australasia.
You'll visit kid-friendly attractions like Huka Prawn Park and Kinloch Beach. Change things up with these side-trips from Taupo: Rotorua (Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Horseback Riding Tours, &more). And it doesn't end there: admire the sheer force of Huka Falls Walkway, take a memorable tour with Tours, get a new perspective on things with Boat Tours & Water Sports, and look for gifts at Huka Honey Hive.

For photos, ratings, more things to do, and other tourist information, read Taupo route planner.

Drive from Tongariro National Park to Taupo in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus; or do a combination of taxi and shuttle. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 2nd (Fri) early enough to travel to Wellington.

Things to do in Taupo

Outdoors Parks Tours

Side Trip

Rotorua
Find places to stay Sep 28 — Oct 2:
Highlights from your plan
Huka Falls Walkway ©
Huka Falls Walkway
Zipline
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland ©
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

1
night
Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington
Wellington, the world's southernmost capital city and New Zealand's second most populous urban area, combines the nation's rugged history and nature with its modern and cosmopolitan present.
On the 3rd (Sat), learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at Wellington Zoo, take an in-depth tour of Wellington Museum, then catch a ride on Wellington Cable Car, and finally see the interesting displays at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

To find reviews, traveler tips, photos, and tourist information, go to the Wellington trip planner.

Traveling by flight from Taupo to Wellington takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of bus and flight. In October, plan for daily highs up to 19°C, and evening lows to 11°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 3rd (Sat) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Wellington

Museums Zoos & Aquariums Parks
Find places to stay Oct 2 — 3:
Highlights from your plan
Wellington Zoo ©
Wellington Zoo
Wellington Museum ©
Wellington Museum

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