The Thermal Explorer Highway

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Thermal Explorer Highway

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The Thermal Explorer Highway, a captivating route in New Zealand, offers a journey through some of the most geothermally active and culturally rich areas of the North Island.

Auckland: The Metropolitan Start Begin your journey in Auckland, a vibrant city where dining options are abundant. ‘The French Café’ offers exquisite fine dining, while ‘Giapo’ presents innovative ice cream creations. For activities, take a trip up the ‘Sky Tower’ for panoramic city views, or explore the maritime history at the ‘New Zealand Maritime Museum’.

Hamilton: Gardens and Café Culture As you head south to Hamilton, a visit to the ‘Hamilton Gardens’ is a must, where you can enjoy lunch at the on-site café. For a unique underground adventure, head to ‘Waitomo Caves’, where companies like ‘Waitomo Adventures’ offer caving and black water rafting experiences.

Cambridge: Charm and Elegance The picturesque town of Cambridge is known for its tree-lined streets and elegant charm. Dine at ‘Alpino cucina e vino’ for Italian cuisine, or enjoy a café experience at ‘Onyx’. In Cambridge, you can also experience a hot air balloon ride with ‘Kiwi Balloon Company’, offering stunning aerial views of the Waikato region.

Rotorua: Geothermal Wonders Rotorua is the heart of geothermal activity and Māori culture. ‘Eat Streat’ offers a variety of dining options, including ‘Atticus Finch’ for a contemporary experience. Visit ‘Te Puia’ to see the Pohutu Geyser and enjoy Māori cultural performances. For adventure seekers, ‘ZORB Rotorua’ provides a unique zorbing experience, and ‘Skyline Rotorua’ offers gondola rides and luge tracks.

Taupo: Lakeside Dining and Adventure In Taupo, nestled on the shores of New Zealand’s largest lake, ‘The Bistro’ offers an intimate dining experience with local ingredients. ‘Huka Falls’ is a natural highlight, and companies like ‘Hukafalls Jet’ offer thrilling jet boat rides near the falls. ‘Taupo Tandem Skydiving’ gives you a chance to experience the region’s beauty from the sky.

Napier: Art Deco and Wineries Napier is famous for its Art Deco architecture and world-class wineries. Enjoy a meal at ‘Pacificana’ for seafood or ‘Mission Estate Winery’ for a vineyard setting. Explore the city’s unique architecture with ‘Art Deco Trust’ guided tours, and visit wineries in the Hawke’s Bay region with ‘Prinsy’s Tours’.

Hawke’s Bay: Gourmet Food and Wine In the Hawke’s Bay region, ‘Elephant Hill Winery and Restaurant’ offers stunning sea views and exceptional wines. The area is also known for its cycling trails, with ‘Takaro Trails’ offering bike hire and self-guided tours through the picturesque landscapes and vineyards.

Gisborne: East Coast Splendor As you reach Gisborne, the first city in the world to see the sunrise, dine at ‘The Works’ for a contemporary menu. For a unique historical experience, visit the ‘Tairawhiti Museum’ and explore the region’s rich heritage.

Whakatane: Coastal Gateway In Whakatane, enjoy fresh seafood at ‘Mussel Rock Café’ with views of the ocean. ‘White Island Tours’ provides an opportunity to visit New Zealand’s most active volcano, White Island, located offshore.

Tauranga and Mount Maunganui: Beachside Bliss In the coastal city of Tauranga and the nearby beach town of Mount Maunganui, ‘Harbourside’ offers seafood with harbor views. For a relaxing day, visit the ‘Mount Hot Pools’ at the base of Mount Maunganui, or take a scenic hike up the mount itself for panoramic views.

Return to Auckland: Completing the Loop As you loop back towards Auckland, stop at ‘Zealong Tea Estate’ near Hamilton for a unique tea experience in New Zealand’s only tea plantation.

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