From Auckland, we drove (on the left) a couple hours east to the Coromandel Peninsula, where we stayed right on Pauanui Beach. We hiked through sheep pastures to a beach with clear blue-green water, a natural arch, a jumping rock, and a sea cave. We jumped off rocks into deep pools and abseiled down waterfalls in the Coromandel Forest Park. We hiked to the top of Mt. Paku for a beautiful view, snorkeled at Gemstone Bay, and dug our own hot pool in the sand at Hot Water Beach. After leaving Pauanui, we hiked a steep trail in the Broken Hills to an abandoned mine tunnel with glow worms hanging from the ceiling.
We drove a few hours south to Rotorua, where we stayed in a house on Lake Okareka. We watched sheep shearing and sheepdog tricks at the Agrodome outside of town, and walked around steaming lakes in Kairua City Park. We kayaked across Lake Rotoiti to hot pools, then into a glow worm cave after dark. We walked through steaming lakes and bubbling mud pools at Hell's Gate, and had our own mud bath. We paddled across our lake to a beach and mossy caves.
From Rotorua, we drove a few hours southeast to Ohakune and the start of the Old Coach Road. We rode mountain bikes along a beautiful and bumpy trail, and over a 45m tall viaduct. We jet boated upriver through the narrow green canyons of the Whanganui River, then walked through the forest to the Bridge to Nowhere. After a few spins on the way back downriver, we canoed and kayaked the final 10km of the river. We walked through alpine scrub to Taranaki Falls, and visited the surprisingly nice Carrot Adventure Park in Ohakune. On the drive back to Auckland, we did a few short walks in Tongariro National Park, and stopped to see kiwi and other native birds at the Otorohanga Kiwi House.