Chill out in the coastal settlement of Opononi then catch a boat to the Opononi sand dunes, enjoy the peace and quiet of this remote location or surf down the giant dunes.. Spend a morning uncovering fascinating history in the little seaside town of Russell, New Zealand’s original capital and the first place Europeans settled.. Experience the natural beauty of the Bay of Islands, from forests of ancient kauri trees and clear blue lakes to mystical waterfalls and caves filled with glow worms.. Enjoy an afternoon to explore Paihia as you please – learn about New Zealand’s history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, go on a cruise in search of dolphins or hit the mountain biking trails.
Bay of Islands – the name alone conjures up images of sunny days and spectacular scenery, and the real thing does not disappoint. Join a knowledgeable local leader on a five-day adventure through the best bits of this slice of heaven. Explore crystal clear lakes, ancient kauri forests and dazzling waterfalls while learning about the region’s Maori history and fascinating heritage. Swim, snorkel or kayak in the ocean, surf down sand dunes, walk through ancient caves and kick back on a boat. Aside from a group of like-minded travellers, your adventures may also be accompanied by fur seals, penguins, dolphins and whales.
Breakfast Included: 2 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included: 1
Welcome to New Zealand’s North Island! Your Bay of Islands adventure begins in Auckland at 8am. Meet up with your local leader and new travel companions then hit the road towards the Kauri Coast, eventually arriving at the Kai Iwi lakes. Take some time to discover the area surrounding these clear freshwater lakes and soak in the views over a picnic lunch, then continue on to the Waipoua Forest. Explore shady trails that weave through towering kauri trees and visit Tane Mahuta, a giant kauri tree believed to be up to 2500 years old. Drive on to the coastal settlement of Opononi then hop aboard a water taxi to the Opononi sand dunes. There’s nothing here but water and sand, so sit back and enjoy some peace and quiet, surf the giant sand dunes or take a dip in the ocean. Return to Opononi where you’ll spend the night.
Leave Opononi behind and continue your journey east. First stop off at the mystical Rainbow Falls on the Kerikeri river, then pay a visit to Mission Station, a historic site where Maori first invited visitors to live among the and the oldest house in New Zealand. You’ll then take a step back in time during a guided tour at Te Ahurea, a former Maori village which now serves as a site for cultural and historical education, and if time permits, you’ll also swing by the Wharepuke Sculpture Park. Arrive in Paihia and enjoy a free afternoon to get to know this charming coastal town and its surrounding areas. You may like to uncover some more of New Zealand’s story at the historically significant Waitangi Treaty Grounds, head out on a cruise around the Bay of Islands in search of bottlenose dolphins, or get active on one of the area’s many scenic walking or mountain biking tracks. Your leader will be on hand to help arrange activities and can also suggest some great spots for dinner tonight in Paihia.
Rise and shine for another day exploring the gorgeous Bay of Islands. Start the day with a scenic ferry ride to Russell – this tiny town packs a big historical punch and was New Zealand’s first ever capital. It was also the site of the country’s first European settlement and many historic buildings still stand today. After a morning exploring this fascinating seaside township, begin your drive towards Tutukaka. Stop off along the way in the little town of Kawakawa – this place is famous for its quirky and colourful public toilets designed by Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser – rest stops don’t get much cooler than this! You’ll also visit the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves to explore a hidden world of unusual rock formations and thousands of luminous creatures. Discovered in the 17th century by the chieftainess of the Maori tribe Ngati Hine, the caves are still run by her direct descendants today. Tonight will be spent in the delightful town of Tutukaka which sits on a truly stunning stretch of coast.
It wouldn’t be a trip to the Bay of Islands without visiting some islands! Off the shores of the Tutukaka coast you’ll find the Poor Knights Islands, a rugged series of islets with a history stretching back 11 million years. Today you’ll come face to face with the wild beauty of these islands during a full-day boat trip. You’ll have the chance to snorkel, swim, kayak, explore ancient caves and learn about the geological and natural history of the islands. It’s not uncommon to spot marine life from the boat, including dolphins, whales, and even orcas if you’re really lucky. If you’d prefer to put your feet up today, the boat is kitted out with plenty of seating and viewing areas, plus a “fish cam” so you can see what’s going on beneath the surface without leaving the comfort of the boat!
Say goodbye to the Bay of Islands and return to Auckland. If time permits, stop off at New Zealand's first certified B Corp brewery for a delicious and sustainable lunch. You can expect to arrive at around 4pm, at which point your adventure will come to an end.