Come face to face with unforgettable natural wonders during a day in Tongariro National Park, where you can hike, mountain bike or soar overhead in New Zealand’s largest gondola.. Discover the famous sulphur hot pools of Rotorua, then sit down to a dinner you won’t forget – a traditional Maori hangi meal cooked underground with hot stones.. Hike through the beautiful Coromandel Forest Park, passing through native bush and taking in showstopping views of the Kauaeranga Valley, Hauraki Plains and Billygoat Basin.. Learn the history and traditions of Maori tribes in Waimarama as you join a local Maori guide for an exploration of the region.
Discover a place of natural beauty, creativity and rich culture on a 10-day journey through New Zealand’s North Island. Kick things off in animated Auckland before heading south to dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean and hike through the greenery of Coromandel Forest Park. Sink into natural hot pools in Rotorua, marvel at the massive Lake Taupo, explore the varied landscapes of Tongariro National Park and sip local wine in Napier. From Maori culture to otherworldly wonders, this is an island worth getting to know.
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 3
Welcome to the North Island of New Zealand! As Maori legend goes, the island was heaved out of the ocean by the demigod Maui on a fishing trip, and its Maori name Te Ika a Maui translates to ‘Maui’s fish’. Your adventure begins in Auckland, where you’ll meet your local leader and fellow travellers for a 6pm welcome meeting. If you arrive with time to spare, you may like to find out what it takes to become a sporting legend during an interactive All Blacks experience, or perhaps discover the native plants at the Auckland Botanic Gardens. After your meeting, you may like to get to know your group over dinner at a local restaurant, then if time permits, head out with your leader to uncover more of the city during a walk around the harbour.
Coromandel - Whitianga
Say goodbye to Auckland this morning and make tracks for Hot Water Beach. Here you’ll discover a natural phenomenon where warm mineral water bubbles up from beneath the sand, just metres away from the chilly Pacific Ocean. While here you may like to dig a hole to create your own natural hot tub and enjoy a soak as the ocean laps at the shore. After some fun at the beach, continue to Cathedral Cove, famous for its beautiful stone arch. Snap a few pictures at this stunning spot, then drive on to Whitianga, a gorgeous town on the Coromandel Peninsula. On arrival, enjoy some time to get to know the area. Perhaps take a walk around the town, following heritage signs so you can learn about historic sites as you go. Your leader will be able to recommend some great spots for dinner this evening.
The Coromandel - Rotorua
After breakfast this morning, make the drive to Coromandel Forest Park. From here you’ll set out on the Billygoat Circuit hike, taking four to five hours. Cross a swing bridge over the Kauaeranga River, pass the Billygoat Falls, hike down to Webb Creek then climb for incredible views of the Kauaeranga Valley, Hauraki Plains and Billygoat Basin. Stop off for a picnic lunch and take a moment to soak in your totally natural surroundings. After your hike, hit the road and drive to Rotorua. Famed for its sulphur mineral pools, you may notice a distinct smell as you pull up to this fascinating town, but it’s all part of the experience!
Wake up to the unmistakable aroma of Rotorua and enjoy a day to explore all this place has to offer. Speak to your leader about the numerous geothermal activities available to you today – you’re never far from a good soak in Rotorua! You may like to have a walk around Lake Rotorua, or perhaps check out the Rotorua museum within the beautifully manicured Government Gardens. If you’d like to meet New Zealand’s most famous flightless bird, pay a visit to the country’s leading Kiwi hatchery. Step into a nocturnal house to see how these endearing creatures behave once the sun goes down. More than a third of Rotorua’s population is Maori, and this evening you’ll get to sit down to a true Maori experience during a traditional hangi dinner. Hangi is the process of cooking food in an underground pit using heating rocks, which makes for an interesting and delicious meal.
Tongariro National Park
Start the day with a visit to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, an otherworldly landscape home to lush plant life, volcanic craters and gigantic natural hot springs. Set out to explore the area on a self-guided walk, then continue on to the Huka Falls, an incredibly powerful cascade of water flowing from Lake Taupo. Take some time to marvel at the might of the falls before carrying on towards Lake Taupo, where you may like to enjoy an optional lunch and take in views of New Zealand’s largest lake. Return to the road and drive to Tongariro National park, the oldest national park in New Zealand and a place of great spiritual significance to the Maori people.
Tongariro National Park
Enjoy a full day to explore the wonders of Tongariro National Park. Home to three active volcanoes, bubbling mud pools, vibrant green lakes and rare wildlife, the park has no shortage of truly amazing things to discover. Speak to your leader about the options available to you today – there are walks and hikes to suit all fitness level and interests, there are incredible mountain biking trails, or you may like to ride New Zealand’s largest gondola, the Sky Waka, over the active Mt Ruapehu and past ancient lava flows and waterfalls. No matter what you choose to do, this is sure to be a day to remember.
Leave the sights and sounds of Tongariro National Park behind as you continue your journey and drive on to Napier. After being destroyed by an earthquake in the 1930s, the town was completely rebuilt and today serves as an open-air gallery for Art Deco architecture. Settle in on arrival then get to know one of Napier’s best loved assets – wine. Visit three local wineries, learn about their produce, drink in some incredible views and of course taste what all the fuss is about. You’ll also enjoy some tasting platters of regional delights, plus some local coffee if the wine has you feeling a little sleepy! This evening you’ll be staying at a wonderful, sustainable eco-lodge.
Your eco-lodge is not only focused on sustainability, but also regenerating the land while farming. After a fresh breakfast made with produce grown on site, tour the farm to learn how the owner has improved the health of the soil and its animals, and how the farm strives for a positive impact on the land and surrounding community. Follow the farmer as pigs are fed, eggs collected, cows milked and livestock shifted. In the afternoon head south to Waimarama for a chance to get to know the history of Maori tribes in the area with a local Maori guide. Waimarama beach was one of the stopping points of the great migratory canoe Takitimu in Maori tradition, and you’ll see why and where the Maori stayed, establishing the Hakikino fortress in the nearby hills. You’ll also drop into a native plant nursery and conservation area to understand how the Maori here are working to protect, restore, and reserve areas of remaining bushland.
Greytown - Wellington
Head south this morning and drive from Napier to Greytown, a lovely little town lined with charming old buildings. Enjoy some time to explore the town’s shops and cafes then stop for a spot of lunch before driving on to Wellington. Along the way, pass through the vineyards of Waipara and Martinborough and see where much of the country's favourite wine is produced. On arrival in Wellington, you’ll have a free afternoon to get to know New Zealand’s vibrant capital. This dynamic city has a lot to offer a curious visitor – you may like to continue your education on Maori culture at the famous Te Papa museum, kick back with a cocktail on Cuba Street or stroll around town in search of art installations. For your final evening, perhaps join your group for dinner at a local restaurant to reflect on all you’ve seen and done on your adventure.
Your North Island adventure comes to an end this morning. If you’d like to spend some more time in Wellington, just get in touch ahead of time and we’d be happy to arrange some additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).