Learn of a land dubbed the ‘Forgotten Kingdom’ on a rail cart experience near Taumaranui, passing through handcut brick tunnels to rolling countryside and fields of lavender.. Get your adrenaline pumping with a fast-paced jet boat ride to the Mangapurua Landing, swapping the thrills for curious tales of the Valley of Abandoned Dreams on a guided hike to the Bridge to Nowhere.. Canoeing down the Whanganui River without any rush or hurry gives you the power to choose your own pace. You can stop by historic settlements on the way and find the perfect cove for a picnic lunch.. Ever arrived at your accommodation by aerial cable car? We didn’t think so, either. Stay in a unique cottage at Flying Fox, named in memory of poet James K Baxter, and full of quirks and comfort.
King Country in New Zealand is a land of picturesque landscapes, perfectly fit for the noble explorer. So, spend five days in the wilds of the Whanganui on an active adventure deep in the country’s North Island. What follows is a journey through handcut tunnels, past overflowing lavender farms, through ancient fern forests and up fertile rivers to the Valley of Abandoned Dreams. Add some thrill-seeking activities, comfortable lodge-style accommodation and a host of outdoor and culinary inclusions, and you’ve got yourself an action-packed tour of north western New Zealand that’s well past the tourist brochure. It may well be the king – or queen – of them all.
Breakfast Included: 4 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 2
Taupo – Taumaranui
Kia ora – welcome to Taupo! Nearing the centre of New Zealand’s North Island, the town sits on the banks of Lake Taupo and is a perfect starting point for your adventure. Meet your leader and fellow travel crew at a central location around 10 am this morning – more details will be included in the ‘Joining Point Instructions’ of your Essential Trip Information. After a quick meeting, head to Pureora Village and Forest Park, learning about the local history and its logging past. With an abundance of ferns and centuries’ old trees here, you’ll feel you’ve escaped to the wilderness already! Join back up to Lake Taupo for a picnic lunch on its banks before heading south with your group to Taumaranui. Set near the junction of the Whanganui and Taringamotu rivers, Taumaranui is your base for tonight, and you’ve got a free evening to enjoy the town at your leisure. Perhaps ask your leader their restaurant recommendations.
Rise and shine for an early start this morning – you’re off to the Forgotten World Highway Adventure Rail Carts! These tracks take you along 40 kilometres of the Forgotten World Railway, through ten incredible hand built brick tunnels; one of them over 1.5 kilometres in length. Ride through dense native bushlands and past stunning hilly outcrops – you’ll soon realise that this region definitely lives up to its name as King Country. Arrive in Tokirima, where a delicious ploughman’s lunch and home baked goods await your group. After lunch, board a return shuttle, which will take you via the acclaimed Lauren’s Lavender Farm. Awaken the senses walking through the fields of purple, and consider purchasing a memento from the onsite shop. After your Forgotten World tour finishes, you’ll head to Ohakune at the foot of Tongariro National Park. Keep an eye out for the big carrot on the way into town – you won’t miss it! Once arrived, there’s the option to hike to Waitonga Falls if you’re feeling up to it (approximately 1.5 hours total). Otherwise, take the afternoon to rest and relax.
Another early morning calls for some adrenaline pumping action. Travel up the Whanganui River for about an hour on a thrill-seeking jetboat rapids ride to Mangapurua Landing, passing by pristine forests and deep gorges full of ferns. Your guide will point out the renowned Drop Scene, Dress Circle and other ancient ‘pegs’ – or focal points – of the landscape that helped riverboat crews navigate these waters hundreds of years ago. Once arrived at Mangapurua Landing, disembark the boat and begin your 40-minute walk to the Bridge to Nowhere – gateway to the so-called ‘Valley of Abandoned Dreams’. You’ll learn all about the history of the valley and the tales that surround this mysterious region, plus enjoy some lunch at the Bridge. After lunch, walk back to the boat and travel downstream to Pipiriki, swapping the boat for a private vehicle to continue your travels further south. Tonight’s accommodation in Flying Fox is something out of the ordinary – only accessible by aerial cable car! One of the eco-friendly cottages was named in memory of New Zealand’s famous poet James K Baxter who spent his time in the small community of Hiruhārama (Jerusalem) and frequently visited this river region. Learn more about Baxter and the unique region from your local hosts over dinner at the lodge.
This morning, you’ll have the chance to paddle the mighty Whanganui River yourself! Drive back to Pipiriki and, after a safety briefing, take the water for a leisurely canoe experience back down to Flying Fox. The pace of today’s canoeing adventure is entirely dependent on the group’s preferences. Expect somewhere between 3–6 hours on the water, with plenty of stops to admire the lush scenery and have some lunch along the way. This is a tranquil section of the river, away from the crowds and jet boats. There are also a number of historic settlements dotted along the river, which you can explore if you wish. Once arrived back at the cottages, spend the rest of the day however you please, maybe with a swim in the river or a visit to the historic Koriniti Post Office. It’s totally up to you!
Mt Taranaki – New Plymouth
Leave the beauty of Flying Fox behind as you travel to the west coast of the North Island. Stop by the township of Whanganui and see where the river meets the ocean, then get back on the road with the epic Mt Taranaki in your sights. Watch the peak loom larger in the horizon, and once arrived at its base at Egmont National Park, take a leader-led walk on the slopes with your group. Continue your drive to New Plymouth, where your finishes on arrival. With no activities planned after this, you are free to leave the group, either continuing your own adventure or beginning your homeward journey.