Get off the beaten track and explore the lesser visited East of the North Island. Experience immersive Maori culture by spending a night in a Marae – a traditional house with Hangi dinner. Feel like you are in another world by taking a journey on the ‘Forgotten World’ rail, a disused Heritage Railway line now travelled either in pedal power or electric custom built buggies.. Stay in 3.5 – 4* hotels and unique accommodation
Be immersed in New Zealand’s indigenous Maori culture, including sampling the local Kai (food) and meeting Maori (first nation) people. Be awed by unique natural attractions of the central North Island including active volcanoes, geothermal features; bubbling mud pools, geysers and natural hot pools. This trip will educate and give you insight into the cultural integration of Aotearoa and in depth knowledge of how Maori lived pre European settlement.
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included: 1
Arrival day Auckland
Kia ora! Welcome to New Zealand.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6.00 PM on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Auckland is New Zealand's largest city with a population of just over one million people. There is a distinct Pacific flavour to the 'City of Sails' and this can be seen in the streets and the local markets. The vibrant waterfront region, built to its current state for the America's Cup sailing challenges, is now a well-frequented local bar and restaurant hub. If you have extra time you might like to take a day trip to one of the many outer islands found in the Hauraki Gulf. This trip doesn't spend much time in Auckland so we recommend you arrive a few days prior so you can explore. Spend the evening getting to know your new group over an optional dinner, if you wish.
Begin your adventure in Rotorua, the cultural capital of New Zealand, sitting just a short drive away from Auckland. After a lunchtime arrival, take some time to explore the area. The natural hiss and roar of the exploding geysers, the hypnotic bubble of the mud pools and the awning redwood canopies are just a few charms this diverse ecosystem has to offer.
An evening walk into the redwoods offers an unforgettable night-time experience as the forest comes to light. Incorporating unique designs from world-acclaimed sustainability champion David Trubridge, the forest becomes illuminated by a series of multi-coloured lanterns, creating an otherworldly ambience for those strolling through this mystical realm.
Rotorua and traditional Marae experience
Spend the morning experiencing more of the exciting activities that Rotorua has to offer at your own pace – this geothermal wonderland has plenty of hot pools, spas or volcanic landscapes to uncover if you’re feeling adventurous.
After lunch, head completely off the beaten track to experience the real New Zealand (Aotearoa). Travel inland to stay in a marae, sharing experiences with a local Maori family. Take a guided tour through the township, witness a traditional haka powhiri performance from the local children and finish up at a meeting house for afternoon tea with the elders. Weave a bracelet out of flax, play local stick games and learn the haka for yourself, then sit down to a Hangi buffet feast followed by a dessert. Spend the last hours of the day watching more cultural performances from the children, sharing stories in the house as the night closes in.
Say goodbye to the local community, then head towards Gisborne for an action-packed day. Start off at Whakatane for an optional scenic trip to White Island, known in Maori as Te Puia o Whakaari – ‘the dramatic volcano’. After arriving at sunny Gisborne, take in some of the world-class surf beaches and quality vineyards. This history rich city has played a crucial part in the country’s origins – not only did the Maori migratory wakas Horouta and Takitimu bring the first Maori to the area, but Captain James Cook made his first New Zealand landfall at this site in 1796. Explore the city at your own pace, or speak to your leader for optional activities to do around the city. Definitely consider sampling some of the local wines in this ‘Chardonnay Capital of New Zealand’.
Travel inland to Taupo, home to Australasia’s largest freshwater filled crater lake. As you enter this gateway to the dual heritage status Tongariro National Park, listen out for the booming welcome song of the nearby waterfalls. Combine adventure, adrenaline and Maori culture throughout a selection of activities in the area. Witness the furious conduit of water hurtling towards the Huka Falls from a stable bridge – an estimated 220,000 litres of water is estimated to pour through the strip in a single second.
As the evening edges closer, take to the lake by boat. Experience a thrilling, scenic journey out to the Maori rock carvings, taking in splendid views of Te Kopua and Acacia Bay en route as you glide across the waters. Depending on the season, a swimming stop can be made to take a dip in the inviting (or freezing!) waters – be sure you bring a camera to snap some breathtaking views along the way. Enjoy pizza on the deck of the boat, toasting the sunset over a glass of wine or a beer.
Travel to the wild west of Aotearoa for a day of land and water exploration, encountering 10 tunnels and 20 bridges in the process. Course along rail lines to discover the emerald greens of the serene countryside, pressing through 40 kilometres of track as you roll onwards. Once the rails come to a stop, jump in a jet boat onto the Whanganui river for a hi-octane trip across the waters on a 23 kilometre stretch of this sacred river.
Waitomo Caves - Auckland
Before returning to Auckland, make an optional stop at Waitomo to explore its world-class cave systems. This must-see destination has gained a reputation due to the thousands of glow-worms lighting up the rocky walls in a glorious display of bioluminescence – the blue-green neon lighting in the underground chambers create an ambience similar to stars in the night sky. Navigate through these tunnels to take in these phenomenal views, then journey back to Auckland for the final evening of this adventure.
Auckland departure day
This trip comes to a close in the morning. There's a plethora of things to do in Auckland – your guide can fill you in on all the details if you'd like to plan further time here.
Check out Urban Adventure's Electric bike ride in Auckland.
Please speak to your travel provider for additional nights accommodation.