Timeless North

Auckland – Waiheke Island – Rotorua – Lake Rotoiti – Whirinaki Forest – Hawke’s Bay – Tongariro National Park – Egmont National Park – Mount Taranaki – The Lost Highway

Days: 10 Days
From: US$6599 + TAX
Activity Level: Easy
Group Size: 4 – 12 People
Days: 10 Days
From: US$6599 + TAX
Activity Level: Easy
Group Size: 4 – 12 People

Trip Overview

Warmth, water, island vistas, awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes and ancient sub-tropical forest make the North Island an intriguing destination. We’ve created our Timeless North trip to make you feel like you’ve been transported to a different country each and every day. Indulge in the finer things in life on Waiheke Island and head south to walk and cruise among the ancient sub-tropical forests and lakes of Rotorua and Whirinaki Forest.

Then it’s off to the East Coast where we’ll walk, and sample the North Island’s finest wine in the Hawke’s Bay, before soaking in the old world decadence of the Chateau Tongariro Hotel and walking among the world’s most beautiful volcanic landscapes and forests. The trip will end on the West Coast of Taranaki, in the forests and on the coastline at the foot of Mt.Taranaki.

Areas Visited:
– Auckland
– Waiheke Island
– Rotorua
– Lake Rotoiti
– Whirinaki Forest
– Hawke’s Bay
– Tongariro National Park
– Egmont National Park
– Mount Taranaki
– The Lost Highway

Itinerary

Day 1 - Waiheke Island Wine & Walking

What better way to kick off 10 days of walking and indulgence than a short cruise across the Hauraki Gulf from our largest cosmopolitan city, to Waiheke Island? A spectacularly beautiful place where bohemians decided to escape the rat race in the 60s, now home to some of our most exclusive wineries and stunning coastline. We’ll check out the coastal Park Point Peninsula walk before sampling the acclaimed local artisan red wines. After a short cruise back across the Hauraki Gulf, we’ll head south through the rolling green countryside to Rotorua for our first night.

 

Accommodation: VR Rotorua Lake Resort, Lake Rotoiti. (view details)

Walking: 2 hours, easy walking on a flat coastal walkway with amazing views of the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland Harbour.

Wines: Waiheke is a premier wine growing area in New Zealand. Sample and enjoy.

Dining: Selection of Puhoi cheeses & local island fare.

Day 2 - Ancient Forest Walk, Whirinaki, Te Puia

Wake up in the cultural hub of New Zealand, Rotorua, and sample our fine espresso coffee before we head to a fairy-tale forest you have to see to believe. Whirinaki Forest is home to ancient ferns, podocarp rainforest and box canyons carved out by millions of years of precipitation. Apart from the gorgeous sound of native bird song, it’s quiet, serene and tranquil – although you could be forgiven for half expecting a dinosaur to wander past in this timeless and untouched environment. Later, we’ll visit Te Puia, a place of steaming vents, bubbling mud pools and impressive geothermal geysers.

Accommodation: VR Rotorua Lake Resort, Lake Rotoiti. (view details)

Walking: 3 hours of easy walking alongside the Whirinaki River on a flat, wide, smooth trail through podocarp sub-tropical rainforest.

Dining: We’ll dine at Te Puia this evening, experiencing a ‘Hangi’ – a traditional Maori feast cooked in an earth oven.

Day 3 - Moutohora Island

This morning we’ll follow Lake Rotoiti from the volcanic plateau and weave our way along the Bay of Plenty coastline to the beautiful little seaside town of Whakatane. Moutohora (Whale Island) is one of New Zealand’s little known treasures and home to some of our rare plants, birds and reptiles. The journey from Whakatane is just a short 15 minute boat ride aboard a comfortable catamaran and upon arrival you’ll experience a fully guided tour of the island. This experience is a bird lover’s paradise, with the opportunity to see saddleback/tieke, kakariki/red crowned parakeet, little brown kiwi, bellbirds, tui, grey warbler and many species of sea birds. We also visit a NZ fur seal colony for an up close look at these beautiful animals.

Accommodation: VR Rotorua Lake Resort, Lake Rotoiti. (view details)

Walking: 1-2 hours of walking on Whale Island. 1 hour of easy walking among ancient forest along the shores of Lake Rotoiti.

Dining: Fresh New Zealand fare is on offer tonight – enjoy!

Day 4 - Huka Falls & Art Deco Decadence

No need to hurry this morning – we’ll take our time with breakfast before heading south to our largest inland body of water – Lake Taupo. Draining from the lake, is the Waikato River, which starts its journey through the tight cataract and spectacular chute of Huka Falls. We’ll walk the trail to the falls and dine in style for lunch before heading to Napier – New Zealand’s art deco capital on the East Coast.

Accommodation: Quest Apartments, Napier. (view details)

Walking: 1.5 hours of flat walking along the Waikato River bank, all the way to the Huka Falls cataract and waterfall.

Dining: Tastes of Hawke’s Bay – New Zealand’s best fruit and vegetable producing region are on offer this evening.

Other activities: Napier is the vibrant and cosmopolitan art deco capital of New Zealand, as well as a gorgeous coastal city. There’s plenty of time to wander and indulge.

Day 5 - Te Mata Peak & Local Winery

A leisurely start sees us sampling the finest drops of the North Island’s oldest and premier wine growing and stone fruit region. Followed by an open schedule in the afternoon, giving you time to soak in the delights of the Hawke’s Bay. The day concludes with a short walk on the famed Te Mata Peak, with its stone escarpments, rolling grassland and coastal views galore. Need we say more? We will, just to do it justice. With sunset views north, south, east and west – stare out to the dreamy Pacific Ocean or spin around to see the sun setting across the volcanic plateau.

Accommodation: Quest Apartments, Napier.(view details)

Walking: 1.5 hours is our time on the Karaka Wander trail – a wonderfully varied walk through rolling grassland and native forest leading to the saddle lookout for amazing views.

Wines: With a Bordeaux-like climate, this region produces award winning full bodied wines.

Dining: The Hawke’s Bay climate lends itself well to all manner of local harvest. Not to be missed are the olives grown here, along with Arataki Honey and stone fruits.

Day 6 - Tongariro National Park & High Tea at Chateau Tongariro

From rolling green hills and coastal vistas, to the volcanic central plateau and its incredible forests and rivers – the contrast today is stark and beautiful. Our lodging is the ornate and beautiful Chateau Tongariro Hotel. Settle in and enjoy high tea in the grand lounge. We’ll also walk the lower slopes of Mt. Ruapehu, which looms large over the hotel and the surrounding landscape. The Silica Rapids walk follows a cascading stream through mountain beech forest to the creamy white terraces carved out from thousands of years of volcanic activity.

Accommodation: Chateau Tongariro – one of the finest hotels in New Zealand. Old world charm, meets modern convenience here, with heart stopping views of the central plateau, including Mt. Ruapehu, Mt. Ngauruhoe & Mt. Tongariro. (view details)

2.5 hours (return) of a gentle incline through mountain beech forest to the Silica Rapids above the treeline. If this walk doesn’t take your fancy, then there are plenty of other attractions to be found in Whakapapa village and shorter walking trails right outside the door.

Dining: In keeping with the old world charm of the Chateau, it’s only right that we partake in the British tradition of high tea in the late afternoon. Tea, scones, cream and jam in the grand lounge, looking out to Mt. Tongariro. For dinner, we’ll trust the chef of the Chateau’s incredible kitchen.

Other activities: There’s a 9-hole golf course right out front of the Chateau Tongariro. If swinging a club is your thing, then ticking off a round at the foot of New Zealands highest volcano is a great idea (optional).

Day 7 - Delve into Tongariro National Park - Rest, Recreation & Recharging

Birdsong, the breeze whistling through ancient mountain forest, wide open landscapes, picture perfect volcanic peaks, waterfalls and clear flowing waters. It’s no wonder this is a World Heritage site. Here, it’s easy to recharge with a walk in spectacular surrounds, while contemplating the simpler things in life. It’s a place that lends itself to slowing down, resting and re-energising.

Accommodation: Chateau Tongariro. (view details)

Walking: A flat 2 hour walk around an ancient explosion crater, now a hidden lake – Lake Rotopounamu. Home to huge stands of native podocarp trees up to 1200 years old, this place is otherworldly. The afternoon is yours to explore or relax. One option is to walk 2 hours round trip (flat) on the wide open tussock slopes of Mount Ruapehu, to the thunderous Taranaki Falls.

Dining: Lunch always tastes better in beautiful, isolated places. So it’s only appropriate that we have lunch at quite possibly the most beautiful lakeside beach in the world – Lake Rotopounamu.

Day 8 - Explore the Forgotten World Highway, Mt Taranaki

A day of genuine isolation and beauty lies ahead as we venture west to the Taranaki Peninsula on the Forgotten World Highway. This is one of New Zealand’s most rugged and densely forested regions, once an area early pioneers did their best to populate, but didn’t get very far. Some parts of this earth just want to be left alone. After dropping off our bags at Stratford Mountain House we’ll stretch our legs on the Patea Track, a great introduction to the area’s mountain environment. You’ll pass through forest with large pahautea (mountain cedar) before returning alongside the Te Popo Stream.

Accommodation: The Ngati Ruanui Stratford Mountain House, on the slopes of Mount Taranaki. Elegant, exclusive and homely, this place is your own personal retreat. Soak in the views of Mt Taranaki from your private deck – it feels like the mountain peak is only a stone’s throw away. (view details)

Walking: 1.5 Hours Changed

Dining: A pint at the Whangamomona Pub (New Zealand’s most isolated pub) is only appropriate. A chat with the locals is always entertaining too – there are some real characters here!

Day 9 - Short Walks of Mount Taranaki

If there is a more picture perfect cone-shaped volcano flanked in rainforest, overlooking a wild and untamed coastline in the world, we’d like to see it. Mount Taranaki rises dramatically over the Taranaki peninsula creating a beautiful juxtaposition. We’ll take advantage of dramatic views of the entire peninsula after walks through mountain rainforest. Evidently, Mother Nature couldn’t decide if this place was destined to be the tropics or an alpine environment, so she went with the perfect hybrid here – prepare to be transported to a different world!

Accommodation: The Stratford Mountain House, on the slopes of Mt Taranaki. (view details)

Walking: The beautiful thing about Mt Taranaki is that there’s something for everyone. Our favourites are the 1 hour Hooker Shelter trail (where the views will speak for themselves), and the 1.5 hour walk through ‘goblin forest’ on the Wilkies Pool Loop trail.

Dining: The Stratford Mountain House hosts are always innovative with their meals and spot on with their choices of wine to match.

Day 10 - New Plymouth, Depart

All good things must come to an end, but we know you’ll have had a chance to unwind, reflect and recharge yourself on this trip – with fine wine, quiet isolation on the water and the trail among stunning forest, volcanoes, lakes, and beaches. We’ll drive a short distance to New Plymouth airport and say our goodbyes. We hope you’ll take some North Island soul enhancing food, wine, walks, and vistas with you to your home and next destination.

Request a Full Itinerary

What’s Included

Once you arrive, we want you to relax, escape the day to day, and indulge in the incredible sights, sounds, tastes and hospitality that make our trips world beating so we include almost everything in our trip fares.

Your trip fare includes:

  • Meals.
    – New Zealand is the home of fresh and decadent produce. It’s a big part of the New Zealand experience, so we’ve made sure most of your meals are included – breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are a couple of instances where dinner isn’t included, so you can head out and explore the options on your own. We’ve specified this with an asterisk * next to the dining description in the itinerary.
  • Transport on the ground.
    – When you arrive, we’ll pick you up from Auckland airport or your hotel, and we’ll take care of the rest, until we drop you off at New Plymouth Airport. Our passenger vehicles are roomy and comfortable.
  • All guiding.
    – A fantastic guide will take your trip from “great” to “I don’t know how life will be same”. Our incredible local guides are on-call 24/7 on your trip and will ensure that your New Zealand experience is seamless, relaxing and welcoming – you won’t want to say goodbye at the end of your trip!
  • All accommodation.
    – It’s as much about the where, as it is the what. So we’ve chosen beautiful places to sleep, rest, experience and escape to.
  • All activities in the itinerary.
    – Walking in wild, scenic and beautiful places is what we do. Although we’ll also be taking a lake cruise & soaking in hot pools. There are some optional activities that aren’t included highlighted as “optional”.
  • Wine.
    – With dinner every night (where included), we’ll feature a couple of bottles of local wine. Whilst we wouldn’t describe ourselves as connoisseurs, we love our local wines and enjoy sharing them with our guests in beautiful surrounds.

Not Included:

  • Flights to New Zealand
    – This trip starts in Auckland and finishes in New Plymouth. Chat to our team for advice on best times to travel and routes to get here.

Departure Dates

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