Warmth, water, island vistas, awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes and ancient sub-tropical forests make the North Island an intriguing destination. We’ll start by sampling outstanding Kiwi wine on Waiheke Island after a cruise out of Auckland’s impressive harbour. Next we’ll witness the geothermal wonders of the volcanic North Island and experience a traditional maori cultural evening, dining on delicious fresh food cooked in the hot earth!
Our walks take us along stunning sections of the Waikato River, to some astounding waterfalls, and around deep crater-lakes. We’ll take in the old-world decadence of Chateau Tongariro, probably New Zealand’s most famous hotel, where we’ll indulge in afternoon-tea in the heart of Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage area. This trip will introduce you to the North Island’s best recognised traits – maori culture, geothermal activity, beautiful walking trails, and delicious New Zealand wine. This trip can be extended to include 7 days on the South Island – the whole 13 day experience is our ‘Pristine New Zealand’ trip.
– Waiheke Island
– Lake Rotoiti
– Hawke’s Bay
– Tongariro National Park
Day 1 - Waiheke Island Wine & Walking
What better way to kick off 6 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 and eat a delicious lunch, before sampling the acclaimed local artisan red wines. After a short cruise back into Auckland Harbour, we’ll head south through the rolling green countryside to Rotorua for our first night.
Accommodation: Wai Ora Resort, Rotorua.
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 and local island fare. Dinner out on Rotorua’s ‘Eat Street’.
Day 2 - Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, Te Puia Maori Experience
Wake up in Rotorua, the cultural hub of New Zealand, and sample our fine espresso coffee. Once we’re wide awake and well fed we’ll drive a short distance down the road to the thermal wonderland of Waiotapu – New Zealand’s premier area of geothermal activity. Bubbling mud, steaming cracks in the earth, myriad sulphuric colours and smells abound in this fascinating area. Tonight we’ll spend the evening appreciating local culture and history at a Maori cultural & dining experience at Te Puia.
Accommodation: Wai Ora Resort, Rotorua.
Walking: Short walks around Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland exploring the geothermal hotspot.
Dining: We’ll dine at Te Puia this evening, experiencing a ‘Hangi’ – a traditional Maori feast cooked in an earth oven.
Day 3 - Walk Huka Falls, Visit Lake Rotopounamu
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 a tight cataract and spectacular chute – Huka Falls. We’ll walk the trail to the Falls and have lunch on the lakefront. For those who are keen, we’ll then walk some of the loop track around a crater lake, Lake Rotopounamu. Afterwards we’ll head to our accommodation, Oreti Village, where your guides will cook up a delicious dinner.
Accommodation: Oreti Village, Turangi.
Walking: 1.5 hours of flat walking along the Waikato River bank, all the way to the Huka Falls cataract and waterfall. A short walk on the Lake Rotopounamu loop track.
Dining: Your talented guides will cook a delicious dinner this evening.
Day 4 - Explore Tongariro National Park, afternoon tea at Chateau Tongariro
Wide open arid volcanic landscapes, picture perfect volcanic peaks, waterfalls and clear flowing waters; it’s no wonder this is a World Heritage site. Today we’ll take the Silica Rapids walk, which follows a cascading stream through mountain beech forest to the creamy white terraces carved out from thousands of years of volcanic activity. If you’re up for another waterfall, we’ll take a 6 kilometre loop track to Taranaki Falls, where the water tumbles 20 metres over a 15,000 year old lava flow to crash into the pool below. This afternoon we’re heading to one of New Zealand’s most iconic hotels, in the volcanic central plateau, the Chateau Tongariro, where we’ll have afternoon tea. This evening your wonderful guides will prepare another delicious meal.
Accommodation: Oreti Village, Turangi.
Walking: Around 2 hours walking on Silica Rapids trail. Optional extra 2 hours walking on Taranaki Falls loop track.
Dining: We’ll eat a boxed lunch while we’re out exploring Silica Rapids. In the afternoon, High Tea at Chateau Tongariro will be served, an indulgent exercise best experienced from in front of the Ngauruhoe window. Your guides will cook up some delicious New Zealand fare this evening for dinner.
Day 5 - Sanctuary Mountain, Explore Cambridge Township
Today we’ll take a beautifully scenic drive north, around the west side of Lake Taupo, to Maungatautari, where we’ll explore Sanctuary Mountain. This conservation project is a gigantic predator-proof area of 3400 hectares. The project aims to continue the re-introduction of threatened and endangered species via breeding programmes, and gives visitors the opportunity to see some of New Zealand’s most incredible animals in a sound ecological environment. Later today we’ll head for the town of Cambridge where we’ll spend the night. Known as ‘the town of trees and champions’ as well as New Zealand’s equine capital, we’ll explore this quaint community on the banks of the powerful Waikato River, before our farewell dinner out at a Cambridge restaurant.
Accommodation: Kelly Road Cambridge Lodge, Cambridge.
Walking: As much or as little walking as you’d like around the 3,400 hectares of Sanctuary Mountain.
Dining: For our final dinner together your guides will take you to their favourite restaurant in town.
Day 6 - Return to Auckland, Depart
It’s time to depart this morning. We’ll take the drive north back to Auckland airport, passing through a multitude of small North Island towns along the way. You’ll leave the volcanic north revitalised and filled with incredible memories of local culture, breathtaking walking trails, rivers and waterfalls. This trip can be extended to include 7 days on the South Island – the whole 13 day experience is our ‘Pristine New Zealand’ trip.
Request a Full Itinerary
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:
– 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”.
– 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.
- 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.