North Island Nature
This tour has a little of everything with a touch of adventure for those of us who are reasonably fit and active. Includes hands on sailing, Black Water Rafting and hiking the famous volcanic Tongariro Crossing mountain track. Meet endangered birds on a Department of Conservation bird sanctuary island, Tane Mahuta - "Lord of the Forest", the largest tree in New Zealand and see spectacular geysers and boiling mud pools. Also meet educational and entertaining local Maori guides, taste a hangi dinner and stay overnight on a working farm - this is a great snapshot of New Zealand outdoors!
- Meet and Greet on arrival in New Zealand
- New Zealand Airport Transfers
- English/Foreign speaking guide depending on arrangements
- Quality hotel accommodation, twin/double rooms, (single rooms available with single supplement) all with private facilities
- Cooked Breakfasts (B) and Dinners (D) where indicated on the itinerary or to be included by arrangement.
- Tour admissions as per itinerary. (eg scenic boat cruises, cultural events). Please see itinerary for specifics.
- Touring in a modern air conditioned vehicle, type depending on arrangements
- Complimentary Travel Kit including travel vouchers, support documentation and a New Zealand Map.
Self Drive Rental Vehicle – Private Car & Driver/Guide (or a combination)
NOVEMBER / APRIL – DAILY DEPARTURES
Day 1 - WELCOME TO AUCKLAND; NEW ZEALAND
Arrive at Auckland International Airport where you will be met by our staff, who will provide you with the final documents and vouchers for your New Zealand tour. Transfer to your Auckland city accommodation. The balance of the day is free to rest and explore New Zealand’s largest city.
Day 2 - TIRITIRI MATANGI ISLAND
This morning take a 75 minute cruise by twin hulled catamaran across the Hauraki Gulf to Tiritiri Matangi Island. This island is a Department of Conservation bird sanctuary, which has been cleared of rats, cats and other predators allowing many of New Zealand’s rarest and most endangered species to breed in relative safety. Among the birds to be seen here are the Takahe, thought to be extinct until discovered in 1947 in a remote part of Fiordland National Park. Even today there are only a few hundred of them in the whole world. There are also Saddlebacks, Stitchbirds, Bellbirds, Tuis, Kereru, Bush Robins and the Kokako on the island. A 60 minute guided tour will be provided on arrival and then you are free to roam the island yourselves looking for the birds. Return to Auckland late afternoon.
Day 3 - AUCKLAND / WAIPOUA FOREST / BAY OF ISLANDS (366 KMS)
Today drive north across the Harbour Bridge and through the North Shore. Pass lovely Orewa and Waiwera Beaches on the Pacific Ocean. Time permitting you may wish to stop for a stroll along one of these beaches (or a swim). Visit the excellent Matakohe Timber Museum where the gum digging and timber milling history of this Northland Region is on show. Continue through Dargaville to the Waipoua Kauri Forest to see Tane Mahuta, which is the largest of all the giant kauri trees. Afterwards drive around Hokianga harbour and through Kaikohe to the lovely Bay of Islands.
Day 4 - IN THE BAY OF ISLANDS
Full day cruising around the waters of the Bay of Islands on the tall ship the R Tucker Thompson. This is a traditional gaff rigged schooner, which combines the safety and comfort of a modern vessel with the unique character and charm of schooners of 150 years ago. A relaxing day sailing with a small group and a friendly crew. Opportunities to help sail the vessel, swing from the yardarm and ride the bowsprit. A delicious barbecue lunch will be served at anchor in a sheltered cove. Plenty of chances to sunbathe and swim in the sea – a memorable day in paradise.
(Note seasonal 1 November / 3rd week in April)
Day 5 - BAY OF ISLANDS / WAITOMO FARMSTAY (443 KMS)
Today drive south to Whangarei and down the Pacific Coast to Auckland. Cross the Bombay Hills and continue south through the lush Waikato dairy farmlands and Hamilton City to the Waitomo area. Your accommodation tonight is on a farm. This opportunity to meet the friendly New Zealander’s in their own home will be a tour highlight.
Day 6 - ADVENTURE CAVING / COROMANDEL
Farm breakfast. This morning discover Blackwater rafting – an adventure rafting through the underworld of the Ruakuri Cave. You will be provided with wetsuits and cavers helmets, then join your guide and float down an underground stream in tyre tubes. You will see wonderful stalactite and stalagmite limestone formations and glow-worms in caves that the average “tourist just can’t reach (3 hours duration). After a hot shower, hot drink and a snack drive on across picturesque farming country and through the Karangahake Gorge and Waihi to the Coromandel Peninsula. This is where the Kiwis holiday – an area of beautiful golden sand ocean beaches and lovely rainforest.
Day 7 - ON THE COROMANDELA full day tour with an experienced local nature guide. Includes a hike through native rainforest featuring a variety of specimen native trees such as Rimu, Miro and Totara plus regenerating Kauri forest and tree ferns. See an 1890s gold town, glow-worms, an historic gold cave and learn about the flora and fauna of this magic area. Than travel down to the coast to see magnificent golden sand beaches, off shore islands and ancient pohutukawa trees. Visit popular Hotwater Beach where when the tide is right you can dig a pool hole on the beach and it will fill with thermal water, which bubbles up through the sand. You can bathe in it/or paddle while the surf washes over you. Also walk to an old Maori pa site to enjoy the spectacular panorama before returning to the hotel. Lunch is included on this day tour.
Day 8 - COROMANDEL / ROTORUA (177 KMS)
Morning drive south to Rotorua. In the afternoon take a guided tour of Te Puia – the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve where there are spectacular geysers and boiling mud pools, and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where young Maori are being taught traditional carving and weaving skills. Then in the evening enjoy a traditional Hangi (dinner) followed by a concert of Maori song and dance, including the famous Haka, on a local Marae.
Day 9 - ROTORUA SIGHTSEEING / TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK (170 KMS)
This morning take a 4 hour tour of Rotorua and environs with an experienced local Maori guide. Start by taking in the views over Rotorua from Mt Ngongotaha followed by a visit to the Marae (Maori Village) at Ohinemutu on the Rotorua lakefront. This is where their stained glass window of Jesus appearing to walk on the waters of Lake Rotorua can be seen behind the alter of St Faith’s Anglican Church. Then drive south to Waiotapu Thermal Reserve to see the Lady Knox Geyser erupt at 10.15 am and a walk through the thermal reserve. Lastly view New Zealand’s largest mud pool before returning to your accommodation.
In the afternoon take a relaxing lake spa in the thermal waters of the Polynesian Spa before driving south through Taupo and around Lake Taupo to Whakapapa Village in Tongariro National Park.
Day 10 - THE TONGARIRO CROSSING
There are three main peaks in Tongariro National park – Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngaruahoe and Mt Ruapehu. All are volcanic – Mt Ruapehu erupting spectacularly as recently as 1995 and again in 1996. There are two major ski fields on these mountains, and some of the scenes from the award winning Lord of the Rings film trilogy were filmed here.
Today hike The Tongariro Crossing - widely regarded as the best one-day hike in New Zealand. The route lies up an old lava flow then between Ngaruahoe and Tongariro past the Red Crater and the Emerald Lakes. On a clear day the views are amazing. Descend past the Ketetahi Springs. The mountain grasses and alpine plants give way to magnificent rainforest on the lower slopes.
Important – a reasonable level of fitness and agility is required for this hike, which should only be attempted in good weather as conditions.
Day 11 - DEPART
It is a half day drive north back to Auckland, or to continue south to Wellington.