Day 1: Auckland to Paihia
Nau mai, haere mai (welcome)! Your journey kicks off in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland, known by those who live here as the ‘city of sails’ because of its location between the Waitemata and Manukau harbours, making it a boaters and yachters paradise. Pick-ups start at your accommodation bright and early, before we head north to the seaside town of Paihia, gateway to the Bay of Islands. We stop en-route to hug some of the world’s mightiest trees, the native Kauri, enjoy a hike to a beautiful waterfall and stop for lunch and a swim at scenic Waipu Cove. This is followed by a trip to the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds (own expense), before settling into our accommodation where you’ll have a group meal and the evening free to relax.
Day 2: Paihia to Hokianga
This morning we take a wildlife cruise in the beautiful Bay of Islands, a collection of 144 islands bursting with marine life. There’s no better way to see it than by boat - keep an eye out for wild dolphins. In the afternoon it’s off to the Hokianga Harbour, where we will see the huge sand dunes. Tonight you have the option to take part in a Maori-guided twilight encounter, where you’ll visit the Waipoua Forest, learn about Maori legends and the spiritual inhabitants of the forest, and visit the largest Kauri tree in the world, the “God of the Forest” Tane Mahuta (own expense). Finish the day with a Kiwi classic for dinner, traditional fish and chips.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3: Hokianga to Auckland
We start the morning with a ferry ride across the Hokianga Harbour to go sand boarding down massive dunes (weather dependent) before we start to make our way south through the mighty Waipoua Forest. Here we will have the opportunity to see NZ’s largest Kauri trees. We visit the idyllic Kai Iwi Lakes for a swim in the beautiful crystal clear waters surrounded by a pure white sandy beach, before returning to the ‘Big Smoke’ Auckland for a late afternoon arrival.
Day 4: Auckland to Hahei
We depart Auckland and head south east to the pristine sands of Hahei Beach, from which you can access the famous Cathedral Cove. Accessible only by foot, boat or kayak, you’ll discover some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery and stunning sea views in this beautiful coastal spot. Cathedral Cove is a ‘must see’ on the Coromandel Peninsula. Afterward an afternoon of seaside exploration, we gather for an entertaining hands-on ‘Kaimoana’ (seafood) cooking class to prepare a delicious feast of fresh local seafood for dinner (non-seafood option available).
Day 5: Hahei to Rotorua
Today we start by driving to Hot Water Beach, a unique surf beach where you can dig a hole in the sand to create in your own personal spa pool (tide dependent). After the beach, we’ll make our way towards Rotorua, stopping before we get to town to stretch our legs with an easy walk to watch white water rafters navigate the waterfalls of the Kaituna River. This evening you will be welcomed into the authentic Tamaki Maori Village, where you will discover Maori art, ancient rituals and traditions. Tonight we dine on a delicious hangi (Maori feast), enjoy an interactive cultural performance and the company of our Maori hosts.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6: Full day in Rotorua
You have a full free day in Rotorua to discover an area well-known for its Maori heritage, adventure and geothermal activity. Here you have the chance to do some great optional activities, such as a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, white water rafting, ziplining through native bush, mountain biking and more. A great option to finish the day is to spend the evening soaking in the hot pools at the luxurious Polynesian Spa.
Day 7: Rotorua to National Park
It’s a very early start this morning so we can make our way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Tongariro National Park,’ where you’ll get the chance to do what is rated as one of the world’s best one day walks, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Trek through dramatic natural scenery past volcanic peaks, vast craters and stunning turquoise lakes on one of the most spectacular treks in New Zealand. Alternatively you can go on one the shorter walks around this volcanic region or visit the Volcanic Centre Museum.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8: National Park to Blue Duck Station
After your big day of hiking, you get a chance to sleep in and we won’t depart until mid-morning. Our destination today is one of the most remote parts of the North Island by road. We’re heading for the award-winning Blue Duck Station in Whakahoro, a 7,200 acre high country farm that is both a working sheep and beef station and an environmental conservation leader. This afternoon you get the opportunity to take part in a 4WD Bush Safari and farm adventure, where you’ll explore this vast land and the New Zealand native bush, discover the remains of an unbelievable local history, and learn about the farm’s conservation efforts. Your dinner is cooked using local produce.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9: Blue Duck Station to Wellington
We depart early to arrive into Wellington around midday. Wellington is known as the ‘coolest little capital in the world’ thanks to Lonely Planet, and it’s a great place to check out the lively arts scene, shopping, craft breweries and café culture. As New Zealand’s capital city, it is home to New Zealand’s parliament and the iconic Beehive government building. This afternoon, you have the option to tour the world-famous Weta Workshop, marvel at the wonders of Te Papa National Museum or wander along the Oriental Parade.
Day 10: Wellington to Auckland
Today is an express day via National Park back to New Zealand’s largest city Auckland. We stop along the way for photo opportunities and have lunch in National Park town, before heading back to Auckland for a late afternoon arrival. We hope you had a blast on your New Zealand journey!
Start: Auckland CBD 7:00am
Finish: Auckland CBD 6:00pm