New Zealand Northern Trail (Southbound)
From 10/12/2023 to 03/06/2025
Swap Auckland’s big city vibes for the natural beauty of the Coromandel Peninsula, including a visit to Hot Water Beach, where all you need is a spade to create your own natural hot tub.
Chill out or hang ten in Raglan, a laidback town and surfing hotspot.
Hop aboard a boat cruise around Raglan to watch the sunset and tuck into a classic Kiwi fish and chips dinner.
Discover the diversity of Rotorua, from unbelievable geothermal activity to rich Maori culture.
Visit a Maori village for a hangi dinner and traditional haka performance.
Admire the out of this world landscapes of Tongariro National Park, from emerald green lakes to soaring volcanic peaks.
If you’re up for the challenge, tackle the famous Tongariro Crossing.
Get to know New Zealand’s creative and cosmopolitan capital, Wellington.
Your local leader will show you the best of the city, including the Weta Workshop of Lord of the Rings fame.
Breakfasts Included: 9.
Dinners Included: 2.
Hotel/Motel (9 nights).
Age: min 15.
Group Size: 6 - 16.
Coromandel Peninsula - Cathedral Cove.
Coromandel Peninsula - Hot Water Beach.
Raglan - Fish & Chips Dinner.
Raglan - Sunset Boat Cruise.
Waitomo - Ruakuri Bush Walk.
Rotorua - Redwood Forest Canopy Walk.
Rotorua - Hobbiton Movie Set Tour.
Rotorua - Pohutu Geyser.
Rotorua - Hangi Dinner & Haka Dance.
Taupo - Huka Falls.
Wellington - Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary.
Itinerary / more information
1 - Auckland Welcome to the land of the long white cloud, Aotearoa (New Zealand). Your North Island adventure begins in Auckland, New Zealand's biggest, busiest and buzziest city. If you get here with time to spare, perhaps check out the beach down at Mission Bay or take a stroll along the restaurant-lined waterfront. Meet your local leader and new travel buddies at your accommodation at 6pm for a welcome meeting, then the rest of the evening is yours to do as you please, so you may like to take a dip into Auckland's nightlife.
2 - Coromandel Peninsula Meet your leader and the rest of your group this morning, then leave the bright lights of Auckland City in the rear-view mirror as you jump in your vehicle and drive to the Coromandel Peninsula - the journey is a highlight in itself, following the extraordinary coastline and watching clear blue water stream past the window. A land of white sand beaches and lush rainforests, the Coromandel Peninsula feels a world away from where your journey began. Make a stop at Hot Water Beach, named after the famous warm waters found beneath its golden sand. If the tide allows, dig a hole on the beach and enjoy your own natural hot tub - absolute bliss! After a visit to the famous cathedral Cove arrive at your accommodation in the afternoon.
3 - Raglan Hit the road and make a scenic drive to Raglan, passing tree-clad hills and dramatic valleys. The journey will be broken up with photo-worthy stops, including a visit to the magical 55-metre cascade of the Bridal Veil Falls. Widely considered to be New Zealand's premier surf spot, Raglan is the ideal place to catch some waves, whether you're a beginner or a pro. If surfing isn't your thing, the chilled-out town offers a wealth of awesome activities. Check out creative local cafes, shops and galleries, stretch out on the beach and enjoy the view or head out on a hiking trail to get a better look at the landscape. Tonight is set to be one to remember - get on the water for a sunset boat cruise around Raglan Harbour, and tuck into a tasty fish and chips feast while you're at it - a true Kiwi experience!
4 - Waitomo This morning's adventure takes you underground during an optional visit to the Waitomo Caves, a subterranean system of caverns and passageways illuminated by thousands of ethereal glow worms. You may like to join a walking tour to hear the story of the caves' history, geology and connection to Maori mythology. If you'd rather stay on the surface, the Ruakuri Forest walk is a must, cutting through dense rainforest and taking in views of verdant gorges and limestone arches. Tucked into the rolling green hills of Matamata you'll find Hobbiton, the set where part of the Lord of the Rings films were shot. On a fully guided tour of the set you will see Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and even enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon Inn. Continue your journey towards Rotorua, known for its Maori heritage, hotbed of geothermal activity and distinctive sulphur smell (you'll get used to it!). To get your first look at Rotorua's impressive scenery, take a treetop walk through an ancient redwood forest over a network of suspension bridges, reaching 12 metres at the highest point.
5 - Rotorua Spend the day discovering the natural and cultural wonders of Rotorua - this unique destination is really like nowhere else in the world. The geothermal activity in the area is second to none - simmering mud pools, dramatic geysers and fluorescent lakes must be seen to be believed. If you've got a head for heights, ziplining through Rotorua's ancient forests is an unbeatable way to take it all in. This evening you'll get a true taste of M?ori culture during a visit to a cultural and geothermal wonderland. Here you'll enjoy a hangi dinner, a traditional meal cooked underground, giving it a delicious earthy flavour. You'll also experience a soul-stirring haka performance.
6 - Taupo Take in the sights before heading south to Taupo. Rotorua's Polynesian Spa is the perfect place to unwind, or head to Kuirau Park to walk through a landscape of hissing natural hot pools. If your morning activities have inspired an appetite, the town is chock full of tempting cafes and bakeries serving up local favourites. Say goodbye to Rotorua and get on the road once more, heading to Taupo. Stop at the thundering Huka Falls during the drive before arriving in Taupo, set on the shores of the mighty Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake. We'll spend two nights here, the perfect base to explore Taupo and Tongariro National Park.
7 - Taupo A volcanic eruption 70,000 years ago created the magnificent Lake Taupo, which now hosts visitors from around New Zealand and the world, keen to both relax and get their blood pumping with the adventure sports and hikes on offer. With a free day here, you'll have plenty to choose from. If you're a keen hiker, you may like to complete the Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand's most famous day hike. At 19.4km long, the path takes you around a volcano, past lakes, craters and bush. A variety of guided or unguided options are available, but a good level of fitness and appropriate gear for all types of weather are a must for anyone considering tackling the crossing today. There are shorter hikes in the park available or, for the thrill seekers, you might like to go skydiving or bungy jumping.
8 - Wellington Wellington is calling - leave Taupo behind and drive on to New Zealand's trendy and attractive capital city. Strung between staggering green hills and a delightful harbour, Wellington holds onto a small-town charm despite its capital status. The city is known for its creative and artistic endeavours, making it a real joy to explore. Arrive in the afternoon, your leader will give you a brief introduction to the city before you are free to explore as you wish. You may like to head up Mt Victoria for a view that will help you appreciate Wellington in all its glory. The rest of the evening is yours to explore the capital. With a booming food scene, be sure to ask your leader for some wonderful restaurant recommendations.
9 - Wellington Today is all about getting to know windy Wellington, a charming place even on its most blustery days! Kick the day off with an orientation tour with your leader, checking out the bays, central Wellington, the Botanic Gardens and the Parliament Buildings. Next up it's a visit to Zealandia, a groundbreaking conservation project that has successfully reintroduced over 20 species of native wildlife into this area, some of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years. Pay a visit to Weta Workshop, the special effects studio used by Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. While here you'll have the chance to take an optional tour around the studio to find out how the team here create film magic. This afternoon, you may like to check out Wellington's most famous cultural attraction, Te Papa Museum. Displaying an intriguing combination of New Zealand's history and cultural heritage woven with cutting edge technology and interactive displays, there's something here to entertain everyone. If you'd rather spend the afternoon outdoors, a tour of Kapiti Island offers the chance to spot an abundance of rare and beautiful birds.
10 - Wellington It's time to say a fond farewell to your newfound friends, as your North Island adventure comes to an end this morning. If you'd like to spend some more time exploring Wellington, get in touch ahead of time and we can help to arrange additional accommodation (subject to availability).
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