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New Zealand Northern Trail (Southbound)


The legendary landscapes and natural bounty of New Zealand’s North Island are simply unbeatable, and there’s so much more to the region than just showstopping scenery. This 10-day adventure takes you from the bright lights of Auckland to creative and contemporary Wellington. Along the way, your local leader will introduce you to the beaches and forests of the Coromandel Peninsula, the under-the-radar town of Raglan, the geothermal wonders of Rotorua and otherworldly landscapes of Tongariro National Park. Add a hangi dinner with a Maori community, kiwi spotting and fish and chips and you’re in for a classic Kiwi adventure.

10 days, from

$2,830

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: PHKN
Style: Original
Print itinerary

Details

Countries Visited:  New Zealand
Accommodation: 9 nights in twin-share 3–4 star accommodation: a mix of hotels, motels, and lodges
Transportation: Private Vehicle
Meals: 2 dinners, 9 breakfasts
Group size: Minimum 6, Max 16

  • 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 Weta Workshop of Lord of the Rings fame.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 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. If you’d like to take a dip into Auckland’s nightlife, your leader will have tips on the best places to grab a drink or a bite to eat.

Day 2: Coromandel Peninsula

Leave the bright lights of Auckland City in the rear-view mirror as you jump in your vehicle and drive on 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! Arrive in Whitianga in the afternoon – your local leader will show you around this relaxed town known for beaches, surfing and a mellow atmosphere.

Day 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!

Day 4: Waitomo / Rotorua

This morning’s adventure takes you underground during a 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. 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.

Day 5: Rotorua

Spend the day discovering the natural and cultural wonders of Rotorua – this unique destination is really like nowhere else in the world. 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 and a must-visit for any fans. The geothermal activity in the area is also 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 Maori culture during a visit to a local village. Here you’ll enjoy a hangi dinner, a traditional meal cooked underground, giving it a delicious earthy flavour. Members of the village will also give combat demonstrations and perform a soul-stirring haka. While here you’ll have the chance to witness New Zealand’s largest geyser in action, and if you’re really lucky, you may spot some nocturnal kiwi birds.

Day 6: Rotorua / Taupo / Tongariro National Park

Those looking for a thrill are in the right place – Rotorua is a fantastic spot for white water rafting, so if you’re up for an adrenaline rush, you may like to spend your morning paddling the Kaituna River. If you’d like a slower start to the day, 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, first making the short drive to Taupo, set on the shores of the mighty Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. From here, continue to Tongariro National Park, the oldest national park in the country and your home for the next two nights.

Day 7: Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park is an inspiring landscape brimming with emerald lakes and volcanic mountains. The park is also home to what’s thought to be one of the best one-day walks in the world – the Tongariro Crossing. Today you’ll have the chance to take on this challenging but oh-so rewarding hike, covering 19.4km through mountains, lakes, craters and thick bush. A good level of fitness and appropriate gear for all types of weather are a must for anyone considering tackling the crossing today. This is considered one of the world’s top walks for a reason – the views are simply unbeatable. You may prefer to set out on one of the shorter hikes in the park – there are heaps to choose from and your leader will help to pick one that best suits your interests and abilities.

Day 8: Wellington

Wellington is calling – leave Tongariro National Park 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, then your leader will give you a brief introduction to the city before heading 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.

Day 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. 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 weaved 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.

Day 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).

Unscripted experiences, insider access and authentic local flavors


Our team of travel specialists and local contacts have curated some of the best, most exclusive and authentic experiences, restaurants and accommodations in New Zealand to truly immerse yourself in a way that wouldn't be possible in larger groups or just on your own.

10 days, from $2,830

to book call 1-844-205-6226

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