Active Adventures |  Kauri -  Ultimate North Island Adventure

Auckland to AucklandYou'll be amazed by the variety of adventures and stunning scenery as we share the iconic locations and best-kept secrets of the North Island.The perfect addition to any of our South Island trips, the year-round 'Kauri' explores the sub-tropical north, a marine reserve, white sandy beaches, unique volcanic terrain, geothermal areas, Maori culture, an underground cave system and arguably the best mountain day-hike in New Zealand.

  • Highlights

    Cycle
    Whakarewarewa Forest

    Hike
    Tongariro Alpine Crossing
    Mt Te Aroha
    Explore volcanoes and coastline, kauri forests and sand dunes
    Alongside Rotorua's lakes
    Coastal tracks to pristine beaches
    Cape Brett, Bay of Islands

    Plus...
    Cruise and snorkel, kayak or dive Poor Knights Islands
    Maori culture
    Waitomo Caves

  • What's Included

    All accommodations
    A range of hotels, lodges and inns.

    All activities
    There isn't another trip in NZ that represents 'multi-activity' better than the 'Kauri'! 11 days of hiking, kayaking, biking, rafting, scenic flights, jet boating and more!

    All guiding services
    Two experienced New Zealand guides per trip. Having two guides allows for much greater flexibility, meaning you're able to go at your own pace.

    All meals
    Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days, except where indicated on the itinerary (usually 1 day per trip is a free day, allowing you to choose your own dining location).

    All transport
    Airport transfers on the first & last days.
    When you're not travelling under your own steam, there will be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.

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  • Itinerary

    DAY 1 - ARRIVE, JOURNEY NORTH, WAIPOUA FOREST AND FOOTPRINTS TOUR

    If you leave the northern hemisphere on a Sunday evening, you'll arrive into Auckland early on Tuesday morning where we'll meet you. You'll lose a day to the dateline, but you get it back on the way home! Leaving the city behind us, we'll follow the road along the banks of the Wairoa River and head north to Waipoua Forest, where we'll stretch our legs, greeted by native birdlife as we pass beneath huge kauri trees. We'll then continue through to the west coast settlement of Opononi, a harbour town made famous in the mid-1950s by the tame dolphin, Opo, who used to let children ride on his back. Later, after dinner we'll head back out into the Waipoua Forest for a twilight walk, where we'll be joined by local Maori guides. It's a memorable and spiritual experience to witness the greeting of these colossal trees with a spine-tingling waiata (sacred chant). We'll also visit Tane Mahuta (meaning Lord of the Forest), New Zealand's largest known living kauri tree. At a height of 51.2 metres (168 feet), and with a trunk girth of 13.7 metres (45 feet), this silent giant, with ancient limbs, seems to grasp at the stars.Copthorne Hokianga, Hokianga Harbour (Lunch, Dinner)Hiking Time: 3 hours, relaxed stroll

     

    DAY 2 - TE POUAHI RESERVE, HIKE PUKETI FOREST, BAY OF ISLANDS

    After breakfast, we’ll board a water taxi to the other side of the Hokianga Harbour to walk the sand dunes at Te Pouahi Reserve. We’ll take some sandboards along too, for those who’re keen to take the fast route down! More than 1000 years ago, Maori warrior chief Kupe and his people were the first to arrive in New Zealand, landing on the shores of Hokianga Harbour. The area was also one of the first points of Maori and European contact. With our sandboarding fix satisfied, we’ll head east across the island to Puketi Forest. This is another fine example of ancient kauri forest, with a rich diversity including some 370 recorded species of plants, many of which are found nowhere else on earth. Later, we’ll head to ‘the Jewel of the Bay of Islands’, Paihia, a bustling seaside town with golden sand beaches.Paihia Lodgings, Paihia (All meals)Hiking Distance: 1.6 kilometres (1 mile), 1 hourElevation Gain: 20 metres (65 feet)Elevation Loss: 20 metres (65 feet)

     

    DAY 4 - CRUISE POOR KNIGHTS ISLANDS, SNORKEL OR KAYAK

    After breakfast, we’ll head out for an early morning walk before boarding a purpose-built boat for a cruise to the Poor Knights Islands. This small cluster of islets is home to a wealth of biodiversity both above and below the water. While you head across from the mainland, keep your eyes peeled for flocks of petrels, shearwaters and gannets – many of these shorebirds nest almost exclusively on the islands you’ll be visiting. The Poor Knights is the second oldest marine reserve in New Zealand, and the sub-tropical environment is now an important conservation area for many species of marine-life. Whales, dolphins and orca can often be spotted, as well as a myriad of fish species that constantly trawl the reserve. You’ll visit the world’s largest sea cave, and hear all about the islands’ history including their occupation by ancient Maori. Our guides will then give you the chance to explore under your own steam, by providing you with either a snorkel and mask, or a kayak. If you’re a keen scuba diver, there’s an option to upgrade to diving for an additional fee, including all the necessary gear. This option must be pre-arranged, so please let the team know well before-hand.Pacific Rendezvous, Tutukaka (All meals)

     

    DAY 5 - HIKE NORTHLAND COASTLINE

    This morning, we’ll follow the coastal road as it winds its way south alongside tree-lined white sand beaches to Waipu, a quaint village with strong Scottish heritage dating back to the 1850s. Then we’ll make our way to Mangawhai Heads for one of the finest coastal cliff top walks in the country. The walk offers glorious views of the Northland coastline, passing through shady bush and beneath giant old pohutukawa trees, and then returns along the beach. After lunch, we’ll continue south from Mangawhai Heads towards the city of Auckland.Crowne Plaza Hotel, Auckland (Breakfast, Lunch)Hiking Distance: 5 kilometres (3 miles), 3 hoursElevation Gain: 40 metres (130 feet)Elevation Loss: 40 metres (130 feet)If you're short on time, this is where the first 5-day 'Kauri' trip finishes.

     

    DAY 6 - FREE DAY IN AUCKLAND

    Known as the city of sails, Auckland sprawls over a narrow isthmus between the sparkling waters of the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours. Close to a third of New Zealand’s population is settled in this area, and it’s home to the largest Polynesian community in the world. Its vibrant, multi-cultural feel makes for a great city experience. Most of Auckland’s activities and attractions are within half an hour of the central city. Take in the spectacular views from natural and man-made landmarks - the region is home to 48 volcanic cones, many of which provide excellent viewing points. Rangitoto Island is arguably Auckland’s most iconic natural landmark, with its distinctive symmetrical cone and easy access just off the coast. At 328 metres (1076 feet), the Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand offering views for up to 80 kilometres (50 miles) in every direction. For movie enthusiasts, take the day to visit The Shire in Middle Earth, the ultra-realistic fantasy setting for ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of The Rings’ movie trilogies. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today.Crowne Plaza Hotel, Auckland (No meals included)

     

    DAY 7 - VISIT TE AROHA, HIKE TO WAIRERE WATERFALL

    If you're short on time, this is where the last 5-day 'Kauri' trip startsWe’ll pick you up from your hotel and, leaving the city behind us, drive south to the township of Te Aroha. The town is one of the country’s top tourist spots, celebrated for its naturally hot soda waters and Mokena geyser. Today’s hike winds its way amongst tree roots and mossy rocks, and across several bridged river crossings to a lookout platform at the base of the Wairere Falls on the Okauia fault line. Afterwards we’ll drive to Rotorua, considered the heartland of New Zealand’s Maori culture and the spiritual home of New Zealand’s tangata whenua (original people of the land).Cedarwood Lakeside Resort, Rotorua (All meals - please note, breakfast not included for those people starting the 5-day trip today)Hiking Distance: 5 kilometres (3 miles), 3-4 hoursElevation Gain: 400 metres (1,312 feet)Elevation Loss: 400 metres (1,312 feet)

     

    DAY 8 - MOUNTAIN BIKE WHAKAREWAREWA FOREST, VISIT TE PUIA

    This morning, we’ll head out to cycle the trails of Whakarewarewa Forest. The cycling in the forest is a real highlight on the ‘Kauri’ trip and we have options to suit all abilities. If you prefer not to cycle, you can stay and soak in the local mineral spas, or explore Rotorua. After a picnic lunch in the forest, we’ll visit Te Puia which is famed for the Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley – a place of gushing waters, steaming vents, boiling mud pools and impressive geysers. Tonight you’ll enjoy a cultural performance by members of the Te Arawa tribe and share a traditional feast. A hangi, as it’s known, is prepared by wrapping food and burying it in the earth to cook over hot stones. This healthy cooking method is similar to steaming and imparts a wonderful flavour.Cedarwood Lakeside Resort, Rotorua (All meals)Biking Distance: 2-8 kilometres (1.5-5 miles), 3 hours including bike fitting & bike briefing and depending on ability and preferences, we have plenty of optionsElevation Gain: 20 metres (65 feet)Elevation Loss: 20 metres (65 feet)

     

    DAY 9 - HIKE RAINBOW MOUNTAIN, HIKE TO HUKA FALLS

    We head south out of Rotorua today to hike Rainbow Mountain, aptly named due to the unusual colour of the soil. We’ll head up through native forest past an impressive crater lake for panoramic views over the volcanic plateau. Then after lunch, we’ll follow the track along New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato, for a spectacular view of Huka Falls and maybe a dip in some natural hot springs. Travelling further south, we follow the shores of Lake Taupo, an enormous volcanic cauldera and the site of the world’s largest eruption in the last 70,000 years. We’ll stay on the banks of the Tongariro River, New Zealand’s most famous trout fishing river.Creel Lodge, Turangi (All meals)Rainbow Mountain Hiking Distance: 5 kilometres (3 miles), 3 hoursElevation Gain: 340 metres (1,115 feet)Elevation Loss: 340 metres (1,115 feet)Huka Falls Hiking Distance: 3 kilometres (2 miles), 1 hourElevation Gain: 20 metres (65 feet)Elevation Loss: 20 metres (65 feet)

     

    DAY 10 - HIKE TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING, SOAK IN HOT POOLS

    Just south of Turangi are three massive volcanoes (Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu) – located in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s oldest national park and the fifth oldest in the world. Here you’ll have the opportunity to walk what is considered the best mountain day hike in the country, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This full-day hike is challenging and unforgettable – the rewards are definitely worth the effort! The trail takes you through arid volcanic terrain that includes emerald lakes, cold mountain springs, lava flows, active craters and steam vents – it’s unlike anything else in New Zealand. If you prefer, there’s an easier hike available at the base of Mount Ruapehu, the highest active volcano in New Zealand. Tonight, you can bathe in some natural thermal springs before having a celebratory dinner for our last night together.Creel Lodge, Turangi (All meals)The Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter (from May until September)Whilst eye-catching, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a more challenging hike in winter, with alpine conditions such as snow and ice. If the weather isn’t suitable for the crossing, or you’d prefer to do a hike at lower elevation (away from the snow and ice!), we have a fantastic couple of hikes up our sleeve, to Taranaki Falls and Silica Rapids. Both of these hikes showcase a variety of flora from native beech forest to sub-alpine shrublands, each culminating with a spectacular view; Taranaki Falls is 20 metres (65 feet) high and Silica Rapids has water cascading down a series of creamy white terraces. For those that are keen, and if the weather is suitable, you can still choose to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with a local specialist guide. We’ll provide you with all the necessary gear such as crampons, ice axes and a helmet.Hiking Distance: 20 kilometres (12 miles), 7-8 hoursElevation Gain: 1,000 metres (3,280 feet)Elevation Loss: 1,280 metres (4,200 feet)

     

    DAY 11 - VISIT WAITOMO CAVES, DEPART FOR HOME

    For our last day together, we’ll head to the spectacular Waitomo Caves for a morning of caving. If you prefer, you can take a walk through Ruakuri cave to learn more about the geological significance of the area. For those keen, you’ll head down to explore an underground cave system. You’ll be fitted with a wetsuit, helmet, headlamp and rubber tube in order to float down a subterranean stream, slide down waterfalls and at one point, switch off your headlamp to check out the incredible glowworms that live on the limestone ceiling of the cave. After a shower and some hot soup, we’ll head back to Auckland where your ‘Kauri’ trip finishes. We’ll have you at the airport in time to catch evening flights back home, or down south for one of our South Island trips.(Breakfast, Lunch)

     

    DAY 3 - HIKE CAPE BRETT, VISIT RUAPEKAPEKA PÃ SITE

    This morning, we’ll take a water taxi from Paihia out to Deep Water Cove for a ridgeline hike to Cape Brett through the Manawahuna Scenic Reserve. On route, you’ll experience the Bay of Islands from the ridge tops and get magnificent views. This is a 3-4 hour hike with rewarding views of the Bay of Islands the entire way - you may even see dolphins and seals from your vantage point high up on the cliffs. The mountains that we’re crossing are very important to the local Iwi (Maori tribe). The mountain “Rakaumangamanga” is one point of the Polynesian Triangle - Hawaii and Rapanui are the other 2. If you’re not feeling up to the hike, have a chat to our guides and they can arrange an alternative boat trip around the Bay of Islands. Later, we’ll be picked up at Cape Brett, again by water taxi for the scenic cruise back to Paihia. This afternoon, we’ll head south and inland to Ruapekapeka. The Ruapekapeka Pã was the site of the final battle in the ‘War of the North’, fought between British colonial forces and northern Maori, and this is where the British first experienced trench warfare. This Pã is widely recognised as one of the most significant historical sites in New Zealand.Pacific Rendezvous, Tutukaka (All meals)Hiking Distance: 5 kilometres (3 miles), 3 hoursElevation Gain: 473 metres (1,550 feet)Elevation Loss: 473 metres (1,550 feet)

 

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