North Island Pioneer
- Duration: 7 Days (approx.)
- Product code: pioneer
Departure time (day one): 7.30am
Pick up/drop off point: Auckland
Return time (day three – approx.): 4-5pm
Activity Level: Active (3 of 5)
The Pioneer is the ultimate North Island explorer! As the name suggests we explore some of the North Island’s more out of the way and untouched locations, ranging from the breath-taking glow worm caves of Waitomo, to the white sand beaches of the Coromandel and to the awe-inspiring mountain peaks in Tongariro and Mount Egmont National Parks, we like to cover it all! An all-inclusive tour, we provide all transport, accommodation, meals and activities. All you need to bring is your gear and an intrepid sense of adventure! Check out the full itinerary below to discover everything you’ll explore during this tour. Combine with our Voyager Tour to experience Northland and enjoy everything the North island has to offer.
This first day we meet in the City of Sails where you will be introduced to your fellow travellers along with your two kiwi guides! Then we’ll hit the road and head south where you can admire the stunning New Zealand countryside and get to know your new travelling companions. Our first major stop will be the world-famous Waitomo caves, here we will explore some of the incredible glow worm caves, admiring the fascinating limestone formations and taking a serene boat journey that allows you to get up close and personal with the stunning glow worm colonies. If exploring the caves isn’t for you, then there are some stunning bush walks nearby to enjoy instead. After we exit the caves we will enjoy a late picnic style lunch and then carry on with our journey to Lonely Planet’s second highest rated region in the world, the beautiful Taranaki! Here we will settle in to our luxurious self-contained accommodation, relax and enjoy the beautiful west coast surroundings.
Stay: Taranaki - lunch and dinner included
Today we will be hiking the slopes of Mount Taranaki, this impressive giant is considered one of the most symmetrical mountains in the world, similar-to Japan’s Mount Fuji. We will enjoy a hike that starts in the lush rainforest before ascending into the alpine forests and tussock where on clear days we can enjoy breath taking views right up the West Coast and all the way over to Tongariro National Park, and Mounts Ruapehu and Nguarahoe. From here we will make our way around the around the North Face of the mountain before beginning our descent on a different trail to finish our loop walk back at the carpark. Along the way you will hear about some of our native flora and fauna, along with some history of the mountain and the Maori legend as to how Taranaki came to be. Afterwards we will relax at one of the local lakes where we can enjoy a picnic lunch and dive in for a swim if you’re feeling brave! After that we have some time to relax, and if you’re interested we will head down to one of the famous west coast beaches to enjoy the sunshine and hopefully a beautiful sunset! During summer, we may have a beach BBQ depending on the weather.
Stay: Taranaki - all meals included
After enjoying a cooked breakfast, we will drive to the Eastern face of Mount Taranaki, where there are number of beautiful short bush walks we can do that included Wilkie’s pools, the ‘Goblin forests’ and the majestic Dawson falls. We will have a picnic lunch either along the trail or in the picnic area near the Visitor Centre and then hit the the road again. As we travel we will follow the coast for a time before heading inland and winding alongside the impressive Whanganui River and passing through scenic gorges until we arrive at the New Zealand’s oldest National Park, Tongaririo. The Tongariro National Park is world renowned for its geological and historical significance, being one UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. Tonight, we will stay in Whakapapa Village on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu, where there a number of short walks that can be enjoyed by those wanting to stretch their legs.
Stay: Tongariro National park - all meals included
Today is one of the most spectacular days on the tour, as we will be hiking the world famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This trail winds its way between two active volcanoes, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe (aka. Mount Doom), which create a dramatic and inspiring landscape. We begin by winding our way through tussock alongside an alpine stream, before reaching the Soda spring and its waterfall, from here we will climb the devil’s staircase, following ancient lava flows as we climb to the saddle between the two grand volcanoes. Once we reach the highest point of the walk at the Red Crater, aptly named for the volcanic red soil that makes up the crater, on clear days you will be treated to a jaw-dropping view of the Emerald and Blue Crater lakes that the crossing is famous for. After enjoying lunch next to one of these picturesque lakes we will wind our way down the far side of the crossing, whilst being treated to views of thermal vents in the mountainside and Lake Taupo off in the distance. Once we complete the hike we will make the short drive to Taupo where we will enjoy the beautiful lakefront town and a soak in natural thermal hot pools.
Stay: Taupo - all meals included.
DAY 4 - TONGARIRO ALPINE CROSSING DURING WINTER
Tongariro Alpine Crossing during winter
Tongariro Alpine Crossing during winter – add $160 (1st May – 30th September)
While the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a beautiful walk, during winter it becomes more challenging as we commonly encounter snow and ice during these times. As such we often opt for a lower altitude walk such as Tama Lakes if the conditions do not allow us to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing without specialist equipment. However, it is definitely still an option! If you wish to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter you can do it with a local specialist guide, they will provide all the equipment and instruction you need to safely to the walk in the conditions. Just remember that walking through snow and ice can be much more tiring so you will need a good level of fitness to do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in winter.
We will have a relaxing start to the day, with time to walk to the lakefront and enjoy the scenery or take sunrise photos if you’re an early starter! From here we will travel to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park, which showcases some of New Zealand’s most stunning geothermal features and has been rated one of the 20 most surreal places in the world by TripAdvisor. Over the millennia thermal vents in the ground have created a range of natural phenomenon including mud pools, geysers, silica terraces and geothermal lakes that range from fluorescent green and yellow to orange to clear blue. We will then drive to Rotorua, renowned for its geothermal activity and rich Maori culture. This afternoon we mountain bike through the towering Redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forest, this is designed for all ability levels so you don’t have to be an expert on a bike. However, if mountain biking is not for you, as an alternative you can to kayak the Blue lake, or we can check in to our accommodations nice and early so if you just want to relax on the lakeside or enjoy a swim or a short walk you’re more than welcome to do so. (sentence removed)
Stay: Rotorua - all meals included
After breakfast, we will make the short trip to the stunning blue waters of the Hamurana Springs, a phenomenon created from crisp, clear spring water bubbling up from deep within the ground into crevasses or underneath the sand. From here we travel to the coast! We will make a short climb up Mount Manganui to get a beautiful view up and down the East Coast, showcasing some of New Zealand’s most famous beaches. We will then travel north to the white sands of Waihi Beach, where if the conditions are right there is a stunning coastal walk over to Orokawa Bay, only accessible by walking track or boat, this untouched beach is bordered by native Pohutukawa trees and is the picture-perfect definition of a New Zealand beach. We will then continue out on the Coromandel Peninsula to Onemana Bay, where we will spend the night listening to the waves lapping on the beach.
Stay: Onemana/Whangamata - all meals included
While today may be the final day of the tour we still have plenty of fun to fit in before we get you back to Auckland! We start by heading to the world-famous Cathedral Cove, if the weather suits we will jump on a boat that tours this spectacular coastline, showcasing the incredible geological formations, caves, stunning beaches and marine life. If sea conditions are rough, not to worry! We’ll take the short hike over the hill down to Cathedral Cove, enjoying the pristine coastal views along the way. Next, we will make the short drive to the famous Hot Water Beach, a spectacular white sand beach where at the right tide natural geothermal springs allow you to dig your very own spa pool in the sand! (We may explore Hot Water Beach first and then Cathedral Cove depending on the tides). After enjoying your fill of new Zealand’s incredible beaches, we will make our way back to Auckland where you can continue your adventures or travel home if you’re not here for long.
Breakfast and lunch included.