Volcano Exploring, Maori Culture, Caving in Waitomo, Historic River, Beach and Headland Walking, Hiking Alongside Rotorua's Lakes Forest, Biking at Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest, Mountain Hiking the Tongariro Crossing.
Tuesday - Arrive, Hiking at Karangahake Gorge and Orokawa Beach
Most people leave the Northern hemisphere on a Sunday evening and arrive in Auckland early on Tuesday morning. You'll lose a day to the dateline - but you get it back on the way home! We'll pick you up in central Auckland at 8 am or at the airport at 9 am on our way out of the city. If you join us in town, we'll immediately head up Mount Eden to check out the spectacular views from the top of this volcano. We'll be able to see the point where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea are less than a mile apart. Here the North Island narrows to a strategic isthmus, which gave Auckland great importance to both the Maori and the early European settlers. After picking up folks from the airport we travel east across the Hauraki Plains to the historic Karangahake Gorge (we'll teach you the pronunciation!) for a hike through this historic gold mining area, followed by a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we'll head out to the coast near Waihi to hike around a series of headlands clad in native Pohutakawa trees to the impressive and secluded Orokawa Beach. We'll look out over the sweeping coastline and scattered islands of the Bay of Plenty, which was aptly named by Captain Cook when he visited in 1777. After the hike we'll head south through kiwifruit-growing country to Rotorua. There's a great deal of geothermal activity beneath Rotorua, so you'll see steaming pools of mud, fumaroles, and smell the distinctive whiff of sulfur that characterizes the town.
Wood Lodge, Rotorua. (L,D)
Wednesday - Hike Lakes Okataina and Tarawera, Maori feast and culture
Today we'll explore the virgin forest around Lake Okataina, an area sacred to the Maori but still unknown to many New Zealanders. We'll hike alongside its deep blue waters to explore the site of an ancient Maori settlement. We'll then continue over the ridge to the shores of Lake Tarawera. The entire area has been molded by intermittent volcanic activity, which continues in various forms to this day. Mount Tarawera was the scene of an enormous eruption in the late 19th century, and we'll be able to see the effects of this cataclysmic event during our time here. Afterwards you'll have the evening to do your own thing. You may choose to go to a Maori concert and the traditional hangi where you'll experience the native people's method of cooking. Food is prepared by burying it in the earth over hot stones several hours beforehand. This method is very healthy - akin to steaming - but hangi food has a wonderful smoky flavor. Vegetarians, of course, are well catered for.
Cedar Wood Lodge, Rotorua. (B,L)
Thursday - Rotorua, and mountain biking,
Waikato River waterfall walk
Rotorua is the centre of Maori culture in New Zealand and the influence of the Maori people can be seen everywhere here. Although it's a well-known tourist destination, there's plenty going on behind the glitz; well worth checking out. We'll spend a couple of hours showing you some of our favourite highlights of Rotorua. Then we go biking on the smooth trails in the pine forests that girdle Rotorua. We have biking options to suit all abilities and levels of interest. We think you'll find the biking to be a highlight of your Kauri trip, although you're welcome to stay in Rotorua if you prefer. We then go hiking down the Waikato River (New Zealand's longest) to the impressive Huka Falls. After this we head south for the short drive down the length of Lake Taupo, the biggest volcanic crater in the world, to Turangi on the southern shore of the lake. You'll have time to take a walk alongside one of the country's most famous trout fishing rivers, the Tongariro, while your guide cooks up a great Kiwi barbeque dinner.
ACCOMMODATION: Creel Lodge, Turangi. (B,D)
Friday - Hiking in Tongariro
Turangi is nestled between Lake Taupo and three massive volcanoes in the central plateau of the North Island; Mount Tongariro, Ngaruhoe and Ruapehu. We have two options here - if the weather is good, we can hike the well-marked Tongariro Crossing, a 7-hour unguided trek known as the best one-day mountain hike in New Zealand. The Crossing is an awesome hike on a less than perfect day, but it's even better on a clear one! If you prefer, you and your guide can do a couple of shorter walks in Tongariro National Park. Firstly, you'll hike through the native tussock to a waterfall at the base of Mt Ruapehu, the highest active volcano in New Zealand. Then, you'll hike around an isolated mountain lake in the middle of the virgin prehistoric rainforest. However you choose to spend your day, tonight you'll head to some thermal hot springs to soak tired muscles in natural hot water. Later, we'll enjoy a well-earned al fresco dinner!
Creel Lodge, Turangi. (B,L,D)
Saturday - Depart for home
It's the last day of the trip. We'll head over the spectacular Pureora Forest Range through groves of huge native trees, then into sheep farming country, before arriving at Waitomo Caves for some caving. After a cafe lunch, it's an afternoon of caving (a.k.a. spelunking)! You have two options here. For the more adventurous, you'll head "down under" to explore an underground cave system. You'll be fitted with a wetsuit, helmet, headlamp and floatation device 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. If wet-caving is not really your thing, you can take a more cruisy boat ride through one of the larger caves to see the glowworms and amazing rock formations. After a hot shower and hot soup we'll head back to Auckland and we'll have you at the airport in time to catch evening flights out of Auckland, either back home or down south for one of our South Island trips.
Both of the places you'll be staying are lakeside lodges with private bathrooms
and modern facilities.
RECOMMENDED FLIGHTS: If you're flying in on the first day of the trip, or out on the last day, we recommend arriving in Auckland by 8am on Tuesday, and departing from Auckland after 6 - 7 pm on Saturday. Other flight times may also be possible - if you are considering other flight times please let us know.
PICKUP INFORMATION: On the first day of the trip we can either pick you up from the Quest Hotel, 363 Queen St at 8am or at the Auckland international airport at 9am.
DROP-OFF INFORMATION: On the last day of the trip we'll drop you back at the Auckland airport in time for the flights above or anywhere in central Auckland in the late afternoon.
FITNESS: Our focus is on getting you out of the vehicle, out of stress-mode, and into the scenery! So we incorporate plenty of adventure activities. Like all our trips, you don't need to be young or really fit - but this trip has lots of action at a reasonable pace, and it's not designed for couch potatoes. Every one of the days on the trip will be unforgettable. We manage the level of commitment to suit your experience (nothing is compulsory!), and we have an impeccable safety record. We hold all relevant government transport and outdoor guiding licenses and our staff are highly trained and experienced.
EXPERIENCE: You don't have to have any outdoor experience to take our trips. We offer trips that allow you to make the most of New Zealand's incredible outdoor environment. Our experienced staff will look after you! You don't need to be a serious cyclist to enjoy the rides we have available. There are plenty of active options, but if you'd rather fish or just laze around one day, we can make that happen too! All we ask is that you be energetic and in reasonable shape - and we guarantee you'll have an incredible time
INCLUDED: Your trip fare includes just about everything, specifically:
- All guiding services. Comfortable accommodation for the entire period you are with us. We can also organize accommodation for you if you want to arrive earlier or leave later.
- Just about all your meals, except where we've found our people prefer to check out the range of restaurants. Alcohol is not generally included, although we do like to see the look on your face when we turn up with an icebox full of beer (and juice, and water) after a hike!
- All hiking, caving and cycling as described in the itinerary.
We'll see you soon!