Stride climate

Trip Type : Group Tour

Ultimate North Island Adventure

Active Adventures New Zealand
5.0 . Excellent
100%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
11 days
From: $ 4,899 $ 445 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Hike Cape Brett
  • Visit Ruapekapeka Pã site
  • Cruise Poor Knights Islands
  • Hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing, soak in hot pools
  • Hike Rainbow Mountain, hike to Huka Falls
  • Hike Northland coastline

Short Description

You'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. 

Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Trip Type Group Tour
Off the beaten track trips will stretch your comfort zone. They don't always feature tourist highlights, but dive deeper into local life and culture.
Itinerary Focus Off the Beaten Path
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Auckland
End City South Island

Trip Includes

All guiding services

Two experienced guides per trip. In New Zealand you'll have a lead guide and a co guide.

All accommodations

A range of hotels, lodges, chalets, inns, sheep stations and backcountry huts, depending on which trip you choose.

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 activities

Hiking, kayaking, biking, rafting, scenic flights, jet boating and more!

All transport

Airport transfers.

When you're not travelling under your own steam, they'll be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive, journey north, Waipoua Forest and Footprints tour

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

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

Day 2: Te Pouahi Reserve, hike Puketi Forest, Bay of Islands

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

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

Day 3: Hike Cape Brett, visit Ruapekapeka Pã site

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

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

Day 4: Cruise Poor Knights Islands, snorkel or kayak

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

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

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Auckland

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.

If you're short on time, this is where the first 5-day 'Kauri' trip finishes.

Day 6: Free day in Auckland

Accommodation: Crowne Plaza Hotel, 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.

Day 7: Visit Te Aroha, hike to Wairere Waterfall

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

If you're short on time, this is where the last 5-day 'Kauri' trip starts

We’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)

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)

Day 9: Hike Rainbow Mountain, hike to Huka Falls

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

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

Day 10: Hike Tongariro Alpine Crossing, soak in hot pools

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

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.

Day 11: Visit Waitomo Caves, depart for home

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

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.

Availability

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Price Per Day: $ 445 per day
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Start DateEnd DateDouble StandardAvailability 
Oct-01-2019Oct-11-2019$ 4,899Limited Reserve
Oct-15-2019Oct-25-2019$ 4,899Limited Reserve
Oct-29-2019Nov-08-2019$ 4,899Limited Reserve
Nov-12-2019Nov-22-2019$ 4,899Limited Reserve
Nov-26-2019Dec-06-2019$ 4,899Limited Reserve
Dec-03-2019Dec-13-2019$ 4,899Limited Reserve
Dec-10-2019Dec-20-2019$ 4,899Limited Reserve
Dec-17-2019Dec-27-2019$ 4,899Limited Reserve
Dec-24-2019Jan-03-2020$ 4,899Limited Reserve
Dec-31-2019Jan-10-2020$ 4,899Limited Reserve
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Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Active Adventures New Zealand.

Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.

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Clark Norton
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Stride Featured in

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22 Active Adventures New Zealand Travel Reviews & Ratings

100%
5.0 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 21
Great 1
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 0
Value
5.0
Guide
5.0
Activities
5.0
Lodging
5.0
Transportation
5.0
Meals
5.0

Ultimate North Island Adventure

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Company Reviews

Fantastic company and they create amazing trips

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
This is a fantastic company and they create amazing trips. I did the Rimu and the Kauri in New Zealand in January of 2010, and more recently the Annapurna Base Camp Trek in the Himalayas in November of 2015. They have only the BEST guides working for them. I can't recommend them highly enough! Take the leap--it's the experience of a lifetime. I think my next trip will be the Condor in South America, although I have to say that Nepal really got under my skin and I'm yearning to go back... The name Active Adventures truly says it all.
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Active Adventures made it a trip of a lifetime for me.

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
My Rimu trip of December, 2015 exceeded all of my expectations. New Zealand is truly a magical place to visit and seeing and experiencing it with Active Adventures made it a trip of a lifetime for me. Our guides (and driver and cook) Vanessa and Tess were part parent and part coach who saw to every detail, pushing me to accomplish every aspect of the trip in great humor. Coming from someone who loves and lives for the outdoors, I can't say enough great things about Active Adventures.
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Amazing experience!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
It is so, so easy to write a great review of these folks. My wife and I spent two weeks with them in December 2015, and a gang of walkers, kayakers, cyclists (well, we also included rock climbers, but didn't do that on this trip), and wine drinkers. THIS is the way to do the South Island. Vanessa and Tess drove us to gorgeous places without gangs of tourists, cooked real good food, and even played some of my music on the bus/van speakers as we zoomed around the country.

We swam with seals, walked with weird local birds, and intensely hiked up to high country huts. They drove. You don't wanna drive, at least not your first trip. You wanna look.

Steph and I are pretty active. Some of our group were a little less compulsive, so the group split into two for a few days, and half of us packed gear up the big hills, while others paddled. Do let your organizer know how fit you are.

As you know from reading their materials, lodgings are not 5-star, but they are clean and comfortable -- Remember, much of the S Island boonies' infrastructure is the USA in the 1950's. Food is good, sometimes real good. But, again, not 5-star, or you would be on a Nat Geo trip, at twice the price and half the activity, wouldn't you?

Ah yes.....Their coffee each morning was to die for. They bought from a local roaster from Queenstown or CC. And, of course, we never lacked for superb wine.

All those pictures posted on their website: Yep. Real. THAT will be your trip if you hire these folks.

Steph and I are happy to discuss our experiences with Active if you want to email or call us. Just ask the person you are emailing with at the company to give you my email, and we can connect. We live in DC. (They did that for us as we were deciding on how to see the country, and a couple of calls to DC locals who were still in Kiwi withdrawal did the trick for us.)

BTW, for your flight down, Air NZ runs one of the loveliest lounges in the airport world, at LAX. So, if you use your United miles to upgrade to Air NZ biz class lie flat seats, or spring for round trip paid biz class lie flat seat tickets, your vacation will seriously start when you hit that lounge. And, thanks to Qantas, AA and United, airfare prices will be dropping as all these folks compete with Air NZ for your business. In any event, do try to get a good sleep on the way over there, whether you fly direct from N America, or you substantially cut your costs by buying two loops, with Hawaii as your pivot point.
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Adventures created a unique experience

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The word "Amazing" does not do justice to the trip and experience we had with Active Adventures. We are a family that has traveled the world and never used a tour company. Active Adventures created a unique experience that you can't achieve on your own. Extremely knowledgeable guides along with a great travel plan allowed us to have a once in a lifetime experience in New Zealand. We look forward to our next Active Adventure trip.
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So many great experiences

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
We spent our honeymoon in October 2008 traveling through New Zealand on an Active Adventures guided tour. It was an amazing trip! We had a small group and three awesome and experienced guides. The photos from the trip are beautiful! There were so many great experiences that my husband and I still talk about and joke about. For instance, our kayak experience was a hoot! It was calm as could be in the lagoon, and then coming across to get to land we hit a headwind and we paddled and paddled like mad and were getting nowhere together. It was so hilarious we could not stop laughing! We are an active couple, and a social couple and this tour was magnificent. The guides were beyond incredible. They made the trip even better with their fun personalities, positive spirit and wonderful knowledge! A shout out and big thank you to Ken, Tim and Zoe, from Nadine & Bob
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Great Experience

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Best way to see New Zealand! It was great to experience New Zealand through the eyes of our kiwi guides. They know how to make all the little details perfect, and were really knowledgeable about New Zealand nature and history. Take your next trip with Active Adventures!
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Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Standard Group

Trip ID#:

UltNorAct

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