DAY ONE – Matamata / Rotorua to Coromandel
We’ll pick you up from Rotorua at approx. 8:30am, or Matamata at 9:30am. Warm up with a 4km hike to the top of Wairere Falls, and view the verdant Waikato basin from two lookouts over hanging 90 metres of thunderous waterfall.
As we continue north, enjoy views out over the mussel farms of the Hauraki Gulf from one of New Zealand’s classic coastal drives, the Coromandel west coast. Make a brief stop at Waiomu for refreshments before exploring the Waiomu Kauri Grove - this little known trail heads deep into a protected ecological reserve scattered with majestic Kauri trees – New Zealand’s very own forest giants that grow up to 50 metres tall. Drive further up the Coromandel Peninsula in the late afternoon to reach your lovely accommodation, and watch the sunset from the verandah with a glass of wine or ice cold brew.
Accommodation: Coromandel Lodge - (L,D) Hiking time: 3-4 hours
DAY TWO – The Legendary Coromandel Coastal Walkway
If there’s one hike in New Zealand that has it all, it’s this one – the incredible Coromandel Coastal Walkway. After a short drive north from Coromandel township we’ll arrive at the trail head and begin our hike at Stony Bay, a picture perfect isolated beach flanked by green hills and white sand. This historic trail follows an old bridle path once used by gold miners who populated the Coromandel region in colonial times. Tracing the north eastern tip of the Coromandel Peninsula, we walk through native bush and over high cliff tops with views of Great Barrier Island, Cuvier Island and the Mercury Islands.
We’ll have a picnic lunch at beautiful Poley Bay (a great spot for a swim if you’re keen!) before returning to Stony Bay.
Accommodation: Coromandel Lodge - (B,L,D) Hiking time: 6 hours
DAY THREE – The Pinnacles
After a delicious fresh breakfast we head south to the start of the Kauaeranga Kauri Trail, also known as The Pinnacles. We’ll make our way up through kauri, rimu and kahikatea forests to the Pinnacles that are perched high above the forest canopy. The 360 degree views of bush, mountains and 2 coastlines are simply off the charts, and well worth the effort up the steep trail – don’t forget your camera! The Kauaeranga Valley is home to forest bird such as tui, bellbird, tomtit, grey warbler, shining cuckoo, north island brown kiwi and kaka, so keep your eyes peeled here as many of them are frequent visitors on the trail.
If the Pinnacles isn’t your style and you would prefer a more relaxing day you have the option of staying in and exploring Coromandel Township. Highlights include the Driving Creek Railway, local artisan workshops, short walks, cafes, and culture. Take the time to relax in paradise.
A fabulous day is topped off with a celebratory meal at one of Coromandel town’s fine restaurants.
Accommodation: Coromandel Lodgel- (B,L,D) Hiking time: 6-7 hours.
DAY FOUR – Epic East Coast
Travel east around the Peninsula towards Whitianga. Hike to the golden sand beaches and azure green waters of one of the top 20 best beaches in the world, New Chums Beach. Relax and absorb the natural beauty amidst the bird and marine life that thrives within this precious ecosystem.
Enjoy a short, scenic ferry ride across the Whitianga harbour and a relaxing stroll up to Shakespeares Cliff overlooking Mercury Bay and the beach where Cook first set foot on kiwi soil. Stop for a refreshing lunch looking out over the marine reserve and take the well-graded track down to the iconic Cathedral Cove, a natural volcanic archway - a must-see of the Coromandel!
Continuing around the east coast we’ll complete a loop of the Coromandel Peninsula, then drop you at a 4.5 star Hotel in Rotorua, where you can enjoy dinner in their restaurant.
Accommodation: Rotorua Hotel - (B,L,D) Hiking time: 2-3 hours
DAY FIVE – Whirinaki Forest
After a cooked breakfast at your Rotorua Hotel we’ll pick you up and head east, past Mount Tarawera and into the heart of Te Urewera National Park. Our first stop is the Whirinaki Forest, where we’ll walk through one of New Zealand’s most pristine Podocarp forests with towering trees including giant totara, kahikatea, rimu and matai. Keep an eye out for kaka (a large forest parrot) & whio (blue duck) along the way. This hiking trail also skirts the moss-lined Whirinaki River canyon and waterfall – one of the most picturesque rivers in New Zealand. Don’t forget your camera!
We then journey deeper into the remote National Park to reach Lake Waikaremoana, where we’ll settle in at our cozy lodge with pre-dinner drinks and nibbles on the lake shore.
Accommodation: Waikaremoana Lake Lodge - (B,L,D) Hiking time: 3-4 hours.
DAY SIX – Panekire Bluffs
This morning we’ll hike to the spectacular Panekire Bluffs that are a highlight of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. As we climb higher we’ll see the lush podocarp forest change into cloud forest with trees covered in eerie hanging moss. Arriving at the Panekire Bluffs, we’ll be greeted with jaw-dropping views over Lake Waikaremoana and Te Urewera National Park. There are not many better places in the world to sit back, relax and have lunch! If you’re looking for a challenge, there’s an option to continue hiking higher for a further 2 hours to reach the highest point of the Great Walk track to get views over not only the Lake, but out to the Pacific Coast.
Before dinner we’ll visit a local marae for an informal chat with a Maori elder. This is a great opportunity to get a real feel for the culture in this isolated area, where Maori is still the first language. (note the marae visit may not be possible if the marae is being used by the local community)
Accommodation: Waikaremoana Lake Lodge - (B,L,D) Hiking time: 3-7 hours.
DAY SEVEN – Lake Waikareiti
This morning we explore a very special area - the pristine Lake Waikareiti, which lies a further 300 metres in elevation above Lake Waikaremoana. Free of aquatic weeds and motorised boats, this picture perfect lake has astonishingly clear water and is blissfully peaceful! The Department of Conservation have worked tirelessly for years to eradicate this area of introduced predators, allowing native birds here to thrive!
Later, we’ll return to Waikaremoana where there’s an option to walk to a dazzling fresh-water spring, or a walk through dense fern forest to explore the Onepoto Caves.
Accommodation: Waikaremoana Lake Lodge - (B,L,D) Hiking time: 3-5 hours.
DAY EIGHT – Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk
After breakfast we depart the lodge and take a boat cruise right across Lake Waikaremoana to walk another section of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk Track. This stunning forest and lakeside trail traverses from a secluded arm of the lake across a peninsula, home to a Kiwi Recovery Program and some gorgeous native forest. After a lakeside picnic lunch we return to Rotorua, stopping for a soak in an amazing natural hot spring under a canopy of native trees.
Tonight you will dine in one of Rotorua’s finest restaurants.
Accommodation: Rotorua Hotel - (B,L,D) Hiking time: 2-4 hours
DAY NINE – Rest Day, Arrive Central Plateau
This morning you have free time to explore Rotorua, or sleep in! There’s no shortage of adventurous or relaxing activities in this town. From indulging in a spa treatment to ziplining high above native forest there’s a little something for everyone here.
At 1:30pm we’ll pick you up from your Rotorua Hotel and head south through the North Island’s heartland of geothermal activity, passing Lake Taupo. Become acquainted with the area and your guide with a short walk, before settling in to your stunning accommodation in time to watch the sun set over the magnificent Tongariro volcanoes with a glass of wine and nibbles, before a delicious restaurant meal..
Accommodation: The Chateau Tongariro - (B,D)
DAY TEN – The Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Today we embark upon one of the world’s greatest one day hikes, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This trail passes between two active volcanoes – Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe. The scenery is ever-changing and features stunning lava fields, emerald blue lakes, waterfalls, steaming vents and meadows of alpine tussock – there’s nowhere else like it on the planet! The views across to Mt Ruapehu and the central plateau of the North Island are truly spectacular and worth every step!
At the end of our Crossing we’ll toast our achievement with a glass of bubbly, before returning to The Chateau for a dip in the hot pool, followed by dinner at a local pub.
Accommodation: The Chateau Tongariro - (B,L,D) Hiking time: 7-8 hours.
DAY ELEVEN – Mt Ruapehu Hikes
Travel around the southern side of Mt Ruapehu to experience some of New Zealand’s rail history on the Old Coach Road trail. Between 1906 to 1908 the road was used to carry passengers and goods by horse and coach, between two railheads on the main trunk line.
Heritage features on the trail include a unique cobbled road, massive steel viaducts, a curved tunnel, railway bridge remains, and old campsites. The 15km walk takes around 5 hours, and also passes through some beautiful stands of native forest with sweeping views across the district.
If conditions allow we will explore the dramatic, rock-strewn landscapes higher up Mt Ruapehu. At 2797 metres above sea level, the North Island’s highest mountain offers jaw-dropping views over the National Park with various hiking options or catch a chair-lift up to NZ’s highest café. Tonight we enjoy a final celebration dinner in The Chateau’s elegant Ruapehu Restaurant.
Accommodation: The Chateau Tongariro - (B,L,D) Hiking time: approx. 5 hours
DAY TWELVE – Rainforest & Waterfalls
Today we explore the lower flanks of Mt Ruapehu with a walk from Whakapapa Village through alpine meadows and pretty beech forest to Taranaki Falls. Tumbling 20 metres over the edge of an old lava flow, this waterfall packs a real punch, sending spray right across the boulder-ringed pool at the bottom. If you’re game, it’s possible to walk all the way around behind the curtain of the waterfall - time to put a jacket on!
After lunch, we’ll begin the short journey north to Taupo and on to Rotorua. You can choose to be dropped off in Taupo or Rotorua, or National Park if you are travelling further south. Either way, you’ll be forever changed after the awesome hikes and great times you’ll have had with us in the North Island!
Hiking time: 3-4 hours - (B,L)
Please note this itinerary may be modified. We like to keep the trip flexible to make the most of weather and alpine conditions, and so we can tailor the trip to suit the group. To maximise your experience and minimise drive times the guide may shuttle the vehicle, so some sections of trail may be walked without a guide. If this does occur your guide will ensure you are well-prepared for this. If you have any questions or concerns during the trip please discuss them with your guide – they are there to help you have the most enjoyable experience possible!
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