The walking holiday of a lifetime!
Explore the very best of the North Island’s diverse and visually spectacular regions in comfort and style. From the majestic mountains of Tongariro, to the lush forests of Waikaremoana, to the dramatic coastlines of Coromandel. Be awed by the scenery, and spoilt by delightful accommodation, meals and wine – It doesn’t get any better than this!
7-12 Day Tour
12 days / 11 nights
An average level of fitness. Walk 12kms, Bike 25kms. Well formed tracks and roads with average incline.
Generally the Bucket List Walk departs once a fortnight on Monday's from November to April, however we may be able to run this trip on other start dates. Just contact us!
Arrive, Hike Waiomu Kauri Grove
3 - 4 hours
We will pick you up in either Rotorua or Matamata.
Warm up with a 4km hike to the top of Wairere Falls, the North Island’s highest waterfall, and view the verdant Waikato basin from two lookouts over- hanging 90 metres of thunderous waterfall.
We continue north to explore the Waiomu Kauri Grove – this little known trail heads deep into a protected ecological reserve scattered with magnificent 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 our lovely accommodation, and watch the sunset from the verandah with a glass of wine or ice cold brew.
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.
6 - 7 hours
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.
2 - 4 hours
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.
Waikaremoana Lake Lodge
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.
3 - 7 hours
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)
3 - 5 hours
Waikaremoana Lake Lodgege
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.
Lake Waikaremoana to Rotorua
Today we 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, some gorgeous native forest, and spectacular vistas across the lake.
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.
Rest Day, travel to Tongariro
The Chateau Tongariro
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.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
7 - 8 hours
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.
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
Tongariro National Park
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!
A variety of boutique and character lodges & hotels, from 2-4 star, have been chosen for location & atmosphere. Rooms are twin-share with good beds & linen. The Coromandel and Waikaremoana lodges have share bathrooms, while your 3 nights in Tongariro will be in an ensuite room. All the lodges are in picturesque settings.
In addition the trip includes 2 nights in a studio room at a 4.5 star Hotel in Rotorua.
All dinners are included: 2-course Kiwi style meals, with plenty of fresh vegetables, salads, and dessert.
We provide wine with pre-dinner nibbles; you can purchase extra drinks during dinner.
Breakfasts have cooked and continental options, and packed lunches are made fresh daily.
We also provide plenty of snacks on the trail.
The trip also includes 2 breakfasts while you are staying at the Rotorua hotel, and dinner (excluding drinks) in one of Rotorua’s top fine-dining restaurants.
Our guides are very experienced, friendly walkers and bikers who love to share their knowledge of New Zealand’s flora and fauna and local history. They all hold current first aid certificates, passenger driving licences and are the very best people to ensure your experience will be one to remember.
To ensure maximum safety for all, our guides are certified first aiders and fully qualified drivers. Tuatara Tours operate under a Safety and Risk Management Plan which is regularly audited and approved by a qualified and independent auditor.