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New Zealand North Island Explorer (ex Auckland)

New Zealand, Oceania

New Zealand North Island Explorer (ex Auckland)

Start: Auckland
End: Christchurch

Experience the best of New Zealand’s spectacular North Island

LocationNew Zealand, Oceania
Duration12 days
Start / EndAuckland / Christchurch
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel

New Zealand, Oceania

New Zealand North Island Explorer (ex Auckland)

12 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: Auckland
End: Christchurch


The South Island may have larger-than-life landscapes, but the North Island has a bit of everything. Discover the best of New Zealand’s North Island – with a taste of the South Island too – on this action-packed and well-rounded Kiwi adventure from Auckland to Christchurch. Soak up the summer vibes in the Bay of Islands with kayaking and stunning short walks; experience Waitomo’s glow worm-ridd...

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Day 1Auckland
Kia-ora! Welcome to New Zealand. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm – ask the hotel reception for the details. As soon as you arrive in this beautiful harbourside town you're surrounded by friendly locals, volcanoes and a strong sense of Maoritanga (the Maori way of life). There is a distinct Pacific flavour to the 'City of Sails' and this can be seen in the streets and the local markets. The waterfront region, built to its current state for the America's Cup sailing challenges, is now a well-frequented local bar and restaurant hub. If you have extra time you can take a day trip to one of the many outer islands in the Hauraki Gulf, hike to one of the 22 nearby volcanoes, or keep it simple with a stroll and a coffee (the lively Ponsonby area is just a short walk away).
Day 2Bay of Islands
Departing Auckland this morning, head north to the beautiful Bay of Islands (approximately 4 hours; 225 kilometres). There's some beautiful scenery along the way, so sit back and enjoy the rolling green hills as your leader explains a bit about this part of New Zealand and what's coming on the journey ahead. There will be stops in small towns so you can stretch your legs and grab a snack. Arriving in Paihia, where we'll spend the night, settle into your accommodation and enjoy the sea breeze. This afternoon is a good time to get to know your fellow travellers – perhaps over one of New Zealand's many renowned white wines or small-batch craft beers. It's also a good time to peruse the list of Bay of Islands optional activities, as there are lots to choose from.
Day 3Bay of Islands
Whether you're kayaking under a waterfall, cruising in search of seabirds, taking photos from stunning lookout points, or exploring historic towns and sites, the Bay of Islands is a delight to explore. Cruising to Roberton Island is a good option – you'll get a sense of the area's rich history from local guides. The Bay of Islands is where the treaty of Waitangi was signed between 500 Maori chiefs and the British Crown, and a trip to the Treaty Grounds to learn more about this is well worth your time. The town of Russell is also a great spot to visit. Russell used to be called the Hellhole of the North; it was a seedy hangout for drunken sailors, back when it was the capital city. Now it's a lovely seaside town full of history and atmosphere (look out for the gigantic Moreton Bay Fig Tree, planted in 1870).
Day 4Waitomo
Embrace an early start as you make your way back down south, to Waitomo. We'll be travelling back through Auckland, crossing the harbour bridge for a fantastic view of the 'City of Sails'. After stopping for lunch in Auckland, continue to Waitomo, where you'll stay right among the hills in a cosy mountain cabin. Waitomo is perhaps most famous for its limestone caves and stunning glow worms. Blackwater rafting in the caves may be possible as early as this evening, and it's an unforgettable experience. If you choose this optional activity, you'll jump into a wetsuit and descend with your local guide into a cave at dusk, then float along an underground stream in an old inflatable tyre tube (your trusty 'raft'). Along the way there are glow worms (which you'll learn more about from the guide) glittering on the walls of the cave. There's plenty of time for a warm shower and a nice meal afterwards. The local pub (just next door to your accommodation) has a great selection of beers and a menu of hearty pub classics; the organic cafe nearby is also a great choice for dinner.
Day 5Rotorua
After spending some more time in Waitomo this morning, head to Rotorua after lunch. In Rotorua we'll see geysers and boiling mud pools in an amazing display of mother earth's power. This all happens at Te Puia, site of the New Zealand Arts and Crafts Institute. The geysers here erupt regularly, and the Maori guides will show you around, explaining the significance of this land to their ancestors. You can view a rare Kiwi bird here and learn more about New Zealand's great efforts to conserve them. This evening there's the option of a traditional Maori Hangi dinner at Mitai Village, a Maori village where a troupe of perormers dazzle with their tribal singining and dancing. Before you leave Rotorua, consider going zip-lining through the nearby virgin native forest. It's a great chance to not only get some thrills from up high out in nature, but learn the ins and outs of local efforts to save the Kiwi bird.
Day 6Taupo - Mt Ruapehu
Head south to Taupo, home of extreme sports on the North Island. On the way we visit the spectacular Huka Falls, a lush stream that cascades powerfully underneath a viewing bridge. This is one for the photographers. In Taupo there's the opportunity to go jet-boating, or simply relax by the world's biggest crater lake. We then drive on to Mt Ruapehu to get ready for our next day's activities. You're situated in the heart of the wilderness up here, in cosy lodgings with a spa and an excellent restaurant on site. It's a nice opportunity to relax before some hiking tomorrow. Those doing the Tongariro Crossing tomorrow will want to get a good rest.
Day 7Mt Ruapehu
There are several options for today, the major one being the Tongariro Crossing. If you'd rather do something less rigorous, however, there are many shorter and easily accessible hikes on offer (see the reception at your lodge for more infomation). Those hiking the Tongariro Crossing – brace yourself for adventure. This is a full day hike and people should have a decent level of fitness to take it on. It's well worth the labour – it's considered NZ´s best one day hike and has fantastic views along the way, with crater lakes and majestic mountain landscapes to admire. It's quite strenuous though, and 20 kilometres long, so it's best to prepare for all kinds of weather and eat a solid breakfast first!
Day 8Wellington
Departing the National Park, we head through the central north island to the capital city, Wellington. With more eateries per capita than New York City, Wellington is a fantastic place for foodies. It's also home to the world-class Te Papa Tongarewa museum, which we'll visit while we're here. As well as stunning Maori artifacts and contemporary art collections, the museum boasts the largest specimen of colossal squid. Captured in 2007, it weighs in around 495 kg. In your free time, perhaps jump in the cable car to the Botanic Gardens for some spectacular views of Wellington city and harbour. Be sure to take a walk down Cuba Street, hip strip of cafes, boutiques and bars that has something for everyone. Notes: Total driving time is around four and a half hours (approximately 330kms).
Day 9Nelson
Today we cross to the South Island on the inter island ferry and enjoy the incredible scenery of the Marlborough Sounds. While the Bay of Islands enjoys its 'Winterless North' tag, it's actually Nelson that enjoys the sunniest weather in all of New Zealand. We have a huge variety of activities to choose from here, including kayaking, boating and sailing around Abel Tasman National Park. Nelson is very picturesque, but also has plenty of great dining options and art galleries, so don't be afraid to kick back and relax if you want to take a break from outdoor activities. Notes: Total driving time is around two hours (approximately 130kms).
Day 10Nelson
Today is a great opportunity to visit Abel Tasman National Park (optional). Its bushwalking tracks, weaving among the gorgeous inlets and coves, are just begging to be explored, and a ride in a water taxi is a must-do. Have plenty of space left on your memory card, because the photo opportunities are many. Abel Tasman National Park is actually New Zealand's smallest national park, but that's one of the great things about it. It's easy to relax on the beach, go kayaking among the seabirds (gannets, blue penguins, cormorants), or dive straight into a brisk walk in the forest. There's an interesting old Maori fortress to visit also.
Day 11Kaikoura
Leaving Nelson, head for the beautiful coastline of Kaikoura where many adventures await. Perhaps best of all is the whale and dolphin watching. For many travellers this will be a highlight of the trip, and the chances of making sightings are quite high. Also keep an eye out for petrels, New Zealand fur seals, and dolphins. Other optional activities include swimming with dolphins, fishing, and albatross-viewing tours. If you want to really take the adventure up a notch, scenic flights are also possible. In the evening, consider trying the excellent local seafood, such as crayfish. After all, you're in the town named after it ('kai' means food and 'koura' means crayfish). Notes: Total driving time is around four hours (approximately 240kms).
Day 12Christchurch
Travel on to Christchurch, where the adventure finishes at approximately 6 pm. Notes: Total driving time is around three hours (approximately 160kms).

More info

Trip title

New Zealand North Island Explorer (ex Auckland)

Trip code



Validity: 01 Jan 2018 to 30 Jun 2019


The South Island may have larger-than-life landscapes, but the North Island has a bit of everything. Discover the best of New Zealand’s North Island – with a taste of the South Island too – on this action-packed and well-rounded Kiwi adventure from Auckland to Christchurch. Soak up the summer vibes in the Bay of Islands with kayaking and stunning short walks; experience Waitomo’s glow worm-riddled... Read more







Physical Rating


Joining point

Kiwi International Hotel

Joining point description

The Kiwi International Hotel is located right in the heart of Auckland City with a 24hr reception and is located very close to the airport bus stop. Facilities include free luggage storage, wireless internet, TV lounge and guest laundry.

Joining point instructions

Auckland International Airport is approx 23km to the city centre. Transfers are available with Airbus and Super Shuttle.

Finish point

Breakfree Christchurch

Finish point description

This innovative and stylish hotel has a unique urban feel throughout with the level of integrated technology. Featuring Samsung Smart TV technology with screen mirroring, wireless keyboards and free WiFi This Christchurch accommodation is located in the heart of the CBD near Manchester and Hereford Streets, around 500 metres from ‘Container City’ (Re:START Mall) – the perfect location to stroll t... Read more

Important information

1. Tour commences in Auckland with group meeting on day 1 at 6:00pm and finishes on arrival in Christchurch on day 12 at approx 6PM. Please take this into consideration when booking any onward flights. We recommend you book accommodation in advance and extend your stay. 2. A single supplement is available on this trip.

Group leader

All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. In New Zealand your group leader is also your driver, taking you from start to finish in a coaster vehicle. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Our crew are chosen for their driving skills, their knowledge of the country, their personality, and of cou... Read more


Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and upd... Read more


Wireless (wi-fi) is common across accommodation in New Zealand. Some properties may charge a fee for use.  Cafe's and pubs across NZ may have wi-fi for a fee, with those in more tourist area's offering it for free. Shopping centre's, airports and other public spaces offer limited free wi-fi access.   If you are spending longer in New Zealand, it might be a good idea to purchase a local SIM card ... Read more


Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with ... Read more

Why we love it

Discover Waitomo's incredible limestone cave system, with night walks to see the glow worms – or better yet, some underground black-water rafting

Is this trip right for you

The Tongariro Crossing is not an easy hike, so be prepared! It’s 20 kilometres long, and especially challenging in the wet. But it’s the best hike in the whole country, which is saying a lot in a country like New Zealand! So rest assured it’s worth the effort. Accommodation on this trip isn't luxurious, but it's comfortable enough for you to relax after a day of adventure. There are more optiona... Read more


Our trips require a level of independence and physical endurance. Before embarking on one of our trips, it is important to consider your physical and mental health and your suitability for the trip. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor about your current health and the possible implications of doing the trip. We also ask that you advise us of any mental or physical conditions you h... Read more

Food and dietary requirements

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price.... Read more

Money matters

The currency of New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar (NZD). US$1 = NZ$1.42 (rate current for March 2017). For the latest exchange rate refer to or check at your local bank or in the newspaper prior to travel. The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). This allows you to draw funds from your personal account at a superior exchange... Read more

What to take

ESSENTIALS: Layers! New Zealand has relaxed attitudes to standards of dress however there are a few practical considerations. New Zealand has a temperate climate but be prepared for colder temperatures (occasionally snow) even in summer months. Bring a waterproof jacket. The sunshine in New Zealand is harsh and a sunhat and sunglasses are a must. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from... Read more

Climate and seasonal

FLEXIBLE ITINERARY: Our routes have been carefully chosen to include the best night stops and highlights. However, as road conditions, weather, local restrictions and group input may vary, no two trips will ever be the same. With the help of your tour leader and fellow travellers you may modify certain nightstops and highlights to give a truly unique experience! The average New Zealand temperatur... Read more

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol... Read more


Emergency contact

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency only, Trek Tracks can be reached on Tel: +64 (0) 7 377 8015 or +64 (0) 277678675. For further contact details please use the following page: For general contact details please use the following page: While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel an... Read more

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed mo... Read more

Accommodation notes

Our accommodation in New Zealand are a mix of Motels, Hotels, Ski lodges and backpacker lodges which have a friendly festive atmosphere and good facilities. All bedding is included.  Accommodation is on a twin share basis, and single travellers are paired with someone of the same sex. On rare occasions there may be triple rooms. Single supplement room upgrades can be requested at the time of book... Read more

Transport notes

You will be travelling in a coaster vehicle specially designed for local conditions.

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weat... Read more


Lodge (11 nts)
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