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Total Aotearoa - 23 Days

Reisroute

Total Aotearoa - 23 Days

Day 1: Auckland - Hot Water Beach

Pickup location: 31 Wellesley Street West, 07:45
We leave Auckland at 08:00 and drive south towards the Coromandel Peninsula. The Coromandel as locals call it, is a popular holiday spot for us Kiwi’s and it's not hard to see why. With stunning white sandy beaches, dense fern forests and a rich history of both Maori and European settlement, the Coromandel Peninsula is the perfect place to start your trip! We’ll stop for lunch in the seaside town of Tairua before continuing on to Hahei Beach - the gateway to Cathedral Cove. You can either go for a walk along the coastline or take to the water on one of the best sea kayak activities in the country. Cathedral Cove has a limestone archway that featured as the gateway to Narnia in the movie 'Prince Caspian' and is a great place to take a dip in the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean. Our camp this evening is very close to another iconic location, Hot Water Beach, so named because there is a unique geothermal reservoir of hot water under the sand. At low tide, we’ll grab our shovels and head down to dig our very own hot pools in the sand - the perfect way to start off our adventure!!

Meals included: Dinner
Walks: Stunning coastal walk with views over the Pacific
Bike rides: 8km scenic road cycling
Activities (own cost): Sea kayaking, Hahei Explorer

Day 2: Hot Water Beach - Rotorua

This morning after breakfast, we'll drive down to the historic gold mining town of Waihi, home to an awesome beach and 'Martha's Mine', an actual working gold mine. Afterwards, we’ll continue on our journey to Rotorua, a geothermal wonderland! There are heaps of optional activities in Rotorua and something for everyone. If you’re interested in adventure, go for the award winning Canopy Tours eco zipline tour, or go white water rafting down the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall. If you’d prefer to relax, go for a healing soak at the Polynesia spa, or if you’d like to explore the natural geothermal features of the area, there's plenty of walks where you can see the activity for free. For a cultural immersion experience, we recommend heading to the incredible Mitai Maori Village where you'll learn about Maori culture, experience the breathtaking Haka and feast on a traditional Hangi meal. There’s a lot to pack into one day but we promise it will leave you wanting more!

There’s a lot to pack into one day but we promise it’ll leave you wanting more!
Meals included: Breakfast & lunch
Walks: Stroll through towering, ancient forests & unique thermal landscapes
Bike rides: Whakarewarewa Forest Loop (33 km)
Activities (own cost): Mitai Maori Village, Polynesia Spa, Zipline Canopy Tour, Kaitiaki Rafting, Te Puia

Day 3: Rotorua - National Park

We begin the day with a drive to visit a natural hot spring, wake up with a nice soak in the geothermally heated water and listen to the calming sounds of nature - the perfect way to start the day! Our next stop on the way into Taupo is the mighty Huka Falls, an impressive waterfall found along the Waikato river. This is also our drop off point for those wanting to go white water rafting or skydiving! If you’re not doing these activities there's a great walk or a bike ride into the city along the river's edge - be sure to stop off at the natural hot spring along the way or get an adrenaline buzz from the Taupo bungy which is conveniently located on your way into town. You’ll have some time in Taupo to grab some lunch and check out New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo, before we make our way to Tongariro National Park, where we’ll be spending the night.

Meals included: Breakfast & dinner
Walks: Walks of various distances past dramatic waterfalls and around Lake Taupo
Bike rides: Waikato River MTB Trail Huka Falls 6.4km, cycle on the lakefront - up to 10km
Activities (own cost): Skydiving, bungy, giant swing

Day 4: National Park - Kapiti Coast

Voted one of the best day hikes in the world, today's 19.4km walk takes in some of New Zealand’s most impressive and diverse landscapes. The challenging Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike covers a small section of the country’s oldest national park and dual UNESCO world heritage area, the Tongariro National Park. On a fine day you’ll be able to see Mt Ruapehu, the North Island's highest peak which stands at a towering 2797 metres. You'll also be able to see Mt Ngauruhoe, which featured in Lord of the Rings as Mount Doom. If you'd prefer not to do this hike, your Guide will take you to see some lesser known but equally stunning views and offer up some cycle options for our bikers. When everyone is back together after the hike we'll start making our way to our camp, situated along the Kapiti Coast.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Walks: Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro river track
Bike rides: Fishers track
Activities (own cost): Tongariro Alpine Crossing (transfer fee only), Mini Gold, Rock Climbing

Day 5: Kapiti Coast - Wellington - Picton

This morning it's a short drive to Wellington, the capital of New Zealand! We'll arrive before 09:00 giving you most of the day to explore. We recommend checking out the exhibits at the famous Te Papa Museum, getting some Lord of the Rings behind the scenes insight at Weta Workshop or take the iconic red cable car up to the Botanical Gardens. The capital also boasts a thriving café culture, as Wellington is renowned for serving NZ's best cup of coffee. Later on we’ll be travelling across the Cook Strait by ferry to the South Island. The journey takes around 3 hours and travels through the incredibly scenic Marlborough Sounds. The rolling green hills coupled with the deep blue waters make for a magical sight, especially on a clear day. If you can, make your way outside and try to spot dolphins playing in the sounds. As camping isn’t possible, we'll stay at a great hostel in Picton..

Meals included: Breakfast
Accommodation: Dorm bed
Activities (own cost): Te Papa National Museum of NZ (free), Weta Workshop, Cable car

Day 6: Picton - Kaikoura

This morning we'll depart Picton and travel through the Marlborough region towards the coast where we’ll see amazing views of the Pacific Ocean and mountains in the distance. We’ll make a stop for lunch along this stretch of coastline and try to spot the native Fur Seals that often relax on the rocks in front of the ocean.

When we arrive in Kaikoura, there are some great optional activities that all involve the ocean! Go whale watching, sea kayaking or fishing, or if you’d prefer to stay on dry land, there’s a great walk around the peninsula or you can hop on your bike and take in the views on two wheels. Our camp tonight is down at the beach and we’ll be preparing a fresh seafood meal, perfect for Kaikoura (unless of course you don't eat seafood, in which case we'll prepare something equally delicious for you).

Meals included: Breakfast & dinner
Walks: Kaikoura peninsula walk
Activities (own cost): Whale watching by boat or by plane, deep sea fishing

Day 7: Kaikoura - Christchurch

This morning you'll have the opportunity to take part in one of the most popular activities in New Zealand: swimming with dusky dolphins! It’s an early start but it’s a great way to begin your day from the epic sunrise to getting to spend time with wild dolphins - this is the kind of once in a lifetime experience you won't soon forget. For those of us who aren't swimming, we’ll have a leisurely breakfast and the chance to explore Kaikoura before heading south to Christchurch.

Christchurch is one of New Zealand’s most famous destinations, and there is so much to see and explore. Still on the mend after two major earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, you can see evidence of rebuilding happening all over the city. With the chance to rebuild, comes new opportunities and Christchurch has
seized the opportunity to become NZ’s coolest city, rivalling Wellington in terms of laneway bars and amazing eateries. Christchurch is also known locally as the Garden City, thanks to the vast Hagley park and the Avon River which runs through it. Jump on a scooter or take the tourist tram and explore that
Christchurch has to offer this afternoon. This evening, we’ll be staying in some great accommodation just outside the city centre.

Meals included: Breakfast & dinner
Walks: Take an early walk around our coastal camp
Bike rides: Hagley Park Bike Ride
Activities (own cost): Dolphin swimming, dolphin viewing
Accommodation: Dorm

Day 8: Christchurch - Lake Tekapo

This morning, we’ll wake up after a great night’s sleep and hit the road towards arguably the most beautiful part of the South Island. We’ll take an incredibly scenic journey to the breathtaking Lake Tekapo, where you will see the most spectacular turquoise waters which get their colour from the glacial flour brought down from the rivers flowing from glaciers high up in the mountains. Today, go for a hike, a bike ride, or just relax at camp. If you’d like to see some if the amazing sights of Tekapo from the skies, go for an epic scenic flight this afternoon, and this evening, you can go for a soak in the nearby hot pools or enjoy some world famous star gazing at the Mt John Observatory - you are staying in an International Dark Sky Reserve, after all!

Meals included: Breakfast & lunch
Walks: Mt John walkway
Bike rides: Lake Tekapo Regional Park
Activities (own cost): Scenic Flight, Tekapo Hot Pools, Star Gazing

Day 9: Lake Tekapo - Mt Cook - Moeraki Village

Today you get to immerse yourself in the snow-capped mountain scenery that New Zealand is famous for. This morning we’ll explore the spectacular Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. We’ll hike to the base of NZ’s highest mountain following a trail up the Hooker valley where you’ll cross swing bridges and experience stunning views of the mountains before finishing up at a glacial lake with some awe inspiring views of the Hooker Valley glacier - trust us, you’ll want to bring your camera for this! Next, we’ll travel back towards the Pacific coast and make a quick stop in the historic town of Oamaru before getting to the small village of Moeraki, where we’ll camp for the night. Go for a walk this evening to a great view point offering expansive views of the Pacific Ocean and try to spot a little Blue Penguin along the shore.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Walks: To the base of Mount Cook & Hooker Valley, explore the Moeraki Heritage Trail
Bike rides: 13km Alps2Ocean trail ride

Day 10: Moeraki Village - Dunedin

If the tide is low this morning, we’ll go for a walk along the beach to see the mysterious Moeraki boulders. These perfectly round spheres of rock have formed over millions of years and have found their way onto the beach near Moeraki and make for some fun photo opportunities. Afterwards it’s onto the historic Scottish city of Dunedin, the South Island's second-largest city and home to NZ’s only castle. Dunedin is home to the world’s steepest residential street and the coastline is home to some fantastic and rare wildlife. Take a tour onto the Otago Peninsula to view some of the diverse wildlife which includes Albatross and Fur Seals, or for the adventurous, why not try surfing at one of Dunedin’s best breaks! Our camp is a short distance from St. Kilda beach with a variety of restaurants close by to choose from.

Meals included: Breakfast
Walks: World’s steepest street, explore Dunedin city
Bike rides: West harbour cycle trail (11 km)
Activities (own cost): Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour, Otago Early Settlers Museum

Day 11: Dunedin - Fiordland National Park

Today is one of our longer travel days as we drive through some of New Zealand’s most dramatic natural scenery on our way to Fiordland. Make sure you have some snacks, and that all your devices are fully charged, particularly your camera! Large parts of the landscape along the drive today have been carved out over thousands of years, leaving stunning paths weaving through snow-capped mountains. Tonight’s camp is on the lakeside in Te Anau. The bikers can go for a ride on the lake to lake Te Anau trail and the rest of us can enjoy a leisurely walk along the lakefront or head up to the Te Anau Bird Sanctuary where we can see the endangered native Takahē. If you’d like to do an activity, we recommend the incredible glowworm caves tour and boat ride.

Meals included: Breakfast & dinner
Walks: Plenty of short walks from camp
Bike rides: Lake to Lake Te Anau trail, lakefront Te Anau trail (5 km)
Activities (own cost): Te Anau glowworm caves tour & boat ride

Day 12: Te Anau - Milford Sound - Te Anau

Today we’ll travel along one of the world’s most scenic roads and into Milford Sound! Described as the 'Eighth Wonder of the World', Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. We highly recommend boarding a cruise, where you'll see dramatic waterfalls and snow-capped peaks and if you’re
lucky, some wildlife! At different times of year, penguins, dolphins, seals and even whales have been spotted at Milford. As it’s just the one road in and out, we head back along the same breath-taking route to our lakeside camp in Te Anau. Along the way, we drop off those doing the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand’s 9 Great Walks. This hike is a haven for native birdlife. Charge up your camera as this hike offers everything from mountainous peaks and sheer rock faces to pristine lakes, cascading waterfalls and dense, luxuriant forest.

Meals included: Breakfast & lunch
Walks: Routeburn Track (must be pre-booked and hikers will rejoin the group in Queenstown)
Activities (own cost): Milford Sound Cruise, Te Anau glowworm caves tour & boat ride

Day 13: Te Anau - Queenstown

After breakfast this morning, we’ll make our way to Queenstown, the adventure capital of NZ that sits along the shores of the photogenic Lake Wakatipu. There’s a huge selection of activities to choose from here, from an adrenaline pumping bungy, canyon swing and skydive to a relaxing steam boat cruise or gondola ride - this place has it all. There are great tracks around the lake ideal for bikers and hikers and all with wonderful views of this alpine region. Camping isn’t feasible in this bustling alpine village, for the next two nights we stay in dorm-share accommodation in a centrally located hostel. Perfect for making the most of all Queenstown has to offer!

Meals included: Breakfast
Walks: Queenstown walks, Queenstown hill
Activities (own cost): Too many to list - something for everyone (check out Flying Kiwi's website or ask them for details)

Day 14: Queenstown

With so much to do we’ll spend another full day in the fantastic Queenstown, so everyone has the opportunity to have those once in a lifetime experiences. Speaking of experiences, may we suggest trying the legendary Fergburger! For those on the Routeburn Track, you will rejoin the group here today and this evening you’ll be able to experience everything this vibrant resort town has to offer. Tonight, we dine out at one of Queenstown’s many delicious eateries - a great chance for your group to enjoy a feast at an iconic Queenstown eatery (own cost).

Meals included: Breakfast
Walks: Queenstown walks, Ben Lomond
Bike rides: Lake Wakatipu trail (16km), Queenstown trail (48 km)
Activities (own cost): Too many to list - something for everyone (check out Flying Kiwi's website or ask them for details)

Day 15: Queenstown - Lake Wanaka

This is our final morning in Queenstown and your last chance to indulge in one more activity before we wave farewell to those finishing their tour and welcome new travellers joining us here. Leaving at 14:30, after the thrills and spills of Queenstown we’ll travel past mountains and on towards stunning glacial lakes and calmer shores.

On the final stretch to camp we’ll get views of Mt Aspiring National Park in the distance. Lake Wanaka is just over the next ridge and it’s on the edge of this glacial lake that we find our next wilderness camp. Enjoy great views of Lake Wanaka and the mountains beyond as we absorb the beauty of the area.

Meals included: Breakfast & dinner
Walks: Multiple walking options
Bike rides: Hawea River Track (12 km)
Activities (own cost): Too many to list - something for everyone (check out Flying Kiwi's website or ask them for details)

Day 16: Lake Wanaka - Glacier Country

We’ll enjoy a relaxed morning at our lakeside camp and then we’re continuing north through Mt Aspiring National Park. Just before we reach the West Coast, we’ll stop for a walk to the amazing Blue Pools, before heading through the dramatic Haast Pass, on roads woven over braided rivers and huge glacier carved valleys. There are two more great walk options along the way, one through lush and ancient forests and the other through swampy vegetation, ending on the beach where it’s possible to spot Hector dolphins. Tonight, we’ll stay beside the beautiful Lake Paringa, enjoying a true West Coast wilderness experience.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch & dinner
Walks: Blue Pools, Ship Creek
Bike rides: Knights Point lookout to Lake Paringa 25km

Day 17: Glacier Country - Okarito

Today is your chance to explore one of NZ’s most unique and spectacular natural wonders - the Franz Josef Glacier. This staggeringly beautiful work of nature descends from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres above sea level. To get on the ice you must go up by helicopter but it’s possible to view the glacier via a stunning walk through the main valley. We also recommend taking a walk to Peter’s Pool for another incredibly scenic view. Before arriving at Franz Josef, we’ll take a highly recommended walk around Lake Matheson where crystal clear reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman make the perfect photo opportunity. Late afternoon, we have a short drive up the coast to our beautiful beachside campsite next to the Okarito lagoon - one of the very few places where there are still rare sightings of our native kiwi bird and the home to NZ’s only colony of the White Heron (kotuku). Enjoy a fire down on the beach taking in the rugged coast and epic mountain views.

Meals included: Breakfast & dinner
Walks: Hike around Lake Matheson, Te Ara a Waiau walkway
Bike rides: Te Ara a Waiau cycleway, Okarito road ride (10 km)
Activities (own cost): Guided Heli-Hike, guided kayak or SUP tour, West Coast Wildlife Centre, skydiving

Day 18: Okarito - Punakaiki

Enjoy an early morning walk, with a view of the sunrise over the Southern Alps as a reward before we board the bus and continue up this spectacular coastal road to the quirky town of Hokitika, home of the Greenstone and a great place to pick up a traditional souvenir. Passing through Greymouth we’ll keep following the coast to Punakaiki where you’ll notice a change in the landscape as huge limestone cliffs appear and Nikau Palm trees become abundant.

Our beach camp for tonight offers great sunsets, a beautiful river and incredible views of Paparoa National Park. The pancake rocks and blowholes are the main attraction in Punakaiki where limestone rocks are stacked on top of each other and ocean swells are forced through gaps in the rock creating a whale’s blowhole effect. This evening, explore a cavern with some glow worms hanging out in the dark and then enjoy a beverage at the local tavern.

Meals included: Breakfast & dinner
Walks: Sunrise Okarito Trig Walk
Bike rides: West Coast Wilderness Trail (14 km), Bullock Creek trail (15 km)
Activities (own cost): Punakaiki pancake rocks & blowholes (free)

Day 19: Punakaiki - Abel Tasman National Park

Before leaving Punakaiki we’ll take some time to explore part of the Paparoa National Park, walking along the Pororari river or cycling up Bullock Creek Road to visit a cave resurgence. Leaving mid-morning we’ll travel inland through the majestic Buller gorge and onto the famous Abel Tasman National Park. Situated in one of the sunniest areas of the country and home to heaps of beautiful secluded bays and stunning golden sand beaches. We look forward to spending 2 nights at our perfectly located camp, close to the park entrance which makes it the ideal place to explore all corners of the stunning Abel Tasman.

Meals included: Breakfast & dinner
Walks: Truman track
Bike rides: Coastal ride to camp and Kaiteriteri bike park, Great Taste Trail
Activities (own cost): Skydiving

Day 20: Abel Tasman National Park

Take time today to explore arguably the best beaches and clearest waters in New Zealand - there are excellent options for everyone here. You can walk, sail or kayak around the numerous golden bays and dive into the crystal-clear waters along the way. There will be plenty of chances for wildlife spotting (dolphins, seals and even Orcas!) and for those seeking a thrill, join the one in a lifetime canyoning experience!

Meals included: Breakfast & dinner
Walks: Abel Tasman National Park track
Bike rides: Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park
Activities (own cost): Kayaking, canyoning, sailing, water taxi / walk

Day 21: Abel Tasman National Park - Wellington

Today we’re heading back to the North Island, but first we’ll take a trip to sunny Nelson. In addition to being one of the sunniest areas of NZ, Nelson is home to more than 350 working artists and craftspeople creating traditional, contemporary and Maori arts and it's a wonderful place to live! Relax and enjoy the sunshine and café culture before we depart for wine country - Marlborough, home to some of the World’s best known grapes and where we’ll treat you to a free tasting in one of their best vineyards. Finish this fantastic day with a scenic ferry back through the Marlborough sounds to Wellington - our base for the evening. Camping isn’t feasible in the heart of the nation’s capital so we’ll be staying in a great hostel giving you the best access to explore.

Meals included: Breakfast
Accommodation: Dorm bed
Activities (included): Ferry back to Wellington

Day 22: Wellington - New Plymouth

This morning we recommend going for a leisurely breakfast by the waterfront and getting some last looks at the beautiful city before we hit the road. Today, we’re travelling up the scenic Kapiti Coast to the Taranaki region - home to wonderful beaches, crashing waves and the spectacular Mount Taranaki - a perfectly formed snow-capped peak. In Maori legend, Taranaki fell in love with the beautiful Pihanga, but Tongariro was also in love with her and was stronger too. Beaten in battle, Taranaki withdrew underground and carved out the bed of the Whanganui River eventually surfacing where he now stands. beautiful Pouākai range standing inland and he was drawn towards her. Eventually, Taranaki found his soulmate, Pouākai, and their children became the trees, plants, birds, rocks and rivers flowing from their slopes. This evening, we’ll enjoy a delicious dinner camp and relax in this special place

Meals included: Dinner
Walks: New Plymouth walkway
Bike rides: New Plymouth walkway

Day 23: New Plymouth - Auckland

We’ll leave camp this morning and head for Waitomo, famous for its magical glowworm caves. There are plenty of options to explore the caves, from an adventurous exploration involving abseiling and climbing through the vast cave systems, to black water rafting or a nice dry, relaxing boat experience. If you’re not heading into the caves we’ll send you on a great walk through some awesome limestone cliffs and native bush before we all join up for a picnic lunch together.

After Waitomo we’re heading to Auckland where your tour ends. We’ll arrive in the city before 18:00, where we’ll say goodbye to all the friends we’ve made along the way.

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch
Walks: Forest and Cave trail
Bike rides: Ride through Waitomo if you’re not going to see the Caves
Activities (own cost): Waitomo caving adventures, Glow worm cave tour, Blackwater rafting

What’s Included

- Experienced tour guide
- All local transportation. If you have chosen the bike rental option, then it is also included.
- 22 night's accommodation (tents and dorm)
- Meals as specified in itinerary
Overzicht

Wat is inbegrepen?

Extra kosten tijdens tour
Please check the itinerary for optional paid activities.

Activiteiten

Please see the different activities (either free/included or requiring an extra payment) in the itinerary.

Accommodatie

You can choose between Shared Tent with two people, or a Single Tent. There are three nights in shared dorm accommodation. If you travel alone and want a shared tent, you will be paired with another traveller of the same gender.

Lokaal vervoer

All local transport is included. If you have chosen the bike rental option, then it is also included.

Maaltijden

Some meals are included (please see itinerary). Evening meals are prepared on a relaxed and informal rota system. Your great guides will lead things but every 4 or so nights, you will be with a team of other budding chefs preparing some great feasts for your fellow travellers - generally one person chops, another looks after veges, another cooks and someone needs to check the wine!!!

Houd er rekening mee

What footwear do we need?
You’ll need to bring a decent pair of comfortable footwear, that you can walk in comfortably, trainers are ideal. Hiking boots are good but not essential. It is also good to bring a pair of flip-flops, sandals or thongs (depending on whether you speak NZ English, Oz English or just English) for the camp showers.

It's summer. Do I really need thermals and a fleece?
Yes! We can experience extreme weather even in the summer.

Do I need a backpack, or is a suitcase okay?
Suitcases are fine - you don’t need to walk great distances with them just between your tent and the bus. The majority of the time while you’re doing activities they will be stored away in the trailer or under the bus. Please try to limit the weight of your main bag to 20kg. A good day pack (small rucksack) or bag you can carry easily is recommended for water bottles, towels, cameras etc.

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