We follow rail, river and walking tracks, once the lifeblood of the Central North Island. Ride rail carts and cruise the Whanganui River by jet boat up to the landing to the Bridge to Nowhere. Then the delights of Hawkes Bay await, reached via the historic “Gentle Annie” route.
$3,290 per person, share twin
$600 single supplement
5 – 11 October, 2021
27 October – 2 November, 2021
14 – 20 November, 2021
3 – 9 January, 2022
29 March – 4 April, 2022
• All meals
• Entrance fees
• All transport by comfortable, air conditioned coach (maximum of 18 travellers).
• Services of your knowledgeable guide.
• Quality accommodation chosen for a “sense of place”.
• Domestic airfares
• Travel Insurance
Leaving Auckland we drive south to stop for lunch hosted by Debbie and Fraser Robertson at Crosshills, a dairy farm near Otorohanga.
Later in the day we drive into Te Kuiti. The legendary All Black Colin (Pinetree) Meads farmed near this King Country town and his statue takes pride of place. Then we travel onto Taumarunui where we stay two nights and dine in at the Forgotten World Motel both evenings.
We call into Lauren’s Lavender Farm beside the Whanganui River then drive deep into the Forgotten World Highway to Whangamomona for lunch at the hotel. Stroll along the street and get acquainted with the history of this pioneer town and its “Republic” days.
Then your adventure on the tracks begins. Climb on the rail carts to travel from Whangamomona through the bushclad Tangarakau Gorge and on to Tokirima where your coach awaits to return to Taumarunui.
At Pipiriki we meet our jet boat for an hour’s ride upstream in sublime scenery to the Mangapurua Landing. Depending on your level of fitness either walk with your guide to The Bridge to Nowhere (40 minutes, 1.5km, each way) or explore further upstream on the jet boat. The Bridge makes a poignant memorial to the WW1 servicemen who tried to farm there.
Returning downstream to Pipiriki we drive alongside the river, call into Jerusalem then on to Whanganui and the Aotea Motor Lodge.
We get to know the town – meeting Lisa at the Whanganui Regional Museum to hear her stories of the region’s early history and see the remarkable collections on display. Then go behind the scenes with the curator at the Sarjeant Art Gallery to hear the stories behind their collections.
Nearby at Putiki a local guide tells the stories of the intricate Maori carvings and wall panels of St Paul’s Memorial church.
Then, turning eastward, we drive inland to Taihape and stay at The Aspen Court Motel.
From Taihape we cross the Central Plateau to explore the Inland Patea Heritage Trail along the “Gentle Annie” travelled by the early Maori and stockmen.
There are historic sites, expansive views, a suspension bridge across the Rangitikei River and the largest sheep stations in the North Island. We lunch at Birdwood Gallery near Havelock North and stay two nights at Scenic Te Pania on the Napier waterfront.
An Art Deco guide joins our coach as we tour to the National Tobacco Company building and Marewa, the surburb built in Art Deco style after the 1931 earthquake.
With a nature guide we enjoy a special experience – a three-hour overland safari along private farm roads to get close-up to the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. Later in the day we drive up Bluff Hill for the views.
Leaving Napier after breakfast we drive back northwards to Taupo and continue on to Tamahere stopping for lunch with Stephen and Jeanette Williams at Moondance Manor set in stunning gardens beside the Waikato River.
We return to Auckland through the Waikato farmlands arriving in the late afternoon.
Some great news… while we wait for international borders to re-open, there is no better time to see a bit of our own backyard and help our local communities get back to business.
We’re excited to let you know that we have partnered with MoaTours, one of New Zealand’s leading and most trusted local tour operators since 1971. MoaTours offers a range of small group tours all over New Zealand that we think you’ll love — from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island.
A a family run business just like Tours Direct, MoaTours has great connections and unbeatable local knowledge of New Zealand’s best kept secrets. They also share common values so we know you will be well looked after and have a great experience.
Thanks to the vision and energy of our hosts and their love of back country places we have all the fun – tootling along the track on golf carts and riding a jet boat up the Whanganui River. Then we drive the North Island’s best kept secret, the historic “Gentle Annie” route and later visit the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers.