Helen is one of our regular tour leaders, who particularly enjoys leading some of our more active walking and cycling tours. While we are unable to take our travellers to exciting destinations overseas, she is keen to share some of her favourite Central North Island walks.
The focus of the trip is on short walks which give access to highlight features of each area. All are on well made paths. Almost all are around an hour or less, and, if you find you have had enough on any of the days, all have the option of allowing you to stay with the bus to meet the group at the end of the walk, or have a more leisurely start on some days.
$3,150 per person, share twin
$700 single supplement
13 – 20 October, 2021
Able to walk 1 -2 hours
All paths are well-made
Max Group Size: 14
• Accommodation in 3-star & 4-star hotels & 4-star motel
• 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches & 4 dinners
• Transport in a Luxury Mercedes Sprinter Coach
• Services of your knowledgeable Tours Direct driver/guide (Helen Tait)
• Domestic airfares
• Travel insurance
Meet at 1.00pm at the Sudima Auckland City Hotel to meet fellow group members. Luggage can be stored prior to check in later in the afternoon.
We will walk to the ferry building, and take a 10 minute ferry ride to the picturesque harbourside suburb of Devonport (bring your Gold Card if you are lucky enough to have one) We will walk along the waterfront with its luxury waterfront homes and up to North Head for impressive views back to the city., There is the option of a visit to the New Zealand Navy Museum before heading back to Devonport to stroll through the township and perhaps stop for a well-earned ice cream or a drink.
We take the ferry back to Auckland to check-in at the hotel, where we have a welcome dinner this evening.
We will head out of Auckland this morning for an unusual first walk – underground!
Ruakuri Cave, one of the longer caves in the Waitomo area, was first discovered by local Māori between 400 and 500 years ago. The name Te Ruakuri, or “The Den of Dogs” was given to the surrounding area when wild dogs were discovered living in the entrance of the cave. Ruakuri is well known for its spiritual links to Māori and its unusual limestone formations and caverns, as well as underground rivers and hidden waterfalls – and of course glow-worms.
We will stop for lunch in nearby Otorohanga, with its intriguing “kiwiana” display, before heading on to arrive in good time at our New Plymouth accommodation, close to the waterfront. Dinner this evening will be at nearby “Salt” restaurant.
This morning we will walk the length of New Plymouth’s famous Coastal Walkway from the beautiful Rewarewa Bridge to the Port, before returning to town for a lunch stop and time for those who wish to visit the famous Govett Brewster Gallery, with its Len Lye Display. Monica’s Eatery at the Gallery is specially recommended for lunch. We might also have time to fit in a visit to Pukeariki Museum or we can save that until later, following our afternoon walk at Pukekura Park this afternoon.
Choose from a range of city restaurants for dinner this evening.
This morning we will enjoy a gardener’s eye view as we walk through the splendid Pukeiti Gardens with an introduction from one of the gardeners. Then it is time to explore on our own before lunch at the Founders Café.
This afternoon we will head on around Mt Taranaki to the Dawson Falls area, where we have a choice of walks, certainly including views of the impressive Dawson Falls, named, like our New Plymouth motel after Thomas Dawson, a post office official who, after being transferred to Manaia in 1878, spent much of his spare time exploring the Mt Taranaki area.
We’ll continue our circuit of the mountain on the way back to New Plymouth, where we can choose a local restaurant for dinner.
The Republic of Whangamomona is our first stop on our journey through the Forgotten World Highway for a coffee stop at the quaint hotel and an introduction to the history and politics of the republic from the locals; then it’s on through the rest of the Highway to Taumarunui for lunch, perhaps picking up goodies for a picnic for our walk at the Sunshine Track.
This afternoon we reach New Zealand’s first National Park and enjoy a bush walk at Ohinetonga. Then on to our comfortable accommodation for the night in the National Park itself and dinner at the hotel.
Our walking today starts right on our doorstep with the dramatic Taranaki Falls walk, which covers a great variety of rugged National Park terrain, passing through tussock and alpine shrublands before entering beech forest. On a clear day Ngauruhoe’s symmetrical cone and the older, eroded mountains of Tongariro and Pukekaikiore are visible. Continuing on up the track, Taranaki Falls comes into view tumbling 20 metres over the edge of a large andesite lava flow which erupted from Ruapehu 15,000 years ago.
We then travel around the shores of Lake Taupo to make the short walk in to the spectacular Huka Falls, the only outlet from Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake.
We will have a special lunch treat at Lava Glass at Wairakei, where we can watch a glass craftsman at work and enjoy lunch surrounded by glass treasures.
On our arrival in Rotorua we will head out for a walk in the majestic Redwood Forest, a favourite recreation area for locals. The forest was established as an experimental plantation by the NZ Forest Service, and was later given to the people of Rotorua.
This evening we will have an opportunity to choose from the great range of restaurants on offer in Tutanekai St, commonly known as “eat street”.
We start with a walk around the picturesque Blue Lake and view of the Green Lake, before we retrace our steps a short distance South to the most impressive of Rotorua’s thermal valleys at Waimangu. Here we have a gently sloping walk (with a loop climb to one side available for the more energetic) down through the valley to lovely Lake Rotomahana, where we enjoy a 45 minute cruise and learn of the history of the Tarawera eruption and the destruction of the celebrated Pink & White Terraces. A bus will then return us to the top of the valley.
A pleasant café at Waimangu will provide an opportunity for a snack before and/or after your valley experience.
We return to Rotorua for a farewell dinner at our hotel.
On our way back to Auckland we will stop off at the internationally recognised Hamilton Botanic Gardens. In addition to the very impressive layout of gardens of different national styles, there is a magnificent Rhododendron area, which should be at it’s peak for us.
A café is also available at the gardens.
We will return to Auckland by mid afternoon and can drop off passengers at the airport if required for flights after 4pm.
Helen lives in Christchurch and is a keen skier, cyclist and walker. She has led tours for Tours Direct for over 10 years, and loves sharing her enthusiasm for a wide range of places and cultures. She specially likes to share walking and cycling tours, at a relaxed pace suited to travellers for whom this might be a first.