After leaving the big city of Auckland we arrive on the Coromandel Peninsula home to some of New Zealand’s best native forests and most beautiful beaches. We make a stop at Hahei beach where a coastal track will take you up to incredible viewpoints and down through native bush before you reach the famous Cathedral cove. This white sand beach has a huge limestone archway that you can walk through and when you get through to the other side there is yet more glorious beach as well as Sphinx rock, one of the most photographed natural features in the country. An added bonus of this walk is it’s also a film location, this time it is not a scene from Lord of the Rings but the Narnia series. In the movie, Prince Caspian, the children are at the train station and as a train passes they are transported to Narnia A.K.A New Zealand!
6km return Gravel Path Intermediate
Waikato River Walk
Just before we get to Taupo we will be dropping you off to walk the rest of the way into the city. The walk starts at the incredible Huka Falls where the Waikato River is forced through a narrow channel that creates powerful white water and an impressive waterfall that spills out before the river calmly continues its course. From here you can follow the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest, toward Taupo but don’t forget to stop off at the Otumuheke stream on the way. This hot water stream is a perfect place to soak in natural hot water and cooling of in the river before continuing on into the city for some lunch.
6km Gravel Path Easy
If you’re not going on an optional caving adventure then you can take walk through some awesome limestone rock formations in the Ruakuri reserve. The Waitomo area is famous for its limestone caves and glow worms under the ground but on the surface some beautiful limestone features can be seen. The walk takes you through native fern forests, past some cave entrances and through a short tunnel before you follow a walkway back to the bus which will be parked up in Waitomo village with a picnic lunch waiting.
4.3km Gravel Path Easy
Haruru Falls Walkway
On arrival to the beautiful Bay of Islands we give you a chance to stretch your legs at the end of the day by walking the 5km track ending at the scenic Haruru falls. The walk starts near the Waitangi treaty grounds and takes you along the edge of the Waitangi River through mangroves and beech forest. Listen and keep an eye out for bird life such as Fantails, Bellbirds and Cormorants which are common along the trail. Eventually you’ll reach the reward at the end, the attractive, horseshoe shaped Haruru Falls where the bus will pick you up for a short drive into camp.
5km Gravel Path Easy
Waipoua Forest Walks
This day is action packed as we travel down the west coast of northland making our way through the ancient forest of Waipoua. Unfortunately this is a small remnant of a much larger forest that would have covered much of the Northland region. This important tract of forest remains as a window into the past as you step foot in a once uninhabited forest home to New Zealand’s mighty and ancient Kauri Trees. A short walking track allows you to see the largest Kauri tree in the country, Tane Mahuta. Standing at just over 51m this beautiful specimen dwarfs the rest of the forest canopy and is quite breath-taking once you see it for yourself. Just a little further down the road we’ll stop at a slightly longer walking track where you can see more Kauri trees such as the four sisters, a collection of four trees that are growing unusually close to each other and finally Te Matua Ngahere, which is shorter than Tane Mahuta but is, incredibly, wider! These gentle giants are well worth the short walks and it is a favourite stop on our trip around Northland.
500m - 2km Gravel Path and Boardwalks Easy
Kaikoura Peninsula Walk
Kaikoura is famous for its marine life and you’ll most certainly be able to see some on this awesome walk around the Kaikoura Peninsula. Starting from Point Kean the track climbs a little for great ocean views as well as the stunning back drop of the seaward Kaikoura ranges. There’s a good chance you’ll see some native New Zealand fur seals near the track, just remember they are a protected species and potentially dangerous if you get a little too close so best to stay at least 20m away but it’s great to see them lounging on the rocks soaking up some sun. If you look out to the water you may get lucky and see the dorsal fins of the dusky dolphins that frequent the waters around Kaikoura or look to the sky as sea birds fly nearby. The walk finishes up in South Bay where the bus picks you up for a short drive into camp.
3km Gravel Path Easy
Peel Forest Walks
The peel forest reserve is home to some of New Zealand’s ancient podocarp forest home to mighty Kahikatea (white pine), Totara and Matai (black pine) trees. Along the trails you’ll also hear and possible see a few native song birds such as the Fantail, Bellbird, Silvereye and Tomtit to name a few. This special place offers quite hikes and dense native bush that will be a relaxing morning stroll before re-joining the crew for a picnic lunch.
1 - 3.5km Forest trails Easy
A trip to New Zealand isn’t complete without taking in the majestic sight of Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. Aoraki translates to ‘cloud piercer’ and quite often we see it towering above a thin cloud layer near the very top, this hike however, is about more than just the epic backdrop of the mountain. As you make your way up the Hooker Valley you’ll cross a series of swing bridges and boardwalks spotting wildflowers as you go. Eventually you’ll reach a glacier lake with great views of the Hooker Glacier, Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps. The track returns the same way to the carpark where the bus will be waiting. One of the most incredible places we visit and not too be missed!
10km return Gravel Path Intermediate
The adrenaline capital of the world boast and array of different activities and promises an action packed few days of your trip, but if you want to get away from it all then head off on one of these walks. Queenstown hill is easily accessible from the centre of town as a steep but enjoyable track takes you through pine forest before you reach the summit with great views over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.
For a more challenging hike you can hike up to the top of Queenstown gondola watching the downhill mountain bike riders as you go or hitch a ride on the gondola itself as the track to the Ben Lomond summit starts from here. Follow the track through the pines until you find yourself back amongst native bush. The track climbs steeply at the end but it is well worth it for the panoramic views of Queenstown and the Wakatipu basin and on the other side views over Mt Aspiring National Park and the mighty peak of Mt Aspiring itself can be had. Return by the same track leading back to the gondola and finally back down into Queenstown for a well-earned break.
4km - 14km Steep rocky trail Hard
The west coast is an incredible place that has beaches, braided rivers, dense temperate rain forest, towering mountains and glaciers. The two walks at Ship Creek give you a taste of things to come along the west coast. The first walk takes you through a swamp forest observing plants and birdlife as you go; the track is also home to mighty Kahikatea trees, New Zealand’s tallest trees. A second walk follows a boardwalk along the sand dune before winding through forest eventually opening up at a viewpoint overlooking a dune lake and the remaining coastline heading south. Make your way back along the coast and keep an eye on the breaking surf as it is quite common to spot Hectors dolphins playing in the waves.
2km return Gravel path, Boardwalks and Beach Easy
This beautiful lake is surrounded by native forest and boasts an impressive view of the Southern Alps including Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. The main draw is the way this lake reflects the mountains in its dark waters. On a clear calm day the stillness of the water allows a perfect reflection of one of the best views on the whole tour! The track is a well formed gravel path that takes you around the lake in loop that is mostly flat and suitable for everyone. It is another great opportunity to spot native birds and plants and you can also enjoy an afternoon coffee at the award winning café near the end of the walk.
4.5km Gravel Path Easy
Pororari River Track
Our last stop on the West Coast is in a little place called Punakaiki. The scenery makes a dramatic change as we travel up the coast as the dense temperate rainforest and mountain views gives way to Nikau palms and the huge limestone cliffs of Paparoa National Park. One of the best ways to get a taste for this area is on foot by walking along the Pororari river track that starts just across the road from our camp. You can follow the river one way and return the same way or carry on the trail that links you with an inland pack track. Once on the inland track you climb a steep hill coming down the other side to meet the Punakaiki River that leads you back to the coastline. From here it is a short walk up to the main centre of the area where you’ll find a café and the information centre. You’ll also be able to stop in to see the famous Pancake Rocks and blowholes on your way back to camp. These limestone rock formations make up a small peninsula that looks like lots of pancakes stacked up on top of each other, hence the name. At high tide waves are forced through narrow gaps in the rocks creating a whale’s blowhole effect that is quite impressive when there are big ocean swells. All in all the Paparoa National Park is a great way to finish up our trip up the awesome Wild West Coast.