If you like walking, this North Island walking tour just for women is the one for you!
|Date & Duration:||6th-23rd November 2021 - 15 nights|
|Cost:||NZ$5285 - What's included?|
|Arrival & Departure points:||Auckland/Wellington|
|Group size:||min 7, max 12|
|Accommodation:||good quality hotels, homes and motels|
|Adventures:||NOTE: this trip can be done in two halves! Auckland to Cambridge NZ$2390 OR Cambridge to Wellington NZ$2895|
Day 1 Auckland
Arrive Auckland by 10am. City and airport pick ups available. We'll then drive directly to Kumeu Wine Country for a Mini Wine and Food Degustation. Westbrook is a boutique winery and a lovely setting to get to know your fellow travellers. We'll then head in to the city, check in to our Parnell hotel, freshen up and then head down to the Viaduct Marina. This is the hub of America's Cup and racing is scheduled to start today! We'll get amongst the off-water action and soak up the atmosphere of this fascinating sport and catch the race on one of the big screens.
Day 2 Rangitoto Island - Te Aroha
A short ferry ride this morning to Rangitoto Island - New Zealand's youngest volcano at just 600 years old. We fill in the morning with a steady climb on a well-maintained track past rugged lava scree and through the world's largest pohutukawa forest to the peak at 259 metres above sea level. At the top we'll be rewarded (weather permitting) with spectacular views of the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland.
Later this afternoon we depart the city and journey over the Bombay Hills into the mighty Waikato via cow-crazy Morrinsville and on to the township of Te Aroha. Nestled at the foot of Mt Te Aroha, is where you will find the Mokena Hou Geyser (the only natural soda water geyser in the world) and right next to this is the oldest intact Edwardian domain in New Zealand.
Walking: 2 hours
Day 3 Karangahake Gorge - Waihi Beach
A visit to a local artist is our first engagement of the day - you will be in awe at what this talented guy can make out of scrap. In nearby Paeroa we'll stop for a photo opportunity at the famous L&P bottle before continuing on to Karangahake Gorge at the base of the Coromandel Range. Our walk this morning will take us deep in to the gorge following the old railway line through tunnels, over bridges, past mining remains and the "windows".
In the afternoon we call in to the small gold mining town of Waihi and see the Martha open pit mine before arriving at Waihi Beach. After settling in to our "bach" we'll take a stroll down to the beach before sundowners and fish'n'chips. Walking: 1 + 1 hour
Day 4 Waihi Beach
This morning we will walk the Homunga track via picturesque Orokawa Bay to Waihi Beach. This is a
capitvating trail following the coastline across farmland and through native bush. Get in tune with the cicadas anthem, chortling tuis and the ocean crashing on to the coast as you roam along the track enjoying an untouristy walk with stunning views. Afternoon at leisure for shopping, relaxing or beach walking. Walking: 3.5 hours
Day 5 Mt Maunganui - Cambridge
The famed "Mount" beckons this morning. You have the option to either walk the Mt Maunganui Base or Summit Track. Both options take around an hour to complete however the Summit does require a reasonable amount of exertion but it's worth it for the amazing views!
This afternoon's drive will take us from the Bay of Plenty over the Kaimai Ranges to the Waikato. Our base for the next few days is the charming town of Cambridge, known for its trees and champions and recently voted NZ's "Most Beautiful Large Town". Late afternoon orientation of the town including a stroll down Cambridge's own walk of fame - it's not quite Hollywood but you never know which famous Kiwi you might spot! Walking: 1 + 1 hour
Day 6 Hamilton
This morning we'll visit Zealong Tea Plantation. Who would have thought in the middle of the Waikato you'd find an award-winning tea plantation! It all started with a camellia tree apparently. Our guide will lead us along the tea trail to learn how tea is picked and processed. We'll then learn the art of tea appreciation followed by a scrumptious high tea. The afternoon will be spent rambling through the popular Hamilton Gardens. The Gardens tell the story of gardening through different civilisations and time, and showcase a wonderful collection of plants and architecture. You will be astounded that Hamilton has such a fabulous internationally renowned treasure. From the Gardens we'll stroll along the Waikato River to view the unique bridges, memorial gardens and beautiful homes.
Gloworm Kayak (highly recommended optional activity) - this adventure takes us out to Arapuni where we board kayaks for an easy paddle along the southern edge of Lake Karapiro. Enjoy the twilight & silence of being on the water as the day draws to an end. As night arrives over the lake, paddle slowly up the Pokaiwhenua Stream and through the canyon carved out by
water over many hundreds of years. Native ferns & trees drape over you, bird life is all around. When darkness falls we float silently back downstream, being guided by the glow worms on either side sparkling like Christmas lights. A magical experience.
Walking: 2 hours
Day 7 Orakei Korako - Tirau
This morning we drive south to an active geothermal area. Orakei Korako aka "The Hidden Valley" is NZ's largest geothermal area with more than 250 hot springs and geysers. We will have plenty of time to explore the area by foot. We'll take a late lunch break in the quirky little town of Tirau where you'll come face-to-face with some corrugated characters. This afternoon's stroll is along the rural Te Waihou Walkway to the internationally acclaimed Blue Spring. The water here is so pure and supplies around 70% of NZ's bottled water. Walking: 1 + 1 hour
Day 8 Maungatautari - Arapuni - Hobbiton
Just a short drive from Cambridge, is the Maungatautari Ecological Sanctuary where we will spend an interesting few hours on a morning guided stroll through the forest. Surrounded by the world's longest pest-proof fence, this ancient forest offers a sanctuary for populations of many of New Zealand's most endangered species - from birds to bats, frogs to reptiles, tuatara to giant weta. Later this afternoon will be a visit to "Middle Earth". Even if you're not a 'Lord of the Rings' fan, a visit to Hobbiton
is a truly amazing experience. Stroll through the lush pastures of "The Shire" on a guided movie-set tour, past Hobbit Holes, the Mill and on to the world-famous Green Dragon Inn for a well-earned beverage followed by a banquet feast fit for a Hobbit! The tables will be heaving with traditional Hobbit fare. At the end of the evening, take your hand-held lantern and stroll back along the Shire's paths seeing the village in a different light with chimneys smoking and lanterns glowing in the darkness. Just magic! Walking: 1 + 1 hour
Day 9 Cambridge
Part one finishes, Part two begins - for those doing both parts of this hike, you have a FREE DAY
Day10 Waitomo - Taumarunui
Within an hour's drive from Cambridge is the world renowned Waitomo Glowworm Caves. The glowworm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand and as our Guide takes us deep in to the cave we will see thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light. An informative commentary on the Caves historical and geological significance and a magical boat ride beneath the glow will surely enlighten you! Next is the Ruakuri loop walk, taking us through a forested gorge, natural sculpted cliffs, impressive limestone arches and a cavernous tunnel. We'll stop for a picnic lunch before walking though a majestic limestone gorge to the 17m high natural arch which is the Mangapohue Natural Bridge. Our last scenic visit will be a short stroll through tawa and nikau to the Marakopa Falls, often described as the most beautiful waterfall in the country. We journey further south to the small King Country town Te Kuiti to say hello to a local legend, before continuing to Taumarunui. This evening enjoy local hospitality with convivial hosts in their country home.
Day 11 Forgotten World - New Plymouth
Today we change our mode of transportation for Rail Carts. Spend the morning travelling at a leisurely pace along the northern most section of an abandoned railway line which cuts through rugged farmland, across bridges and through hand-dug tunnels, some of them up to 1.5km long.
Arrive in Tokorima around midday and meet up with your vehicle for a scenic drive along the Forgotten World Highway to Whangamomona. Time for a wander around this tiny quirky village, learn about the controversial history and "wet your whistle" in NZ's remotest country pub. Maybe you had plans to travel overseas in 2020/21 and collect a few more stamps in your passport ... don't worry you can bring your passport on this tour and have it stamped here in the Republic of Whangamomona!
By late afternoon we'll arrive in the capital of Taranaki and settle into our accommodation. The hotel has a heated pool and spa which will be a nice place to relax in this evening.
Day 12 New Plymouth
After breakfast, we set off for a walk along the award-winning Coastal Walkway. This is a flat easy walk with picturesque views as we hug the coastline walking a paved path between farmland and pounding waves and across the dramatic Te Rewa Rewa bridge. Fingers crossed for a clear day as the way this Bridge frames Mt Taranaki is an incredible sight. Afternoon at leisure. The hotel has free bikes if you want to head out for a ride, or take a walk in to the city along the Coastal Walkway. In the city you might like to visit the contemporary art museum and home to the collection of modernist filmmaker and kinetic artist Len Lye, or stop by Puke Ariki with its heritage and art collections.
Walking: 1.5 hours
Day 13 Pukeiti - Opunake - Whanganui
Rise early this morning for a scenic drive to Pukeiti Gardens. All sorts of interesting plants and trees make up this absolute gem tucked in to the foothills of towering Mt Taranaki. Take your time exploring. Later this morning we'll journey on to the popular holiday town of Opunake. Our walk takes us across paddocks and along the beach clifftop enjoying mountain and ocean views. After a picnic lunch we'll continue driving along the Surf Highway to Whanganui. This small city is located on the historically significant Te Awa o Whanganui - NZ's longest navigable river and once an important transport route for Maori and early European settlers. It's a city with an interesting heritage and arty locals extending manaakitanga (legendary hospitality). Afternoon orientation walk of the city.
Walking: 1 + 2 hours
Day 14 Whanganui River
The jetboat was invented by a Kiwi, Bill Hamilton, in 1954 and is a thrilling way to travel. We board our powerful streamlined boat in Pipiriki and enjoy an exhilarating ride up the Whanganui River through pristine bush and deep gorges to the "Bridge to Nowhere". On arrival at Mangapurua Landing we have an easy bush walk to the historic bridge where we'll learn about the history of the gateway to the Valley of Abandoned Dreams over a picnic lunch before jetboating back to Pipiriki.
This afternoon visit the peaceful village of Jerusalem, the resting place of well-known poet James K Baxter and home to the Sisters of Compassionate Convent. Walking: 1.5 hours
Day 15 Whanganui
The Whanganui River Traders and Farmers Market beckons this morning, offering a diverse range of stalls. A great place to have brunch. We'll then drive out to Castlecliff to look at some quirky buildings and art and have a roam along the rugged beach. A scenic rural drive brings us to a Garden of National Significance. Ramble through exotic gardens with Clive, the visionary owner/designer/hard grafter of Paloma. Then at your own pace you can gaze at the sculptures and plants from all over the world and even come face-to-face with GOD (the Garden of Death!).
Once back in Whanganui, you can ride on New Zealand's only underground elevator from Drurie Hill Memorial down to the city. Free afternoon to enjoy the art galleries and shopping on offer in Whanganui. Walking: 1.5 hours
Day 16 Whanganui - Kapiti Coast
We continue travelling south, having a leisurely day of driving, shopping, eating and walking including stops at famous places like Scullys, Vivs Kitchen for a creamed horn, the Foxton windmill and an afternoon roam along the Kapiti Coast with fabulous views of Kapiti Island. Walking: 1 hour
Day 17 Kapiti Coast
This morning's walk is optional - it's not for the faint-hearted as we will be reaching some heights with steep drops. The Paekakariki Escarpment walk will take us over farmland, through bush, across swing bridges and up and own some steep steps. This is one of the sections of the Te Araroa walkway and offers breathtaking views of the ocean, Kapiti and the South Island (weather permitting).
Those who prefer an easier option can take a stroll through the lovely Queen Elizabeth National Park where there are numerous trails on offer. Sunset drinks on the beach, before our final dinner together.
Walking: 3.5 hours
18. Tue 23 Nov Tour ends Wellington
The tour ends this morning, with a transfer to Wellington City or airport
- 17 nights accommodation (good quality hotels, homes and motels)
-Daily breakfast, 2 lunches & 7 dinners
- Tour leader / walking guide
- Transportation in modern air-conditioned mini-coach
- Airport transfer on Day 1 and 18
- Meals and refreshments (unless specified in inclusions), Items of a personal nature
How fit do I need to be
Expect to walk on average 5km per day. Some days may be longer and some may be shorter, some easy and some harder. There is lots of variety. The pace will be leisurely with ample time for a breather and photos. The tour is aimed at leisure walkers who enjoy the outdoors, meeting new people, discovering and socialising.
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