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Days: 5 days
(no outdoor experience required just reasonable fitness)
Start/Finish: Auckland - 8:30am, pick up zone outside Sky City, 20m from Sky Tower base, corner Victoria and Federal Streets
Auckland 5:00pm (approx.)
December 2019: 17
Period 1st Jun 18 - 31st May 20
Depart Auckland and follow the east coast northwards, with a quick cafe stop for anyone who missed breakfast. A short deviation to a limestone cave gives you a chance to see one of the best glowworm spectacles in the country (expect wet feet!). After a picnic lunch here continue on to the historic township of Russell. We arrive early afternoon. Check into your accommodation and explore this charming little harbour settlement and New Zealand’s original capital. Enjoy a swim off the wharf, or just chill with a glass of wine and chat with your fellow travellers. Later on drive a few minutes to the peninsula’s end before returning to enjoy a barbecue dinner in the hotel garden-nook. If it’s not barbeque weather, we’ll pop into a local café or pizzeria. Today is an easy day but gets us to where the fun starts. Includes lunch and dinner.
After a 30 min drive east you reach the first of today's hikes. Traverse up through regenerating native bush to a ridge top and gaze out across the bright blue Pacific Ocean. Below are sandy coves and rocky headlands. Descend to a wonderful swim spot and then walk through the bush to the old whaling station. Pass huge steel pots and old brick vats amid the ruins. These stations are a sad reminder of the many humpback and southern right whales that were once hunted here. Many of New Zealand's first European settlers came for the sealing and whaling rather than our beautiful natural environment! We hike back to the vehicle before a short drive takes us to our second hike. Pukehuia at 345m is the highest hill and best viewpoint in the entire Bay of Islands area. The track climbs steadily up with plenty of view points on the way. On return we stop at a perfect bush-fringed bay of lapping water and moored yachts. This cute cove of turquoise water is the ideal place to wash away your exertion. It is a short drive back to Russell and your accommodation. Tonight you eat at one of the many lovely cafes and restaurants (own cost) on Russell's waterfront. Includes breakfast and lunch.
This morning you travel by vehicle ferry across to Opua and drive through Paihia, the main tourist centre of the Bay of Islands, before driving north to Whangaroa. You have the option of a fantastic half-day guided kayaking trip along the coast (optional extra* see below) or a hike into a beautiful forest-fringed inlet. This hike sidles up and over a small saddle passing through sub-tropical forest before meeting the stream and mangroves at the head of the inlet. On a warm day plop into the pools to cool off. The trail follows this coastline of red volcanic headlands and island outcrops a short distance to a historic hut. You can swan around on the hut deck enjoying the peace and quiet, or stomp your way up the spectacular old volcanic plug (Duke’s Nose) for views. Later catch the water taxi back to the jetty where the vehicle waits. A short drive takes you to Mangonui where the group enjoys a simple meal of fish and chips at the famous Fish Shop bar on the old wharf. An early evening drive north gets you to a remote old homestead lodge in the middle of the dunes on the edge of 90 Mile Beach. A little more rustic than your previous accommodation, this off the grid lodge more than makes up for it with its amazing location and wonderful atmosphere. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
A one hour drive brings you to the tip of the North Island where there is the chance to explore some of the trails of the Cape Reinga walkway. Hike a less visited part of the cape's coastline. Cross Te Paki Station to the surreal iron-stained sand dunes of Cape Maria van Diemen. Climbing high, get grand views of this incredible piece of New Zealand landscape. Wander along an expansive stretch of empty beach before ending up on the edge of the world at the Cape Reinga lighthouse where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. In the afternoon you may choose to do a cliff top walk to the stunning white sands and blue waters of Tapotupotu. Return to your lodge and relax in this beautiful spot. After a good meal, sit on the veranda and enjoy life as you watch the sun set over the Tasman Sea. Being so far from any light pollution, the starry nights up north are quite remarkable. Includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
You leave the far north early today and begin the journey southwards, passing through Kaitaia and across the sleepy Hokianga Harbour on a car ferry. In Maori mythology Hokianga is the returning place of the great Maori navigator Kupe. At Waipoua Forest you get to see New Zealand’s biggest kauri tree Tane Mahuta; it’s easy to feel humble beneath him. The last walk before Auckland is through the Trounson Kauri Reserve, an intensively managed mainland conservation ‘island’, surrounded by a sea of farmland. Trounson is one of the better kauri forests in the country and provides refuge for many threatened species including brown kiwi. Arrive in Auckland at approximately 5:00pm. Includes breakfast and lunch.
4-5 hours physical activity on some days; up to 6 hours on second day.
At times carrying small backpack of 4-5kgs.
Tracks generally in good condition.
Altitude gains of up to 600m on second day.
No hiking experience necessary.
Reasonable standard of fitness required.
Some energetic sections and climbs, but includes time for relaxation and other activities.
New Zealand's weather is very changeable so you need to be prepared for any eventuality. Thankfully, it's warmer up north so thermal underwear and warm hats become an option rather than a necessity. However, you still need to take the essential items listed below.
Optional items (but highly recommended):
Walking poles, camera and rain trousers
First aid kit, drinking water, safety equipment and maps.
There is an allowance of one large pack, bag or suitcase plus one day pack.
We have high quality hiking equipment which you can hire for our Hiking Tours. Please arrange hire gear when you book. Requests for a hire equipment must be made at lease 5 days before the departure date.
5-7 day trip (NZ$)
2 x Fleece
Thermal top and bottom
Walking pole (each)
We travel in a 10 or 12-seat minibus, towing a trailer with equipment and luggage. All vehicles have a stereo and we carry a range of natural history reference books. We average 3 hours driving per day. We travel on a range of roads, from sealed highways to dusty, windy, bouncy tracks. We can stop whenever you want to take photos or check out the locals!
Breakfasts are continental style in Russell, and at Hukatere Lodge we also offer a warm breakfast. We make picnic lunches of delicious sandwiches and wraps, and fresh fruit, and have plenty of snacks to move you along at a happy pace! We rustle lunch up en route from supplies your guide carries in their backpack, or from the custom trailer kitchen when we are touring. Hot and cold drinks are also generally available (even when hiking) and we always have drinking water for you in our bus. Dinner is varied from lovely restaurants to simple fish and chips at a wharf cafe. We provide dinner on night 1 (picnic-style at the beach or at a café or pizzeria if not picnic weather), night 3 (basic but tasty fish and chips from a wharf café) and night 4 (a home-cooked meal). Any special dietary requests or requirements are easily provided for. Please let us know at the time of booking.
The trip uses double/twin share with en-suite accommodation on nights 1 & 2, and double/twin share with shared bathrooms on nights 3 & 4. Occasionally different accommodation is used. We will tell you when you book if this is the case.
Meals: One evening meal is not included in this trip.
Optional sea kayaking on Day 3 - NZ$95 pp (minimum of two people).
An excellent guide can make the difference between a trip of a lifetime and just an ordinary trip. That is why we work hard to make sure we hire the best guides. Our handpicked professionals come from a range of backgrounds. Each has extensive outdoor and hiking experience and a passion for New Zealand’s wild and beautiful backcountry. Our guides will ensure that your time with us is truly inspiring, a huge amount of fun and safe. All guides are trained in Mountain Safety First Aid.
Please be gentle with your guide - good guides are hard to find!
Chai Pyle is the current Hiking NZ record holder for diverse work experience. Nepal rescue Kayaker/trainer to YMCA kids instructor to dementia carer to apple picker to adventure photographer to corporate caterer to coffee barista to semi professional wheelbarrow racer. Hopefully not all these skills are used on Chai’s trips. Chai is pretty interested in sustainability - permaculture practice and healthy sustainable self-sufficient ways.
Linda Pugh somehow finds time to work for us in between her hectic schedule of sea kayaking and tramping. She rates the 142 day 'Te Araroa trail' as one of her best trips. In 'all' her spare time Linda and her husband run a craft sheepskin and possum products outfitter business. Linda is a superb camp cook - ask her about the famous cinnamon apple fritters!
Dave Murphy has spent a lot of time overseas honing his wilderness skills. He has recently come back to New Zealand after hiking the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails. Dave’s geology degree (including years of geology experience in Asia and Australia) and his solid understanding of environment bring a wonderful depth of wisdom to his trips. But more importantly Dave holds the current Hiking NZ pancake distance record.
Graham Frith as had a lifetime of teaching, instructing and guiding and continues to take the odd hiking trip for us. Graham (a.k.a "Grum") has spent the last two and a half years cycling around the whole planet raising awareness for prostate cancer. Grum also teaches wilderness first aid and risk management and is an avid mountain biker.
John Williamson has a BSc and has ridden a horse across Mongolia. It made enough of an impression on him (the Mongolian adventure not the BSc) that he set up a horse trekking business in Mongolia over ten years ago. He now combines guiding in New Zealand with the treks in Mongolia during the New Zealand winters. John is often complimented for his stylish retro hiking attire and usually takes out the “most stylish guide” award.
Eigill Wahlberg don’t be fooled by the exotic name, this guy is a true kiwi bushman if there ever was one! Eigill has spent most of his working life in the backcountry of New Zealand. A lot of this time has been spent working for the Department of Conservation as a ranger, a hut warden and in pest control. Three years in the army gave him superb marching skills - and occasionally you might hear him muttering to himself “left, right, left right…”. He is a great cook and has been known to bake a cake over the campfire!
Justin Cowan doesn’t just talk conservation, he’s written a thesis on it (biodiversity and sustainable development). Previously with Department of Conservation Justin also ran international conservation volunteer projects before we snaffled him. On quizz night you want this guy on your team - and don’t make the mistake of thinking he only talks environment! His sport / history and general knowledge also go the distance. As do his long legs.
Kath Watzig pretty much lives off her land in the Far North and her home is a beautiful wee mud-brick house she built herself. Amongst a myriad of other things, Kath is very active in Northland conservation groups and a keen sea kayaker - her energy seems boundless. Kath is more convincing than a politician’s PR company and has more grit than the Lake Waikaremoana road - basically she is a legend.
Simon O’Donnell is an experienced climber, kayaker, mountaineer and bushman with many years professional instructing under his belt - from rafting to climbing to hiking. Now back studying in the winter, Simon joins us for the summer guiding seasons.
Rory Hart has well and truly earned his “hiking badge”. Rory clocked up about 2900 kms when he walked the Te Araroa Trail over the summer of 2014-2015, a long distance hike which spans the length of New Zealand. He took a couple of weeks off before heading to America and walking 4300 kms on the Pacific Crest Trail from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada. A geologist by trade, Rory has an amazing knowledge and understanding of glaciers and spent several weeks camping on New Zealand's Tasman Glacier while researching for his thesis, followed by a six week stint camping on the grounding line of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. Despite the long periods of enforced solitude, Rory does like people and is a great fun guide to be around!
Malcolm O’Neill has a BSc in physical geography. He co-authored the guidebook Classic New Zealand Adventures, which involved lots of fun all over the country. Malcolm’s interests include mountain biking, travel, skiing/boarding, photography, making furniture and jumping into rivers. Malcolm does more business stuff than guiding these days as he is a director of Hiking New Zealand, but he can still be found getting his hands dirty!
Daniel Murphy studied something years ago at university but can no longer remember what it was! From agricultural roots he worked on farms and in the rural service industry before adventures and travel lured him overseas into the tourism industry. Hiking, mountain biking and day dreaming about great adventures are his main hobbies. Dan is the Operations Manager and a director for Hiking New Zealand. Dan is either a fantastic liar, or has had the oddest things possible happen to him - be sure to probe him for stories.
Other guides may be used during peak periods.
Our guide will appreciate a little help from time to time with meals or other tasks like packing lunches. However, generally there are not too many tasks to do.
What do I do with my valuables (passport, airline tickets, money, etc.) while hiking?
Keep them with you in your hiking pack. You can pack all those things in plastic bags to keep them dry and keep them with you while hiking.
I'm a vegetarian - is that a problem?
Not at all. There are often vegetarians in the group. All the guides are familiar with vegetarian cooking. There are lots of excellent vegetarian recipes and sometimes the whole group will cook vegetarian or a separate vegetarian meal may be cooked. Other dietary requirements can be catered for as well, but please notify when you book.
What is the weather going to be like?
New Zealand experiences very changeable weather. However, in the far north temperatures don't vary that much from summer (typically max 26) to winter (typically max 15). We get rain in both summer and winter. However, it is best to be prepared for the worst conditions you are likely to expect - see the 'What to Take' section. A good waterproof raincoat is important. A thermal under a raincoat is probably the most clothing you will need to wear when actually hiking - even in winter. The tail end of some of the tropical cyclones do splatter out over northland in summer occasionally bringing short periods of intense rain. Strong sun is usually what we dress for up north.
Who is in my group?
A maximum of 11 people, with a range of ages, nationalities and work backgrounds. On average, half are women and half are men. Everyone shares an enthusiasm for outdoor adventure and an appreciation of nature.
What if I can't keep up with the rest of the group?
The group hikes together, stopping often for snacks and a good lunch. All activities/hikes are optional if you feel like having some time out.
Can I charge my camera/phone/laptop, etc. while on tour?
Each evening you will be able to recharge batteries. If you have a vehicle adapter, bring it along as there is always an opportunity to charge items from the vehicle (12 volt).
For bookings four or more months in advance of the departure a 25% deposit can be paid with the remainder due 65 days prior to your trip.
For bookings within four months of the departure, full payment is required.
More than 20 days prior to departure – 80% refund of full ticket price.
20 to 10 days prior to departure – 50% refund of full ticket price.
Less than 10 days prior to departure – NO REFUND.
We strongly recommend that you have travel insurance. You will be asked to fill out a disclaimer before you begin a Hiking Tour. You must follow the instructions of your guide at all times. World Nomads Travel Insurance provides online quotes.