Ultimate North Island Adventure - Soulful Concepts
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Ultimate North Island Adventure

Need to know

  • Best time to travel: November – March
  • Group size: 10 pax
  • Duration: 8 days (excluding travel time)
  • Challenge grade: 4/5
  • Minimum age: 18 (younger ages considered)
  • Accommodation: Multi-share and sometimes twin-share available

Tour from AUD: Price available upon requeste

*Subject to change. Refer to Soulful Concepts Terms and Conditons. Book now

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      Trip at a glance

      Venture off the beaten path and discover the natural wonders of New Zealand’s North Island.

       

      Start with an overnight hike into a river-side hut in the middle of the Jurassic-like rainforest of the Whirinaki before heading east to walk the high sections of the remote Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk deep in the magical rainforests of Te Urewera. Travel into the volcanic heart of the island to explore otherworldly geothermal features near Rotorua, and go on to discover the surreal volcanic wonderland of Tongariro National Park, staying high above the world in alpine huts. Finish your tour in Wellington - a cool harbourside capital city where you’re sure to find a great coffee and much to entertain.

       

      The Ultimate North Island Adventure has short hikes, as well as two overnight hikes in Whirinaki Conservation Park and Tongariro National Park with stays at backcountry huts as well as the opportunity to relax in lodges in beautiful locations with like-minded travellers. This is a journey you’ll never forget! 

       

      Give back

      We know travel is better when you can give back as much as you get. That’s why we have designed our trips around contributing, supporting and participating in local projects and community initiatives that have a positive social and environmental impact.

       

      Each of our tours provide a unique way to get up close and personal with the destination and incorporate a fundraising target or donation into the travel costs, which enables travellers to connect, give back and travel with purpose.

       

      If you are a charity, corporate or a private group interested in the Ultimate North Island Adventure, please get in touch with amanda@soulfulconcepts.com.

       

      Itinerary

      DAY 1: AUCKLAND - WHIRINAKI
      We meet at 7am at the Sky Tower in downtown Auckland before heading south to Rotorua, with a café stop on route to fortify those who missed breakfast. Rotorua is renowned for its steaming thermal vents, bubbling mud-pools and stunning lakes. The area is also rich in Māori and early European history, including the violent 1886 Mt Tarawera eruption that buried a Māori village. We enjoy a quick stop by Lake Rotorua then veer off the beaten track, southeast into the Whirinaki.

      After a picnic lunch, we sort out gear and pack our backpacks for the hike into the rainforest. A further hours’ drive gets us to the south end of this huge conservation park.

      The Whirinaki Forest is a preserved remnant of the vast forests believed to have covered the supercontinent of Gondwanaland more than 150 million years ago. Our first hike is an easy one, on a descending track through native beech forest, to a simple forest hut beside the stunning Whirinaki river. We cook up our meal together and either stay in the hut or camp nearby with an evening campfire and time to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

      Accommodation: Simple forest hut

      Meals: L,D

      Trekking distance: 9.5 km/3 hours hiking

      DAY 2: WHIRINAKI - TE UREWERA
      This morning we continue down the valley track. This wilderness is off the tourist trail and we rarely see others, but we do often see rare blue ducks and robins and hear kaka (a large bush parrot). Lower down the valley our hike passes beneath giant tree ferns and some of New Zealand’s most stunning podocarp rainforest trees.

      Later in the afternoon we drive east, into the rugged forest ranges of Te Urewera. This is the traditional home of the Tūhoe (Māori tribe) and one of the last places to have been reached by European settlers.

      After two hours winding through the most incredible rain forest, we reach the northern arm of remote Lake Waikaremoana. We continue around the lake before stopping for the night at a camping area with sweet little cabins. Here we relax and cook a meal together in the communal kitchen. We usually stay in the simple cabins but occasionally camp.

      Accommodation: Simple forest hut

      Meals: B,L,D

      Trekking distance: 15 km/5 hours hiking

      DAY 3: LAKE WAIKAREMOANA
      Ready yourself with the promise of spectacular views as we start the day with a 20 minute drive to the trailhead at the south end of the lake and begin the climb up the Panekiri Range. We ascend through gnarled beech and bright green tawa forest to a point over 500 metres above the lake and hike along with breath-taking vistas in every direction.

      Take time to absorb the view with a lunch stop at Bald Knob before we return back along this undulating trail, and if time permits once back at the road end we will explore the fascinating Onepoto Caves trail. Enjoy a second night at the cabins (occasionally we camp).

      Accommodation: Simple forest hut

      Meals: B,L,D

      Trekking distance: 14 km/7 hours hiking

      DAY 4: LAKE WAIKAREMOANA - WHAKAPAPA
      We start the day with a drive to the Volcanic Plateau and its myriad natural wonders. Explore an extraordinary thermal park, bathe in a natural hot river and view the impressive Huka Falls. Feel the spray here as the mighty Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest, plunges 11 metres into a stadium-like pool.

      Later we arrive at Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand. Incredibly, this 600 square kilometre crater lake was formed in 186AD by the most powerful volcanic explosion in recorded history.

      At Taupo, we grab our takeaway food and head to a lovely lake-side spot. Here we can relax on the unusual pumice beach and in summer enjoy an evening swim before continuing to our lodge accommodation near Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park.

      Accommodation: Lodge accommodation 

      Meals: B,L

      Trekking distance: 4 km/2 hours hiking

      DAY 5: WHAKAPAPA - WAIHOHONU HUT
      Tongariro National Park is the oldest National Park in New Zealand and the fourth oldest in the world. In 1993, the park became a UNESCO mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Site. Although many hikers walk the busy one-day Tongariro Alpine Crossing, few explore the more remote and drier east side of this volcanic range. Enjoy our secret side trips and short cuts but rest assured we will hike the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, considered one of the world’s finest day walks, but at a less busy time of the day whenever possible.

      We sort out gear and pack our backpacks ready for our two nights away. In the late morning, hike out of Whakapapa through tussock-grasslands and over the low saddle that cuts between the volcanoes Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Late afternoon we arrive at the simple but modern Waihohonu Hut among patches of mountain beech forest beside a quiet stream. There are great mountain-views from the spacious common room.

      Accommodation: Waihohonu Hut

      Meals: B,L,D

      Trekking distance: 15 km/6 hours hiking

      DAY 6: WAIHOHONU HUT - OTURERE HUT
      The trail to the next hut takes just 3 hours, so we have the morning to explore. Either amble (about an hour) to the splendid Ohineopango Springs and visit a historic hut and then return to the hut for lunch, or we can negotiate an adventurous off-trail route over ash-moraine ridges and skirt lava cliffs to reach a viewpoint high above a remote lake.

      After lunch continue on, traversing stony desert to an alpine hut at 1400m situated on the edge of an old lava flow. We stop to enjoy fantastic views of the park’s three main peaks: Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe. The latter starred as Mount Doom in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. It’s an extraordinary landscape of active volcanoes and lava valleys.

      Evening provides an opportunity to share the hut with hikers from all over the world. Oturere ‘sardine tin’ Hut is small, quite busy, but still our favourite spot. We usually sleep in the hut, but sometimes we camp.

      Accommodation: Oturere Hut

      Meals: B,L,D

      Trekking distance: 8-15 km/3-8 hours hiking

      DAY 7: OTURERE HUT - WHAKAPAPA
      We hike through a moon-like valley of lava flows and ash fields before climbing steeply to the remarkable Emerald Lakes, which have graced the covers of many guidebooks. From here we join the spectacular Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

      The next few hours of hiking takes us through an unforgettable wonderland of lava valleys, steaming craters and brooding volcanoes before our descent through bonsai-like alpine foliage and alongside mineral-infused streams. In good conditions, we have the option of climbing high on the volcanic peaks.

      An evening drive takes us back to our lodge in the heart of the National Park – the perfect place to relax with a beer and enjoy million-dollar volcanic views before dining in the alpine village.

      Accommodation: Lodge accommodation 

      Meals: B,L

      Trekking distance: 12 km/6 hours hiking

      DAY 8: WHAKAPAPA - WELLINGTON
      Driving south, we leave the volcanoes to descend through the beautiful river valleys of the Rangitikei and along the coast to Wellington, where we arrive mid-afternoon after a café break.

      Wellington is so much more than just New Zealand’s capital. It is also the nation’s stylish hub for arts, culture, cafés and politics. Enclosed by hills and a harbour, this compact city has many attractions within easy walking distance.

      Options include enjoying the National Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa) or watching the political shenanigans of the ‘Beehive’ (Parliament House). Many visitors immerse themselves in the vibrant café scene and the accessible downtown area.

      Meals: B

      Trekking distance: 1 km/1-2 hours hiking

      • What's included:
      • Local guides (mountain safety first aid-trained)
      • Transport, including pickup in Auckland and drop off in Wellington
      • Meals as indicated in the itinerary, with snacks throughout the day
      • Multi-share & sometimes twin-share accommodation
      • National park entry fees
      • What's not included:
      • Pre and post-tour accommodation
      • Airport transfers
      • Airfares
      • Single supplement (not available)
      • Optional tours and excursions
      • Tips and gratuities
      • Travel insurance and vaccinations
      • Items of a personal nature
      • Other services not listed in the inclusions column

      * Travellers are responsible for valid visas throughout the duration of the trip

      View full itinerary  
      Book now  Download the info pack  

      Need to know

      • Best time to travel: November – March
      • Group size: 10 pax
      • Duration: 8 days (excluding travel time)
      • Challenge grade: 4/5
      • Minimum age: 18 (younger ages considered)
      • Accommodation: Multi-share and sometimes twin-share available

      Tour from AUD: Price available upon requeste

      *Subject to change. Refer to Soulful Concepts Terms and Conditons. Book now

        Find out more

        Enter your details below and receive the in-depth information pack and booking details via email

        mag-subscriptionSubscribe to Soulful e-newsletter

          Find out more

          Enter your details below and receive the in-depth information pack and booking details via email

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