Shorter and easier than our other trips (day hikes only) and it is also a bit warmer in the 'winterless north'.
Day 1: Depart Auckland and follow the east coast northwards via glowworm caves. Take some crazy coastal back roads to our camp just above the beach. Have a swim or explore this lovely coastline. If the sea conditions are calm there is excellent snorkelling here. 1-2 hours hiking. LD
Day 2: Tumble out of sleeping bags and leap into the sea. Climb up through native bush to the ridge tops and look down on hidden sandy coves and rocky headlands.You will pass huge steel pots amid the ruins of an old whaling station. Descend from Pukehuia; at 345 metres it is the highest hill and best viewpoint in the Bay of Islands. It is a short drive to Russell, from where you can take the ferry across to Paihia. Stop briefly in Paihia, the main tourist centre of the Bay of Islands, before driving north to the campsite at Tauranga Bay and its welcome hot showers.
6 hours hiking. BLD
Day 3: Highly recommended guided sea kayaking (optional). Launch off a private beach and kayak along an uncluttered coastline, past red volcanic headlands, island outcrops and sandy beaches. After passing through sea caves you will reach the sheltered waters of Whangaroa Harbour with its mangrove forests. Have a picnic lunch on a beautiful beach before returning. Stop to share watery stories over fish and chips at the famous Mangonui Fish Shop. Those not kayaking have free time at the Tauranga beach campsite until early afternoon. Later, head to the twin coves campsite of Matai Bay.
5 hours kayaking. BL
Day 4: More swimming and snorkelling, then off again. Drive up the endless hard-packed sands of Ninety Mile Beach to Te Paki’s massive looming sand dunes, where you can jump out and impress each other with out of control fat-air-antics on your sandboard. Set up camp at a beautiful sandy cove. Later you have the option of a cliff-top walk or a drive to the edge of the world at Cape Reinga, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. Watch the sun set in the western sky from this (almost) northernmost tip of New Zealand.
2 hours hiking. BLD
Day 5: Explore 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. Leave the far north and begin the journey southwards, passing through Kaitaia, across the Hokianga Harbour on a car ferry, and on to the Waipoua Forest. Be humbled by New Zealand’s biggest kauri tree Tane Mahuta. As you curl up in your tent, hear the screeching call of the endangered North Island Brown kiwi, whose numbers are sadly dwindling each year.
2-4 hours hiking. BLD
Day 6: Walk the Trounson Kauri Reserve to bask in the shadows of these huge trees. An intensively managed mainland conservation ‘island’ surrounded by a sea of farmland. This reserve is also home to a well-nurtured and protected (from predators) population of kiwi. Arrive in Auckland at approximately 3pm.
1 hour hiking. BL
Notes: This tour is affected by tides and sea conditions - particularly on Ninety Mile Beach (the van is not a boat). If some routes are impassable, plan B is to go in a different or reverse order, but very occasionally your guide may be forced to skip something altogether.
If you are doing this trip between Christmas and mid-January expect to see more tents, sun-scorched folks, and ice-creamed kids at campsites. When it all goes mad your guide may choose different campsites on nights two and three to keep you all sane.
Far North vehicle has snorkelling gear, boogie/sand boards and a barbecue.
Optional activities: Sea Kayaking NZ$95. Optional activities are paid for during the trip.
Also see tour packages in:
Australia and Oceania New Zealand Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Multi-activity
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