Northland Discovery

Northland Discovery

Trip Highlights

  • Feel the isolation at Cape Reinga, the very northern tip of New Zealand
  • Swim in secret coves of turquoise water
  • Enjoy a series of scenic coastal walks carrying only a small backpack 4-5kgs
  • Marvel at Tane Mahuta; "Lord of the Forest" NZ's biggest Kauri tree
  • Admire huge sand dunes along the western coastline
  • Stay in comfortable lodgings and unwind on the veranda in the evening with a glass of wine
  • Kayak in the beautiful Whangaroa Harbour (optional)

Trip Summary

A journey into Northland feels like a trip to the furthest reaches on earth. The scenery is sublime with long white beaches stretching between ancient volcanic headlands, remote dune-scapes melding into sub-tropical forests and warmer evenings yielding to spectacular bright starry nights. This itinerary provides plenty of time for swimming in secret coves of turquoise water, brilliant short walks as well as an extended remote coastal hike near the Bay of Islands. From Auckland we follow the east coast to the original capital, the harbour town of Russell, stopping to check out some glow worms and to stretch our legs with a climb up an old volcanic plug. At the Bay of Islands explore secret beaches and climb up to a vantage point for breathtaking views. Further north at Whangaroa, trek along beautiful bush-fringed coastline with red volcanic headlands and visit the spectacular old volcanic plug (Dukes Nose) before retiring at our remote homestead nestled in the dunes at 90 Mile Beach. The northward journey ends at Cape Reinga, where the waters of the Pacific Ocean collide with the Tasman Sea. See the massive Te Paki sand dunes before heading back south to Auckland via the magnificent Kauri Forests where you'll encounter Tane Mahuta, New Zealand's biggest kauri tree.

Trip Grading

To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the terrain, the altitude, the number of pass crossings and the length of the trip.

This itinerary utilises well formed tracks on all of the walking undertaken. The trekking is as expected for a trip of this grade with no unexpected surprises in steepness. In general the hikes are up to a half day duration which usually requires up to 3 hours walking. For you to be able to really enjoy this trip we recommend that you are to walk comfortably for a few hours at a time (with breaks included).

We recommend 60 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling, jogging or power walking) three times a week for the three months leading up to your trip.


Meet in central Auckland at 8:30am and follow the east coast northwards out of Auckland 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 we continue on to the historic township of Russell, a charming little harbour settlement and New Zealand’s original capital. We arrive early afternoon. Check into your accommodation before enjoying a swim, an amble on the beach or just a glass of wine and a chat with your fellow travellers. Later on we drive a few minutes to the peninsula's end before returning to enjoy a barbeque 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 get us to where the fun starts.

Meals:  L,D

After a 30 minute drive east you reach the beginning of today's first hike. Traverse up through regenerating native bush to a ridge top and look down on hidden sandy coves and rocky headlands. Catching your breath, gaze out across the bright blue Pacific Ocean. Descend to a wonderful swim spot and then walk through bush, passing huge steel pots amid the ruins of the old whaling station. These stations are a sad reminder of the many humpback and southern right whales which 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.

Meals:  B,L

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) or a hike into a beautiful forested-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 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 eco lodge more than makes up for it with its amazing location and wonderful atmosphere.

Meals:  B,L,D

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 explore Te Paki's massive sand dunes with the option to sandboard down these fine faces. If time allows you may choose to do a cliff top walk to the stunning white sands and blue waters of Tapotupotu. In the mid afternoon 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.

Meals:  B,L,D

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 heading south to Auckland is through the Trounson Kauri Reserve, an intensively managed mainland conservation 'island' surrounded by a sea of farmland. Trounson is one of the best kauri forests in the country and also provides refuge for many threatened species including the brown kiwi. Arrive in Auckland at approximately 5:00pm.

Meals:  B,L

What's Included

  • 4 Breakfasts, 5 lunches, 3 dinners
  • 2 nights hotel/motel ensuite accommodation on a twin share basis, 2 nights rustic eco lodge with shared bathroom facilities
  • Professional qualified driver/guide
  • Private vehicle transport
  • Boogie boards and snorkelling gear for use
  • Water and snacks while trekking
  • Access and concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)

What's Not Included

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages, other than breakfast
  • Optional activities (eg half day kayaking in the Whangaroa Harbour NZ$90 with a minimum of 2 people)
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)
  • Tips


Duration:5 Days
Starting Point:Auckland
Finishing Point:Auckland
Grade:Introductory  Click for more information
Trip Code:NLD
Prices From:NZD$2150
Single Supplement:NZD$475