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New Zealand

Epic North Island New Zealand: 8 Days

A North Island adventure, from overnight treks in lush rainforests to exploring geothermal wonders, culminating in vibrant Wellington

Epic North Island New Zealand: 8 Days

A North Island adventure, from overnight treks in lush rainforests to exploring geothermal wonders, culminating in vibrant Wellington

Step into the untouched beauty of New Zealand's North Island and embark on an extraordinary journey off the beaten path. Your adventure begins with an overnight trek to a rustic riverside hut in the lush Whirinaki rainforest, evoking the primordial landscapes of a bygone era. Traverse eastward to uncover the secluded wonders of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk, nestled deep within the mystical forests of Te Urewera. Explore the volcanic heart of the island, where otherworldly geothermal features near Rotorua await discovery, before ascending to the surreal landscapes of Tongariro National Park, where alpine huts perch amidst towering peaks. Conclude your expedition in Wellington, a dynamic harbor city brimming with cultural delights and culinary treasures.

The Ultimate North Island experience offers short hikes and two overnight excursions in Whirinaki Conservation Park and Tongariro National Park, with accommodation options ranging from backcountry huts to picturesque lodges. Spanning from Day 1 to 8 of the Ultimate New Zealand tour, this immersive adventure promises unforgettable moments for those seeking a condensed yet enriching exploration of New Zealand's natural wonders.


  • Trekking through primeval rainforests reminiscent of the Jurassic era.
  • Exploring the surreal geothermal landscapes of Rotorua.
  • Witnessing the awe-inspiring volcanic wonders along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
  • Discovering the vibrant harbor-side charm of Wellington, New Zealand's capital city.

START: Auckland
FINISH: Wellington
ACCOMMODATION: Lodges, cabins, camping and backcountry huts

Departures 2024/2025:

  • November: 13 & 27
  • December: 11
  • January: 15
  • February: 5 & 19
  • March 22
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Trip Itinerary


We gather at 7am at the Sky Tower in downtown Auckland before embarking on our journey south to Rotorua. Along the way, we make a café stop to fuel up for the day and explore Rotorua's famous thermal features. After a quick visit to Lake Rotorua, we head southeast into the Whirinaki Forest. Following a picnic lunch, we prepare our gear for a hike into the rainforest, reaching a simple forest hut beside the picturesque Whirinaki river. We cook together and spend the evening relaxing by a campfire.

Hiking Distance: 9.5 km (5.9 miles) | Duration: 3 hours

Included: lunch, and dinner.

Accommodation: Blue Lake Holiday Park is a commercial campground with great facilities surrounded by bush and beside a small lake, Lake Tikitapu. We sometimes camp and sometimes use cabins. Have a refreshing swim in Lake Tikitapu after an enjoyable day of hiking.


In the morning, we proceed along the valley trail, venturing into a wilderness rarely tread by tourists, where sightings of rare blue ducks, robins, and the echoing calls of kaka, a large bush parrot, are not uncommon. As we descend further into the valley, we pass beneath towering tree ferns and some of New Zealand’s most magnificent podocarp rainforest trees.

Later in the afternoon, our journey takes us eastward, delving into the rugged forest expanses of Te Urewera, the ancestral domain of the Tūhoe (Māori tribe) and one of the final frontiers to be reached by European settlers. Following a two-hour drive through the captivating rainforest, we arrive at the northern edge of remote Lake Waikaremoana. Here, we continue our exploration around the lake's perimeter before settling in for the night at a charming camping area featuring cozy cabins. In this tranquil setting, we gather to prepare and enjoy a communal meal in the shared kitchen facilities. While our preference is typically to lodge in the simple cabins, occasionally we opt for a camping experience.

Hiking Distance: 15 km (9.3 miles) | Duration: 5 hours

Included: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Accommodation: Whirinaki Hut is a 25-bunk Department of Conservation hut with living area and a spacious kitchen complete with cosy fire. The hut is superbly located, tucked into a clearing of beech trees alongside the Whirinaki River. Cool down with a refreshing swim in the river after an enjoyable day of hiking. Camping sites can be found in the large grassy area just in front of the hut.


Prepare yourself for the breathtaking panoramas that await as we kick off the day with a short 20-minute drive to the trailhead located at the southern tip of the lake. From there, we commence our ascent up the Panekiri Range, navigating through gnarled beech and vibrant tawa forests to reach an elevation of over 500 meters above the lake. En route, we are treated to awe-inspiring views stretching in every direction.

Pause to soak in the scenery during a leisurely lunch break at Bald Knob before retracing our steps along the undulating trail. If time allows upon our return to the road's end, we may venture into the captivating Onepoto Caves trail. We then conclude the day with a second night's stay at the cabins, with occasional camping.

Hiking Distance: 14 km (8.7 miles) | Duration: 7 hours

Included: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Accommodation: The Jail House is a small set of cabins and units beside Tony and Hayley’s (who operate the shuttle service to the trailhead for us) rural home. A couple of showers, bathrooms and a fire pit to sit around. Simple and completely out in the countryside.


We start off our day with a journey to the Volcanic Plateau, renowned for its diverse natural marvels. Delve into the wonders of a remarkable thermal park, indulge in a refreshing soak in a natural hot river, and marvel at the breathtaking Huka Falls. Experience the invigorating spray as the mighty Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest, cascades 11 meters into a pool reminiscent of a stadium.

Later, we venture to Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand, spanning an impressive 600 square kilometers. This crater lake, formed in 186AD by a colossal volcanic eruption, stands as a testament to nature's raw power. At Taupo, we grab takeaway food and venture to a picturesque lakeside spot. Here, amidst the unique pumice beach, we unwind and bask in the summer warmth, perhaps even taking an evening swim. Finally, we continue our journey to lodge accommodation near Whakapapa Village, nestled in Tongariro National Park.

Hiking Distance: 4km (2.5 miles) | Duration: 2 hours

Included: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Accommodation: Located in Whakapapa Village at the foot of Mount Ruapehu, Skotel Alpine Resort offers a friendly informal atmosphere. Stay in the comfy Backpacker rooms, twin and sometimes triple share. Sheets and towels are provided, and bathroom and kitchen facilities are communal.

Or The Park Hotel in the nearby National Park town, twin and sometimes triple person share, ensuite rooms. Sheets and towels are provided.


Tongariro National Park holds the distinction of being the oldest National Park in New Zealand and the fourth oldest globally. Designated as a UNESCO mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Site in 1993, it stands as a testament to both the region's rich heritage and its stunning natural landscapes. While many visitors embark on the popular one-day Tongariro Alpine Crossing, few venture into the remote and arid eastern side of this volcanic expanse. Our itinerary offers the opportunity to explore hidden gems and shortcuts while ensuring an unforgettable hike along the renowned Tongariro Alpine Crossing, hailed as one of the world's premier day walks.

We meticulously organize our gear and pack our backpacks for our two-night excursion. By late morning, we commence our hike from Whakapapa, traversing tussock-grasslands and crossing the low saddle nestled between the towering peaks of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. As the afternoon wanes, we reach the Waihohonu Hut, a modest yet contemporary abode nestled amidst mountain beech forest beside a tranquil stream. The spacious common room offers stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains, providing a serene setting for relaxation.

Hiking Distance: 9.3 miles | Duration: 6 hours

Included: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Accommodation: Waihohonu Hut is a modern 28-bunk Department of Conservation hut located on the Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk. Facilities are basic but comfortable, with bunk beds, mattresses, wood stove, common room, and toilets.


The next leg of our journey spans a mere three hours, leaving ample time to explore the surrounding terrain in the morning. You can opt for a leisurely stroll, approximately an hour in duration, to marvel at the exquisite Ohineopango Springs and visit a historic hut before returning to the main trail for lunch. Alternatively, those seeking a more adventurous route can venture off-trail, navigating ash-moraine ridges and lava cliffs to reach a panoramic viewpoint overlooking a secluded lake. Following a satisfying lunch, our journey continues through rocky desert landscapes, culminating in our arrival at an alpine hut situated at 1400m atop an ancient lava flow.

Along the way, we pause to soak in breathtaking vistas of Tongariro National Park's iconic peaks: Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe—the latter famously depicted as Mount Doom in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy. This rugged terrain, characterized by active volcanoes and lava valleys, offers a truly remarkable spectacle.As evening descends, we gather at the cozy confines of the Oturere 'sardine tin' Hut, a quaint yet bustling abode that serves as a popular waypoint for hikers from across the globe. While accommodations may be snug, the camaraderie and atmosphere make it a cherished favorite among travelers. Typically, we opt to spend the night inside the hut, although occasional camping under the stars adds to the adventure.

Hiking Distance: 5-9.3 miles/ 12 km| Duration: 3-8 hours

Included: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Accommodation: Oturere Hut is a 26-bunk Department of Conservation hut located in Tongariro National Park. Facilities are basic but comfortable, with bunk beds, mattresses, wood stove, common room, and toilets.


We trek through a lunar landscape of lava flows and ash fields, ascending steeply to reach the renowned Emerald Lakes, whose beauty has graced the covers of numerous guidebooks. From this vantage point, we seamlessly transition onto the breathtaking Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Over the next few hours, we traverse an unforgettable terrain characterized by lava valleys, steaming craters, and imposing volcanoes, before beginning our descent through miniature alpine foliage and alongside mineral-rich streams. Weather permitting, we may even have the opportunity to summit some of the volcanic peaks.

As evening descends, we embark on a scenic drive back to our lodge nestled in the heart of the National Park—an ideal setting to unwind with a refreshing beverage and bask in the awe-inspiring views of the volcanic landscape, followed by a delightful dining experience in the charming alpine village.

Hiking Distance: 12km (7.5 miles) | Duration: 6 hours

Included: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Accommodation: Located in Whakapapa Village at the foot of Mount Ruapehu, Skotel Alpine Resort offers a friendly informal atmosphere. Stay in the comfy Backpacker rooms, twin and sometimes triple share. Sheets and towels are provided, and bathroom and kitchen facilities are communal.

Or The Park Hotel in the nearby National Park town, twin and sometimes triple person share, ensuite rooms. Sheets and towels are provided.


On our final day, we commence a leisurely hike spanning 0.6 miles, or 1 kilometer, lasting one to two hours. Departing from the volcanic landscapes, we traverse the picturesque river valleys of Rangitikei before reaching the coastal city of Wellington by mid-afternoon. Wellington, New Zealand's capital, is renowned not only for its political significance but also for its vibrant arts, culture, and café scene. Nestled between hills and a harbor, this compact city offers a plethora of attractions within walking distance, including the National Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa) and the iconic 'Beehive' (Parliament House). Includes breakfast.

Note: For travelers returning to Auckland via bus or train, please contact us for the latest timetable information.

Additional Trip Info

Additional Details:


"Wild nights" vs nights in civilization...The Ultimate South Island is a combination of “wild nights”, which are the nights where you are truly in the wilderness, staying in backcountry huts or camping in locations that may be several hours walk from the nearest road or populated area, versus nights in civilisation where you may stay in cabins or camp by the vehicle at Department of Conservation campsites. Some of these locations may still be relatively remote and in the wilderness but they can be reached by the vehicle.

Huts - New Zealand has an excellent network of backcountry huts and you will stay in huts on several nights. They are equipped with mattresses, running water and an outside toilet. Cooking is done on a portable stove. Huts are only accessible on foot and shared with other hikers. You also have the option of camping near the hut if that is your preference.

Lodges - You will stay in lodge type accommodation on some of the nights, the lodges are usually conveniently located near the start or end of a hike and have multi-share and sometimes twin/double rooms generally with shared bathrooms.

Camping - You will camp in a range of campsites. On the "wild nights" you may camp under natural rock shelters, on remote beaches or even sleep out under the stars (single tent available on request)! On the non -"wild nights" you will camp near the vehicle in Department of Conservation campsites. If the weather is not great for camping, eg very wet, stormy or cold conditions, your guide will seek out alternative accommodation, eg lodge, cabin or crib.

Cabins/Cribs - Some nights may be spent in private cribs (summer house) or cabins at a campground. Staying in the cribs is a real authentic New Zealand experience and you may even start to feel like a kiwi on holiday! Often you can put a tent up if you want a 'room' to yourself on these nights.

Bathroom facilities - On the wild nights there will be long drop (pit) toilets. There will be rivers or lakes nearby for washing, and sometimes there are even natural hot pools! The kiwi-Style Hiking Tours are set up so after a couple of nights of "roughing it" in the wilderness, you will stay somewhere where you can enjoy a shower and a few home comforts (including laundry facilities) before the next foray into the wild!

Accommodation is subject to availability, and an equivalent style of property could be used if the advertised property is no longer available.


Meals are a time to rest, refuel and recharge, but also a great chance to get to know your fellow travellers better. So soak up the amazing surroundings and enjoy some great food! Everybody gets involved with the preparation and cooking of meals: barbecues, salads, pancakes, curries, pasta, stir-fries... On the "wild nights" the group will usually eat pasta or rice meals (learn some "secret" recipes!). There is always lots of snack food - chocolate, nuts, raisins, biscuits. The vehicles carry a full range of cooking equipment including gas burners, woks, frying pans and billies (cooking pots). On overnight hikes the group will carry a portable stove.

Whilst we can cater for vegetarians and most food intolerances, some trips are not recommended for people with very restrictive or complex dietary requirements. If you do have a restrictive eating regime please disclose this to us at the time of booking. We may ask you to provide us with an outline of what you would typically eat on a multiday wilderness trip. You may need to assist the guide with the food shopping and preparation to ensure your dietary requirements are met. For complex diets we may ask you to shop and pay for some of your specialist dietary requirements before or on the trip. Just have a chat with us on booking.

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