The 7 day Northern Explorer is a Topdeck trip of New Zealand's North Island between Auckland and Wellington. See the stunning Bay of Islands, explore Auckland and Wellington, hike in Tongariro National Park (aka Mordor), tour Maori-influenced Rotorua and even spend the night on a Maori marae. Eat New Zealand lamb, soak in Rotorua's hot springs and bungy jump near Lake Taupo on this unforgettable Topdeck NZ adventure!
Steal away from 'the maiden with a thousand lovers' (aka Auckland) and become a tree-hugging hippie as you wrap your arms around NZ's botanical elder, the Kauri tree. James Cook named our next stop the 'Bay of Islands'. Well, you know what to expect. Seeing all 144 islands might take a while, so grab the optional 'Rock the Boat' island tour for 24 solid hours cruising and snorkelling the archipelago. Instagram your first Pacific sunset then get your mind blown by the southern night sky. You could get used to this.
**Pre-book your Rock the Boat trip to secure a spot as spaces fill up quickly. All meals, epic company and good times included.
The Bay of Islands is big on numbers: 144 islands, 90 miles of beach in one stretch, and 100-metre high Te Paki sand dunes ready for some serious sand boarding action. Get a dose of Kiwi history at the Waitangi Treaty house or in Russell-NZ's first capital then grab a kayak and paddle under the Haruru Falls. We're having fish and chips for dinner so good thing you did all that exercise. (B,D)
NZ is so freakin' gorgeous it has waterfalls like Whangarei hidden just off the highway. We'll make a pit stop to walk to the falls on our way back to Auckland. Maori legends and mythology have been passed down orally for thousands of years. You have one night in this sacred meeting house, so pay attention. After learning the tongue-thrusting Haka dance moves of the All Blacks, and the finesse of the ladies Poi dance, polishing off a traditional maori dinner and rubbing noses, you will no longer be a guest but a part of their people. You lucky thing. (B, D)
Goodness gracious, Great (Pacific) Ring of Fire! Mud, Middle Earth and massages are the order of the day in the bubbling, gurgling and sulphur-soaked town of Rotorua. If you’re starting to resemble a muddy prune, flush out the mud rafting over the waterfalls, discover the Disneyland of mountain biking, or jump into the real-life landscapes of Tolkien’s dreams on the Hobbiton Shire escape. (B)
The heat is on as we flex our muscles, hit the footy field and learn the gentleman's game from the future All Blacks at the NZ Sports Academy. Geothermal activity gets turned up to 11 with bubbling mud pools, and if that's not enough, you can jump off a bridge as we pass by the largest lake in New Zealand. Lake Taupo was formed by an explosion that extended the Ice Age, so yeah, it's pretty big. It's also time to meet the dessert that's caused a battle between NZ and Australia since someone whipped an egg white: the pavlova. (B, D)
Binoculars and a digital camera should have been essentials for the Hobbits as they climbed through Mordor. Good thing you came prepared. With dual cultural and natural heritage status, and often described as the most epic hike in NZ, Tongariro NP is home to two active volcanoes that will hopefully keep a lid on things.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing will quickly top your list of favourites if you don't mind heights and the odd dormant lava chamber (and walks from 20 mins to 8 hours). Hike, raft or mountain bike then hit the spa and warm your feet by the fire in an alpine lodge overlooking Mt Doom. (B)
From hiking over lava to readjusting to city life, today we hit the nation's capital, Wellington (no, it's not Auckland!). After you conquer the six floors of Te Papa, you'll probably be ready for a big city nightlife hit. With more bars and restaurants per capita than New York and a well-earned spot as the sporting capital of NZ, you can't go wrong with a craft beer and some local rugby action. (B)