Spectacular yet diverse coastlines, marine reserves, kauri forests, and two oceans that collide make Northland an unmissable and unforgettable destination. Subtropical Northland is a land of contrasts where every area is steeped in history. Our six day Northland Discovery tour will explore the different areas of Northland including the west coast of Northland, home to ancient kauri forests, wild windswept harbours, giant sand dunes; the historical sites of Kerikeri, the beachside resort of Taipa and Doubtless Bay, Whangarei in the south, and everywhere in between.
Wednesday 12 February – Monday 17 February 2020 (6 Days)
Day 1 Wednesday 12 February 2020 – HOME CITIES TO MATAKANA (D)
This morning we depart Hamilton and travel north through Auckland. We will stop on the North Shore for a roadside morning tea before continuing our journey north to Matakana. We stop in at Puhoi Valley Cheese Company for lunch (own cost) and cheese tasting. We then travel to Matakana where we will stay for the night. There will be time available here to explore the village. There is a lot on offer within the village including artisan foods, boutique fashion, local arts and crafts, homeware, jewellery, gifts and more. The space is wonderfully landscaped connecting the centre of town to the river with plenty of open spaces to relax in. Tonight, we will reconvene as a group and enjoy dinner at the Matakana Village Pub.
Accommodation: Matakana Motel, Matakana
Day 2 Thursday 13 February 2020 – MATAKANA TO HOKIANGA (BD)
We enjoy a leisurely morning in Matakana. On our way out of Matakana we will pop into Morris & James Pottery, who create some of New Zealand’s only handmade large-ware pots & planters, since 1977. A range of ceramic works available, including kiwiana & interior décor, created with clay harvested on-site in Matakana. Time will be available to browse through their extensive showroom. We then depart Matakana and travel to the western coast of Northland. We will stop en route at Dargaville for you to purchase your lunch. Continuing our journey north we travel up Northland’s west coast skirting Kaipara Harbour and following the Kaihu River to Kai Iwi Lakes and the primeval forest of Waipoua, which translates as ‘water falling at night’. We will arrive at our overnight accommodation on the Hokianga Harbour in the afternoon. There will be time for you to relax and enjoy the magnificent views of the harbour and sand dunes before we have an early dinner at the hotel. This evening we will be collected from the hotel foyer for a 90 minute night tour into the Waipoua Forest to visit one of the oldest and largest known kauri trees in the world, Tane Mahuta (The lord of the forest). Let the night noises, foreign environment, time, local Maori guides and ecological and cultural interpretation (Maori story, song and instruments) awaken your spiritual senses.
Accommodation: Copthorne Hotel & Resort Hokianga
Day 3 Friday 14 February 2020 – HOKIANGA – KERIKERI – TAIPA (BD)
After a leisurely start this morning we commence our travel to the eastern coast of Northland. Our first stop for the day will be Kerikeri, a town with a rich and colourful history. While here we enjoy a guided tour of the Stone Store and Kemp House (Kerikeri Mission House). The iconic Stone Store stands at the edge of the Kerikeri inlet, offering a unique shopping experience with an interactive story space upstairs. See how the early settlers lived and learn about the building’s many lives as a trading post, library, barracks, school and general store. Built-in 1822, Kemp House is the country’s oldest surviving building, surrounded by English-style cottage garden and orchards. Hear the story of the first missionary families and see their personal items and furniture preserved over the years. We’ll stop in Kerikeri for you to purchase your lunch before visiting Makana Confectionery, where you are able to sample their delicious hand made chocolates. Continuing north we travel to the beautiful Doubtless Bay where we will stay for the next two nights. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel.
Accommodation: Ramada Reia Taipa Beach, Taipa – 2 nights
Day 4 Saturday 15 February 2020 – DOUBTLESS BAY (BLD)
After breakfast this morning, we travel to Hihi and visit Butler Point. Here we enjoy a tour of the Butler Point Whaling Museum, acknowledged as one of the most comprehensive private museums of its kind in New Zealand. Exhibits represent almost 50 years obtaining authentic items associated with the whaling industry. Pieces have been sourced from New Zealand, Australia, England and North America. The museum has been developed to commemorate the close association of the Point and Mangonui with whaling. The property is home to Butler House, the residence of Captain William Butler built-in 1847; and Gardens of exotic and native flora, including extensive stands of ancient Pohutukawa trees. The site is also home to a macadamia nut orchard, a beautiful garden area which you will have time to explore. We then retrace our steps back to Taipa. We will stop in the town of Mangonui, a historic fishing village which is home to the Mangonui Fish Shop. Here we will enjoy a delicious fresh fish n’ chip lunch while enjoying the lovely ocean views. We return to our accommodation in the afternoon where the remainder of the day is at leisure. Perhaps take a stroll along the beach or a soak in the pool. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel.
Day 5 Sunday 16 February 2020 – TAIPA TO WHANGAREI (BD)
Departing Taipa this morning we travel south into the heart of the Bay of Islands – Paihia. Here we will enjoy some leisure time in Paihia. We then travel to Kawiti Caves where we enjoy a guided tour. Our 30 minute guided tour will follow a wooden boardwalk through a 200-metre limestone cave system. Once inside, we will see thousands of glow worms spread across the ceiling surrounded by breathtaking stalactites and stalagmites. As you enjoy the galaxies of glow worms above, our friendly guide will explain the life cycle of the New Zealand Glowworm (Arachnocampa Luminosa) and the intricate webs used to catch their prey. We’ll even get close enough to see the actual body of the glow worm and its stunning blue/green tail light before you make the return bushwalk through a natural corridor of karst rock formations and pristine rainforest. Continuing our journey we travel to Whangarei, where on arrival we will stop at Whangarei Falls, a 26m high waterfall surrounded by park and native New Zealand bush. We then proceed to check into our accommodation for the evening. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Accommodation: Distinction Whangarei
Day 6 Monday 17 February 2020 – Whangarei to Home Cities (B)
Today we commence our journey home. We travel on the road less travelled via Kumeu, a town which offers a refreshing blend of boutique wineries, orchards and rolling green farmland. We will stop here for you to purchase your lunch and browse their variety of boutique shops. Departing Kumeu, we travel along the South Western Motorway and through the Waterview Tunnel (touted as the biggest change to Auckland’s roading network since the opening of the Harbour Bridge in 1959) before arriving at our final destination in Hamilton.