Central Plateau & Forgotten Highway

From $1290.00 per person

Celebrate winter in the heart of the Tongariro Volcanic Plateau. During this fabulous four day tour we spend two nights in the Central Plateau, staying at the iconic Chateau Tongariro. Our journey also takes us through the Forgotten World Highway. On this stretch of road, we wriggle our way over four mountain saddles, through an eerie one-lane tunnel and along a sinuous river gorge to Stratford, and our last night will be spent in New Plymouth.

Monday 5 August – Thursday 8 August 2019 (4 Days)

Day 1 – Monday 5 August 2019  HOME CITIES TO NATIONAL PARK (D)
This morning, we climb onboard the Northern Explorer train and travel to National Park in the heart of the North Island. On our journey today we see fantastic views of New Zealand farmland, the volcanic plateau, Mount Ruapehu, the world famous Raurimu Spiral, and stunning river gorges – all from the panoramic windows and open air viewing decks allowing you the best possible views. Lunch today can be purchased on board the Northern Explorer (own cost). On arrival in National Park Village, we will be met by our tour coach and driver and our first stop will be the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre where you can see displays and learn about the natural and cultural history of the area. We’ll then make our way up the Top of the Bruce (weather permitting) to see the skiers on Happy Valley and perhaps throw a snowball or two. After our visit up the mountain, we retrace our steps to the Chateau Tongariro, where we will stay for the next two nights. The elegant Chateau Tongariro is located within Whakapapa Village – in the heart of Tongariro National Park. This iconic hotel was constructed during the ‘roaring twenties’ and was also the year that was the beginning of the world’s great depression, 1929. Tonight we enjoy a delicious dinner at our hotel. Chateau Tongariro – 2 nights

Day 2 – Tuesday 6 August 2019  NATIONAL PARK (BD)
After breakfast, we commence our scenic drive, as we circumnavigate around the Tongariro National Park. On our way to Ohakune, you will see the car graveyard at Horopito, featured in the 1981 film Smash Palace. On arrival in Ohakune, we will have time out to wander through the village and view the giant carrot before continuing on our journey to Waiouru. We will stop briefly at the Tangiwai Memorial Site, which commemorates the lives lost in New Zealand’s worst rail disaster on 24 December 1953. Waiouru is home to New Zealand’s largest military base, so it is fitting that the New Zealand Army Museum is located here. After lunch in Waiouru we will visit the army museum. The history of the New Zealand Army is explained here with an extensive collection of artefacts, audio visuals and realistic displays. Our journey around the mountains will continue as we travel on the Desert Road back to our accommodation for the evening. Tonight we enjoy another delicious dinner at our hotel.

Day 3 – Wednesday 7 August 2019  NATIONAL PARK TO NEW PLYMOUTH (BLD)
This morning we depart from the Central Plateau and heads towards Taranaki, travelling on the Forgotten World Highway, as it threads 155km through pristine sub-tropical rain forests and unspoilt scenery, just as they were thousands of years ago – including the beech ridge-tops of Whangamomona Saddle and the awesome Tangarakau Gorge. We will stop in for a hearty lunch at the iconic Whangamomona Hotel before continuing along the highway to Stratford. As we come closer to Stratford we will cross the Strathmore Saddle, which on a fine day will offer spectacular views of Mt Taranaki, and Mt Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Our day ends in New Plymouth where we will check into our accommodation for the night. As our hotel is centrally located, there will be free time for you to explore the New Plymouth CBD area. Copthorne Grand Central Hotel, New Plymouth

Day 4 – Thursday 8 August 2019 NEW PLYMOUTH TO HOME CITIES (B)
After breakfast this morning, we commence our journey back home. We will have a brief stop at the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge which is a pedestrian and cycleway bridge across the Waiwhakaiho River. Its spectacular shape and setting make it a popular landmark. On a clear day, you can see Mt Taranaki through the shape of the bridge. Our journey home will take us through Mokau, Te Kuiti, and Otorohanga.