Explore the East Coast

From $3,900 per person

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Friday 13  – ​Sunday 22 May 2022 (10 days)

This tour explores the North Island’s varied east coast – encompassing the coastal shores of the Bay of Plenty, the East Cape, Hawkes Bay, the Wairarapa and culminating in our country’s capital city. We take in historic locations, stunning scenic views, and fun activities including a star safari at Stonehenge Aotearoa and a journey onboard the Northern Explorer Train.



Day 1          Friday 13 May 2022
Departing Hamilton this morning, we travel over the Kaimai Ranges to the Bay of Plenty, named by Captain James Cook in 1769 because of the abundance of water and food. Our first stop will be Mount Maunganui where there will be time to purchase lunch (own cost) and stretch your legs. After our lunch stop, we travel along the new Tauranga Eastern Link toll road through to Maketu to view the landing site of the Arawa canoe, marked now with a stone cairn and plaque depicting the event. We’ll then continue along the coastal road through Matata and on to Whakatane. On a fine day, we’ll have a good view over to White Island, an active marine volcano. The Whakatane district is steeped in history and culture. The Mataatua canoe landed here and Pa sites from early settlement are identifiable along the coast. The Maori language and culture is strong and viable with over 40% of the population being of Maori heritage. Predominant iwi in the region include Ngati Awa, Tuhoe, and Te Whakatohea. The region is rich in forestry resources along with dairy farming, fruit growing and market gardening.  After a sightseeing tour of Whakatane, we’ll check into our accommodation for the evening. Tonight we’ll enjoy a group dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodation: Barringtons Motor Lodge, Whakatane – 1 night

Day 2          Saturday 14 May 2022
After breakfast this morning, we’ll stop in town for you to purchase your lunch to enjoy at one of the many scenic areas along the way. Departing Whakatane, we follow the shore line of the Ohiwa Harbour to Opotiki following “The Pathway to the Sunrise” marked by two large magnificent carved poles. Opotiki is situated on a harbour inlet formed by the junction of two rivers, the Waioeka and the Otara on three sides. The region from Ohiwa Harbour in the south and Cape Runaway in the north has a sparse population of only 9200 people. We follow the coastline along State Highway 35 passing numerous bays and beaches to Te Kaha. This area is developing with its micro climate and is now a prosperous kiwifruit growing area which has created more employment for locals. We then move on through Waihau Bay before Whangaparoa and crossing Cape Runaway to Hicks Bay and our overnight stop. Tonight we’ll dine at our motel.
Accommodation: Hicks Bay Motel Lodge, Hicks Bay – 1 night

Day 3          Sunday 15 May 2022
Leaving Hicks Bay from the top of the hill, we’ll enjoy views of the East Cape beyond Te Araroa. Here we visit the world’s largest standing Pohutukawa tree (Te Waha o Rerekohu).  We visit the township of Ruatoria, the largest town since leaving Opotiki. Ruatoria offers facilities not found in other coastal towns so far and is a service town for many outlying valleys. Ruatoria is the centre for the Ngati Porou tribe. Sir Apirana Ngata lived here and his memory is perpetuated in the Ngata Memorial College (he also appears on our $50 notes). As we leave Ruatoria good views can generally be seen of Mt Hikurangi, which at 1754 metres is the highest non-volcanic peak in the North Island and the first place to see the sun in New Zealand each day. We visit Tokomaru Bay where the remains of the old freezing works which closed down in 1952 can be seen. While in Tokomaru Bay, we’ll enjoy a lunch at the Te Puka Tavern. After lunch, we visit Anaura Bay before arriving at Tolaga Bay and the old wharf area. Walking out along this historic wharf reminds us of the days gone by and the way this was constructed without all the mod cons of today. We continue along the sandy coastline to Gisborne. The Gisborne region has been settled for over 1000 years, with Europeans not arriving until the late 19th Century when the first whaling station was established in the area. It was Gisborne where Captain Cook made his first landfall on New Zealand soil in 1769 naming it Poverty Bay after deciding it had nothing to offer. We visit Cook’s monument and the monument for Nicholas Young the cabin boy and first member of Captain Cook’s ship the Endeavour to sight land. We continue with Gisborne city sights before checking into our overnight accommodation.  We’ll enjoy dinner tonight at our hotel.
Accommodation: Emerald Hotel, Gisborne  - 1 night

Day 4          Monday 16 May 2022
We commence our day with a visit to see the Eastwoodhill Arboretum in all its splendour. We then continue on our way traversing the Whararata range to Mahia Peninsula. This is a diamond shaped isthmus 5 kilometres long with its crescent shaped beach to the south and sheltered beach on the north side. We backtrack to Nuhaka and then onto Wairoa, the northern most town of the Hawkes Bay region with a population of 9000 for the region. The town is split by the vast Wairoa River and the old Portland Island lighthouse from Mahia, which has been restored and now sits alongside the town’s third bridge. Early settlement in the area included a whaling station and trading post dealing largely in flax. Today Wairoa is a manufacturing and farming service town. From Wairoa we continue our journey through Northern Hawkes Bay passing by Lake Tutira. On this route, when approaching Bay View, we pass the Whirinaki pulp and paper mill where Pan Pac was established in 1971. In 2007 Pan Pac became wholly owned by Oji Paper, one of the largest pulp and paper producers in Japan. Over 220,000 tonnes of thermo-mechanical wood pulp is produced annually and shipped from the Port of Napier to Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, where Oji Paper has a large paper manufacturing plant. On arrival in Napier, we’ll check in to our accommodation on Marine Parade. Tonight we’ll enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Accommodation: Scenic Hotel Te Pania, Napier  – 1 night

Day 5          Tuesday 17 May 2022
Today we enjoy a scenic drive around Havelock North and Hastings. We’ll include a visit to the home of Arataki Honey – a family staple since 1944! We will stop in Havelock North for you to purchase lunch (own cost) before visiting a local winery for a tasting. Our next stop will be Birdwoods Gallery, offering a gallery, sculpture garden, and old-fashioned sweet shop. We travel back to Napier in the early afternoon and the remainder of the day is at your leisure. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel.

Day 6          Wednesday 18 May 2022
Today travel south through the rolling farmlands of Central Hawkes Bay into the Wairarapa region.  Wairarapa is New Zealand’s fifth largest wine region producing some 1.7% of the national crop.  The Wairarapa Valley enjoys a sunny, dry climate with vines planted on free-draining, low vigour soils resulting in intensely flavoured grapes.  During our journey today we visit the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre.  Here we  will learn about New Zealand’s unique conservation history through a self-guided tour. Intriguing stories are told about Pukaha Mount Bruce and its vision, challenges and achievements via interpretation displays. There is a cafe attached to the centre where you will be able to purchase your lunch before we make our way to Masterton, our base for the next couple of days. There will be some time on arrival in Masterton to explore the local shops before we check into our accommodation. Dinner tonight will be at the hotel.
Accommodation: Copthorne Solway Park Hotel, Masterton – 2 nights

Day 7          Thursday 19 May 2022
Today we enjoy a later start as today is going to be a late night but also a day with spectacular sights!  We travel to the coast to the popular seaside resort of Castlepoint. With its fossil-rich limestone reef, lighthouse and magnificent 162-metre high Castle Rock, Castlepoint is one of the most spectacular sites along the Wairarapa coastline. The area was named in 1770 by Captain Cook, who observed that Castle Rock resembled the battlements of a castle. The reef, lagoon, sand dunes and Castle Rock are all part of Castlepoint Scenic Reserve. There is a short walk to explore Lighthouse Walk (30-minutes return) for those who would like some exercise.  Castlepoint's beach is often visited by dolphins and fur seals. Look also for sea birds - white-fronted terns, red-billed gulls and black shags inhabit the south end of the reef; reef herons and black-backed gulls nest on the sheer cliffs of Castle Rock.  A picnic lunch will be arranged for you to enjoy. We retrace our steps back to our Masterton accommodation for dinner then this evening we visit Stonehenge – or at least Stonehenge Aotearoa - where you can learn about the sky and the earth on a Star Safari!

Day 8          Friday 20 May 2022
Travelling south today our first stop will be Greytown to explore the town which has beautifully restored Victorian wooden buildings which now house stylish and interesting specialty stores. We then travel to Featherston to visit the Fell Museum. The fascinating history of the Rimutaka Incline and its Fell locomotives is recalled with photographs, models, memorabilia films and the spectacular audio-visual presentation "Rimutaka 1949". Step back in time and experience a unique aspect of New Zealand's railway heritage!  This afternoon we travel over the Rimutaka Hill, and through the Hutt Valley, where we will stop at Westfield Queensgate to purchase lunch (own cost) and browse the shopping mall. On arrival in Wellington we enjoy an afternoon orientation tour of the capital city before arriving into our accommodation. Dinner tonight will be at our hotel.
Accommodation: James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel – 2 nights

Day 9          Saturday 21 May 2022
This morning we travel out to Karori to visit Zealandia and the Karori Sanctuary.  With over 225-hectares of regenerating native forest and 40 species of birds, Zealandia is a unique, world-first eco-attraction, providing an excellent opportunity to experience New Zealand’s natural environment just minutes from the capital city.  Our 2-hour guided walking tour commences with a state-of-the-art interactive exhibition which provides an introduction to New Zealand’s natural history and world-famous conservation movement.  Afterwards, your guide will lead you into the sanctuary valley to explore the world’s first fenced urban wildlife sanctuary, in search of the rare sights and sounds of New Zealand’s native bush. We then travel back into the city where the remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Tonight we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner at the hotel.

Day 10          Sunday 22 May 2022
Following an early breakfast today, we are transferred to Wellington Railway Station to board the Northern Explorer train.  This remarkable, ever-changing daytime journey between Wellington and Auckland takes you into the heart of the North Island, through lush green farmland, native forests, over stunning river gorges and across New Zealand’s volcanic plateau.  Highlights include Tongariro National Park and the Raurimu Spiral, an amazing feat of railway engineering. On arrival into Hamilton, you will be transferred back to your home destination. Auckland passengers will continue the train to Auckland before being transferred home.

Barrington's Motor Lodge Whakatane

Free Wi-Fi and BBQ facilities are on offer at Barringtons Motor Lodge, just 5 minutes’ walk from the river. It offers self-contained accommodation with flat-screen satellite TV. There are kitchenettes with pots, a microwave and a refrigerator in all units, while some also have a stovetop. Each room has electric blankets and a bathroom with heated towel rails, a hairdryer and free toiletries. 

Hicks Bay Motel Lodge

Hicks Bay Motel Lodge New Zealand is set on a 14 acre bluff, 250 meters above sea level, in historic and botanically protected, unspoiled Maori Reserved Land. Come Where peace and tranquility abound. Overlooking natural waterways & breath taking Pacific ocean vistas, we offer the most tranquil and relaxing settings among the East Cape hotels. Join our caring and informed staff as you are whisked away from the hustle and bustle of noise and clatter and find yourself surrounded by nature and beauty unsurpassed and untouched. 

Quality Emerald Hotel Gisborne

In the heart of the city, Emerald Hotel is close to many of the attractions the area has to offer. The Studio Suite offers an open plan room with bedroom and small living area, ensuite and views of the city out the picture windows. 

Scenic Hotel Te Pania

Scenic Hotel Te Pania is located in a waterfront location on Marine Parade, this convenient and central location means many of the area's best local attractions are within a few minutes walk. Guests are invited to enjoy quality four star hotel accommodation of an international standard. With 109 guest rooms and suites all facing out to the bay with floor to ceiling windows that can slide open to fill the room with fresh ocean air.

Copthorne Hotel Solway Park

Nestled in the lush Wairarapa valley framed by the towering Tararua Ranges, Copthorne Hotel & Resort Solway Park is set on 24 acres of landscaped grounds and gardens on the outskirts of Masterton.

James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor

The James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor is located in the heart of Wellington's commercial and retail districts. With hotel facilities including a spa style boutique, in-house gym, two restaurants and bars and more. All 268 well-appointed guest rooms and suites offer guests luxury accommodation in the middle of the city centre and close to all the attractions the area has to offer.

Tour Inclusions

  • Door to door home collection & drop off service available from select areas - further information available here
  • 9 nights accommodation with private en suite
  • Touring in modern air conditioned tour coach
  • Wellington to Hamilton or Auckland on the Northern Explorer Train
  • 9 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 9 dinners included
  • Scenic stops along the East Cape
  • Admission to Eastwoodhill Arboretum
  • Wine tasting at Mission Estate Winery
  • Admission to Pukaha Mount Bruce Wildlife Centre
  • Star Safari at Stonehenge Aotearoa
  • Admission to Fell Locomotive Museum
  • Guided tour of Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Roadside morning teas from coach where possible

Tour Payments Per Person ($NZD)

Club Member Guaranteed Share Twin Cost:$3,850.00
Non Member Share Twin Cost:$3,900.00
Single Supplement:$880.00
Non-refundable deposit due at time of booking$200.00

Full balance of tour payment due by Friday 01 April 2022

Book and pay in full by Thursday 13 January 2022 and receive a $100.00 discount per person!


Are door to door collections included on this tour? YES

Yes. Leisure Time Tours offers a free home collection and drop off service from selected Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua and most Auckland City areas. Our complimentary collections are based on your individual post code, other home collection locations available at an additional cost. Alternatively you may wish to meet us at our Hamilton depot in which case you can park your car in our secure yard free of charge for the duration of your holiday. For all tours that have a flight component, we can also offer door to door collections from Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin city areas.

Please refer to our Home Collection flyer for further information about this service.

Is the Guaranteed twin Share Price available on this tour? YES

Yes. Our Guaranteed Twin Share price is available for those passengers willing to share with another single traveller of the same gender. If there isn’t another passenger of the same gender to share with we GUARANTEE our twin share price. Leisure Times Tours accepts no responsibility for the compatibility of passengers travelling under this arrangement. If someone is not compatible with the person they have been matched up with, all additional costs incurred to assist with changing their shared room type to two single rooms will be at the expense of both travellers and will be subject to availability. Acceptance of a guaranteed twin share room is subject to the individual’s medical condition being suitable for this type of arrangement.

Please note that the guaranteed twin share pricing is not available to pre & post tour accommodation arrangements.

What fitness level is required for this tour? EASY LEVEL

To ensure that you select the right tour for you, we’ve developed a very clear set of fitness recommendations for our tours. These physical ratings clearly explain how much physical exertion is required to participate on each tour.

Level 1 – Easy

  • Relaxed paced tour
  • Be able to participate in guided or unguided small walking tours at a relaxed pace.
  • Walk on mostly level ground
  • Tackle an occasional flight of stairs
  • Occasionally need to stand for up to 10 minutes
  • Able to get on and off transportation unaided

Level 2 – Moderate

  • Be able to participate in walking tours with time to rest at least every 10 minutes
  • Stand for 15 minutes without needing to sit down
  • Tackle a flight of stairs or incline
  • Able to get on and off transportation unaided
  • Walk confidently on bush tracks

 Level 3 – Active

  • Participate in walking tours without having to rest for up to 20 minutes
  • Walk up an incline equal to a flight of stairs without stopping
  • Stand for 30 minutes without needing to sit down
  • Walk over uneven ground and walk through soft sand
  • Able to get on and off transportation unaided
Will there be a daily seat rotation on this tour? YES

Passengers rotate seats in the coach daily so that all passengers have the opportunity to enjoy forward and window seating. All passengers are expected to participate as a booking condition.

Can you assist with pre & post tour accommodation? YES

Yes we can. Should you wish to arrive earlier or stay longer we can book in some pre and post tour accommodation for you. Please ask at the time of booking if you require this.

Is this tour a guaranteed departure? NO

This tour will be guaranteed once there are 10 passengers booked on the tour.

Are roadside morning teas included on our tours? YES

Yes. A point of difference is that wherever possible we offer our passengers roadside refreshments served from the coach. This gives all passengers the chance to mix and mingle over a hot cuppa allowing us to share our experiences as we journey together.

Do I need travel insurance?

Leisure Time Tours strongly advises all passengers to purchase a travel insurance policy. A comprehensive travel insurance policy may prevent you from spending extra money in case of an emergency and will help you feel protected during your holiday. We are agents for Cover More Travel Insurance. Ask us for a no obligation insurance quote today.

How much luggage can I bring?

Luggage is restricted to one suitcase and one small item of hand luggage per person. Baggage handling of one suitcase per person, at each hotel, is included in the trip price. Carry-on/hand luggage handling is the responsibility of each guest and all personal items must be taken off the coach by you each day of the trip.

What clothing should I pack?

When on tour, dress is generally relaxed and casual with an informal dress standard on most occasions. Casual wear is recommended for travelling with something a little more formal for evening dining. If taking part in outdoor activities, make sure you have a waterproof coat, comfortable footwear and dress in layers to help you adjust to any sudden changes in climate. Be prepared for New Zealand’s powerful sun, even on cold windy days, bringing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Terms & Conditions….
Valid from 14 September 2021

Acceptance of Terms and Conditions
If you book a Packaged Tour with us and pay your deposit, you are deemed to have accepted these terms.  If you booked your Packaged Tour with us through an agent, the agent is deemed to have accepted these terms on your behalf.  We may ask you to sign a copy of these terms when you join your Packaged Tour to provide a record of your acceptance of these terms and you agree to sign these terms on our request.

The itinerary for your Packaged Tour was correct at the time of printing, but it is subject to change without notice.  Your itinerary could change due to road or weather conditions, changes imposed by other tour operators or a range of other factors outside our control.  You agree that we have no liability to you for changes to your itinerary.

Price Amendments
Prices were correct at the time and date of printing, however Leisure Time Travel reserves the right to amend the price subject to any changes in price imposed by other tour operators and carriers included in the itinerary or major fluctuation in the exchange rates, or increases in government or other levies. The final tour cost will be guaranteed not to change once the full and final payment has been received. Tour Price excludes drinks, telephone calls, travel insurance and items of a personal nature. Leisure Time Travel also reserves the right to cancel the tour due to low numbers and in this instance a full refund will be provided.

*Guaranteed Twin Share Prices
Our Guaranteed Twin Share price is available for those passengers willing to share with another single traveller of the same gender. If there isn’t another passenger of the same gender to share with we GUARANTEE our twin share price. Leisure Times Tours accepts no responsibility for the compatibility of passengers travelling under this arrangement. If someone is not compatible with the person they have been matched up with, all additional costs incurred to assist with changing their shared room type to two single rooms will be at the expense of both travellers and will be subject to availability. Acceptance of a guaranteed twin share room is subject to the individual’s medical condition being suitable for this type of arrangement.

Health and Fitness
Passengers should be in good health and able to walk moderate distances to fully participate and experience the sightseeing opportunities within the enclosed itinerary.  All passengers are required to acknowledge that they are of reasonable health and are considered to be fit to travel and are not travelling contrary to any medical advice.  By acknowledging their health and fitness to participate passengers are indemnifying us from all actions, claims and demands arising out of any lack of health and fitness.  We reserve the right to remove a passenger from a tour if their health or fitness interferes with any other passenger’s experiences or the day to day running of the tour.  In this instance our normal cancellation terms and conditions will apply.  You agree that we have no liability to you for any loss, damage, costs or other effects of health problems you may encounter on your Packaged Tour.

Health and Safety Information Including COVID-19
For the health and safety of all passengers on tour any illness (such as fever, coughing or difficulty breathing) will not be accepted onboard the coach unless they can provide us with a negative Covid19 test result received within the past 72 hours.  Should any passenger start to feel unwell on arrival or while on tour, they must immediately advise their tour manager and contact Healthline then visit a medical practitioner/medical centre/hospital.  To return to the tour the passenger must be deemed fit and well to participate fully on a coach tour, obtaining and providing us with a written medical clearance – not just a negative Covid19 test.  Any costs incurred will be at the passenger’s own expense.

COVID-19 Vaccination
Our passengers’ safety, and that of our staff and suppliers, has always been our top priority. As of 1 December 2021, Leisure Time Travel requires all passengers joining our tours to produce proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. If a passenger is unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, they may apply for an exemption to us by providing a medical certificate to us. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Proof of vaccination against COVID-19. This is your official vaccination certificate (electronic or paper) and it must identify your name and date of vaccination with final dose given at least 14-days before the start date of your tour.

Payments, Cancellations and Refunds
A non-refundable deposit per person is required at time of booking to confirm your seat. All balance payments must be received by Leisure Time Travel prior to the date specified as per itinerary or your booking confirmation. Payments are available to be made by Cash, Cheque, Direct Credit or EFTPOS only –  Credit Card payments are not available without an additional surcharge.  Leisure Time Travel reserves the right to amend or reschedule the tour due the result of circumstances outside the company’s control. Leisure Time Travel also reserves the right to cancel the tour due to insufficient numbers and in this  instance a substitute date will be offered or a full refund will be made available. Tour Price excludes drinks, telephone calls, travel insurance and items of a personal nature.

Travel Insurance
Leisure Time Travel strongly advises all passengers to purchase a travel insurance policy when booking a tour. A comprehensive travel insurance policy gives peace of mind for unexpected issues or emergencies that may arise prior to or during a tour. We are agents for Cover More Travel Insurance. Cover More now provide insurance cover for a number of COVID-19 related medical, cancellation and amendments costs, giving you confidence to book your trip.  Ask us for a no obligation insurance quote today or further information about travel insurance for your upcoming tour.

New Zealand Cancellation Policy
If you cancel your booking:

  • 42+ days prior to tour commencement, loss of non-refundable deposit
  • 30-41 days prior to tour commencement your cancellation charge will be 50% of the holiday price (50% refund) plus any applicable supplier cancellation fees
  • 30 days prior to tour commencement your cancellation charge will be 100% of the holiday price (no refund)

No refunds on any unused portions of any itinerary.  The exception is if a sightseeing service is cancelled by operator due to weather conditions/safety concerns etc and the operator authorises a refund.  Any such refunds will be processed through agent.
Please note that any applicable airline content does not apply to the above refunds – see your airline for their specific cancellation/refund policies.


COVID-19 Cancellation and Refund Policy
COVID-19 has created uncertainty for us all, therefore for cancellations directly related to COVID-19, we have negotiated special terms with our suppliers which would override ‘normal cancellation’ terms as outlined above;

If the New Zealand Government imposes travel restrictions that would impact our ability to deliver your travel package prior to commencing travel, passengers will receive a full credit, less any applicable airline cancellation fees.  If travel restrictions are imposed while on tour, we will seek credits on any unused portions of the itinerary from all suppliers.  Any applicable credits will first be applied to any additional costs that our company may have incurred on the passenger’s behalf e.g. if alternative accommodation or transportation to repatriate the passenger to their home city or nearest airport etc is required.  Any remaining refunds will be credited to the booking agent to enable them to pass onto their passenger.


Mahia Peninsula Beach
Tologa Bay Wharf East Cape New Zealand
People walk across the pavement at the Napier Soundshell
Gannet Safari
Gannet Safari
Statue over the Wellington waterfront on a still sunny day