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  • The New Zealand North Island Ecological Touring Holiday


     The New Zealand North Island Ecological Touring Holiday

    12 Nights / 13 Days 
    Waiheke Island – Bay of Islands – Rotorua –Taupo – Mount Taranaki
    About this tour
    The New Zealand North Island Ecological Touring Holiday is an excellent holiday for those looking to focus their visit in this wild and scenic country by coming face to face with its ecological riches of wildlife and scenery. The North Island comprises a diverse landscape that ranges from tropical beaches and rainforests to idyllic pastoral countryside to rugged volcanos and mountain ranges. You will see much of this diversity, from Waiheke Island to the tropical Northland and Bay of Islands, to the geothermal wonders of Rotorua and the mountainous scenery of Lake Taupo, and finally to the volcanic landscape of Taranaki.
    This list includes optional activities possible in the featured locations of the tour, they will entail an additional cost on the base price of the itinerary.
    • Hike on the island trails of Waiheke Island home to cool enclaves of native forest, swim or kayak from the pristine beaches, or taste wine in its many vineyards
    • Road trip north through the rugged and lush Pacific Coastline of the Northland 
    • Find paradise in the tropical beaches and crystal-clear water of the Bay of Islands
    • Swim with dolphins in the Bay of Islands, scuba dive in the Poor Knights Islands, or simply relax in the stunning climate of the Northland
    • Venture south into the North Island’s volcanic plateau and come face to face with the geothermal wonders of Rotorua
    • Trek through the pristine rainforest of Whirinaki or introduce yourself to Maori Culture
    • Hike on the iconic Tongariro Alpine Crossing and experience the majesty of New Zealand’s first National Park, and now a Dual World Heritage Area 
    • Take a day to sail on the expansive waters of Lake Taupo, and find ancient Maori rock carvings and beautiful scenery 
    • Journey South West to Mount Taranaki and marvel at New Zealand’s most perfectly formed volcano 
    • Often described as New Zealand’s ‘most climbed mountain’, enjoy excellent hiking through Taranaki’s native bush, lush rainforest and mossy swamps to find superb sightings of wildlife, waterfalls and spectacular scenery  
    Tour description 
    Starting on the beautiful beaches, hiking trails and vineyards of Waiheke Island, this tour will take you north through a rugged and lush pacific coastline into the paradise tropical beaches of the Bay of Islands. Next you will enter the volcanic plateau of Rotorua. Stop here for incredible geothermal displays, lush rainforest, and a taste of true Maori culture, before continuing onto Taupo where a majestic lake and the Tongariro National Park await. Having sailed or hiked through this unique region, continue South West to find New Zealand’s most perfectly formed volcano, Mount Taranaki, home to excellent hiking trails through pristine rainforest, native bush and mossy swamps. 
    Our range of accommodation includes everything from luxury boutique hotels, to remote wilderness eco-lodges. Hand-crafted experiences make your bespoke holiday to New Zealand even more special, and a seemingly infinite number of possibilities are available upon request. Please do not hesitate to get in touch and let us know how we can further personalise your once-in-a-lifetime tour through New Zealand.  
    From £4,800 per person to stay in our favourite hotels for introducing yourself to the ecological side of the North Island New Zealand. 
    Please see our hotel lists for more information on what is included in this basic rate. 
    This holiday can be arranged throughout the year. Timings may vary depending on the month and day of the week. 
    What’s Included 
    • Return scheduled flights with British Airways, Air New Zealand, Qantas or Emirates from London to Auckland in economy class.
    • Domestic flights from New Plymouth Airport to Auckland.
    • Transfers and car hire where specified in our itinerary. 
    • Accommodation sharing a double or twin room. Please see our suggested list of hotels for details of base accommodation type. 
    • The meals included with your tour will vary by chosen accommodation. Please see our hotel suggestions for included board basis. 
    What’s not included 
    • Meals and drinks, except as specified in our hotel suggestions. 
    • Optional tours and activities within each location, except where explicitly specified as included in our itinerary, or by hotels in our hotel lists. 
    • Personal expenses. 
    • Insurance.
    • Visa and Passport. 
    You will need a full British passport with at least six months validity. Until 30 September 2019 you do not need a Visa for travel to New Zealand as a British Passport will allow the holder a six month stay upon arrival. From 1 October 2019 you will need a visa which can be arranged easily on-line. More details are available from the New Zealand government here

    Day One: Waiheke Island
    Arrive in Auckland. You a met upon arrival and transferred to your accommodation by private chauffeur to Wynyard Wharf, and then a small ferry will take you to Waiheke Island. Today, simply settle into the time zone, the climate, and your luxury accommodation. Try a taste of the local wine, with 30 boutique and excellent wineries scattered through this wonderful island. 
    Day Two: Waiheke Island 
    Comprised of stunning beaches, cool enclaves of native forest, farmland and olive groves, Waiheke Island has long provided a popular natural retreat for Aucklanders. Spend a leisurely day exploring this idyllic island. Most of the natural highlights involve excellent bushwalking. For example, in Onetangi, a forest and bird reserve offers several good hikes. Elsewhere, there is a coastal trail from Oneroa Bay to Palm Beach, and another at Matiatia ferry wharf. One of the best, however, is the Stony Batter Walk that leads through private farmland and can continue north to Hooks Bay or south to Opopo Bay. For another taste of Waiheke Island, you can explore its excellent beaches. Key names include Oneroa Beach, Plam Beach and Onetangi Beach. Many are shaded by Pohutukawa trees, and offer swimming, snorkelling and sea kayaking. 
    Day Three: Bay of Islands
    Picking up your 4x4 hire car, your first taste of rural New Zealand awaits. Today you drive north through the lush vegetation, spectacular coastline, orchards of citrus trees and roadside fruit stalls, bumpy volcanic peaks, and, of course, pastures of sheep. Perhaps stop for a walk and a picnic at one of the many forests or scenic outposts you will pass on your way. For example, Tangihua Forest offers many walking trails amongst the 3,000 hectares of mainly podocarp broadleaf forest. Arrive in the Bay of Islands to find your spectacular panoramic accommodation perfectly positioned to make the most of the evening sunshine. 
    Day Four: Bay of Islands 
    A stay in the Bay of Islands really is about exploring the idyllic coastline that surrounds you. Lush fern filled valleys turn to cliffs, bays, inlets and beaches, and into the crystal-clear waters of the Southern Pacific. Choose from a range of activities including sea kayaking, swimming with the resident dolphins, or sailing. There is great opportunity to spot dolphins of several species, seals and whales, including orcas and brydes whales, as well as an exceptional diversity of birdlife including Little Penguins. The best Scuba Diving and snorkelling opportunities are found in the Poor Knights Islands, located less than a 2-hour drive to the south, but there is ample opportunity for these activities within the Bay of Islands themselves. 
    Day Five: Bay of Islands
    Today, you could turn your attention to the terrestrial scenery that surrounds you. Horse riding is available for example, as well as excellent hiking. For the latter, there are many different choices. Perhaps the easiest and most rewarding can be found in the Opua Forest Paihia Lookout. This short walk follows a well-maintained track through wetlands and regenerated native forest to arrive at a lookout point that casts spectacular views over the township of Paihia. Another great alternative is the Kerikeri River Track to Rainbow Falls, a quick trail that leads you along the banks of the Kerikeri River to the spectacular cascade of the Wharepuke and Rainbow Falls. Whichever you chose, be sure to look, and listen, out for some of New Zealand’s native birds. In this region you may find the tūī, an attractive bird with dark blue-green iridescent plumage, the North Island robin, and even the kiwi – the national symbol of New Zealand.  
    Day Six: Rotorua 
    Wake to a leisurely breakfast and drive south to a complete change of scenery. This journey will take you from the tropical north deep into the volcanic heartland of the North Island, where geothermal wonders, bubbling hot pools, exploding geysers, and lush rainforest. On arrival, perhaps join an evening Maori cultural display in a local Maori village. Rotorua is often considered the heart of Maori culture in New Zealand, so there is no better place to learn of their historic traditions and watch fascinating song and dance before settling down to an authentic feast cooked beneath the ground on hot stones. 
    Day Seven: Rotorua 
    Today would be best spent uncovering the geothermal wonders of the region. To do so, visit Te Puia – a 70-hectare park that contains the world famous Pohutu geyser, as well as mud pools, hot springs and silica formation. Indeed, here you will also find the Kiwi bird, and national schools of Maori wood carving, weaving, stone and bone carving. The highlight of the experience is undoubtedly Pohutu geyser, an ancient geothermal feature, and the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. She erupts twice every hour and sometimes reaches heights of 30 metres. 
    Day Eight: Rotorua 
    The hinterland region of Rotorua is plentiful with activities for those wanting to find great scenery and exceptional wildlife. On the south-east edge of the town is Whakarewarewa Forest Park, a 5,600-hectare forest known locally as ‘The Redwoods’. It is comprised of native trees, and most notably towering Californian Redwoods. Many agree that it is now a playground for some of the best mountain biking in New Zealand, but hikers are equally well catered for on the well-maintained trails. Another option is Whirinaki forest where a lush rainforest supports a great diversity of wildlife including many rare birds. A network of trails makes walking and mountain biking a joy amongst the awe-inspiring trees. For something completely different, you could also relax in the thermal pools that call the region home. Just a few minutes-walk from the city centre, for example, are the Kuirau Park foot pools. Elsewhere, Kerosene Creek flows over a waterfall and into a geothermal pool that provides a great spot for bathing. 
    Day Nine: Taupo 
    A short and easy drive South will take you past yet more steaming geothermal sites before arriving at the pretty shores of the majestic Lake Taupo. Here, you could enjoy an afternoon sail to the ancient Maori rock carvings on a beautiful yacht and marvel at the scale of the mountain fringed Lake. Another great option is Huka Falls, an 11-metre high waterfall that sees 220,000 litres cascade over the fall every second as the waters of the Waikato River are forced within the narrow gorge. From here, there is excellent walking available such as the hour long walk that leads to and from Taupo itself. This walk will take you past a natural hot spring, Otumuheke Stream, and through forest and a pastoral landscape. 
    Day Ten: Taupo 
    For those feeling a bit more active, you should certainly take the chance today to hike on the iconic Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This challenging walk will take you through the UNESCO dual World Heritage Area where an extensive and dramatic landscape will unfurl around you. This is where glacial valleys, ancient lava flows, crater lakes, steaming ground, volcanos and alpine vegetation meet. It was the obvious set location for Mount Doom in Lord of The Rings. The walk will take around 7-8 hours, and it is important to be of sufficient fitness before embarking. There are many alternatives available for those who would like to take things a little slower. For example, you could visit the geothermal Wairakei Terraces Hot Pools which are adults only and are surrounded by silica terraces and a waterfall. 
    Day Eleven: Mount Taranaki 
    Today’s drive will take you South West to the Western coastline of the North Island. You will pass many scenic outposts and chances to simply marvel at the landscape on your way. Most notably, the latter half of your journey will take you along the Western seaboard of the North Island, where you will pass an array of excellent surfing beaches on the North Taranaki Bight which are striking in character with black sand and high cliffs. Stop also in New Plymouth, the major city of the region, where you will be greeted with a burgeoning arts scene, excellent food and wine, and a typically Kiwi outdoors culture. Settle into your accommodation and marvel at the backdrop of Mount Taranaki, as the light casts off it in different hues throughout the afternoon and evening. 
    Day Twelve: Mount Taranaki 
    A perfectly formed volcano, Mount Taranaki is the clearest and most striking form found in the region of Taranaki. It was formed around 120,000 years ago, and it is now thought to be New Zealand’s most climbed mountain, owing to the sheer variety in walking tracks available. The environment here is pristine. At lower altitudes tall rimu and kamahi trees abound, on the slopes you can find lush rainforests, whereas above the snowline the ecology changes to one of sub-alpine shrubs and herbfields. Today, you could embark on one of its trails, which range from a 15-minute walk on the Kamahi Track to the three-day Pouakai Circuit. The epicentre falls on the fringes of the Dawson Falls area, and a highlight here includes the walk to Wilkies Pools, a series of eroded rock pools that have been connected by gentle waterfalls. Whichever trail you choose for exporing this remarkable terrain, be sure to look out for the extraordinary birdlife that calls this area home. From the North Island robin to the Tui, as well as the Falcon Karearea, the Kiwi, the Pipit and the Bellbird Korimako. Return to your accommodation to savour your last evening in New Zealand. 
    Day Thirteen: Return Home
    Wake to soak up the last of the scenery, before driving to New Plymouth Airport and dropping of your hire car. Catch your domestic flight to Auckland and continue onwards to return home. However, this tour can easily form part of a larger trip with Australasia, and therefore you may well today simply re-join the next chapter of your holiday today.

    The New Zealand North Island Ecological Touring Holiday

    Our favourite natural retreats
    Waiheke Island
    The Boatshed

    Perched above the wonderful beaches of Oneroa beach, the Boatshed is a boutique and luxury hotel boasting panoramic views and a cosy ambience. It is the perfect home from home for exploring Waiheke Island. We include Breakfast and accommodation for two in 1 x Boatshed. 
    Bay of Islands
    The Sanctuary at Bay of Islands

    ‘The Sanctuary’ is an apt name to describe this luxury hidden gem, which casts wonderful views over the native bushland, and onto the South Pacific and the islands that dot the coastline. We include Breakfast and accommodation for two when sharing 1 x Sea and Bush View Suite. 
    Treetops Lodge

    This luxury lodge boasts a privileged position for wildlife enthusiasts. Deep within a 2,500-acre and 800-year-old native forest in the Rotorua region, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, 35 miles of hiking trails, and some of the best trout fishing in New Zealand are on its doorstep. We include Breakfast and accommodation for two sharing 1 x Lodge Room.
    Lake Taupo Lodge

    Set within landscaped gardens, this award-winning lodge casts wonderful views over Lake Taupo and its surrounding mountains. The owners have worked hard to make the gardens a sanctuary for birds, and you will find throughout an appreciation of embracing the unique and organic features of the natural landscape. We include Breakfast and accommodation for two sharing 1 x Cherrywood Executive Suite. 
    Mount Taranaki 
    Taranaki Country Lodge

    A modern and bright lodge set on a working sheep farm of 56 acres, this cosy retreat enjoys fantastic views over Mount Taranaki. We include Breakfast and accommodation for two sharing 1 x Egmont Room.

    An introduction to New Zealand 
    All about New Zealand
    New Zealand is a country whose name immediately conjures halcyon images of exploration and adventure, of natural splendour and wholesomeness. Yet for many the magic of New Zealand is considered too far way, and it is all too frequently relegated as an impossible dream for the future. For this reason, any journey to this fabulous country must carefully balance a degree of efficiency in experiencing its astonishingly diverse landscapes, and enough time to really soak up the scenery and culture in each locality. That is to say, the best way to holiday in the mystical enigma of New Zealand is via a bespoke touring itinerary. The majesty of New Zealand’s landscapes overwhelms from the moment of arrival. They change dramatically from locality to locality, along with the climate, and result in a patchwork quilt of achingly pretty vistas, and individualised experiences. From skiing in the aptly named Remarkables in Fiordland, to snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters of the Bay of Islands. From boating into the rich and cetacean infested waters of Kaikoura to discovering the erupting geysers and serene hot pools of Rotorua. Of course, this is a nation that thrives on the outdoors, and a range of activities are possible in New Zealand to match all energy (and adrenaline) levels. Yet in contemporary New Zealand, the thriving cosmopolitan city centres are also important sites of interest in their own right. Here you will find distinct local cultures, and a chic and fashionable ambience that feels sophisticated and refreshingly laid-back simultaneously. Indeed, the incredible rise of New Zealand’s culinary and wine scene, from the vineyards of Marlborough in the South to Hawke’s Bay and Waiheke Island in the North, have only compounded the sense of cultural refinement in this magnificent country. 
    Based upon our experience of travelling around New Zealand, we have put together several suggested itineraries, aimed at doing as much justice to the variety and scale of New Zealand as is possible within a reasonable length of time. These are merely suggestions, and any itinerary created by Expressions Holidays is bespoke and completely tailored to the interests and needs of our clients.
    The price is upon request and will depend on the exact details of the touring itinerary, and the accommodation chosen at each locality. 
    New Zealand facts 
    Location: New Zealand is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean consisting of 2 main islands. It is situated approximately 1,500 km east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly 1,000 km south of the Pacific Islands of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga. 
    Time difference: Wellington has a time zone of GMT + 12 hours. 
    Language: English. 
    Population: 4.88 million. 
    Size: 268,021 km2, roughly 990 miles from north to south and 250 miles from east to west. 
    Currency: New Zealand Dollars (about 1.88 to the pound) 
    Capital: Wellington, located at the southern tip of the North Island.
    Geography and climate 
    New Zealand enjoys a maritime climate, which explains partly the lush vegetation and rich pastures, but it also makes the weather rather changeable. It is subject to prevailing winds from west to east, although most rain falls in the winter (July to August) and the summer months (December to March) are generally drier. Generally, the southern and western parts of the country are wetter than the northern and eastern parts. On top of this longitude and altitude plays a role, with the northern part of the North Island enjoying a subtropical ‘winter-free’ climate, whereas the South Island is home to sterling ski resorts in the winter months, and glaciers and snow-capped peaks are found year-round.
    Cities and Culture 
    New Zealand is well known as a land of stunning views, wilderness expanses, and pristine ecosystems. Yet it is important to note that modern New Zealand is home to a scintillating array of urban centres, which offer a different appeal to tourists. Here, clients will find a burgeoning food and wine scene, as well as great shopping, inspiring architecture, and refreshingly laid-back and welcoming Kiwi culture. Of interest might be Auckland in the North where a historic feel meets strikingly modern architecture such as the 328-meter Sky Tower. A café culture and a truly nautical feel conspire to create a relaxing base from which to start one’s tour in New Zealand. The capital city of Wellington at the bottom of the North Island has a different feel altogether, situated on a hook-shaped harbour ringed with ranges that wear a cloak of snow in winter. Discover the dramatic scenery, theatrical climate, Victorian architecture and the cosmopolitan centre, as well as wilderness surrounds with bushy hillsides that resonate with native bird song. Finally, famously adventurous Queenstown at the foot of the South Island enjoys a magnificent setting in the mountains of Fiordland, and a culture of outdoor pursuits. 
    Landscape and Coastline 
    Despite New Zealand’s modest size, the variety of landscapes on offer are truly staggering, and pay testament to its volcanic history. In the North Island, a beautiful coastline and lush vegetation in the Northland meet the rolling green pastures of sheep farms and wineries in Hawke’s Bay. Elsewhere in the Central North Island, tourists will find pristine rainforest in Whirinaki, an active volcanic plateau in Rotorua, and vast expanses of Lake and the mountains of the Tongariro Crossing in Taupo. On the South Island, the landscape varies even more dramatically, from the Canterbury Plains that encircle Christchurch to the idyllic waterways of the Marlborough Sounds and Abel Tasman National Park, to the mountainous and glacial environment of the Central South Island and the iconic Fiordland. The coastline throughout New Zealand matches this diversity, and whilst tourist may find themselves snorkelling with tropical fish in the Bay of Islands, they will find cool glacial water in the world-famous Milford Sound, and superb surfing beaches on the Western Coastline of the North Island.
    Wildlife and Ecology 
    New Zealand’s isolation as a remote island has resulted in a truly unique set of ecosystems. Many of the species found here are endemic, meaning exclusively found in New Zealand, and their often-inquisitive manner leads to truly once-in-a-lifetime encounters for many visitors. On the North Island, lush vegetation and pristine rainforest have provided a sanctuary for many tropical species, whereas the South Island is made famous primarily for its bird life. On Stewart Island for example, tourists will find an extraordinary abundance of native species including the bell bird, tui, kaka, tomtit, grey warbler, kakariki, and the New Zealand wood pigeon. Also found here is the iconic Stewart Island Brown Kiwi, as well as albatross, and several species of penguin including the Southern Blue Penguin, Yellow-eyed Penguin, Rockhopper Penguin, Fiordland Crested Penguin and Snares Crested Penguin. 
    In terms of the underwater world, New Zealand is perhaps even more special still. On the North Island, clear and warm waters are found, creating an ecosystem where many tropical species, often also found on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as temperate marine life can co-exist in harmony. Poor Knights Island, to the east of the Northland, is a fantastic example of this, and intrepid snorkelers or scuba divers will find soft corals, sponges, vibrant anemones, and kelp forests, as well as sting rays, manta rays, and a myriad of other lifeforms. Another fantastic place to search for incredible marine life is Kaikoura on the East Coast of the North Island. Brimming with dolphins, whales, orcas, seals, albatross and more, these rich waters are often featured in nature documentaries, and they have recently been championed by Sir David Attenborough. Tourists can swim, scuba dive, sail or kayak through the waters in search of a variety of once-in-a-lifetime encounters. 
    Government advice 
    The UK government has an excellent website which you must use to obtain up-to-date information about worldwide destinations. This site gives details about trouble spots but also general advice about most countries. We advise most strongly that you check notices about your intended destination before you book and travel. 
    Passport and Visas A full British passport is required for travel to New Zealand. Please bear in mind that it is your responsibility to ensure that your passport is valid and still has six months validity before you book your holiday and it can take some time to obtain a new one. Everyone needs his or her own passport so if you are thinking of taking an infant, allow plenty of time to get a passport. Visas are not generally required for travel to New Zealand, although full details should be obtained with the New Zealand authorities. More information is available from
    There are no required vaccinations for travel to New Zealand but you should nevertheless always check with your doctor before travelling. A leaflet is available from the Department of Health called ‘Health Advice to Travellers’, by telephoning 0800-555777. If you are suffering from any disability or illness, this should be communicated to us at the time of booking. Please note that pregnant passengers are not accepted by airlines usually after about 28 weeks into the pregnancy. You should check this with us before you make a booking. 
    It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are adequately insured for your holiday. Please refer to our statement on insurance in our booking conditions. Insurance for the activities you choose to undertake during your holiday is also your own responsibilities. Additional requirements are needed for scuba diving, such as a doctor’s certificate. 
    Security and personal safety 
    When travelling you should take sensible precautions wherever you are and take care of money and personal valuables when passing through crowded and public places and cities in particular. In New Zealand, you should advise your accommodation when you set out on a long walk, drive, or venture into the wilderness. It is sensible to top up with petrol whenever you are about to leave a town for a long rural drive. 
    Wildlife hazards 
    Mosquitoes are a fact of life in the tropics. In fact, it is advisable to take your own anti-mosquito creams and lotions with you. Other insects (large beetles, cockroaches, sand flies etc) and some rodents are also common in tropical places. We cannot prevent these creatures from entering your accommodation. If this is a worry, perhaps a holiday to the tropics is not right for you. Guide books available will give you more advice on wildlife hazards. 
    Getting around 
    Main roads in New Zealand are very good. Some roads are not surfaced, particularly side roads, rural roads and private roads. These often lead to lodge accommodation. 
    What to wear 
    Due to the incredible diversity in climate and landscape, a trip to New Zealand will require a range of clothing. We advise you to check local recommendations. 
    Tipping is generally expected for many services throughout New Zealand. Around 10 per cent of the bill is sufficient. This does not apply to your hotel stay.

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