New Zealand North Island Tour - Sweet North
Another New Zealand is calling... Complete your New Zealand North Island hiking adventure.
Sweet North Route Map
Highlights of the Sweet North
1: Waiomu Kauri Grove
Discover our mighty Kauri trees, one of the largest trees in the world, on this hike.
2: Cathedral Cove
A gentle paddle takes you to Cathedral Cove and otherwise inaccessible beaches.
Immerse yourself in Māori culture with a traditional welcome and hangi.
4: Huka Falls
Witness the powerful Waikato River thundering through a narrow canyon at New Zealand’s favourite waterfall.
5: Tongariro Crossing
The best day walk in the world! We’ll navigate this famous trail and enjoy the scenes dotted across the moonlike landscape.
6: Waitomo Caves
Visit the underground treasure trove of Waitomo and discover millions of glowworms in a marvellous limestone cave formation.
Sweet North Day-by-Day Itinerary
Hike Kauri Grove
Day 1 – Arrive Auckland and journey to the Coromandel Coast
Welcome to the New Zealand's North Island, New Zealand's beating cultural heart. A vibrant and diverse landscape made up of active geothermal areas, dormant volcanoes, pristine beaches, immense forests and subterranean wonders. After meeting your guide and fellow travellers in Auckland, we’ll head east to the white sand beaches of the Coromandel coast, a favourite spot for Kiwi’s to holiday.
View Majestic Kauri Trees on the Waiomu Kauri Walk
This afternoon we’ll stretch our legs on a hike to the Waiomu Kauri Grove. This trail makes its way through native forest to a grove of ancient Kauri trees, which hold a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders. We'll then travel through to Whitianga, our home for the evening.
Tonight we stay at Beachside Resort, Whitianga*
Kayak & Explore Coromandel
Day 2 – Kayak Cathedral Cove & Explore Hot Water Beach
This morning we’ll travel the short distance along the Coromandel coastline to Hahei and get ready to paddle through tantalisingly turquoise waters out to Cathedral Cove. We’ll then take some time to explore the world-famous Hot Water Beach. Later this afternoon we'll make our way down to Rotorua, a rich cultural hub and geothermal wonderland where we'll spend the night.
Kayak Cathedral Cove
We’ll paddle our way through the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve exploring ancient sea caves and rock gardens along the way. Our destination is Cathedral Cove, accessible only by foot, boat or kayak, this natural rock archway joins two secluded coves shaded by magnificent pohutukawa trees.
Explore Hot Water Beach
This afternoon we head to world-renowned Hot Water Beach, famous for the warm geothermal waters that sit just under the sand. Enjoy a stroll along this gorgeous coastline and dip your toes in the turquoise waters of the Pacific ocean. If the tides are right your guide will help you dig your very own hot pool in the sand, a true-blue Kiwi experience.
Tonight we stay at Distinction Rotorua*
Maori Culture & Huka Falls
Day 3 – Maori Culture, Geothermal Wonderland and Redwoods Hike
Set in a ‘land of lakes’, the bubbling mud pools, spewing geysers and rising steam give Rotorua an otherworldly quality. This morning we'll visit the Whakarewarewa Māori Village where we will see the Māori values of manaakitanga (hospitality) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) on display. We'll also get to witness the geothermal wonderland that the Te Whakarewarewa valley is famous for and enjoy a hāngi (a traditional Māori feast) together. Before travelling south to Taupō, we’ll pop our hiking boots on and walk amongst the jaw-dropping Redwood forest on the outskirts of Rotorua. We’ll be staying in Taupō for the next two nights.
Geothermal Wonderland & Maori Culture Experience
Whakarewarewa is the legacy and home of the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people, who have been sharing their unique way of life with visitors from all around the world for over two hundred years. See the boiling hot pools and bubbling mud, and learn how the Maori residents utilise and respect the ever-changing forces beneath their land.
Redwoods Hike & Huka Falls
Before leaving Rotorua we’ll stop by the Whakarewarewa forest to walk amongst the magnificent Redwoods. It’s an easy walk alongside these gentle giants that originate from California! After travelling south towards Taupo we’ll stop by the legendary Huka Falls and you’ll get to witness first hand the phenomenal power of this 11 metre high waterfall.
Tonight we stay at Anchorage Resort*
Tongariro National Park
Hike Tongariro Crossing
Day 4 – Hike The Tongariro Crossing
Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest national park and boasts dual World Heritage site status, acknowledged for both its cultural and natural significance. As we make our way across this moonlike landscape dotted with turquoise and emerald lakes, you’ll discover why the Tongariro Crossing is known as New Zealand’s “best day walk”.
Hiking New Zealand's North Island Tongariro Crossing
We’ll make an early start this morning, taking on the 19.4kms of this famous volcanic crossing. Set high on the central plateau amongst three active volcanoes, the scenery is more akin to surrealist art than real life. With red rocks, deep emerald lakes, steam rising from craters, and the unmistakable cone-shaped mountains, it's as if you’ve stepped back in time or possibly onto another planet. It’s a good climb to the top on a well-formed track, and we’ll stop along the way to hear stories about the area from our local guides. Their knowledge of the area and affinity with the land really bring this place to life. We’ve got the whole day to appreciate our environment and enjoy this very special spot.
Tonight we stay at Anchorage Resort again*
Today we finish in Auckland
Day 5 –Waitomo Caves & Finish in Auckland
It may be the last day of your Sweet North trip, but it’ll be one to remember as we explore the hidden depths of Waitomo, marvelling at the limestone formations, crystal tapestries and thousands of glowworms that illuminate the cave system. We’ll then make our way back to Auckland where we’ll say our farewells. If you’re heading down to the South Island to join us on another trip, we’ll help with a smooth transition.
Spellbound Waitomo Caves
The last activity of our trip is a truly magical one! We’ll visit two vastly different caves and learn all about their formation. Stepping onto a raft, you’ll be transported into a unique environment where it seems the night sky is always shining. With glow worms galore you will marvel at the constellations they seem to create! In the next cave you will slowly wander through whilst gazing at these wonderful creatures that are only found here in New Zealand!
Finish in Auckland
After emerging from underground, we’ll enjoy our last lunch together before hitting the road back to Auckland, allowing plenty of time to happily reminisce about the last five days. New friends and wonderful experiences have had their share in creating a tonne of memories to last you all the way home and beyond.
We’re happy to drop you at the airport or at your Auckland accommodation. We recommend that you combine this trip with one of our South Island itineraries to enjoy the complete New Zealand experience. The Sweet North trip works particularly well in conjunction with the Pure South, if you're short on time, or any of our longer South Island trips if you really want to leave no stone unturned.
*For logistical reasons, we may make small changes to our itineraries or accommodation from time to time.
Photos of the Sweet North
Frequently asked questions
It's very important to us that you have all your questions answered about our Sweet North trip. We’ve collected some of the questions we get asked most often and answered them below. Or visit our general FAQ page here for more answers!
And if you still can’t find the answers you need, give us a call or send us an email and we’ll help you out!
How fit do I need to be for the Sweet North?
The Sweet North trip is designed for people who enjoy being active in the outdoors, but you don't need to be super-fit or an outdoor expert in any way. On the Sweet North trip you will walk between 3 to 5 hours each day on well-formed tracks. The average distance walked is 9km/5.6mi. If you enjoy hiking and exploring then you will enjoy this trip.
Click here to go to a handy page with a summary of the distances and approximate times for every walk and activity on our Sweet North trip!
What is the accommodation like on the Sweet North?
We’ve five days in the North Island to showcase the incredible diversity of our other main island and we’ve chosen three great places for you to stay. Click here to find out more about the accommodation on this trip.
What time does the Sweet North trip start and finish?
Pick up information
We can pick you up on the first day of your trip in Auckland at:
9.00am from the lobby of our joining hotel – Adina Britomart Hotel Auckland
10.00am from the Auckland Domestic Airport
10.15am from the Auckland International Airport
Drop off information
We can drop you off on the last day of your trip in Auckland at:
6.00pm at Auckland International Airport
7.00pm at your hotel in the city
When booking your flights, please make sure you:
Arrive on day one no later than 8.30am International 9.30am Domestic
Depart on the final day no earlier than 8.30pm International 7.00pm Domestic
**If your travel plans fall outside of these times please check with us before you book.
What's not included on my Sweet North tour?
Airfares to and from New Zealand. Airfares between the North and South Island of New Zealand if you are joining one of our South Island trips too.
Non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages with lunch and dinner.
What's included in my Sweet North tour?
An experienced New Zealand Trails Guide to guide you on your tour.
Activities, hikes and guides as shown in the itinerary.
Accommodation as indicated in your final itinerary.
What hikes are included in the Sweet North trip?
On the Sweet North trip you'll experience the variety of the terrain in the North Island on the following hikes:
- The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, the best day walk in the world
- Waiomu Kauri Grove track
- Huka Falls track
- Redwoods track
What activities are included on the Sweet North trip?
On the Sweet North trip you'll get to experience these unique activities in the North Island:
- Kayak to Cathedral Cove
- Maori culture experience including a hangi feast
- Geyser and geothermal viewing
- See glow worms and explore the Waitomo Caves
Will I have WiFi or internet access throughout the trip?
Yes – we are well connected in New Zealand! You will have access to the internet, at your accommodation whether free or for a small fee, every night on your trip. While New Zealand is quite tech savvy the wifi at some accommodation may not be of the speed you are used to back home.
Is there electricity at all of the places we stay on the Sweet North trip?
Yes, all of the places we stay on the Sweet North trip have electricity.
Tell me about your safety standards
Safety is always our top priority. We take great pride in our impeccable safety record and our safety management plans. Your New Zealand Trails Guides are highly experienced outdoors professionals who are first aid qualified and fully equipped with a satellite phone, personal locator beacon and first aid kit. Our trips have direct access to our highly experienced operations team and other outside services 24 hours a day.
What kind of people will be on my Sweet North trip?
Our guests are like-minded people from Australia, the UK, Canada and America, and come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. On average, we have a 50/50 split between men and women, with several single travellers on each trip as well as couples and friends travelling together.
If you would like to see the actual people that come on our Sweet North Island tour, check out our photo gallery.
Do you need any outdoors experience for the Sweet North trip?
You certainly don’t need any technical outdoors experience to enjoy your New Zealand Trails trip. If you enjoy being out and about in the outdoors and are a generally active person who enjoys hobbies like walking, cycling, golf, tennis or dancing then you will have no problems at all with the walks and activities on your trip.
The kayaking activity on your trip is suitable for beginners and is in a calm cove. There’s no need for you to have ever been kayaking before. You will be in double sea kayaks, which are very stable. A specialist kayak guide will teach you everything you need to know before you head out and will be with you out on the water.
How many people will be on my trip?
We run small-group tours, so along with your guides there will be up to a maximum of 14 in your group. We have found this number to be perfect for making sure everyone has the best time.
Why do you run the Sweet North in two different directions?
Our Sweet North trip is very popular and we often run two trips departing on the same date, with no more than 14 guests on any one trip. This trip has been carefully crafted to give you exclusive access to New Zealand's best walks, activities, and accommodations. By running one trip eastbound and the other westbound we are able to give every guest this exclusive experience. The published itinerary is the westbound trip, though it doesn't matter which direction you go as both trips start and finish in Auckland and the itineraries are identical, they just run in opposite directions. If for any reason you would like to be on a particular departure direction then just let us know.
With a rich culture and fascinating history, New Zealand's North Island is remarkably different from the South but equally impressive. Over 5 incredible days discover the diverse landscape, from golden sand beaches to huge inland lakes, oversleeping volcanoes and otherworldly cave systems. On a journey that epitomises the best of the North Island, you’ll enjoy legendary Kiwi hospitality, delicious meals and very comfortable accommodations.
This trip is designed as the perfect addition to any of our South Island trips, although it also stands alone if you’re short on time.
Check out trip dates below to find your ideal time frame. Places on our trips fill up quickly so keep an eye on availability here too.
Sweet North – ready to book?
Ready to start your New Zealand adventure?
Discover hidden islands, bubbling thermal wonderlands, impressive forests and stunning lakes on this 5-day adventure.
✓ Local guides, small groups
✓ All food (except where noted on itinerary), transportation and activities
✓ All inclusive
✓ All accommodation
Want more information?
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If you’re still not sure, or just want to hear a friendly voice, contact Jodi!Email: firstname.lastname@example.org