The North Island is where indigenous Maori culture is rich and ever-present and the bulk of our people live, so if you have the time, we highly recommend adding a good look around the North Island onto any of our South Island adventures. Experience geothermal activity, which you won't see down south, and hike the Tongariro Crossing – it's bucket list material.
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THE TRUE NORTH ISLAND
Complete your New Zealand Adventure.
Sweet North HIGHLIGHTS
The perfect addition to any of our South Island adventures.
Give your feet a break as you explore the sights of Lake Taupo on a mountain bike.
Brush up on geology with a visit to the geysers, bubbling mud pools and the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua.
Ferry to chic Waiheke Island for a winery visit.
Kayak out on Lake Taupo to view stone carvings.
'Choice As' Local Eats
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If you don’t think you’ll make it to Mars in this lifetime, hiking the famed Tongariro Crossing might be the next best thing.
Maori people and culture
Get a crash course in Maori culture during a traditional welcome.
Sweet North ITINERARY
Coast Walk, Winery
Day 1 – Arrive Auckland and Cruise to Waiheke Island
Welcome to the North Island! New Zealand’s cultural heart is up here, filled with active geothermal areas, volcanoes, white sandy beaches, impressive forests and enchanting caves, it’s easy to see why most of our population live here.
We'll spend our first night here in Auckland but after introductions, we'll head straight out on a ferry to Waiheke Island and leave the hustle and bustle of our largest city behind to truly appreciate 'The City of Sails' from the other side of the harbour for the day.
We have a relaxed day planned for the start of your trip with plenty of time to get to know each other and ease into holiday mode.
Waiheke Island Winery
Our first port of call today is to jump on the local passenger ferry across to Waiheke Island, a definite favourite amongst locals, and a short 45 min ferry ride from the centre of Auckland. Watch the city disappear behind us and catch a glimpse of some of the other small offshore islands dotted around the gulf. We’ll spend the day on Waiheke Island exploring the beaches, taking short walks and visiting one of their famous vineyards for a taste of local wines before returning to Auckland for the night.
Mud pools and Geysers
Day 2 – Rotorua’s Thermal Wonderland & Maori Feast
We leave the big city this morning and make our way down to the heart of the North Island’s geothermal wonderland, Rotorua. On the way, we'll stop for short walks and photos before a great introduction to Maori culture this afternoon. Tonight we're treated to a Maori feast cooked in the traditional way.
Set amongst the ‘land of lakes’, the bubbling mud pools, spewing geysers and steam rising from just about everywhere make Rotorua an other-worldly experience. We’ll check out the famous Pohutu geyser; with consistent eruptions of up to 30 metres (100 feet), it is the pride and joy of the Te Puia Thermal Valley. According to Maori culture and tradition, geysers like Pohutu are viewed as gifts from the gods. We’ll learn about the local history of the Ngati Wahiao tribe and enjoy a hangi meal (a traditional Maori feast) together tonight.
Tonight we stay in comfortable accommodation on the shore of Lake Rotorua; it’s a great place for a quick dip at the end of the day!
Kayaking and Biking
Day 3 – Lake Taupo Sea Kayak and Mountain Bike
It’s multi-sport adventure day! We check out some of the best sea kayaking and mountain biking that the Bay of Plenty (as this area is so aptly known) has to offer. Tonight we're staying in Taupo.
Sea Kayak on Lake Taupo
Taupo is perched on the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake and with views down towards the central plateau and active volcanoes, it’s a great spot to explore on the water so our first adventure of the day starts on the shores of Lake Taupo, once an old volcanic crater. You're welcome to give your arms a workout if you like or take it more gently as we take to sea kayaks. It’s then up to you and your partner to glide your kayak over Lake Taupo’s crystal clear waters along the shores to see the beautiful cave rock carving artworks created in the late 70’s by master carvers Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell and Jonathan Randell as a gift to Taupo. Our specialist kayak guides will tell us some of the history and Maori legends about the area, and even show you their favourite rock jumping spots, if anyone is keen to join them for a dip.
Mountain Bike in Taupo
This afternoon we trade our paddles for two wheels. Whether you’re an experienced mountain biker or more happy cruising along the footpath, you’ll enjoy the stunning scenery. We link up with some local bike guides to make the most of our afternoon – they know all the best places to ride, have great stories, and will get us sorted with all the gear we need to really enjoy it.
Day 4 – Hike The Tongariro Crossing
Tongariro is New Zealand’s oldest national park and also boasts dual World Heritage site status, acknowledged for both its cultural and natural significance. Today we'll find out why the Tongariro Crossing is known as the "best day walk in New Zealand.” This must be what it would look like to walk on Mars!
Hike the Tongariro Crossing
Today we’ll start early to take on 19.4kms of the famous volcanic crossing. Set high on the central plateau amongst three active volcanoes, the scenery is more appropriate to surrealist art than real life. With red rocks, deep emerald lakes, steam rising from craters, and the unmistakable cone-shaped mountains, it's like you’ve stepped way 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 local guides, whose deep local roots and knowledge can be relied on to really bring this place to life. We’ve got the whole day to take in our environment and enjoy this special spot.
Today we finish in Auckland
Day 5 – Blackwater Rafting Waitomo Caves & Finish in Auckland
It’s the final day of our Sweet North trip today, but we’re not finished yet; we still have some underworld exploring to do. Today we delve into the depths of Waitomo Caves in search of glowworms before we make our way back to Auckland.
Blackwater Rafting Waitomo Caves
We’ll get you geared up this morning for our last epic adventure together, complete with wetsuits, helmets, headlights and your rubber inner tube, you’ll really feel like a spelunker par excellence! Dropping down the natural spiral staircase into the famous Ruakuri Cave system, we’ll be treated to captivating limestone formations, hear the distant thunder of subterranean waterfalls and get up close to the glowworms. One of the highlights is always lying back in your inner tube as you watch the night sky appear underground. We have dry options available too if slipping on a wetsuit isn’t your thing.
Finish in Auckland
After returning above ground we’ll enjoy our last lunch together before hitting the road back to Auckland with plenty of time to reminisce about everything we fit into the last five days. Strangers are now friends, and the stories & photos you'll take home will last a good long time. We are happy to drop you at the airport or at your Auckland accommodation. You might like to combine this trip with one of our South Island itineraries to get the full New Zealand experience. The Sweet North trip works particularly well in conjunction with the Short South, if you're short on time, or any of our longer South Island trips if you really want to leave no stone unturned.
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!
FAQs specific to 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!
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.
Pick up information
We can pick you up on the first day of your trip in Auckland at:
- 9.00am from the Auckland International Airport
- 10.00am from the lobby of our joining hotel – Adina Britomart Hotel Auckland
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
**If your travel plans fall outside of these times please check with us first
Sweet North Photos
Click on an album to view that trip’s photo gallery. Click on photos to view them larger.
Sweet North Reviews
We thoroughly enjoyed our Sweet North tour
Linda and Joe Miller Colorado, USA
“We thoroughly enjoyed our Sweet North tour… enjoyed the Marae visit and Rotorua!! All the meals were great! Dave did a great job with cooking breakfasts and we all enjoyed the last night barbecue!! Loved the picnics!!”Photos of Linda and Joe's trip
Enjoyed the size of the group…
Lesley Clark Canada
“I really enjoyed the tour. The scenery is amazing. I did like the variation in the activities. Enjoyed the size of the group, with only five, it was easy to please us all.”Photos of Lesley's trip
We could never have put together such a fabulous trip on our own!
Kathy and Geoff Randall UK
We absolutely loved the Sweet North itinerary, we fully appreciated the incredible attention to detail, the work that went on behind the scenes and the guiding was superb. Coupled with a great group of fellow travellers made it all such good fun. We could never have put together such a fabulous trip on our own!
So much more than a brochure, and you can read it in the bath!
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FREE TRAILS MAGAZINE
Our magazine is an extension of our tours – a collection of everything that makes New Zealand unique. Some might say we shouldn't have put so much love and elbow grease into creating a magazine, when you can find anything you want on the internet, but we say nope, we're proud of our work and we reckon you'll love it too! Here, you'll find a carefully thought out collection of 80+ pages of gorgeous pictures & inspiring Kiwi stories. You can read it anytime, anywhere. Even in the bath! You'll find maps, itineraries for our five trips, gear advice, stories from the locals, extraordinary landscapes and much more. Kick back and relax as we take you on a journey to New Zealand and introduce you to the people and stories behind the places, our laid-back outdoor lifestyle, Māori heritage, vintage Kiwiana and cheeky NZ pop culture.
Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei, and see you soon!
Jodi & the New Zealand Trails crew
Sweet North Tour
5 Day North Island Tour – Auckland to Auckland. All inclusive. Our trip prices are set in US dollars. If that’s not your home currency, get an indication of what it converts to by using our currency converter below. Or ask us for trip prices in your home currency. US$2599 2599 + tax, per person (twin or double share)
Combine this trip with any of our South Island trips to see both islands! We do have shorter trip options and solo travellers don’t pay more, unless you’d like an upgrade to a private room. PLEASE NOTE: This is a sample of our current itinerary. Keep in mind we are constantly fine-tuning and improving our trips based on feedback from our guests and guides, availability, etc. So your trip will be at least this good, but we reserve the right to make slight alterations without notice to make it even better!