New Zealand Trails

5-14 day, all-inclusive, guided adventure tours

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New Zealand North Island Tour - Sweet North

Another New Zealand is calling... Complete your New Zealand North Island Hiking Adventure.

Experience another side of New Zealand on our Sweet North tour – our New Zealand North Island itinerary. Vastly different from the South, and spectacular in its own right, New Zealand’s North Island is an incredible destination. In glorious contrast to the glacial lakes and snow-capped mountains of the South, the North Island of New Zealand is a land of bubbling geothermal activity, lush forests and golden beaches. No New Zealand journey would be complete without seeing the North Island for yourself.

Hiking on our Sweet North New Zealand North Island tour is an adventure in itself. Traverse other worldly landscapes, as you hike past towering tree ferns and turquoise pools. Stop and listen to the sounds of the forest and the call of the birds as you gaze up at ancient native trees, thousands of years old. Dip your toes in the warm ocean and feel the grains of sand run through your fingers. Venture underground to a subterranean wonderland lit by a myriad glowworms. Experience the rich Maori culture and history so deeply entwined with the landscape as you delve deeper and see what others might miss.

Led by expert Kiwi guides, immerse yourself in Maoritanga (Maori culture and traditions) and the natural wonders of the North Island. Hike the famous Tongariro Crossing, one of the best hiking trails North Island New Zealand has to offer. If it’s not already on your bucket list, it should be!

Relax at the end of the day in comfortable, well-located accommodation and enjoy fresh Kiwi fare, as well as the chance to sample traditional foods and local delicacies. The North Island is a land of abundance and your taste buds will be thanking you.

Designed as a standalone trip, the Sweet North is also the perfect complement to any of our South Island tours. Combine both North and South for the ultimate New Zealand experience. After all, why come all this way if you’re only going to see half of what’s here? Another New Zealand is calling.

5 Days


Biking Biking Biking Biking Biking Biking




Activity level activity

Very comfortable lodging

NZD$3599 AUD$3499 USD$2399 GBP£1899 CAD$3299+tax

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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.

3: Rotorua
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



Coromandel Coast
Hike Kauri Grove



Walking Sightseeing


View Majestic Kauri Trees on the Waiomu Kauri Walk
Hiking New Zealand North Island along the Kauri Grove Track, Coromandel Impressive kauri trees on a North Island tour to Coromandel

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 guides 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 make a stop at the spectacular Waiau Falls before travelling through to Whitianga, our home for the evening.



Sea Kayak & Maori Culture



Sightseeing Kayaking MaoriCulture


Cathedral Cove kayaking on New Zealand North Island tours
Travel New Zealand North Island with kayaking in Cathedral Cove Te Puia Te Po cultural show should be part of your New Zealand North Island itinerary

Day 2 – Kayak Cathedral Cove & Rotorua Māori Feast

This morning we’ll travel the short distance along the Coromandel coastline to Hahei and then get ready to paddle through tantalisingly turquoise waters out to Cathedral Cove. We’ll then make our way down to Rotorua, a rich cultural hub and geothermal wonderland. This evening we’ll enjoy a fascinating introduction to Māori culture, before being treated to a Māori feast cooked in the traditional way. We’ll spend the night here in Rotorua.

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.  

Rotorua Maori Culture

We will visit Te Puia this evening, where we will see the Maori values of manaakitanga (hospitality) and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) on display. We’ll delve into the history of the local Ngati Wahiao tribe and enjoy a hāngi (a traditional Māori feast) together this evening. Tonight, we’ll 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!



Mud Pools & Huka Falls



Sightseeing Walking MaoriCulture


New Zealand North Island tours to Huka Falls, Taupo Head to Redwoods in Rotorua for some of the best hiking trails North Island New Zealand

Day 3 – Rotorua’s 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 Maori Village to witness the geothermal wonderland that the Te Whakarewarewa valley is famous for. Before travelling south to Taupo, 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 Taupo the next two nights.

Geothermal Wonderland, Redwoods & Huka Falls

Te Whakarewarewa valley is a unique geothermal landscape and home to the Tuhourangi Ngati Wahiao people.  Here you can witness New Zealand’s largest geyser, Pōhutu, erupt up to 30 metres into the sky. As well as experiencing plenty of geothermal activity, the morning gives you an opportunity to learn all about traditional Māori art and craft. 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.



Tongariro National Park
Hike Tongariro Crossing





Tongariro Crossing, Emerald Lakes are some of the best hiking New Zealand North Island
View of Mt Ngauruhoe when hiking in New Zealand North Island Tongariro Crossing, Emerald and Blue Lakes is some of the best hiking New Zealand North Island

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.



Waitomo Caves



Caving Sightseeing

Today we finish in Auckland

Add the Spellbound Cave Tour to your New Zealand North Island itinerary
New Zealand North Island at Spellbound Cave Hiking New Zealand North Island to see glow worms in Spellbound Cave

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.

Haere ra.

Don’t take our word for it...

10SNOR Bob Vreeland2
We thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The itinerary was super! The hikes were great and the local guide for the Tongariro Crossing was amazing. He shared his vast knowledge of the area, geology, history, and culture which added to the experience. Our New Zealand Trails guides Sam and Meg were accommodating to all of our needs.

Bob Vreeland (Sweet North, December 19)

12SNOR Marilyn Picchioni
We took New Zealand Trails trips on both islands. I can honestly say that we learned about other civilizations and cultures. Our time at the Maori Center was illuminating. We learned about the meaning of their tattoos. We did the haka and the poi dance, and we watched the scrimshaw and jade being carved. Our guides, Sam and Megan, showed us how much they love their country.

Marilyn Picchioni (Sweet North, December 19)


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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?

What is the accommodation like on the Sweet North?

What time does the Sweet North trip start and finish?

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Tour dates

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.


Nov 17
Nov 21
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Dec 15
Dec 19
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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.

What’s included:

Local guides, small groups

All food (except where noted on itinerary), transportation and activities

All inclusive

All accommodation

NZD$3599 AUD$3499 USD$2399 GBP£1899 CAD$3299+tax
per person (twin or double share)

new zealand north island adventure with new zealand trails2

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