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North Island

Welcome to the North Island! Here you can see it all - from huge, ancient kauri forests in the far north, to bubbling geysers in the Central Plateau and a vibrant cosmopolitan capital city at the southern tip. Although it's only a short domestic 'hop' from the South Island, the North Island is a completely unique adventure destination. A few of the North Island's defining characteristics include its warmer climate, tropical coastlines, volcanic activity, ancient forests and a rich cultural history.

A warmer climate to the South Island means the Kauri tree only grows on the North Island, and it forms a back bone to the islands 'jarassic' forests. One tree (Tane Mahuta - 'Lord of the Forest') has been dated to be over 2,500 years old, and contains enough timber in the trunk to build thirty three-bedroom homes... so you can imagine the size and beauty of these giants. These ancient forests were home to the majority of our indigenous Maori tribes, many of which are still thriving today, and they welcome you with arms wide open. 

The North Island's Kauri forests line its golden-beach coastlines, and reach high into the volcanic mountains, where you can stand just meters from towering geysers, boiling sulphur pools and hike on live volcanos. As impressive as the South Island's rugged Southern Alps are, the North Island is the only destination in the world you'll get this unique experience.

So, what's the best way to see all of the best parts of the North Island? Well, if you're making the journey 'down-under' to New Zealand, the chances are, you'll pass through our largest city Auckland. Known as the 'City of Sails' for its wonderful sailing, having harbours on both of its (east and west) coasts. This is the North Island's 'gateway city' and it's the best place for your trip to start. 

We've been running the award-winning 11-day Ultimate North Island 'Kauri' trip that starts and finishes in Auckland for many years now and we're continually refining it to make the most of your time down here. There are 5-day options available too and the trip is designed to tie in nicely with all of our South Island adventures

Starting in the far north, be a kid again and slide down the sand dunes into the warm Tasman Sea. Hop across to the Bay of Islands on the East Coast and visit Waitangi to discover New Zealand's political history with the Treaty of Waitangi, considered our nation's founding document. Get your hiking fix on the trail to Cape Brett Lighthouse, where the rolling hills are luscious green and the sea below is teeming with marine life. And that's all in the first few days!

After a short journey south we'll introduce you to a cluster of islands off the East Coast known as the Poor Knights. This is a sub-tropical area in a marine reserve; the warm blue waters are home to schools of tropical marine life, making it some of the best snorkelling, kayaking and diving in the South Pacific! After another coastal hike at Mangawhai heads, we'll head back to the 'City of Sails' to recharge our batteries before exploring the Central Plateau. 

Over the next 5 days you'll be amazed at the diversity of the North Island, as we transition from golden sand beaches to volcanoes, redwood forests, waterfalls and cave systems. Starting at Mokena geyser, with a hike up Mt Te Aroha you'll be rewarded with views of Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu, the two largest volcanoes in New Zealand. You'll spend the next couple of evenings in Rotorua, the hub for Maori culture. After mountain biking on some of the countries best trails, your group will share a traditional Maori feast, known as a 'hangi', prepared by wrapping food and burying it in the earth to cook slowly over heated stones... YUM! 

The culmination of this adventure is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is arguable regarded as the world's best day hike. This is a challenging and truly unforgettable hike - the views of Emerald Lakes amongst arid volcanic terrain are simply breath-taking. And the best part, at the end of the day you can relax and soak in natural thermal springs for the evening. 

 

For the ultimate New Zealand experience, you can combine the 'Kauri' trip with any of our South Island adventures too:

 

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Outstanding Trip!!

    This trip was especially great because of our guides, Ben and Emma. I cannot say enough good things about those two. They were extremely patient, energetic, and very sincere.
    The trip has a wide variety of activities that allowed us to see and experience most of the South Island, keeping us away from the more congested tourist hangouts. I really felt like we saw the true South Island and not just the tourist trap attractions.
    The only reason I have not given it a 5 star rating is because my wife and I are very active and do very challenging trips that most people would never want to take on. It was not a trip of a lifetime for me only because of that. Take "trip of a lifetime" away from the 5 stars and just have excellent and I would mark that. Excellent trip!!!!
    Dave Mastolier Review Image
    – Alaska, United States
    Rimu, December 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    The Most Beautiful Place in the World

    Thank you to Active Adventures for a most spectacular trip. I traveled with my daughter, to celebrate her college graduation, and my brother. The Kiwi people are the friendliest people on the planet. Our guides were extremely helpful, cooked awesome meals, and taught us so much about New Zealand. They took care of everything. All we had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride. The locations for the lodging were probably the best views in all the country. We stayed right in the center of Queenstown, next to a remote area of a lake with views of Mt. Cook, in a small towns next to the ocean. They were all very clean and neat, always with a pot of tea ready, and cookies for a snack. There was always an excess of food. No one ever went hungry. In fact, I don't think I ever ate so much on holiday. The activities were fun and varied, relaxing at times, strenuous on occasion but with awesome views as payback. I am recommending this trip to all my friends, and already planning the next one.
    Terri Donati Review Image
    – Colorado, United States
    Rimu, December 2017
  •   4.44 out of 5 (from 908 reviews)

    Whatever the dream, if its New Zealand, find a way!!

    Where do I even start?!?!? NZ has been #1 on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. It wasn't until I realized I couldn't wait forever for that perfect time, to have X amount of money saved, to have a companion to go with me...that I decided to JUST GO ALREADY! And I suggest you do the same! Don't wait another moment. I went alone but found the most wonderful companions I could have ever hoped for! Even got a great roommate. The guides, Claire and Jess were PHENOMENAL! I started crying off and on a few days before the end of the trip because I became that attached to them and knew I would never see them again. Leaving at the airport, I couldn't even speak I was so upset and saying goodbye. So wonderful and beyond knowledgeable! I miss Jess' cooking and Claire's coffee already and I just got back yesterday!!! But seriously folks, the Manuka was beyond what expectations I could have ever dreamed. Yes it was indeed physical, so be ready for that; but there were some flatter, easier options for those that chose to not exert so much energy. There were a couple of times I wanted to just quit, but Claire and/or Jess kept me going saying it would be worth it (for the view AND the accomplishment) and MAN WERE THEY RIGHT!!!

    The food, the company, the knowledge, the laughs, the comradery, the views, the EXPERIENCES....all of it was TOP NOTCH! I have my memories that will last a lifetime; best money I have EVER spent.

    Don't wait! GO! I plan to go back in a couple of years to do the entire Milford Track. That's my only regret is that I didn't spend the extra to do that. But that's on me, not AA!
    June Vidrine Review Image
    – Texas, United States
    Manuka, March 2017
  •   4.38 out of 5 (from 1211 reviews)

    5 day Kauri Trip

    Tongariro Alpine Crossing was the best hike of my life!
    Grace Zheng Review Image
    – Hawaii, United States
    Kauri, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4983 reviews)

    Trip of a Lifetime!

    This was such an amazing trip! Our guides Ash and Astrid did a fantastic job. Everyday was met with amazing views and challenging activities like kayaking, biking and hiking. Two weeks felt like a month because we did so much in one day but there was still some down time to enjoy the beauty that is New Zealand. A must for anyone who wants to be active in New Zealand.
    Kilo Piedra Review Image
    – California, United States
    Rimu, March 2018

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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