Best Hikes on the North Island’s Te Araroa Trail


The Te Araroa (Maori for “long pathway”) is the world’s newest long-distance hiking trail, from the northernmost tip of the North Island to the southern point of the South Island. If you were to walk all of it, it would take five months! Our adventure begins in the seaside town of Russell among the subtropical splendor of the Bay of Islands. Here, we’ll meet a local Maori family who still follows some of the traditional Polynesian practices handed down through generations.  We start our first hike of the roughly 2,000 mile-long Te Araroa Trail at remote Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific, and where the Maori believe the spirits of their dead depart for their ancestral homeland in Polynesia. Heading south, we’ll pass remote villages, mystical kauri forests, and “Lord of the Rings” volcanoes, then ferry into Auckland, the City of Sails, to walk the Te Araroa Trail right through the city. On the central plateau, our hike brings us into the dramatic volcanic scenery of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a World Heritage Site, and when we reach the beautiful and sacred Whanganui River, part of the Te Araroa Trail, we’ll drift down as the Maori did before us—by waka (canoe). Our trail leads us into cosmopolitan Wellington, the nation's capital. This unique adventure is full of fantastic hikes, great food, world-class wine, craft beer, and easy-going Kiwi culture.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
Kerikeri / Russell / Moturua Island / Doubltless Bay / Cape Regina

Fly into Kerikeri and explore Russell, New Zealand's first seaport and European settlement. We hike and birdwatch on Motura Island and stretch our legs on our first portion of the Te Araroa Trail along the Kerikeri River. We head towards Doubtless Bay along the coast in New Zealand's picturesque Northland to our accommodations on one of the country's most beautiful beaches. Our first extensive hike on the Te Araroa Trail brings us to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.

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Days 5-9
Poor Knights Islands / Mangawahi Cliffs / Auckland

We hike into the Russell Forest with its majestic kauri trees and ferns along the Papakauri Stream. On Day 6, a spectacular boat ride brings us to Poor Knights Islands, a pristine marine reserve, for a day of sea kayaking, cave exploration, and a chance to spot dolphins and whales. Back on the mainland, we adventure out on the Mangawahi Cliffs Walkway, nestled between the Pacific and rolling farmland, and follow an ancient Maori path through coastal forests. The Te Araroa Trail brings us right into delightful Auckland, the City of Sails, and we take a trip out to Waiheke Island, home to wineries and artists.

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Days 10-11
Cambridge / Mangaokewa / Tongariro Alpine Crossing

We start out in Cambridge and walk the Te Araroa Trail through the Mangaokewa Gorge among limestone cliffs and Totara groves. As we hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing on Day 11, we are immersed in a world of emerald lakes, lava flows, and breathtaking volcanic scenery.

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Days 12-14
Bridge to Nowhere / Canoe the Wanganui River / Kapiti Coast / Wellington

A jet-boat brings us to the start of our hike through dramatic river gorges in Wanganui National Park, and we drift down the beautiful Wanganui River by waka (traditional Maori canoe). Our last hike on the Te Araroa Trail brings us on foot along the Kapiti Coast into Wellington, New Zealand’s urban jewel, with a visit to its famous museum, the Te Papa, full of Maori treasures. Depart on Day 14.

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Exhilarating hikes in spectacular coastal, mountain, and volcanic environments
Cape Reinga Lighthouse, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific
Ancient Maori sites of Moturua Island, spectacular haka warrior dance in Rotorua
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, with its volcanic scenery and emerald lake
Boat journey through the pristine marine reserve of the Poor Knights Islands for kayaking and cave exploration


Length: 14 days
Cost From: $7895  
Arrive: Kerikeri, New Zealand
Depart: Wellington, New Zealand
Lodging: 13 nights hotels and historic inns
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Wildlife & Natural History, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

Varied hikes of 3-6 hours, some sections on rough or rocky trails