New Zealand: Hidden Treasures of the Far North

Great Hikes and Cultural Adventures in a Land of Maori Legends


Explore New Zealand’s North Island on a journey full of gorgeous coastal scenery, superb local cuisine (think catch-of-the-day seafood), wine tasting, and a variety of wonderful hikes. While the South Island’s landscape makes you feel as if you could be in the European Alps, the North Island, especially the northernmost part, the “Northland,” has its own distinctive South Pacific character with a unique Maori culture, impeccable stretches of sheltered beach, and a subtropical climate. We’ll boat out to the marine reserve of Poor Knights Islands for snorkeling and kayaking, sip the best vintages in Matakana wine country, explore historic seaside Russell, New Zealand’s first European settlement, walk in an ancient kauri forest in the Bay of Islands, and hike the Te Araroa trail along seacliffs at stunning Cape Reinga (“The Place of Leaping”). Cape Reinga is the northernmost point on the island, where it is said Maori spirits begin their final journey to the land of their ancestors. Our hikes are varied and our small group size (maximum 12) makes for an intimate and enjoyable adventure.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Auckland / Poor Knights Islands / Snorkeling and Kayaking

From Auckland, we head through the picturesque wine region of the Matakana Coast for a coastal hike on the Mangawhai Heads, nestled between the Pacific and rolling farmland.  A spectacular boat journey brings us out to the marine reserve of the Poor Knights Islands for a fine day of sea kayaking, cave exploration, swimming, and spotting sea mammals.

QT Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand
Day 1 (1 night)
Lodge 9
Tutukaka, New Zealand
Days 2 to 3 (2 nights)
Days 4-5
Sandy Bay / Historic Russell / Moturua Island

After a coastal hike with spectacular views across Sandy Bay to the Poor Knights Islands, we head to historic Russell, New Zealand’s first seaport and its first European settlement. We’ll take a water taxi to Moturua Island Scenic Reserve in the Bay of Islands. Our island hike is through native forests and along the coast where North Island robins, saddlebacks, and red-crowned parakeets sing.

Duke of Marlborough Hotel
Russell, New Zealand
Days 4 to 5 (2 nights)
Days 6-8
Waitangi Treaty Grounds / Te Araroa Trail / Cape Reinga

A riverside walk on the Te Araroa Trail brings us to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand’s most important historic site and the birthplace of the nation. From idyllic Taputoputo Bay, we hike another fantastic coastal section of the Te Araroa Trail to Cape Reinga Lighthouse, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean in a spectacular swirl of currents. At the Cape’s northern tip is a gnarled pohutukawa tree, thought to be more than 800 years old. Maori legends say the spirits of deceased Maori leap from this tree into the ocean to return to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki. Depart Day 8 via Kerikeri.

Doubtless Bay Villas
Cable Bay, New Zealand
Days 6 to 7 (2 nights)



Snorkel and kayak in the pristine Poor Knights Islands marine reserve
Go wine-tasting in the boutique wineries of the Matakana Coast
Learn about Maori culture at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Hike spectacular sections of the North Island’s Te Araroa Trail
Cruise and hike in the subtropical Bay of Islands
Explore the stunning coast at Cape Reinga, where two oceans meet


Length: 8 days
Cost From: $5995  
Arrive: Auckland, New Zealand
Depart: Kerikeri, New Zealand
Lodging: 7 nights hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Walking, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

Moderate hiking, 2-4 hours a day on hiking days, optional sea kayaking and snorkeling (no previous experience necessary)