FRIDAY 04 DECEMBER – ARRIVE AUCKLAND
Fly into Auckland. Once flights recommence, you will be given suggested services to take and you will be advised of other tour members with whom you could share a transfer. Check into your hotel and join your tour manager for an orientation walk, talk and dinner this evening. Overnight Auckland. (meal in flight, D)
SATURDAY 05 DECEMBER – AUCKLAND – WAIPU – PAHIA
Drive one hour north to beautiful Matakana village. Wander the village square, landscaped open spaces and independent speciality retailers. Our visit will be timed to visit the thriving Matakana farmers market, founded almost twenty years ago on simple premise: local people, selling locally produced food. We will have a couple of hours for a wander through the village and market, grab a coffee, try fresh artisan food and meet the locals.
Driving north our next stop is the small town of Waipu. A gorgeous coastal enclave that become the “Heart Place” to 1,000 Scottish Highlanders who arrived in Waipu in the 1850’s. We will learn the Highlanders story in the UNESCO recognised genealogy museum.
Lunch at leisure in the local cafes or pub in Waipu before continuing our drive north to the hub of the Bay of Islands, Paihia.
Although a “rest stop” would not normally be considered among the daily highlights of a tour, a stop at the Kawakawa public toilets is a can’t miss attraction on the road north. The toilets, designed by the reclusive Austrian/Kiwi artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser are the unusual combination of internationally recognised work of art, tourist attraction and working public facility.
We will check in to the Copthorne Bay of Islands Hotel tonight for a three-night stay. Our hotel is on the waterfront with 60 acres of subtropical gardens and within the Waitangi National Trust Reserve. It is a flat 2km walk from the resort into Paihia township and the resort offers free shuttle buses for guests to explore. Welcome Dinner. (B,D)
SUNDAY 06 DECEMBER – PAHIA
After a leisurely breakfast we can walk a few minutes to the entrance of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. This is the historical site of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February 1840 between the British Crown and Maori chiefs of the North Island. Set in a stunningly beautiful coastal setting, your visit to the Treaty grounds will include a private group experience that encompasses fascinating stories of the events, personalities and sometimes misunderstandings that have shaped New Zealand’s history.
You will experience Maori culture up close, the spine tingling wero (challenge), karanga (welcome call) and of course the haka. A Maori guide will support us and explain everything as we go to get the most out of our visit. We will also visit the carving studio to see carvers in action and have plenty of time to visit the excellent on-site museum to deepen your understanding. Free afternoon and then in the evening we return to the Treaty Grounds to experience a Hangi and concert. (B,D)
MONDAY 07 DECEMBER – PAHIA
Today is a free day for you to choose a local activity or just to relax at the resort. (B)
E-bike the Twin Coast Discovery trail – Ride Opua to Kaikohe one way and then get picked up and returned to Opua (this is close to Paihia). The trail is an easy grade and a lovely ride along the marina, mangrove estuaries and through rural farm scenery crossing suspension bridges and tunnels along the way. E bikes make this a very do-able day although we would always recommend that guests have had some e-bike experience.
Twin Coast Cycle Trail
The Cream Trip: This is the best and most popular day trip out of Paihia – you will be out from 9.30 to approx. 4.30. Options for a pre-booked picnic lunch or there is a café on the island stop.
R Tucker Thompson:
A full day sail on a tall ship. https://tucker.co.nz/sailing-in-the-bay-of- islands/day-sails-on-a-tall-ship/
• Return to Waitangi to explore further.
• There is excellent kayaking off the beach at Paihia and at the Haruru falls
• Haruru Falls walk
• Fishing charter boats are available for any guests who wanted a day out fishing.
• A round of golf at one of the excellent local courses (advance bookings essential)
TUESDAY 08 DECEMBER – PAHIA – TAIPA
A guided tour this morning of New Zealand’s oldest building, Kemp House and the famous Stone Store. Settled alongside a lovely riverbank, the Stone store has an interesting and varied history as trading post, library, barracks and boys’ school. Now operating as a museum, it also has a nice gift store with a range of unique New Zealand merchandise. Lunch today will be at New Zealand’s best fish and chip shop at Mangonui. Enjoy freshly caught local fish sitting on the sunny wrap around deck perched over the water.
Drive through farmland before stopping at Win Matthew’s wonderful collection of vintage cars and tractors. A nostalgic wander through a wide selection of vintage cars including Nash, Chevrolet and Singer Roadster models.
Checking in at the Taipa Ramada resort, where we will stay for two nights, the remainder of the afternoon will be at leisure to enjoy the beaches and water of pristine Doubtless Bay.
This evening after dinner we will embark on a two-hour guided bush tour with a local. Have close – up encounters with glow worms, weta and koura (freshwater crayfish) while listening out for the nocturnal sounds of the resident northern brown kiwi. (B,L,D)
WEDNESDAY 09 DECEMBER – TAIPA
This morning we journey all the way to the very top of the country to Cape Reinga. This is a spiritual place and in Maori culture is the “leaping off place” for the spirits of the dead. Standing beside a majestic lighthouse standing high above the spot where the Pacific and Tasman oceans meet, you see majestic vistas of the mighty oceans swirling together. After a picnic lunch at a beautiful sandy bay we continue in our specially modified 4 x 4 bus, with comfortable seating and panoramic windows, we traverse streams and sand dunes and travel the magnificent Ninety-mile beach. Driving through Aupouri forest we will keep an eye out for the resident herds of wild horses. (B,L)
THURSDAY 10 DECEMBER – TAIPA – HOKIANGA
Drive through farmland and forest this morning to the tiny settlement of Kohukohu, an historic village nestled on the Hokianga Harbour. The village is a lovely coffee stop and home to a number of small artist galleries. We will take a short tour on an historic launch, the Ranui, skippered by a local captain we will cruise the harbour and hear stories of the Hokianga. Arrive at the Copthorne Hokianga, located on the beachfront where we will have magnificent views of the harbour and sand dunes and a free afternoon to wander the beach or relax before a farewell dinner tonight. (B,D)
FRIDAY 11 DECEMBER – HOKIANGA – AUCKLAND
After Breakfast, check out of the hotel. A 4 to 5 hour drive today will get us back to Auckland. We drive south through the magnificent old growth of the Waipoua kauri forest.
A short walk off the main road is the “Lord of the forest” Tane Mahuta. Turn the corner of the track and come face to face with New Zealand’s largest known living kauri tree.
Continuing south we will stop at Kai Iwi Lakes, a group of gorgeous freshwater lakes, impossibly blue at their depths, the lakes are rimmed by warm shallow water and pristine white sands. We will take a short stop for pictures, a paddle or a swim.
Our journey takes us to the award winning Matakohe kauri museum. Learn the history of the kauri tree and the importance that its timber and gum had to pioneer New Zealand and marvel at the Taonga gallery, a diverse collection of Maori treasures made from local materials. Continue on to Auckland and to our hotel for an overnight stay. (B)
SATURDAY 12 DECEMBER – DEPART AUCKLAND
Check out of your hotel and transfer to the airport to meet your flight home or continue to the South Island or other New Zealand destinations. (B)