27 days Ultimate Explorer from Auckland - Heading North First

These totally unique trips are the most flexible tour option out there. Enjoy the convenience of a tour with small groups of like-minded travellers whilst you choose the accommodation style, activities, hikes and bike rides you want - you can even take extended breaks at any point. Following on from their National Geographic "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth" listing, Flying Kiwi are proud to be the only New Zealand tour operator listed in the prestigious World Travel Awards

  • Duration: 27 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of:
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID/Link Tour Code: AKLHNF/168204
  • Starts: Auckland, New Zealand
  • Finishes: Auckland, New Zealand
You will Visit



Day 1

Depart Auckland at 10am. The beautiful Coromandel Peninsula waits - Home to some of the finest beaches in NZ! Marvel at the gorgeous views on a beautiful coastal walk. Visit the unique and famous Hot Water Beach to dig, then relax, in your own thermal pool! Soak up the breath-taking scenery and cameras ready for spectacular sunsets at our beachside camp. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: stunning coastal walk with views over the Pacific - distances vary
Bike rides: Scenic road cycling options
Optional activities: sea kayaking around hidden bays
Meals: dinner


Day 2

Head south into the heart of the North Island and be amazed by the natural wonderland that is Rotorua. Visit Hobbiton or take in some Maori Culture at the Tamaki Maori Village. Experience the only native forest zipline canopy tour in New Zealand, enjoy the thrills of OGO or the scenic gondola and luge. Take in the geothermal wonders with walks or relax in the hot pools. For cyclists there is the chance to enjoy a world class mountain bike park. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: options to stroll through towering, ancient forests & walks around unique thermal landscapes
Bike rides: Rotorua mountain bike park or the Natural Heritage Trail
Optional activities: Hobbiton, Tamaki Maori Village, OGO, Luge, Polynesian hot pools, zipline canopy tour
Meals: breakfast


Day 3

Leave camp for Wai-O-Tapu geothermal Wonderland before continuing on to the impressive Huka Falls. We then head to Taupo, nestled next to one of the largest crater lakes in the World with some great hiking and cycling opportunities. Taupo is also a great place for adventure with heaps of optional activities to choose from. Tonight we enjoy a camp near Tongariro National Park. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: walks of various distances past dramatic waterfalls and around Lake Taupo
Bike rides: Ride through the Redwood Forest or take the Lion’s Track cycle path around the lake
Optional activities: skydive, bungy, giant swing, Wai-O-Tapu (free - this one is on us)
Meals: breakfast & dinner


Day 4

Experience one of NZ’s great walks, The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, rated as the best one day walk in the World. This dual listed World heritage area is set to inspire with towering mountains, turquoise lakes, sparkling rivers, lush rainforests and lunar landscapes. For those that don’t fancy the hike, take on some grade 3 white water rafting rapids, cycle, enjoy short walks or relax in this beautiful area with an awe-inspiring mountain backdrop. We then head south to our wonderful stunning beach camp - home to amazing coastal sunsets. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro river track
Bike rides: Tongariro river track
Optional activities: white water rafting, Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Fly Fishing
Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner


Day 5

Our early arrival in Wellington gives us the opportunity to see such great attractions as the celebrated Te Papa museum, Zealandia and the gorgeous Botanical Gardens. Take a Lord of the Rings movie tour or simply savour the unique culture of New Zealand’s capital. Wellington has a wonderful harbour, café culture and a thriving central district so there is plenty to suit all tastes. We enjoy a ferry crossing (cost included) through stunning Cook Strait to the picturesque Marlborough Sounds with our final stop in Picton. Camping isn’t feasible tonight so we will be staying at a great hostel with various room options. This is payable locally and we have dorm beds reserved for everyone on board (prices from $30).
Optional activities: Te Papa museum (free), LOTR movie tour, Zealandia, cable car
Meals: breakfast


Day 6

Today we travel the scenic Pacific coast to Kaikoura where close encounters with seals and sea birds are common. This picturesque town sits right on the ocean at the foot of the mountains - a spectacular spot. Stretch your legs with a recommended evening peninsula walk and build up an appetite for a tasty feast of locally caught fresh seafood. Tonight we camp with the sound of the waves - perfect! Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: Kaikoura peninsula walk with opportunity to spot seals, a variety of birdlife and the occasional dolphin!
Bike rides: 25km - 60km road cycling options
Optional activities: whale watching boat, whale watching helicopter, sea kayaking, deep sea fishing
Meals: breakfast & dinner


Day 7

For those that are keen there is the chance to rise early for a wonderful sunrise and then enjoy one of our most highly rated optional activities - dolphin swimming. The resident dusky dolphins are amongst the most interactive and entertaining in the world and it’s not unusual to swim with pods of 50 or more in their natural habitat, the ocean! We then have the chance to explore this quaint seaside town before heading through Christchurch to collect and drop off those starting /ending here. At 2:30pm we head out towards the Southern Alps with fantastic views across the Canterbury plains - real Lord of the Rings country! Tonight’s unique camp is at the Shearer’s Headquarters (an actual operating farm) located at the foot of the Southern Alps. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: some great early walks from coastal camp and the chance to hike around peel forest at the foot of the alps
Bike rides: local rides around kaikoura or cycle the coast towards the southern alps. Distances can vary from 10km - 60km
Optional activities: highly recommended dolphin swim, dolphin viewing
Meals: breakfast & dinner


Day 8

Wake up to mountain views and refresh yourself even more with the chance to try white water rafting on the mighty Rangitata River, grade 5 rapids! This thrilling ride takes you through the heart of the mountains with amazing scenery and a few splashes and spills on the way! If rafting isn’t for you then no problem - soak it all in with a morning cycle ride or walk through the forest. We then head through more jaw dropping landscapes (they don’t stop in the South Island) to the picture postcard, alpine Lake Tekapo. Here you will view the most spectacular turquoise waters which get their colour from the glacial flour on the surrounding snow-capped peaks. From there we head to one of our best wilderness camps - sat on the shores of the lake you can set up your tent to nothing but views of lakes and mountains.
Hikes: lots of shorter options today but all with spectacular views - make sure to have your camera ready
Bike rides: short local forest rides and then some spectacular riding around the edge of lake pukaki
Optional activities: white water rafting
Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner


Day 9

Today is a real chance to immerse yourself in the snow-capped mountain scenery that New Zealand is famous for. We will be exploring Aoraki National Park and hike to the base of NZ’s highest mountain - Mount Cook. We then head back to the Pacific coast with a short stop in the historic town of Oamaru. Tonight we stay in another spectacular camp with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. For those that love their nature there is the option to view Yellow Eyed Penguins at their carefully managed reserve (these little guys are only found in NZ). We enjoy a few beach games on our idyllic and isolated sandy beach and for the brave and the bold it’s a great place for a bit of bodysurfing. Finish the day with great food and a beach campfire as we watch the sunset over the ocean. Sleep to the sound of the gently lapping waves.
Hikes: highly recommended scenic hike to the base of Mount Cook
Bike rides: 13km - 57km ride options optional activities: penguin viewing
Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner


Day 10

Today we will be heading south towards the mystical Moeraki Boulders - a collection of perfectly round rocks each weighing up to 4 tonnes, and then it’s onto the historic Scottish city of Dunedin - the South Islands’ second-largest city. Its name is the old Gaelic one for Edinburgh - very appropriate as the city is a carbon copy of the Edinburgh map (street names and all). This southern city is also home to the world’s steepest residential street and the famous Speight’s brewery which offers an interactive and informative guided tour through the historic working brewery. Limited cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: take a walk up/down the World’s steepest residential street then explore the sights of Dunedin city
Bike rides: from our campsite around the edge of Lake Waihola to the Sinclair Wetlands
Optional activities: Speight`s brewery tour
Meals: breakfast, dinner


Day 11

Journey through scenic southern pastures to Te Anau, the hub and jumping-off point for Fiordland National Park and the Milford Sound. Our accommodation tonight is a unique and historic site hidden in the unspoilt Hollyford Valley - a true wilderness escape. There is even an onsite museum to learn more about the region and history. For cyclists there is the chance to cycle into camp and for the hikers this camp offers some great short treks (ask your guide about secret glow worm trails). Limited cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: plenty of short treks from camp
Bike rides: 8km road cycle to camp
Optional activities: none (this place is all about getting off the beaten track!)
Meals: breakfast & dinner


Day 12

Travel one of the world’s most scenic routes into Milford Sound! Described as the `eighth wonder of the world`, Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. The fiord`s cliffs rise dramatically from the dark waters (home to seals and dolphins) whilst waterfalls as high as 1000 metres cascade downwards. Board the optional boat cruise to explore the fiord up close. Afterwards those who love hiking are in for a treat with the start of the Routeburn Track. This 3 day walk passes through 2 National Parks and is a haven for native birdlife. Charge up your camera as this hike offers everything from mountainous peaks and sheer rock faces to pristine lakes, cascading waterfalls and dense, luxuriant forest. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: the chance to experience the awesome 3 day Routeburn Track (re-join group in Queenstown on day 14)
Bike rides: lake side rides of varying lengths, Ivon Wilson Park Mountain bike trail
Optional activities: highly recommend Milford boat cruise, Routeburn Track, Te Anau glow worm caves & boat ride
Meals: breakfast & lunch


Day 13

In the morning we journey to Queenstown along the shores of the photogenic Lake Wakatipu. Once we arrive at the adventure capital of New Zealand you can enjoy spectacular views, a free Gondola ride and a huge selection of activities to choose from. There is everything here, from adrenalin pumping bungy, canyon swing or skydive to a more relaxed horse trek or sail - this place has it all. There are some great tracks around the lake ideal for bikers and hikers and all with wonderful views of this alpine region. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: multiple walking / hiking options
Bike rides: lake wakatipu ride or around town cycling
Optional activities: too many to list - something for everyone (see our website or ask us for details)
Meals: breakfast


Day 14

With so much to do we spend another day in fantastic Queenstown with the opportunity to enjoy those once in a lifetime experiences (don’t forget to try the legendary and very tasty fergburger!). Routeburn Track walkers re-join the group here with time to try the many exciting activities this vibrant city has to offer. Tonight you get the opportunity to dine out at one of Queenstown’s many delicious eateries - a great chance for your group to enjoy a true kiwi feast (own cost). Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: with panoramic views of this alpine area you are spoilt for walks and hikes of all distances
Bike rides: lake wakatipu trail, twin rivers trail and lake hayes trail
Optional activities: too many to list - something for everyone (see our website or ask us for details)
Meals: breakfast


Day 15

Our last morning in Queenstown and your last chance to indulge in the Queenstown’s action before we farewell those that finish their tour here. Leaving at 2:30pm, after the thrills and spills of Queenstown we wind down with a beautiful campsite beside the tranquil lake with spectacular views of Mount Aspiring National Park.
Hikes: multiple walking options
Bike rides: varying lengths road cycling around town
Optional activities: too many to list - something for everyone (see our website or ask us for details)
Meals: breakfast & dinner


Day 16

Start your day with a scenic optional jet boat ride in Mount Aspiring National Park. We then begin heading up the West Coast - this region was rated by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 drives in the World. A great scenic drive taking in panoramic views of the Southern Alps. This area is home to majestic rainforest, thundering waterfalls and tranquil pools - the wild West Coast. Tonight we will be staying in glacier country at the picturesque village of Fox Glacier - ask your guide about our secret glow-worm walks. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: great range of short walks around the alpine region + secret night time glow-worm caves
Bike rides: scenic ride leaving our campsite to makarora
Optional activities: jetboating
Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner


Day 17

Today is your chance to explore one of NZ’s most unique and spectacular natural wonders - Fox Glacier. This staggering beautiful work of nature is over 13 kilometres in length and plummets 2,600 metres from its peak in the Southern Alps. It is fed by four alpine glaciers that receive approximately 30 metres of snowfall each year. This snow compacts at the top to produce the wonderful blue ice hundreds of metres deep. You have the chance to hike or ice climb on the glacier, but if glaciers aren’t your thing then the area itself is a wonderland to explore. We would also recommend a cycle or hike around Lake Matheson where crystal clear reflections of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman make the perfect photo opportunity. We then have a short drive up the coast to our beautiful beachside campsite next to the Okarito lagoon - one of the very few places where there are still rare sightings of our native kiwi bird.
Hikes: wonderful hike around Lake Matheson
Bike rides: 10km - 52km road cycling options
Optional activities: terminal face walk, heli-hike, heli ice climb
Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner


Day 18

Enjoy an early morning walk with a chance to spot a Kiwi in the wild. We then continue up this spectacular coastal stretch to Hokitika - home to the Greenstone factories where you can see these skilled craftsmen at work and a great place for a traditional souvenir of your visit. We travel on through pristine native forest to Paparoa National Park where giant columns of water shoot skywards at Pancake Rocks! We will be staying at this great beach camp for a couple of nights with wonderful sunsets and a chance to explore hidden glow-worm caverns. Limited cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: sunrise trek to view the Southern Alps, coastal walks and night time cavern trek
Bike rides: 36km road cycle to camp
Meals: breakfast & dinner


Day 19

Start the day with a hearty pancake breakfast then it’s your day to explore the dramatic Paparoa National Park. The region has walks and cycle rides galore along with the opportunity for an optional river kayak. It needs to be high tide ideally to view the Pancake rocks and blow holes at its best so if you didn’t get the chance the day before then make sure you fit it into your day today. We’ll spend a second night at this magnificent camp. Limited cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: multiple hikes in the Paparoa National Park, Pancake Rocks
Bike rides: Bullock Creek road and off-road cycling
Optional activities: river kayaking, knife making, jade pendant making, bone carving, paddle boarding
Meals: breakfast, lunch & dinner


Day 20

Today we head through the majestic Buller Gorge to our favourite National Park (and NZ’s only coastal park) - Abel Tasman. In one of the sunniest areas of the country you will discover beautiful secluded bays and stunning golden sands. There are all kinds of options to experience the park including skydiving, hang gliding or take a microlight flight - all of which give you the perfect bird’s eye view with varying levels of adrenalin. Our campsite is located at the entrance to the park - perfect for exploring. We will be staying here for 2 nights to give you every chance to explore all corners of the park. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: short walk options
Bike rides: a great coastal ride to camp, kaiteriteri mountain bike park
Optional activities: skydive, hang glide, microlight flight
Meals: breakfast & dinner


Day 21

Taking time to explore arguably the best beaches and clearest waters in New Zealand - there are excellent options for everyone here. You can walk, sail or kayak around the numerous golden bays and dive into the crystal clear waters along the way. There will be plenty of chances for wildlife spotting (dolphins, seals and even Orcas!) Explore the heart of the park by canyoning high flow waterfalls and rapids! Enjoy a fantastic group dinner (own cost). Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: an excellent day for walks - hike along the Abel Tasman track + the option to combine this with a boat ride home!
Bike rides: cycle rides of various distances available from camp, Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park
Optional activities: kayaking, sailing, water taxi, canyoning, horse riding, paddle boarding
Meals: breakfast


Day 22

Today we head to sunny Nelson - the headquarters for Flying Kiwi and you will soon find out why. In addition to being one of the sunniest areas of NZ its home to more than 350 working artists and craftspeople creating traditional, contemporary and Maori arts - a visit to their studios is highly recommended. Alternatively sit back, relax and enjoy the sunshine and café culture of our hometown. We leave Nelson for wine country - Marlborough, home to some of the World’s best known grapes and we will be treating you to a free tasting in one of their best vineyards. Finish this fantastic day with a scenic ferry (cost included) through the Marlborough sounds to Wellington - our base for the evening. Camping isn’t feasible in the heart of the nation’s capital so we will be staying a great hostel with various room options giving you the best access to explore. This is payable locally and we have dorm beds reserved for everyone on board (prices from $29).
Hikes: take a leisurely stroll around the cafes and studios of Nelson
Bike rides: great option to cycle various lengths of the Tasman taste trail - part of the great New Zealand Cycle Trail
Optional activities: wine tasting (free - this one is on us :) )
Meals: breakfast


Day 23

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast by the waterfront (own cost) and check out the sights of beautiful Wellington before we hit the road for our 11am departure. We travel up the scenic Kapiti Coast to the Taranaki region - home to wonderful beaches, crashing waves and spectacular Mount Taranaki - a perfectly formed snow-capped peak.
Cabin upgrades available.
Bike rides: Once at camp - the coastal walkway 13km of easy path cycling
Meals: lunch


Day 24

Early departure to the limestone wonderland of Waitomo Caves. The glow-worm (Arachnocampa luminosa) is unique to our shores and thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light through this network of caves. The black water rafting is a totally unique experience - sitting in your rubber ring, your experienced and knowledgeable guides will take you through a maze of underground caves and streams whose ceilings are coated in glow-worms that produce a radiant light to lead you through. There are a range of options to explore the caves, from walks to rafting, dependent upon your adrenalin levels. We take time to enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking farmland before heading to Auckland and a taste of big city life “kiwi style”. Auckland nightlife is second to none and it’s a great chance to join your group for a taste of the harbour bars and restaurants. Camping isn’t feasible in the heart of the country’s largest city so we will be staying in a great hostel with various room options giving you the best access to explore. This is payable locally and we have twin rooms reserved for everyone on board (twin / triple share from $33pp). If you would prefer a private room (from $49 - subject to availability) please contact us prior to your trip. For those that started their loop on day 25 this will be the last leg of your tour.
Hikes: farmland walks
Bike rides: 17km road cycling
Optional activities: black water rafting, glow worm cave tour
Meals: breakfast & lunch


Day 25

We leave the City of Sails (Auckland) at 10am heading north to the golden beaches and warm waters of the Bay of Islands. On route we take time for a break, and a quick swim for those that are keen, at beautiful Uretiti beach. It’s a great place to relax and make use of the free sports gear we have on board - frisbees, body boards and volleyballs. We then head to the historically significant town of Paihia, the main gateway for the Bay of Islands before doing a highly recommend mangrove walk to the thundering Haruru waterfalls. Our campsite is nestled next to the river and we will be spending 2 nights here giving you time to explore the best of the Bay. Cabin upgrades available. Option to start your tour from here. This results in a 27 day tour (as days 28 & 1 combine) ending on day 24.
Hikes: mangrove walk to Haruru Falls
Bike rides: 10km ride into camp or 12km into Waitangi Mountain bike forest park
Optional activities: Waitangi Treaty house (Maori culture)
Meals: dinner


Day 26

Experience a full day exploring the Bay of Islands and its turquoise waters. This subtropical region is known for its great beaches and history and with 144 islands to explore we have got some great options to get out and view the best of them. Whether its dolphin swimming, sailing or fishing this is a heaven for water activities. Alternatively there are plenty of walk and cycle options around the region. Relax and enjoy a second night at the same great riverside camp. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: scenic viewpoint or coastal walkway
Bike rides: road cycling or Waitangi forest trail of varying lengths
Optional activities: sailing, fishing, Cape Reinga day trip, diving, hole in the rock, dolphin swimming, surfing, kayaking, horse riding
Meals: breakfast & dinner


Day 27

Today we cross the top of the north to the giant sand dunes of Opononi for beach fun and optional sand boarding (boat crossing included). After time on the dunes we head to Waipoua Forest, home to the giant Kauri trees and a variety of scenic short walks and bike rides. We end the day heading down the Hibiscus Coast to our beachside camp at Orewa. Enjoy a tasty evening meal with a sea view before a spot of star gazing in the crystal clear skies. Cabin upgrades available.
Hikes: short walks through giant Kauri forests
Bike rides: cycle coastal estuary or forest landscapes up to 60+km or once at camp cycle on Te Ara Tahuna Estuary Cycleway
Optional activities: sand boarding, hot pools & slides
Meals: breakfast & dinner


Day 28

Take a beachside morning stroll and enjoy breakfast with a view before we hit the road back to Auckland. We head through scenic landscapes before crossing the harbour bridge back into Auckland. For those that started their trip on day 1 from Auckland this is the end of your tour. For those that started their trip on day 7 in Christchurch your itinerary now continues from day 1. For those that started their trip on day 25 in Auckland your itinerary now continues from day 1.
Meals: breakfast

    • All travel, ferry crossings, the activities below are usually chargeable but are included free with your tour:
    • WAI-O-TAPU THERMALS - NZ`s most colourful geothermal attraction. An area in which the landscape has been sculptured by geothermal activity and where unique volcanic features can be viewed from well defined tracks (retail price from $NZD30)
    • GONDOLA RIDE - board the Queenstown Gondolas (also known as cablecars) to experience magnificent landscapes like never before! This tranquil ride provides stunning panoramic views over the lakes and towns (retail price from $NZD27)
    • WINE TASTING - try some of NZ`s finest grapes in the beautiful Marlborough region - this round is on us!
    • SCENIC FERRY CROSSING - the 3 hour scenic crossing between the North and South islands is included in your trip price - keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins on the way (retail price from $NZD75 each way)
    • FRESH SEAFOOD DINNER - we enjoy great food on our trips but in Kaikoura we treat you all to a fresh seafood feast (priceless!)
    • Tongariro Crossing (bus transfer not included), glow worm walks, Te Papa museum, Wellington Botanical Gardens, heaps of free hikes, Punakaiki Pancake Rocks walk, seal spotting, gum boot throwing, Abel Tasman National Park walk, Lake Matheson mirror lake, Tekapo Church of Good Shepherd, Kauri forest walks, Huka Falls, access to National Parks (Paparoa, Abel Tasman, Tongariro, Fiordland, Aoraki), Waitomo museum, Weta Cave in Wellington (bus transfer not included - around $5), Hokitika greenstone factory, dig your own thermal pool on Hot Water beach (we provide the spades!), explore the Bay of Islands region, use of sports equipment on board (bodyboards, frisbee and more dependant upon bus), amazing sunrises and sunsets at beautiful beachside campsites, and more

      Shared tents are included in the price but you can upgrade to single tents for a small fee or upgrade to cabins on the day. We stay in centrally located hostels on 3 nights to give you the best access to the city

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