(optional South Island extension tour at approx £1950)
New Zealand is a country which has much to offer. It is proud of its Maori culture and historical links with Britain. There are spectacular mountain ranges, wild coastlines, thick forests and a host of wildlife. Lying on a destructive plate margin, part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire", its volcanoes have been responsible for some spectacular eruptions over many thousands of years.
The main Volcanic Experiences tour focuses on the volcanoes and other landscape features of the North Island, on which all current volcanic activity occurs. The tour covers most of the island from the Bay of Islands and Coromandel Peninsular in the north, to Wellington in the south. It takes in Rotorua, Taupo, Tongariro and Mount Egmont National parks, and a boat trip out to White Island, site of one of the most active volcanoes in the world. In addition, there is the chance to see hot springs, bubbling mudpools, geysers, spectacular waterfalls, glow-worm caves and much more.
The tour director will be Alan Clewlow, an experienced geologist who will also be on hand to offer advice and some explanation of the features seen. The visit begins in Auckland and ends in Wellington, the New Zealand capital. For those who wish to see more, there is the opportunity to then link up with a coach tour taking in all the highlights of the South Island, which ends in Christchurch.
For bookings or extra information (including details on South Island Tour) please call us on 01527 832 578 or email@example.com
Day 1 (February 17th ) AUCKLAND
Arrive Auckland International Airport . Dinner is included at the hotel tonight. Your New Zealand based tour guide / manager will meet you at the hotel today and will accompany you throughout your time in the North Island. Alan Clewlow will also meet the whole group at the hotel (though he may have travelled with some of the party from the UK).
Day 2 - AUCKLAND / MURIWAI BEACH / BAY OF ISLANDS
This morning drive to Muriwai on the West Coast and discover the exposed cliffs and unique Pillow Lava Bay and lava feeder tubes at Muriwai, the result of the Waitakere Volcano which erupted off the coast of Muriwai some 17-50 million years ago. Afterwards drive north to Whangarei for a stop at the picturesque Whangarei Falls. Continue to Paihia in the lovely Bay of Islands. Dinner is at your own leisure tonight.
Day 3 - PAIHIA (BAY OF ISLANDS)
Free day at leisure. Admission included today for a visit to the Waitangi Treaty House. It was here on 6 February 1840 that Maori and British settlers signed an historic agreement which gave birth to the nation of New Zealand. The Maori Meeting House in the grounds is a superb example of the skills of Maori wood carvers and flax weavers. You may wish to take the ferry to Russell (optional). Russell was a base for the sealing and whaling industry of the 1800's. Today it is a tranquil, picturesque resort town servicing the needs of national and international yachts, and game fishing folk. Dinner again at your own leisure tonight.
Day 4 - PAIHIA / TAIRUA
Today travel south through Auckland City and across the Hauraki Plains to Thames. From here the road climbs over the Coromandel Ranges then skirts Tairua Harbour to the coastal settlement of Tairua. The magnificent golden sand beaches and native forests of the Coromandel Peninsula make the region particularly popular for visitors. Time permitting, visit Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach. This beach is popular at low tide when holiday makers dig holes in the sand allowing hot thermal water to bubble up forming a hot water pool. Dinner is included at the hotel tonight.
Day 5 - TAIRUA / ROTORUA
Today return to Thames and drive south to Rotorua in the heart of New Zealand's famous geothermal region.Visit the Buried Village to see remains of the Maori village of Te Wairoa that was devastated by the volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera during the night of June 10, 1886. The excavated village offers a first hand insight into the chaos and destruction that ensued following the eruption.
A guided tour of Te Puia provides the visitor with an introduction to the magnificent geothermal activity in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. Whilst in the valley see the boiling mud pools, steaming silica terraces, hot springs and geysers including the famous Pohutu Geyser which can erupt up to 30 metres high, depending on its mood. Visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where young Maori are learning the traditional carving and weaving skills of their ancestors. Also visit the specially lit nocturnal Kiwi House to see New Zealand's endangered emblem bird, the Kiwi. Dinner at your leisure tonight.
Day 6 - ROTORUA / WHAKATANE / WHITE ISLAND / ROTORUA
This morning drive across the Bay of Plenty to the east coast town of Whakatane. Depart by boat travelling across the water to White Island, New Zealand's only active marine volcano located 49-kms off-shore. Transfer from the boat to the island by tender craft for an in-depth guided tour of White Island with its crater lake and old sulphur mining factory. See the bright yellow sulphur crystals and venture right up to the main crater's edge. On the return trip the boat will look out for the pods of dolphins that inhabit these waters. Lunch is included in the excursion. Dinner at your own leisure tonight. Afterwards return to Rotorua.
Day 7 - ROTORUA / TAUPO
This morning drive south to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, the site of the famous Pink and White Terraces, which were destroyed in the volcanic eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886. The resulting 15-km rift contains the Emerald Pool, a 5 hectare boiling lake, a seemingly bottomless blue steaming lake, and colourful silica terraces. Take a walk through the valley and boat cruise across Lake Rotomahana to see the Steaming Cliffs where once the pink and white terraces stood.
Travel south to Taupo stopping en-route at Huka Falls where the mighty Waikato River thunders through the narrow canyon. Continue to the resort town of Taupo set on the shores of Lake Taupo, lying in a caldera created by a supervolcanic eruption which occurred approximately 26,500 years ago. Dinner is at your leisure tonight.
Day 8 (24th) TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK
From Taupo travel to the Tongariro Volcanic Plateau in the Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO cultural and natural World Heritage Site, where the three volcanoes of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro dominate the landscape.
Join mountain guides for a Tongariro Alpine Experience guided walk on part of one of the most popular one-day walks in New Zealand. The alpine scenery is varied – you will pass two active volcanoes, see lava flows, the active Red Crater as well as the brilliantly coloured Emerald and Blue Lakes. Lunch is included.
The trek begins at 1100-metres in the Mangetepopo Valley with its eroded volcanic terrain, evidence of the glacier that once carved it out, and more recently, lava flows from Mount Ngauruhoe. Walk through the flat South Crater before climbing up to the Summit Ridge. At 1886-metres reach Red Crater where the volcanic activity is so real that you can see, feel and smell it. The Central Crater sprawls below, adorned with three stunning Emerald Lakes. Lunch is included in the excursion.
Good fitness and agility are required for this walk. For those who do not wish to make the 16-km trek, easier low-level walks may be offered. Dinner included at the hotel tonight.
Day 9 (25th) TAUPO / TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK
Meet mountain guides then ride the chairlift over stunning volcanic terrain to the top of the Mt Ruapehu Waterfall Express Chairlift, 2,020 metres above sea level. From here climb to Dome Shelter for views of the Summit Plateau and the Mt Ruapehu crater lake. On a clear day, the views of Tongariro National Park are stunning. Lunch is included in the excursion. Those not wishing to climb from the chairlift summit will have other options available. The hotel is nestled at the foot of Mount Ruapehu, was completed in 1929 and still retains many of its original features. It is one of New Zealand's few hotels located in a World Heritage Park. Dinner is included at the hotel tonight.
Day 10 (26th) TONGARIRO / WAITOMO CAVES / NEW PLYMOUTH
This morning, leave Tongariro National Park and travel west through fertile farmlands and small farming towns before arriving at Mount Taranaki. The majestic cone-shaped 2518m Mt. Taranaki (also called Mount Egmont in the past), sits in the middle of the Taranaki ring plain. Take part in a circular walk starting from the North Egmont Visitor Centre, before proceeding to accommodation in New Plymouth. Dinner is included at the hotel tonight.
Day 11 (27th) NEW PLYMOUTH / WANGANUI / WELLINGTON
Some time spent in Puke Ariki Museum in New Plymouth, then travel south around the coast through Hawera, Wanganui, Levin to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. Check into hotel for last night of the tour. Remainder of the afternoon at leisure in central Wellington. Dinner at your own leisure.
Day 12 (February 28th) DEPART WELLINGTON
Breakfast at hotel before departure.
On this day, there are a variety of options available:
1) Join group taking the extension coach tour of the South Island (details available on request).
2) Take train back to Auckland with one night there and then flight back to the UK.
3) Take internal flight to Auckland and connect with flight back to UK.
4) Take ferry to south island, hiring a car at Picton for self-programmed drive around the south island.
(Own arrangements for departure transfer)
Flights are not included in the basic tour price. This allows individuals to plan for possible stopovers on the way out or return from New Zealand, or to have more time in the country before or after the North Island tour. We will give advice on the various options and suggest flights on which many of the group could travel, but the tour will officially commence on 17th February 2014 in Auckland. Participants should aim to arrive or already be in Auckland on this date. We can book flights through a UK-based travel agent who will advise individuals, make bookings and co-ordinate with Volcanic Experiences, but people have the option of booking directly with an airline via the internet. We strongly advise that no-one buys an air ticket before the tour is certain to go ahead. Once we have collected enough deposits to ensure this is the case, then people can safely book their air tickets.
The estimated cost of the North Island tour is £1995*. This includes 11 nights' accommodation in 3½ - 4 star hotels, luxury coach transport throughout the tour, and admission to sites as described in the itinerary. It includes boat transport where specified and chairlifts. Breakfasts are provided throughout the tour, lunches on 5 days and dinners on 5 evenings. Accommodation is based on two people sharing a room. It should be possible to arrange single accommodation for those who require it, but this will involve a supplement (estimated at £475) All those taking part in the tour are expected to arrange their own holiday insurance, which can be obtained from any travel agent or insurance broker.
All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate