Welcome to the North Island! Here you can see it all - from huge, ancient kauri forests in the far north, to bubbling geysers in the Central Plateau and a vibrant cosmopolitan capital city at the southern tip. Although it's only a short domestic 'hop' from the South Island, the North Island is a completely unique adventure destination. A few of the North Island's defining characteristics include its warmer climate, tropical coastlines, volcanic activity, ancient forests and a rich cultural history.
A warmer climate to the South Island means the Kauri tree only grows on the North Island, and it forms a back bone to the islands 'jarassic' forests. One tree (Tane Mahuta - 'Lord of the Forest') has been dated to be over 2,500 years old, and contains enough timber in the trunk to build thirty three-bedroom homes... so you can imagine the size and beauty of these giants. These ancient forests were home to the majority of our indigenous Maori tribes, many of which are still thriving today, and they welcome you with arms wide open.
The North Island's Kauri forests line its golden-beach coastlines, and reach high into the volcanic mountains, where you can stand just meters from towering geysers, boiling sulphur pools and hike on live volcanos. As impressive as the South Island's rugged Southern Alps are, the North Island is the only destination in the world you'll get this unique experience.
So, what's the best way to see all of the best parts of the North Island? Well, if you're making the journey 'down-under' to New Zealand, the chances are, you'll pass through our largest city Auckland. Known as the 'City of Sails' for its wonderful sailing, having harbours on both of its (east and west) coasts. This is the North Island's 'gateway city' and it's the best place for your trip to start.
We've been running the award-winning 11-day Ultimate North Island 'Kauri' trip that starts and finishes in Auckland for many years now and we're continually refining it to make the most of your time down here. There are 5-day options available too and the trip is designed to tie in nicely with all of our South Island adventures.
Starting in the far north, be a kid again and slide down the sand dunes into the warm Tasman Sea. Hop across to the Bay of Islands on the East Coast and visit Waitangi to discover New Zealand's political history with the Treaty of Waitangi, considered our nation's founding document. Get your hiking fix on the trail to Cape Brett Lighthouse, where the rolling hills are luscious green and the sea below is teeming with marine life. And that's all in the first few days!
After a short journey south we'll introduce you to a cluster of islands off the East Coast known as the Poor Knights. This is a sub-tropical area in a marine reserve; the warm blue waters are home to schools of tropical marine life, making it some of the best snorkelling, kayaking and diving in the South Pacific! After another coastal hike at Mangawhai heads, we'll head back to the 'City of Sails' to recharge our batteries before exploring the Central Plateau.
Over the next 5 days you'll be amazed at the diversity of the North Island, as we transition from golden sand beaches to volcanoes, redwood forests, waterfalls and cave systems. Starting at Mokena geyser, with a hike up Mt Te Aroha you'll be rewarded with views of Mt Taranaki and Mt Ruapehu, the two largest volcanoes in New Zealand. You'll spend the next couple of evenings in Rotorua, the hub for Maori culture. After mountain biking on some of the countries best trails, your group will share a traditional Maori feast, known as a 'hangi', prepared by wrapping food and burying it in the earth to cook slowly over heated stones... YUM!
The culmination of this adventure is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is arguable regarded as the world's best day hike. This is a challenging and truly unforgettable hike - the views of Emerald Lakes amongst arid volcanic terrain are simply breath-taking. And the best part, at the end of the day you can relax and soak in natural thermal springs for the evening.
Kauri Ultimate North Island Adventure
- 11 Days
- North Island
- From US$4899 + tax
You'll be amazed by the variety of adventures and stunning scenery as we share the iconic locations and best-kept secrets of the North Island. The perfect addition to any of our South Island trips, the year-round 'Kauri' explores the sub-tropical north, a marine reserve, white sandy beaches, unique volcanic terrain, geothermal areas, Maori culture, an underground cave system and arguably the best mountain day-hike in New Zealand. For a great way to see the rest of New Zealand, combine this trip with any of our South Island trips.
Activity level: The 'Kauri' suits people of a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. Typically, activities on the 'Kauri' trip range between two and five hours to complete. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike can take a little longer, though there are shorter alternatives available.
For the ultimate New Zealand experience, you can combine the 'Kauri' trip with any of our South Island adventures too:
Rimu Ultimate South Island Adventure
- 14 Days
- South Island
- From US$5499 + tax
This is our signature adventure and a great, outdoorsy way to see New Zealand. We’ve been fine-tuning this perennial favourite since 1996 and it’s simply an awesome trip. You’ll explore the most beautiful, famous and little-known places in the South Island – up close and personal – with legendary hospitality and our unsurpassed attention to detail. For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: The ‘Rimu’ is one of our more adventurous trips, but has options to suit a wide range of ages and outdoor experience. Typically, hikes on the ‘Rimu’ trip range between two and five hours to complete, with longer hikes available on the multi-day option. If you think you’d prefer a more relaxed pace and shorter one to three hour hikes, we recommend checking out our ‘Kiwi’ trip. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about the various options.
Kiwi South Island Explorer
- 14 Days
- South Island
- From US$5799 + tax
New to adventure vacations or not quite ready to hang up your hiking boots just yet? On this South Island walking tour you'll experience beautiful, famous and little-known places – taking plenty of time to explore along the way! For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5 day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: The ‘Kiwi’ suits anyone who enjoys walking and likes to give things a go. The pace is flexible and relaxed with most hikes taking one to three hours to complete on well-formed tracks with some undulations.
Manuka Milford Hiking Adventure
- 14 Days
- South Island
- From US$6399 + tax
If you wish to concentrate on hiking the iconic tracks of New Zealand and like your creature comforts, we’ve crafted this trip just for you. It has a strong focus on New Zealand’s natural history. Our guides have plenty of time to interpret the flora and fauna and explain the geological and social history of the areas you’ll visit. You also have the choice of a selection of the best day hikes Fiordland National Park has to offer, along with an overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound, or hiking the famous Milford Track in its entirety. The ‘Manuka’ really is hiking New Zealand in style!
Activity level: The 'Manuka' is an active hiking trip, but has options to suit a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. Typically hikes on the 'Manuka' trip range between three and six hours to complete, with longer hikes on the Milford Track Guided Walk option.
Weka New Zealand Biking Adventure
- 14 Days
- South Island
- From US$5599 + tax
Our ‘Weka’ trip combines the very best of New Zealand’s cycling and hiking trails into an action-packed two week adventure. We’re keen bikers here at Active, so we wanted to create the ‘dream itinerary’ for fellow biking enthusiasts! We’ve escaped the traffic by crafting a trip that maximises New Zealand's amazing network of gravel cycling trails. There’s plenty of flexibility and freedom if you want to ride a little further or a little less, we’ve got you covered! Our new ‘Weka’ trip will suit both road cyclists and mountain bikers alike.
Activity level: The ‘Weka’ is an active cycling and hiking trip, so it’s important that you have a base level of biking and hiking fitness. You don’t have to be young or ready to take on the Tour de France (although if you are super fit and raring to go, you won’t be bored), but you should be in the habit of doing at least some riding and be comfortable in the saddle..
Tui Essence of the South Island
- 8 Days
- South Island
- From US$3999 + tax
This is an action-packed adventure where you’ll explore some of New Zealand’s most iconic and remote wilderness. It works well if your vacation time is limited, since you can fly from North America on a Friday evening, sleep on the plane, and be back at work ten days later to share your photos and stories on Monday morning. For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: The ‘Tui’ suits people of a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience, particularly if you enjoy a variety of activities. Typically hikes on the ‘Tui’ trip range between two and six hours to complete.
Kea New Zealand Family Adventure
- 13 Days
- South Island
- From Adult: US$4799 + tax, Child (15 & under): US$3999 + tax
Let us take care of every detail so that you and your family can enjoy exploring New Zealand’s iconic places on a fun outdoorsy adventure. The ‘Kea’ is the perfect opportunity for everyone in the family to try some new activities together while our guides encourage, entertain, serve up delicious meals and ensure you make the most of your precious vacation time. You’ll be amazed how much everyone learns along the way and our guides will have you laughing as much as the kids! For a great way to see the North Island too, combine this trip with our 11-day 'Kauri' (5-day 'Kauri' options available).
Activity level: This trip has been designed to be fun and gently challenging for the young, and the young at heart. The pace is flexible and most hikes range between two and four hours to complete.
Here's a pretty cool video of what it's like to travel with your family, on an Active Adventures trip.
Winter Rimu New Zealand Winter Adventure
- 14 Days
- South Island
- US$4599 + tax
May to September is one of the best times to explore New Zealand. Our maritime climate ensures we have relatively mild winters, we’ll almost always have the tracks to ourselves and the snow-capped mountains make an even more dramatic backdrop than in summer – and usually you can get a great deal on flights! Years ago, we adapted our signature Rimu trip to suit the cooler conditions by adding skiing and snowboarding options, along with some of the South Island’s best hikes. This adventure is the perfect excuse to escape the heat!
Activity level: This is one of our more adventurous trips, but has options to suit a range of fitness levels and outdoor experience. Typically hikes on the ‘Winter Rimu’ range between three and six hours to complete, with a longer more challenging hike on the Copland Track.
Why travel with Active Adventures?
Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.
We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.
As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.
Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.
With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.
It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.