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North Island

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. 


For the ultimate New Zealand experience, you can combine the 'Kauri' trip with any of our South Island adventures too:


Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4982 reviews)

    Experience of a Lifetime!

    Active Adventures was an incredible trip. We had two excellent and knowledgeable guides that were a real team and complemented themselves very well--plus the meals they prepared were awesome. They REALLY made our trip special! There were so many new activities for me that I had never done before that I can't even pick a favorite--I loved them all. New Zealand is a beautiful country, and your well thought out itinerary certainly allowed us to see and experience it in unique ways--hiking, cycling, kayaking, wine tasting, etc. Celebrating my 66th birthday with champagne and fresh strawberries after hiking up Searly Tarn trail was a birthday I will truly never forget! Thank you Active Adventures!
    Stephanie Nelsen Review Image
    – Michigan, United States
    Rimu, November 2016
  •   4.44 out of 5 (from 907 reviews)

    South Island Sampling

    Despite starting the trip with a little rattle and shake (earthquake) the trip was a wonderful experience. We saw so much of the South Island and were able to enjoy the beauty of a sunny day as well as a cloudy one. Greg and Clara were amazing guides and took great care of us.
    Beth Wilson Review Image
    – Georgia, United States
    Manuka, December 2016
  •   4.60 out of 5 (from 1887 reviews)

    Guided Trips are the Way to Go!

    I had been wanting to hike in New Zealand for some time, and finally had enough time off. Trying to figure out the hut system, what to see and how to get around seemed a bit overwhelming. Even moreso since I was traveling solo. Active looked to be a great way to travel without having to stress about the planning, travel, etc. Though I had never traveled like this before, I saw the places I wanted to travel to, and others I would have likely not have found alone. Everyone on the trip was pleasant and easy to talk to, friendly and, like me had a great time. Our guides, Katie and Astrid, really made the trip with their upbeat attitudes, informative revelations on everything we saw, continual answering to our sometimes badgering questions and always being ready to help out.
    Henry Shenk Review Image
    – Louisiana, United States
    Tui, March 2018
  •   4.68 out of 5 (from 244 reviews)

    Loved NZ Kea Adventure

    New Zealand is a beautiful country, but the experience would not have been half as memorable if it were not for our AA guides. They were professional, could answer any question about NZ, incredibly competent in all ways and so much fun! But it would be unfair not to mention the preliminary support team leading up to the trip. All requests and needs were handled quickly and efficiently. And last, but not least, the itinerary was so well thought out. I enjoyed every minute of the trip and was sorry to see it end.
    Lori Schimpf Review Image
    – California, United States
    Kea, January 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 4982 reviews)

    It doesn't get much better!

    What a fantastic time traveling with family and new-found friends! New Zealand is an absolutely beautiful country, with thrills and adventure around every corner (and there a lot of them)! Our guides Ken and Elder were as good as they come; from their knowledge of the country, to their welcomed encouragement on the trail and the water. Oh, and did I mention their wholesome and delicious cooking?!?
    I would not hesitate to travel with Active Adventures again. Their organization, communication and willingness to please were simply over the top. Next year in Patagonia perhaps???
    Dean Altaras Review Image
    – Washington, United States
    Rimu, February 2017



Approx NZ flight times

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.

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