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Ultimate Hut-Based North Island Hiking Tour

Malcolm O’Neill, Daniel Murphy, Hiking New Zealand
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1 Person
8 day
Malcolm O’Neill, Daniel Murphy, Hiking New Zealand
Reserve deposit (25%) $0
Second Payment Amount: $0
  • Experience the varied natural wonders of New Zealand’s North Island with a local guide. Explore the peaks, jungles, volcanoes, and waterfalls of Whirinaki and other iconic areas along New Zealand’s bucket-list trails. Spend your evenings in cozy campsites and bustling huts, swimming in pristine lakes, eating delicious food, and sleeping under the starry skies.

    • Meet your guides at 7 am in downtown Auckland before heading south to Rotorua, renowned for its steaming thermal vents, bubbling mud pools, and stunning lakes. Learn about the rich history of the area, before heading out southeast into the Whirinaki Forest. After a picnic lunch, take a hike in the rainforest before driving to the south end of this park. Your first hike is an easy one, on a descending track through native beech forest, to a cozy forest hut beside the Whirinaki River. Cook dinner as a crew and either stay in the hut or camp nearby, with an evening campfire and time to relax and enjoy the surroundings.

      Distance covered: 9.5 km/ 5.9 miles
      Hiking time: 3 hours
      Meals: Lunch and dinner

      Hikers in a forest in Whirinaki, New Zealand
    • Continue down the valley track and off the tourist trail, meeting the local blue ducks and robins. Pass beneath giant tree ferns and New Zealand’s iconic podocarp rainforest trees. Later, drive east into the rugged forest ranges of Te Urewera, the traditional home of the Tūhoe (Māori tribe) and one of the last places to have been reached by European settlers. Explore the rainforest for two hours before reaching the northern arm of the remote Lake Waikaremoana. Continue around the lake before stopping at a camping area. After a meal cooked together, spend the night in the simple cabins or in nature.

      Distance covered: 15 km/ 9.3 miles
      Hiking time: 5 hours
      Lunch: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

      Hikers on a bridge in the Urewera rainforest, North Island
    • Get ready for spectacular views as you drive to a trailhead at the south end of the lake. Start climbing the gnarled beech and bright green Tawa forest up the Panekiri Range, to a point over 500 m (1,640 ft) above the lake. Take in the vistas and enjoy lunch before heading back down the trail. If time permits, you’ll also get to explore the fascinating Onepoto Caves trail. Spend another night at the cabins.

      Distance covered: 14 km/ 8.7 miles
      Hiking time: 7 hours
      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

      A woman posing on a cliff near Waikakemoana lake, North Island
    • Kick the day off with a drive to the Volcanic Plateau. Explore an extraordinary thermal park, bathe in a natural hot river and experience the imposing Huka Falls and Waikato River.
      Later, arrive at Lake Taupo, the largest lake in New Zealand formed by the most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history. At Taupo, grab your takeaway food and head to an unusual pumice beach. Relax here and, if you want, enjoy an evening swim before continuing to your lodge accommodation in Whakapapa Village, Tongariro National Park.

      Distance covered: 4 km/ 2.5 miles
      Hiking time: 2 hours
      Meals: Breakfast and lunch

      A geothermal pool in Waiotapu, New Zealand
    • Explore Tongariro, the oldest national park in New Zealand. You’ll take some secret side trips, but you’ll also hike the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, considered one of the world’s finest day walks. Sort out gear and pack our backpacks, then hike out of Whakapapa through tussock grasslands and over the low saddle that cuts between the Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe volcanoes. Spend your late afternoon at the modern Waihohonu Hut among patches of mountain beech forest beside a quiet stream.

      Distance covered: 15 km/ 9.3 miles
      Hiking time: 6 hours
      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

      Travelers bathing in a hot spring, New Zealand
    • The trail to the next hut takes just 3 hours, so we have the morning to explore. You can amble (about an hour) to the splendid Ohineopango Springs and visit a historic hut and then return to the hut for lunch. Or, you can take an adventurous off-trail hike over ash-moraine ridges and skirt lava cliffs to reach a viewpoint high above a lake. Enjoy fantastic views of the park’s three peaks, one of which starred as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings films. Then, retreat to the Oturere “sardine tin” hut where you’ll meet adventurers from all over the world.

      Distance covered: 8-15 km/ 5-9.3 miles
      Hiking time: 3-8 hours
      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

      A mountain hut on Tongariro, New Zealand
    • Hike through a moon-like valley of lava flows and ash fields before climbing steeply to the remarkable Emerald Lakes. From there, join the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Spend the next few hours hiking an unforgettable wonderland of lava valleys, steaming craters, and brooding volcanoes before descending through bonsai-like alpine foliage and alongside mineral-infused streams. An evening drive will take you back to the heart of the National Park, where you can relax with a beer and enjoy some epic volcanic views.

      Distance covered: 12 km/ 7.5 miles
      Hiking time: 6 hours
      Meals: Breakfast and lunch

    • Drive south, leave the volcanoes behind, and descend through the beautiful river valleys of the Rangitikei and along the coast to Wellington, where you’ll have a coffee break. Explore the cultural and café hub of New Zealand at your leisure—visit the National Museum, watch the parliament, or check out the downtown area, ending the tour.

      Distance covered: 1 km/ 0.6 miles
      Hiking time: 1-2 hours

    • What you get on this adventure:

        • An experienced, local hiking guide with extensive knowledge of the area
        • Eight days of hiking and exploration
        • All accommodations for the duration of the tour
        • Minibus transportation for the duration of the tour
        • All activities outlined in the itineraries
        • All meals outlined in the itineraries
        • Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland

      What’s not included:

        • Transportation to Auckland
        • Transportation from the endpoint of the tour
        • Accommodations before and after the tour
        • Meals not outlined in the itineraries
        • Travel insurance
        • Guide gratuities — optional
    • Here’s a list of the equipment you need to bring:

        • Backpack with a minimum 60L capacity and small day pack
        • Day pack with a 25-40L capacity
        • Sleeping bag (minimum 3-season, preferably down, lightweight)
        • Hiking poles — optional
        • Gaiters — optional
        • Water bottle or CamelBak (2L capacity)
        • Hiking boots or good hiking shoes
        • Spare lightweight shoes or sandals
        • Spare clothes for layering
        • Thermal underwear (top and bottom)
        • Shorts or lightweight hiking trousers (preferably quick-dry)
        • Short-sleeved shirts (quick-dry, polypropylene, or wool)
        • Warm fleece or wool jersey
        • At least 3 pairs of socks
        • Raincoat (Goretex or similar)
        • Sunhat
        • Warm hat or balaclava
        • Gloves or mittens (wool or fleece)
        • Swimming costume
        • Toiletries (sunscreen, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
        • Headlamp or flashlight
        • Sunglasses
        • Camera — optional (but recommended)

      Your guide will supply:

        • Pack-liner to keep things dry inside your backpack
        • Kit bag to hold your spare gear when you’re out hiking
        • Emergency first aid kit
        • Therm-a-rests
        • Plates, cutlery, mugs, pots, etc.
        • Tents

      Your guide offers hiking gear rentals. If you need a hiking backpack, sleeping bag or liner, fleece, thermal clothes, raincoats, or a walking pole, contact us and we’ll help set you up.

      Bring extra socks and polypropylene layers – ensure you have enough warm items. Also, bring some comfortable clothes for non-hiking days. Spare clothing can be left in the secure trailer when you are away on the hikes, so don’t worry about the extra weight.

    • While you don’t need any prior multi-day hiking experience for this tour, you still need to be fit, agile, and enthusiastic enough for 8 consecutive days of hiking 4-5 hours a day on average (8-9 hours on longer days). You can see the day-by-day breakdown in the itinerary. Keep in mind that you will be carrying packs weighing up to 10-12 kgs (22-26 lbs). You will also overcome altitude gains of up to 800 m (2,620 ft), covering some uneven terrain and river crossings. Finally, some tracks can be slippery or rough and there will be some off-track hiking and river crossings.

    • During this hiking tour, you will have “wild nights” and nights in civilisation. With wild nights, you are truly in the wilderness, staying in backcountry huts or camping in locations that may be several hours away from the nearest road or populated area. Other nights you will stay in cabins, lodges, or camp by the vehicle. Huts and campsite fees will be covered by your guide.

      When you’re camping, you might camp under natural rock shelters, on remote beaches, or even sleep out under the stars! You will also occasionally camp near the vehicle in Department of Conservation or private campsites.

      You will also stay in huts on several nights. New Zealand has an excellent network of backcountry huts, equipped with mattresses, running water, and an outside toilet. You also have the option of camping near the hut if that’s your preference.

      For huts and camping you can either bring your own bag and liner or rent it from your guide, but you’re responsible for bringing your own private camping equipment.

      Lodges will also serve as accommodation on some nights. They are often conveniently located near the start or end of a hike and have multi-share or sometimes twin/double rooms.

      Regarding bathroom facilities once you’re in the wild, there will be long drop (pit) toilets. There will also be rivers or lakes nearby for a swim, sometimes even natural hot pools! The trip is set up so after a couple of nights of “roughing it out” in the wild, you will stay somewhere where you can enjoy a shower and even do your laundry.

    • For this tour, the groups consist of up to 11 people, with a usual 11:1 guest-to-guide ratio.

      It takes a minimum of 4 participants for the tour to run.

      If you happen to be a solo traveler, you’re more than welcome to join the group! Travelers will be added until the minimum group size to confirm the trip can be guaranteed.

      Anyone over the age of 18 can join these multi-day hiking tours, while minors younger than 18 may be permitted to join on a case-by-case basis. They must, however, be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

    • To start this tour, most people fly into Auckland International Airport. From there, you can take a bus, shuttle or taxi to the Auckland city center.

      You will meet your guide in the Sky Tower in downtown Auckland unless specified otherwise. The guide will then choose the appropriate terrain depending on weather conditions and the ability of the group.

    • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance. With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more.

      Travel insurance covers canceled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans. 

      We also expect you to respect local regulations and take measures to protect yourselves, your guides, and the communities you’re traveling to. For more information on travel recommendations and restrictions in New Zealand, please refer to the official New Zealand travel website.

      If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

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