Uncover the hidden and untrodden reaches of New Zealand’s North Island. This exclusive journey hosted by our expert guides, entwines storytelling, Indigenous culture and New Zealand’s contrasting nature seamlessly offering the traveller a handcrafted adventure unlike any other.
Sip on the finest wines and embrace exclusive meet the maker experiences. Be privy to a rare opportunity to gain access to the sacred land of the Waimrama people. Pockets of the North Island are a foodies heaven – shuck your own oysters and cycle between cheese tastings. Kayak to the luminous glow worms lighting your way in silence as you paddle through millennia old caverns. A journey for those seeking the finer things in life with an adventurous spirit.
Day 1 – Arrival, Auckland
Welcome to Auckland! On arrival, you will be met at the plane’s gate by your personal concierge as you are assisted through the priority passport control and assisted with your luggage collection. Take the scenic road to Matakana (approx. 1.5hrs) with your driver and transfer to your luxury accommodation.
The picturesque Matakana region, is a foodie’s heaven, known for its weekend farmers market, boutique food shops and spectacular vineyards. Only an hour and a half north of Auckland city and close to a myriad of stunning east coast beaches, Matakana is a popular getaway spot for locals.
On the way to Matakana, you will have time to stop off at The Tasting Shed, an award winning gem. This gourmet restaurant strives to create the ultimate dining experience with their food, service, and ambience. Take note though, you won’t get a set meal here, only an entree-style gastronomic voyage. If you’re looking to give your taste buds an unforgettable experience, then this is the place to go. (Tasting menu payable locally).
Plume Villas offer boutique luxury serviced accommodation where you can relax and rejuvenate in a peaceful country setting. The 12 villas are set in a beautifully landscaped environment, at one with nature in the heart of the country. You will have access to the cellar door, cuisine and conviviality on hand at Plume Restaurant, a relaxed stroll from your private and comfortable luxury villa. (B,D)
2 nights Plume Villas – One Bedroom Villa or similar
Day 2 - Matakana
This morning, you will be collected from your accommodation as you set off on an exclusive tour to visit Brick Bay winery for a wine tasting. You will also have the option to explore their sculpture trail, which showcases contemporary New Zealand sculpture set in a stunning, natural environment featuring native trees, wildlife and ponds bursting with waterlilies.
You’ll then make your way to Scott’s Landing, where you will cruise to the Historic G Browns Bay for an oyster tasting. Try your hand at shucking fresh oysters straight from the water. Your skipper will teach you how to open the oysters yourself. After you make your way back to shore, it is time to discover the world of pottery. During your pottery factory tour, you’ll gain an overview of the various stages of creating a pot, including how to harvest the clay, right through to throwing, drying, firing and glazing. Get behind the scenes and see first-hand what it takes to produce large-scale pottery from locally sourced clay, as your hosts tell their Morris & James story. (B)
Day 3 - Glow Worm Kayaking at Dusk
Following breakfast, you will be transferred to Cambridge (approx. 3hrs). Cambridge is ‘the town of trees and champions’. It is memorable for its leafy streets, heritage buildings, antique shops and thoroughbred horse studs. Cambridge is in the heart of rural Waikato, a picture-perfect town characterised by quaint charm and tree-lined streets. You will love the choice of chic cafes and restaurants, boutique shopping, characterful heritage, and art trails around the town centre. A wander through the main street will spoil you for choice with everything from gourmet producers and artisan delis, to art galleries and
This evening, set off on a magical experience. Paddle along the southern edge of Lake Karapiro, over the old submerged Horahora Dam that produced electricity for the early Waihi goldfields. Learn the history of the Horahora village and enjoy the twilight & silence of being on the water as the day draws to an end.
As night arrives over the lake, paddle slowly up the Pokaiwhenua Stream and through the canyon carved out by water over many hundreds of years. Native ferns and trees drape over you, bird life is all around. When darkness falls, you float silently back downstream, being guided by the glow worms on either side sparkling like Christmas lights overhead. A truly enchanting experience.
Transfer to your accommodation. Staying at Henley Hotel is a bit like staying with good friends with great taste who are excited to have you stay. Henley Hotel has all of the character and charm of a boutique-hotel hideaway, served up with heartfelt personal service and an easy-going at home atmosphere. Best Rooms at the Henley Hotel come complete with an Escea gas fire and divine soaker
bath. The Best Rooms also come with either a balcony, a large window seat, or tables for romantic in-room fireside dining and a workspace. Grand in scale, design and detail…. A magnificent way to escape to the country. The Best Rooms are perfect to snuggle in and enjoy the views of our grounds, just the perfect break. (B,D)
Overnight Henley Hotel – Best Rooms or similar
Day 4 - Orakei Korako
This morning, you will be collected from your accommodation and transferred to Orakei Korako. Wander through the Hidden Valley and visit the thermal Ruatapu Cave which extends more than 36m down into volcanic tuff to the ‘Waiwhakaata’ or ‘Pool of Mirrors’ hot pool at the bottom. Orakei Korako boasts the most active geysers of any geothermal park in New Zealand. Up to 23 active natural geysers play freely through the area, which is constantly changing. Marvel at the number of boiling hot springs and the vibrant colours all around you or take a native bushwalk through this untouched geothermal paradise.
The naturally fault-stepped silica terraces that form the base of Orakei-Korako Geyserland and Thermal Park, are believed to be the largest of their kind since the destruction of the famous Pink and White Terraces in 1886 on the edge of Lake Rotomahana beneath Mount Tarawera.
Continue on to Taupo. Taupo bustles with cafes and restaurants, dramatic mountain views and a beautiful clean freshwater lake. Lake Taupo is known over the globe for its all-season trout fishing.
As you arrive into Taupo, discover the beauty of the Huka Falls. You’ll hear the Huka Falls well before you see them – it’s the sound of nearly a quarter of a million litres of water per second erupting from a natural gorge and thundering 11m into the Waikato River below. This incredible waterfall is a must-see natural attraction of New Zealand – it’s hard to tear your gaze away from the endless, mesmerising torrent.
For the next three nights, you will call The Kinloch Manor and Villas your home. This property offers award winning designer accommodation. A spectacular welcoming whiskey and champagne bar, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the golf course to Lake Taupo, two restaurants with cuisine featuring the philosophy of ‘Estate to Plate ’ – organic and 100% pesticide free produce from the owners private estate. The inside space of the Junior Suite features beautiful oak floors, a New Zealand handmade rug and a stand-alone bathtub in the luxurious bathroom. The single key villa offers 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom and a coffee machine. (B,D)
3 nights Kinloch Manor and Villas – Junior Suite or similar
Day 5 - Kawakawa Bay
This morning, you will be met at your accommodation by our experienced guide and transferred to the start of a spectacular two-hour hike to Kawakawa Bay in the beautiful Western Bays. Your launch awaits them at the end of the hike and once on board, you will enjoy a sumptuous BBQ luncheon, NZ wines & beverages, trout fishing, and a viewing of the Maori rock carvings.
The rock alcove at Mine Bay became the canvas for one of the most extraordinary contemporary artworks New Zealand has ever seen. Sculpted over the course of four years and completed in 1980, Matahi led a team of four artists, Jono Randell, Te Miringa Hohaia, Dave Hegglun and Steve Myhre, to create a spectacular carving of Ngatoroirangi on the rock face. Cruise back to the Taupo Marina. (B,L)
Day 6 - Whirinaki Forest
This morning, you will be collected from your accommodation and driven to Whirinaki Forest. This nature and culture experience starts with a nature walk. Feel the breath of life, the song of T?ne, transcend time, walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs, in the shadow of giants, be welcomed and embraced by the Whirinaki. This is a stunning forest, home to giant trees, a fantastic community organisation that has established a strong kiwi and kokako population in the forest. We focus on community conservation.
After your forest experience, enjoy an interactive presentation with a contemporary M?ori artist who specialises in wood carving and sculpture. He has forged a unique style and direction in carving, with commissioned pieces residing in collections both locally and internationally. He will share his story of how his nature and culture inspires his art practise. (B,L)
Day 7 - Napier
Enjoy a scenic drive to Napier, Hawkes Bay (approx. 2hrs) – one of New Zealand’s warmest and driest regions, making it one of the country’s leading producers of wine. The region is the first stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail and is a popular place for bicycle wine tours.
Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s Art Deco centre, rebuilt in the 1930’s after a huge earthquake. It hosts the country’s most elaborate celebrations of Matariki – the Maori New Year.
This afternoon, journey from coast to cape, to the world’s largest most accessible Gannet (seabird) colony in beautiful Hawke’s Bay New Zealand.
From our base at Te Awanga, our modern fleet of 4×4 vehicles will transport you through pristine coastline, working farms, native bush and to New Zealand’s largest privately-owned nature reserve.
An adventure in itself, you will safari in style and comfort over picturesque Cape Kidnappers Station traversing riverbeds, broad rolling pastures, steep gullies and the most breath-taking views of Hawke’s Bay and beyond. With no walking required, you are whisked away to New Zealand’s largest privately-owned nature reserve – an untouched paradise for wildlife including gannets and a predator free space for kiwi birds and other rare birds to roam.
Watch champion seabirds soar, swoop, dance and dive right before your eyes. This experience is the only tour that takes you overland within metres of these magnificent seabirds.
Continue on to your accommodation for the evening. Located at the foot of Te Mata Peak, the architecturally designed Giants winery complex, offers a second-to-none experience. Here, the Cellar Door offers relaxed and intimate seated tastings, whilst the restaurant serves the best local and seasonal produce prepared by Head Chef Casey McDonald. Your on-site boutique accommodation offers luxury in the vines. The Vineyard Cottages offer boutique accommodation, each with their own private terrace overlooking the vineyard. The cottages have well-appointed kitchens and living areas, all with free-standing wood burners to keep you warm amongst the vines. Dinner this evening is included along with a wine tasting. (B,D)
2 nights Craggy Range – Vineyard Cottage or similar
Day 8 - Cheese, Wine and Cycling Experience
This morning you will enjoy a guided winery tour by bike offering a unique, one-day cycling experience with the opportunity to enjoy tasting some of Hawkes Bay’s finest foods and wines while taking in the superb scenery of the region. Cycle past vineyards, olive groves, orchards and farmland – all on flat terrain with wonderful vistas.
With your guide, you will visit up to four fine wineries and also enjoy cycling on some stunning, off-road, limestone trails following the Tuki Tuki River and the coast. The route starts at the boutique winery of Black Barn in Havelock North where you are invited to taste their wines and also visit the vineyard’s ‘We Love Local’ gourmet food store.
It’s a short ride to the Origin Earth Store to taste some of their excellent, artisan cheeses with Juliet Harbout. From here you join the Landscapes Trail for the 15km cycle to the coast through stunning orchard country. On arrival in the coastal village of Haumoana, visits are made to Elephant Hill and Clearview Estate wineries.
Walk and Talk Winemakers Experience with Tim Turvey (Clearview Estate winemaker) Enjoy a tour and a seated tasting. Lunch is recommended at Clearview Estate. (Not included). For those not comfortable riding a bike, our private vehicle can transfer you from point to point.
At the end of your excursion, you will be transferred back to your accommodation. (B)
Day 9 - Te Kripitanga o Tama-nui-te-Ra & Wellington
This morning, you will depart early for a unique sunrise experience. You will visit Te K?ripitanga o Tama-nui-te-Ra – the place where the stars and the sun emerge from the waters of the great Lake of Kiwa, the Pacific Ocean. It is a celestial disc that looms large over the cultural landscape of the Waim?rama people. People gather here to remember the past and make plans for the future. Stars in the firmament remind us of loved ones lost; others track the trail of discovery that bought the first ancestors to this land. The guardians tell of the of the lore of the land; of battles won and blood spilt.
Entry in to this sacred and spiritual place is not guaranteed to all persons, however, we have sought exclusive permission. There are customs and protocols that you will be talked through.
The guides for this tour are all members of the local Waim?rama Tribe, and they will clear our way. This is their sacred knowledge and we are privileged that they are willing to share it with us. The site visit ends with a moving greeting to the new day. As is the custom of the tribe we will conclude the tour by sharing food together. Return to a family home and enjoy a cup of medicinal kawakawa tea, and time with the family and have a light breakfast.
Continue on to Wellington (approx. 5 hours). Wellington is a compact city with a powerful mix of culture, history, nature and cuisine. Fuel your visit with strong coffee and world-class craft beer. Wellingtonians are masters of casual dining, with plenty of great restaurants, night markets and food trucks.
During your time in Wellington, you will be staying at QT Wellington, a significant fusion of expressive and luxurious art, technology and indulgence. Loosely based in the new creative capital, QT Wellington is a warm invitation to explore and define one of New Zealand’s most eclectic collections of art and character. This is the ideal hub for cultural connoisseurs from around the world, framed in designer opulence and showcased at a gallery opening that never closed.
The QT Harbour View Gallery rooms take bespoke art to the next level. Each room features a unique artwork created by some of New Zealand’s most dynamic artists. Whether it’s a distinctive bedhead mural, a quirky sculpture or a custom-made wallpaper – you will be sure to delight in the artistic flair of your surrounds, and the postcard-worthy Wellington Harbour view from your window. With gorgeous colour palettes and plush QT luxuries included, this room is in a class of its own. (B)
Overnight QT Wellington – Harbour View Gallery Room or similar
Day 10 – Departure, Wellington
This morning, you will make your way across the road from your hotel to Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s national museum. Discover the treasures and stories of New Zealand’s land and people under one roof. Immerse yourself in the country’s Maori ancestry. At the heart of this national treasure centre, you will experience a private hosted cultural tour. Weave your way through the Maori exhibition spaces to learn the unique history. Make your way behind the scenes to a restricted access area. Your experienced curator will take your through the treasures that are not on display to the general public which is more than 75% of the collection! Items that are too delicate, or too historical to be put on general display will be presented to you, making this intimate and exclusive experience truly special.
After your tour, you have free time to explore the rest of the museum. Enjoy six floors of engaging, interactive displays, M?ori and Pacific cultural treasures, New Zealand’s extraordinary natural life, its most important works of art, and its unique history. One exhibition that stands out like no other is the Gallipoli ANZAC exhibition. The ground-breaking exhibition tells the story through the eyes and words of eight ordinary New Zealanders, who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Each is captured frozen in a moment of time on a monumental scale – 2.4 times human size.
You will then be transferred to Wellington Airport where you will start your onward journey. (B)
- Return airport transfers
- 9 nights accommodation
- Meals as per the itinerary
- Entrance fees and national park fees
- Private transportation
- Services of an expert local guide
- Kayaking equipment and expert kayaking guide
- International and domestic airfares not mentioned above
- Optional excursions
- Travel and medical insurance
- All services, meals other than those indicated above
- Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
- All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc.
**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 2 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.