Ultimate Explorer

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Length 27 days
A-B (General good health necessary.)
Start Auckland, 172 Quay Street at 10:00am
Finish Auckland 6:00pm
Departs Depart Auckland and head north first (27 days)
Mar 2015: 9, 18, 27
Apr 2015: 5
Jul 2015: 27

Oct 2015: 16, 25
Nov 2015: 3, 12, 21, 30
Dec 2015: 9, 18, 27
Jan 2016: 5, 14, 23
Feb 2016: 1, 10, 19, 28
Mar 2016: 8, 17, 26*
Apr 2016: 4*
*these trips will finish in Picton

Depart Auckland and head south first (28 days)
Mar 2015: 3, 12, 21

Oct 2015: 19, 28
Nov 2015: 6, 15, 24
Dec 2015: 3, 12, 21, 30
Jan 2016: 8, 17, 26
Feb 2016: 4, 13, 22
Mar 2016: 2, 11, 20

Depart Christchurch
Mar 2015: 9, 18

Oct 2015: 25
Nov 2015: 3, 12, 21, 30
Dec 2015: 9, 18, 27
Jan 2016: 5, 14, 23
Feb 2016: 1, 10, 19, 28
Mar 2016: 8, 17
Prices Period 1 Oct 14 - 30 Sep 15
Prices Period 1 Oct 15 - 30 Sep 16
Extra Costs Optional activities, private cycle handling, some meals.

*Trips ending in Picton are at a reduced price, contact office for details. These trips can end in Nelson by prior arrangement.

Trips are 27 or 28 days in length - flexible.

Maximum 28

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The following itinerary is based on a north-bound tour starting in Auckland. Some trips depart Auckland and head south, others start in Christchurch.

It is possible to do shortened versions of this itinerary, or to start and finish from a different place than Auckland. Please contact us for details.

Activities marked with a "*" signify they are done at additional cost.

Meals in italics indicate they are provided as part of the tour package.

Day 1.

Auckland to Bay of Islands
Leave the City of Sails (Auckland) at 10am. Today you head to the golden beaches & warm waters of the Bay of Islands with some beautiful beach stops on the way. Take out boogie boards for a splash or relax on the warm sands. You head to camp via the thriving town of Paihia with the opportunity to enjoy a mangrove walk and thundering Haruru waterfalls. In the evening get your cultural fix with an excellent Maori Concert & Haka! Great walks around the estuary and through Mangroves to spectacular Haruru Falls (around 90 minutes). A gentle 12 km ride to the camp or you can hop off early for a hilly 17km ride.
Optional Activities: Visit the Treaty House*. (Dinner)

Day 2.

Bay of Islands
Delicious pancake breakfast. Day in the Bay of Island’s clear turquoise waters with one of the great optional activities: Cape Reinga day trip, sail Bay of Islands, dolphin swimming, Waka paddle & village tour or Rainbow Warrior dive. Plenty of treks & rides. 2nd night at same great camp. It’s a good day for bikers! You have all day to enjoy a number of cycle options including a challenging 50km loop that takes you inland, then back along the coast to camp.
Optional Activities: Sailing Bay of Islands*, Awesome Cape Reinga day trip*, Dolphin Eco Experience*, Diving*, Rainbow Warrior day trip*, Treaty House concert*, Day in the bay adventure, Fishing*. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 3.

Sand dunes - Waipoua Forest - hot pools
A day full of adventure. YOu head off from the Bay of Islands and cross to the giant dunes of Opononi, for beach fun & optional sand boarding. For those who are keen there are excellent cycle option to view the giant Kauri trees. Travel Hibiscus Coast & to your beach side camp with hot pools and water slides nearby - perfect. Cycle option; Rides of varying lengths winding through the forest.
Optional Activities: Sand Boarding and Hot Pools and slides.* (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 4.

Coromandel - Hot water beach
An early start as you head back through Auckland to collect any new passengers. Depart Auckland at 10am (this Day 1 for those joining in Auckland and heading south first). The beautiful Coromandel Peninsula awaits so bring your swim gear. Enjoy a great coastal walk or kayak the coast to Cathedral Cove. Visit unique Hot Water Beach to dig your own thermal pool. Coastal cycle to beachside camp. The cycle option today is a 25km ride that takes you over the Tairua hill to Hot Water Beach
Optional Activities:Sea Kayaking in the afternoon at Cathedral Cove. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 5.

Heading to the thermal wonderland of Rotorua. For the keen cyclist there is an early morning option. On the way south you enjoy a beach stop for a swim or a chance to stroll around a natural reserve brimming with Pohutukawa trees. After lunch it’s onto Rotorua where you are given time to soak up the atmosphere and sulphur of Rotorua and its thermal wonders. In Rotorua there are awesome mountain bike tracks through the Whakarewarewa Forest. Later in the afternoon you can cycle to the lakeside camp through rolling farm land.
Optional Activities: Polynesian Spa Pools*, Ogo*, Agrodome Adventures*, Skyline Lug*. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 6.

Rotorua to Tongairo
Enjoying a relaxed start to the day before you check out the geysers, mud pools and other cool thermal stuff! There is a morning cycle option for those who are keen. Midday you will be heading towards Taupo and on the way you visit the very impressive Huka Falls with great walk and cycle options into Taupo. You spend some time exploring this area and its adventure options before heading to camp by Tongariro National park. Today you can cycle ahead of the bus to Wai-O-Tapu (about 23km's). From Huka Falls there is a great mountain bike track into town.
Optional Activities: Viewing the giant geysers & Wai-O-Tapu thermal area*, Skydiving*, Bungy*, Rock ‘n’ Ropes*, Kayaking*. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 7.

Tongariro - Kapiti Coast
Giving many of you the chance to enjoy New Zealand’s (and possibly the World’s) finest one day walk - the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. For others though there’s still plenty to enjoy. You will have the chance to enjoy short local walks or cycle the new Turangi river track. There is also the chance to go White Water Rafting. We wrap up the day at a wonderful camp next to the beach. Cycling, There is a new 2 hour river track around the Turangi area-
Optional Activities: Tongariro Alpine Crossing*, White Water Rafting*. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 8.

Wellington - Picton
Heading south to the coolest little capital – Wellington! You have most of the day to experience some of Wellington’s awesome attractions such as Te Papa museum, Botanical Gardens and Zealandia. For those who are into Lord of the Rings there are some great tours for you to experience before the scenic ferry crossing to Picton. No cycling today
Optional Activities: Te Papa museum, Botanical Gardens. (Breakfast)

Day 9.

Kaikoura - Whale Watch
Enjoying the stunning coastal road to Kaikoura where close encounters with fur seals, sea birds and other wildlife are common. You stop off at a beautiful lunch spot with great opportunities for walks on and around the beach. The kayak and whale watching activity options are both excellent highly recommended. From the seal colony there is a 30km coastal ride into Kaikoura (though not possible if you are doing the Whale watching trip).
Optional Activities: Sea Kayaking*, Whale Watching*, Fishing*. (Dinner)

Day 10.

Dolphin/seal swim - Christchurch
Making the most of the unique and diverse sea life around the shores of Kaikoura from our coast side camp. Highly recommend is starting the day with a dolphin swim as the dolphins around the Kaikoura coast are some of the most playful performers in the World and its very common to get pods in excess of 20 dolphins.

Those starting their trip in Christchurch join us at 2:30pm by the Antarctic centre as we head out to Rangitata.A great ride to camp which involves a few more uphill sections (17km or 35km).
Optional Activities: Dolphin Swimming*. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 11.

Rangitata Rafting - Lake Pukaki
Waking by stunning Peel Forest near the foot of the Southern Alps. You get the chance to try rafting at one of the most consistent spots in the South Island offering exciting conditions throughout the year. Peel Forest is a great place to enjoy shorter walks and rides and get your cameras ready for the most photogenic lake in New Zealand. Some shorter cycle routes around Peel Forest in the morning and then longer rides through to Geraldine and Lake Tekapo, rides range from 17-50km
Optional Activity: White Water Rafting*. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 12.

Aoraki/Mount Cook - Waitaki River
Today there are some excellent options for hikers and cyclists around the Mount Cook region. Be prepared for snow capped mountain backdrops and amazing views around every corner. Excellent range of short walks and a longer walk around Hooker Valley. Recommended is the 3 hour walk to view Tasman Glacier. Then head to the coast to set up camp in a stunning spot right on the beach. Cyclists can cycle ahead of the bus toward Mount Cook – 60kms to the Shelter. Awesome coastal cycle into camp.
Optional Activities: Penguin Watching*. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 13.

Oamaru - Catlins
Enjoying waking up to the sound of waves lapping the beach, with the option to clear your head with a sunrise beach stroll. Then head through the historic city of Dunedin to another great beach camp in the Catlins and an excellent "locals" night out. On the way you stop at the fascinating Moeraki boulders. Cyclists can take the chance to cycle ahead of the bus and head for the beach and Moeraki Boulders, about 27 kms. There is also an awesome downhill cycle into Dunedin and a spectacular coastal ride to the lighthouse from camp.
Optional Activities: Cadbury chocolate factory* or the Speight’s brewery*, Walk up Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street (free)! (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 14.

Te Anau
Journey through scenic southern pastures and enjoy a peaceful lakeside picnic. You stop in the lakeside town of Te Anau before heading to Fiordland National Park and your historic camp in the unspoilt Hollyford Valley - this site is a true wilderness escape. Excellent rides & an awesome bush trek.
Optional Activities: After lunch there is a 20km cycle ride into the lake side town of Te Anau. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 15.

Fiordland National Park
Explore Te Anau by foot or bike. Day or overnight hike on the famous Kepler Track with panoramic views from Mount Luxmore. Jet boating or fishing options for those that are keen. Tour the enchanting glowworm caves. Same wonderful camp and another chance to catch the perfect lakeside sunset. Numerous cycle routes of various lengths around the area including a mountain bike track next to the campsite.
Optional Activities: Fishing*, Jet Boating*, Te Anau Glow Worm Caves*. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 16.

Fiordland and Milford Sound
Travel one of the World’s most scenic routes into Milford Sound and enjoy a relaxing downhill ride to one of NZ's best sights! Boat cruise to enjoy the fiord up close. Routeburn Track walkers depart for their 3 day adventure. Stunning lakeside camp which has a huge variety of track, road & lakeside bike rides. For those who are returning to Te Anau you can cycle once back at camp with a relaxed lakeside option.
Optional Activities: Cruise on Milford Sound*, Routeburn Track*. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 17.

Fiordland to Queenstown
Journey along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the World. Activities (too many to mention here!) and cafes galore! Group dinner & a night out for those who are keen. Once in Queenstown there are cycle options galore!
Optional Activities: Bungy*, Skydiving*, White water rafting*, Luge, River Boarding*, Horse riding*, Canyon swing*, Gondola ride* and many more.... (Breakfast)

Day 18.

Queenstown to Lake Wanaka
Use your free time in the morning to try any of the numerous activities including bungy, canyon swing, skydive, paraglide, horse trek or gondola ride - to name a few! There are also some excellent alpine bike rides and walks. For those joining us in Queenstown and the Routeburn Walkers, the bus heads off around 3:00pm. Camp beside a tranquil lake in nature’s paradise and a chance to relax and reflect on the thrills and spills of Queenstown. Free day in Queenstown to check out the rides – head out along the lakeshore for a scenic ride round to Glenorchy or cycle from Lake Hawea Lookout - 25km to camp at Boundary Creek.
Optional Activities: All Queenstown activities.* (Dinner)

Day 19.

Lake Wanaka to Fox Glacier
Jet boat in Mount Aspiring National Park. Bus or cycle the dramatic Haast Pass with views of the Southern Alps. Short walks through rainforest, past waterfalls & pools to the wild West Coast. Picnic lunch then head to Glacier country & accommodation in the alpine village of Fox Glacier. There’s the chance to cycle ahead of the group with a 20km ride to Makarora.
Optional Activities: Jet Boating*. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 20.

Fox Glacier - Okarito
Spend the morning taking in the wonderful scenery before an optional guided walk, heli hike or ice climb on the spectacular glacier. Optional cycle or walk around Lake Matheson. Head up the coast to Okarito beach. Relax next to the fire with breathtaking views all around. If you’re not doing the Glacier Hike there is a hilly ride from Fox Glacier township to our camp of just under 60km.
Optional Activities: Half or full day Glacier Hike*, Heli-hike*, Ice Climbing*. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 21.

Hokitika - Punakaiki
Early morning walk & chance to spot a Kiwi in the wild. Visit Bushmans Museum, then onto Hokitika & its famous Greenstone factories. Coastal walk or ride through native forest. Travel to Paparoa National Park & the famous Pancake Rocks! Absorb the sunset & explore secret glowworm caverns. Cyclists can hit the last 33km along the coast and into camp.
Optional Activities: Greenstone factory*, Kiwi House*. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 22.

Pororari River - Glow worm caves
Delicious pancake breakfast & day to explore this dramatic National Park with walks & cycles galore! Optional river kayak. Depending on the tides you will get the chance to view the explosive blow holes & don't forget to ask you guide about our secret spot - the hidden wave rock. 2nd night at this magnificent camp. Cyclists have plenty of chances to explore the wonderful area.
Optional Activities: Kayaking*. (Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner)

Day 23.

Paparoa to Abel Tasman
Travel through Buller Gorge to NZ’s best national park – Abel Tasman. Skydive, hang glide or fly an aerobatic plane - all of which give you the perfect birds eye view with varying levels of adrenalin. Cycle the golden sand bays to Marahau. Highly recommended option to spend the evening on a boat moored in the heart of the national park. An excellent 25km ride into camp or try the 15 km coast road to our accommodation.
Optional Activities: Skydiving*, Hang gliding*, Micro light flight*, Pilot a stunt plane*. (Breakfast/Dinner)

Day 24.

Abel Tasman
This park is so good you had to stay here a bit longer. Today you have a free day to explore Abel Tasman, kayaking or sailing the crystal clear waters. Great walking options and the chance to combine various water transport with hikes to get the best of this park by foot and water. Your camp is right on the National Park’s doorstep. At night you celebrate the last night in the south by going out for a great group dinner. A great option is to cycle to Kaiteriteri for the day.
Optional Activities: Sea Kayaking*, Sailing*, Various Kayak/walk/sail combinations*, Canyoning*. (Breakfast/Lunch)

Day 25.

Nelson - Picton - Wellington
A last morning in Abel Tasman before you head out to Nelson with a coastal cycle option on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail. Explore the Marlborough wine region with a chance to taste the world famous wines. You then take a scenic ferry across the Marlborough sounds to Wellington (cost included). No accommodation provided but the guide will help you make a booking in a hostel perfect for exploring the city. Joining part of the national cycle trail.
Optional Activities: Wine Tasting*. (Breakfast)

Day 26.

Wellington to New Plymouth
Time in morning to explore and look around in Wellington before you head off around 11am. Travel the Kapiti Coast & past the magnificent and picturesque Mount Taranaki. Optional short coastal cycle and a few walk option to stretch those legs. Camp in native gardens in the heart of New Plymouth with some great dining out options. A short cycle option from camp along the coast.
Optional Activities: A selection of Wellington’s fantastic attractions. (No meals)

Day 27.

Waitomo caves
Early departure to the limestone wonderland of Waitomo Caves. Black Water rafting or a cave walk. Local farm walk and cycle. Picnic lunch then travel to Auckland for a taste of big city life kiwi style. For some this will be the end of your tour but for those continuing, accommodation is not included but we'll help with booking in hostel perfect for exploring the city and ideal for tomorrows trip to the Bay of Islands. You can cycle ahead to Waitomo and the bus will meet you there.
Optional Activities: Black Water Rafting*, Glow Worm Cave Walk*. (Breakfast/Lunch)

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Grading & Fitness

Grade: A-B
Average of 4-5 hrs physical activity per day if you choose.
At times carrying small backpack of 4-5kgs.
Tracks generally in good condition.
Altitude gains of up to 600m on hiking days.
No hiking experience necessary.
Good health required.

There are no special fitness requirements to go on this camping tour, because you choose entirely how active you want to be and what pace you want to set. All cycling is optional and the pick up and drop off system enables you to cycle the distance that you choose. Simply ride in the comfortable buses when you want to take it easy.

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Guides & Safety

A key figure in the tour is your guide. Only guides with natural people skills combined with a respect for the environment and our culture are choosen. An enthusiastic and professional approach ensures your adventure is safe, well-organised and the experience of a lifetime.

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What to take

Essential Items

  • backpack and day pack
  • hiking boots or sturdy footwear for walking
  • sunhat and sunglasses
  • woolly hat
  • underwear (1 weeks worth)
  • thermal underwear, either polypropylene or merino
  • 2 pair of socks (ideally one pair of thick warm boot socks)
  • torch/flashlight
  • waterproof raincoat with hood
  • waterproof trousers
  • long sleeved shirt and long trousers.
  • clothes for warm and for cold weather
  • swimming suit
  • towel and/or sarong
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 2 pair of shorts
  • 1 polar fleece or warm jacket
  • sunscreen
  • insect repellent
  • slip on shoes for in the bus
  • warm sleeping bag
  • personal toiletries

    Bring a small pillow if you require one. Electrical adaptor.


    Lockers are provided in the bus to store your luggage.

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    The comfortable buses carry all the equipment needed to make a home away from home. There's also a fully equipped, customised trailer. Features include:

  • Special kitchen for delicious hot meals wherever you go
  • Hot and cold water tanks bring convenient tap water
  • Luggage-only locker to keep your possessions safe and secure
  • Purpose-built bicycle racks making your bike or ours safe and ready to use
  • 1 or 2 person tents (with mattresses) available for hire, otherwise bring your own
  • Boogie boards for playing in the surf (North Island only)
  • Toys - volleyball, rugby, cricket and all kinds of games

    Bicycles are available for hire. Late model 24 speed aluminium framed mountain bikes are provided. A mixture of Avanti Montari's, Gary Fisher Tassajara's and Specialised Hard Rock bikes. You will be supplied with a helmet (compulsory in New Zealand) and detailed cycle maps. You are welcome to bring your own bike (a handling fee will be charged). Cycling is not compulsory.

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    Your driver/guide takes care of all the food shopping saving you time. Cooking is done on a group basis with a roster system so you do not need to cook every night. Healthy and delicious daily recipes are provided in an easy to follow cookbook. Tea, coffee and plenty of fruit is provided for when you need refreshments or a snack.

    Note: meals are only provided as shown in the itinerary. You will be able to buy your meals or prepare your own food in the camp kitchen when meals aren't provided. If you are vegetarian or have any special dietary requirements then please let us know on making your booking.

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    Tents are three-person dome tents that are easy to erect. They are available for hire as a single or you can share with one other person to save money. Alternatively bring your own tent. If the weather turns bad, you can usually upgrade to a cabin, lodge or chalet (subject to availability).

    When departing Auckland heading north first or departing Christchurch there is one night in Picton and one night in Wellington at your own cost. When departing Auckland heading south first there is one night in Picton, one night in Wellington and one night in Auckland at your own cost. Your Driver/Guide can assist with accommodation requirements while you are travelling.

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    Optional Activities

  • Hiking the Tongariro Crossing from $20
  • Hiking the Routeburn Track from $155
  • Sky Diving at Lake Taupo or Abel Tasman N.P. from $249
  • Milford Sound Cruise from $70
  • Whale Watching from $145
  • Swim with the Dolphins from $180
  • Guided glacier walk from $99
  • Glacier heli-hike from $399
  • Horse trekking, half day from $139
  • Sea-kayaking from $75
  • Maori concert from $65

    Routeburn Track - This is an optional two night hike in the Milford Sound area. This track is highly recommended, however, due to Department of Conservation booking conditions confirmation and payment is required prior to your travel. If you require more information about this please ask.

    Swim with the Dolphins Kaikoura - there are a limited number of pre-booked spaces - if you want a guaranteed space confirmation and payment are required prior to your travel. If you require more information about this optional activity please ask.

    Milford Adventurer - Milford Sound - During this boat cruise through deep icy waters, you will see sheer rock faces, native forest and local wildlife including penguins, seals and dolphins if you are lucky. This is an activity which usually every one participates in and to make things easier you can pay this prior to your trip start. Just let us know and we will charge it to your credit card.

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    Additional Costs

    The following items are paid for at the beginning the tour. Please indicate when making your booking whether you will be wanting any of these items.

  • Cycle Hire - $385.00
  • Private Cycle Handling - $150.00
  • Tent Single supplement - $150.00
  • Sleeping Bag - $60.00

    Not included in price:
  • Meals eaten out (see itinerary)
  • Optional activities as outlined in "Optional Activities" section above
  • Hire of any gear listed above
  • Accommodation while in Picton, Wellington and Auckland

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    Booking Conditions

    In respect of the flexible style of this product no guarantee can be made that any activity or amenity, especially those marked as optional, will be available. Failure to participate in, or disputes over any such activity or amenity can in no way be held the responsibility of the operator or its agents. The operator reserves the right to make changes to the itinerary, without notice if necessary. Any loss or damage to the operator's equipment through your neglect must be covered by you. If for any reason it is necessary for the operator to cancel your booking the operator reserves the right to do so. You will in such a case receive full monies back or be able to change to another departure. Additional expenses, if incurred through any of the above, will be borne by you.

    Price includes:

  • All travel
  • Side trips to wilderness areas and walking tracks
  • Ferry between Picton and Wellington travelling both north and south
  • Use of specialised and sports equipment on board
  • Boogie boards (North Island)
  • Food and drinks as outlined in the food section above
  • Camp fees


    For bookings 4 or more months in advance of the departure a 25% deposit can be paid with the remainder due 65 days prior to your trip. For bookings within 4 months of the departure, full payment is required.


    Fees are charged on the following basis:
    • More than 65 days prior to departure: 80% refund of full ticket price
    • Between 42 and 65 days prior to departure: 70% refund of full ticket price
    • Between 14 and 41 days prior to departure: 50% refund of full ticket price
    • Less than 14 days prior to departure : full loss of payments made

    You can transfer to another trip at any time if a place is available. A transfer fee of $25 applies. After such a transfer any cancellation will result in forfeiture of full payments made.

    Travel Insurance:

    We recommend you take out travel insurance covering medical expenses, personal accident, cancellation and personal property.
    World Nomads Travel Insurance provides online quotes.


    This trip is run in conjunction with another operator.

  • Qualmark Endorsed Visitor Service Tourism Industry Association Member Department of Conservation Approved