The Hidden Wonders of Our Central North Island Canyon Country
Transport, Accommodation, Flights when Applicable, Activities, Local Guided Tours and Meals as listed (Breakfast, Morning Tea, Lunch, Dinner).
DAY ONE MT, D
We head south via the western lake road through Taupo to arrive in New Zealand’s unique volcanic plateau region stopping along the way for morning tea before arriving at the majestic mountain village of Whakapapa for lunch. This UNESCO world heritage alpine environment is home to the newly constructed “Sky Waka” – Mt Ruapehu’s brand new state-of-the-art gondola opened in mid-2019 and designed to transport us comfortably the 1.8km through rugged landscapes past snow laden peaks and spectacular waterfalls. Tonight, we’re gathering for a delicious dinner and resting our heads in the luxuriously opulent Chateau Tongariro. Steeped in timeless elegance and part of the local landscape since visitors first began arriving to stay in 1925, the sublime alpine views from virtually every window and impressive period interior of the hotel are an absolute delight.
DAY TWO B, MT, L, D
After breakfast we take a nature ramble through craggy bush-covered countryside to arrive for a nourishing morning tea at the charming Blue Duck Café situated within the boundaries of the Station of the same name. Featured on Country Calendar, the farm is famous as being home to one of the highest concentrations of whio (blue duck), kiwi, native bats and native fish in New Zealand. Get ready to “go bush “ as we are off on a safari here. We’ll have a tour and talk about the local history, hear stories of the ongoing conservation work and experience up close the workings of this unique sheep and beef station operating in harmony with the native flora and fauna. After that, it’s on the bus again and we’re headed for the home of the giant carrot – Oakune. A quaint ski resort town on the edge of the Tongariro National Park it’s a vibrant mecca all year round with skiers and trampers. We’re staying tonight at the boutique accommodation of Powderhorn Chateau, close to Turoa skifield. There’s time for a spell of rest and recovery before we dine in at the cosily hospitable Powerkeg restaurant.
DAY THREE B, MT, L, D
This morning we will venture up the mountain to Turoa Skifield, the forested scenery and vistas from the top are incredible, fingers crossed we have a beautiful day. We will have a picnic morning tea up top before heading back down then onto our next venue. As New Zealanders, we are deeply proud of our farming and outdoor heritage. The image of the rugged, resilient and resourceful farmer working the land is integral to our view of New Zealand and shapes our national character. Yet today, so few of us have the opportunity to experience this iconic way of life and environment. Owners of Retauruke Lodge set out to search for a property that combined all that is so special about heartland NZ and which would allow them to share this lifestyle to provide a truly memorable and treasured experience. A lunch and tour await us with our hosts, we won't want to leave however we must, and we'll head back to the Powerhorn for some Powderkeg feasting and a warm bed to sink into for the night.
DAY FOUR B, MT, L, D
After breakfast we travel down country to experience the natural beauty and geological magic of Whitecliffs Boulders. Resting serenely as they have done for eons in the dazzling Kahikatea forest above the Rangitikei River these large, perfectly round boulder formations known as cannonball concretions are covered in a soft downy crewcut of emerald moss, appearing surreal and other-worldly. It’s our privilege to have access to this special place for morning tea (weather permitting) and the tour and talk here will undoubtedly remain in your mind as we make our way to lunch at Flat Hills Café. Next port of call is the Mokai Gorge and Gravity Canyon – our miniature version of Colorado’s Grand, but nonetheless high enough to have been home to a bungee jumping point in the past. For a meal with French influence and flair we dine tonight in Taihape at Le Café Telephonique – a converted telephone exchange. Staying in a lovely tidy Motel in Taihape.
DAY FIVE B, MT, L, D
It’s always a joy to appreciate the beauty of a true craftsman so it will be an interesting visit to Alba Custom Knives after our breakfast. Hunterville Custom Knifemaker, John McDonald has spent decades literally honing his skills in this traditional art form - part of our human existence for many thousands of years. While we enjoy a picnic morning tea here at his workshop, John will be sharing his significant knowledge and there will be an opportunity to purchase your own custom knife as a unique memento of the day. Our scenic drive then brings us to Makoura Lodge - the beautiful 600 acre farm of Hugh and Kimberley McIntyre where lunch is served and there’s time for a wander and a stimulating talk about the property’s history and heritage dating back to 1896. We head for our hotel tonight checking out the Rangitikei Viaduct Bridge on the way – it’s one of New Zealand’s tallest and longest rail bridges.
Day SIX B, MT
It’s always sad to say farewell to this picturesque part of the North Island. A trip this morning to New Zealand’s original adventure lodge - located beside the Rangtikei River in spectacular surrounds the River Valley Lodge will certainly cheer us up. We’ll learn more of their inspiring conservation programme and environmental protection initiatives over morning tea followed by a tour of the property. We depart here and head north to Waiouru. Yes, we are homeward bound – but we stop off at the Army Museum, lunching in the aptly named Home Fires Café for our last-day meal together before taking the well-travelled Desert Road home to Tauranga in the afternoon.
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Next Tour Date
Fri, 21st of May 2021