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Detailed Itinerary


July 2 - Arrive Auckland
YHA International, 5 Turner St, Auckland City. Ph: +64 302 8200

Kia Ora and welcome to Auckland! Today we will pick you up from the airport and transfer you to your city centre accommodation. The day is at your leisure to recover and get ready for your first official day's touring tomorrow.

July 3 - Auckland

Accommodation: YHA International, 5 Turner St, Auckland City. Ph: +64 302 8200
We begin our tour in the country's largest city. It is unsurprising that a quarter of our population reside here when you consider a region of stunning beaches, enchanted holiday islands, a sunny climate, and a passion for outstanding food, cafe's and shopping!

The metropolitan area of Auckland sits on the narrow sliver of land where the Northland peninsula tapers south to meet the rest of the North Island. Therefore the sea is ever present, and it isn't difficult to guess the origin of its nickname 'City of Sails'!
On your guided tour of Auckland we will take you to St Heliers Bay. The original Maori name for St Heliers was "Whanga-Nui", meaning 'Large Bay' and it was here, at local Karaka Bay, on March 4 1840 that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by representatives of Queen Victoria and the Tamaki Chiefs.
We then make our way to "One Tree Hill" (Maungakiekie) - Maungakiekie is the largest and most complex volcanic cone fortress in the southern hemisphere. It has hundreds of living terraces, food store pits, defensive ditches and banks that for centuries supported a population of 5,000 people

After lunch, we explore Kelly Tarleton's Under-Water World which offers a uniquely New Zealand Pacific and Southern oceans experience. The Antarctic Encounter is home to New Zealand's only sub-Antarctic penguins, offering a rare opportunity to see the magnificent birds up close in their icy domain. A unique snow cat ride brings you within arm's length of the 80- strong colony of King and Gentoo penguins to watch their playful antics on the snow and their elegant flight underwater.

A walkthrough replica of Captain Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic hut (established back in
1911), complete with authentic memorabilia offers a glimpse at what it was like to live 100
years ago in the coldest place on Earth.

Enter Stingray Bay for an awe-inspiring look at the giant stingrays, before delving deep into the Underwater World to see the rich variety of species from New Zealand's coastal waters. Come face to face with sharks, turtles, giant rays and other incredible deep sea creatures on the moving walkway.

This evening we have booked dinner at a buffet restaurant near Auckland harbour.

July 4 - Auckland to Coromandel

Accommodation: Turtlecove, 14 Bryce Street, Whitianga. Ph: +64 7 867 1517

We depart from Auckland after breakfast and set off for the Coromandel peninsula.
Volcanoes dominate much of the land between the Coromandel and Auckland. Remnants of this volcanic activity can be found in the form of natural hot pools and one of the highlights of the region is Hot Water Beach, where around low tide you can dig in the sand and make your own hot tub! Bring your togs! (Kiwi slang for swim wear.)
We reach the gorgeous Mercury Bay and Whitianga, and check into our accommodation before taking a quick tour about town.

Included in the tour this afternoon is the opportunity to carve your very own kiwi pendant from bone - a souvenir that many of our group members choose to wear for the rest of their trip! Bone Carving holds strong cultural significance for the Maori people. The pre- European Maori had no written language so
tribal history was kept using many forms of fine arts and crafts including bone and jade carving. These artifacts were then handed down through
generations of tribal elders and became sacred objects, telling the history of a tribe and
taking on the spirits of past great leaders and warriors who had worn them. Now it is your turn to create your own piece of history!

After bone carving, experience the gorgeous coastal scenery of the area with a walk along the cliff top to Cathedral Cove, a bay made famous by films such as The Chronicles of Narnia. Pure New Zealand! It is then off to dinner at a local restaurant.

July 5 - Coromandel to Rotorua

Accommodation: Treks, 1278 Haupapa St, Rotorua. Ph: +64 7 349 4088

This morning after breakfast, we are off Sea Kayaking. There is no better way to explore Coromandel's stunning Cathedral Cove than by sea kayak. This is what we consider one of the best kayaking trips in the country - paddle through amazing sea caves, explore volcanic islands in the Marine Reserve and enjoy a drink at the exclusive Cathedral Cove beachfront cafe.

No experience is necessary, and equipment and refreshments are provided. In the summer the trip takes place in the evening so you can experience the tranquility of the calm seas and different shades of yellow as the sun sets behind the hills. In the winter it takes place in the early morning tomorrow.

After lunch we make the short journey down the coastline and inland to the Bay of Plenty and Rotorua, one of the longest standing tourist destinations in New Zealand. Geothermal activity first attracted tourists to this inland region in the 19th century. Volcanic landscapes and thermal wonders dominate the landscape - geysers, hot springs, mud pools and silica terraces and colourful cliffs and slopes. Rotorua is consequently accompanied by the distinctive smell of sulphur! The therapeutic qualities of geothermal springs were recognised early on by Maori settlers, and so Rotorua is also a town steeped in Maori culture and history.
This evening we are all invited to a "marae" (meeting ground) for a Maori cultural performance and "hangi" feast, where the
food is cooked below the ground and tastes absolutely delicious! This evening is definitely one of the tour highlights and will provide a deep insight to the students on Maori cultural, protocol and traditions. These include the "Powhiri", a formal welcome ceremony conducted before anyone can enter the marae, powerful haka challenges are performed by a series of warriors from the village and eventually, a peace offering (teka) is laid at the feet of your appointed Chief of our group. Your groups signals their peaceful intent in the village by accepting this token.

Once we are allowed to enter the marae, the students will have time to explore the living village which represents an era before the arrival of the European to capture the essence of a very proud people. The entire village comes to life, and as you walk around each small dwelling, students will see and learn about various art forms, traditions and ways of life for Maori. Hear fires crackling, songs being sung, and talk openly to the village people.
See warriors training for war with traditional weapons, watch women weaving and making Maori crafts, hear villagers tell stories of their ancestors and history, experience traditional Maori tattoo, ancient horticultural practices and so much more.

After some time exploring the village, your Maori hosts now invite you into the fully-covered hangi pit area - where you will view the lifting of your authentic hangi meal!
As the dirt is dug away, hessian sacks reveal the sumptuous hangi meal that has been cooking for more than 3 hours already on the hot stones beneath the ground! The hangi baskets, laden with piping hot chicken and lamb, kumara, potatoes, carrots and delicious stuffing, are pulled from the pit. Your hosts deliver an interactive commentary on how the meal was prepared and cooked, the origin of the hangi and provide a brief history of how Maori hangis were cooked in ancient times.
And for those interested in putting a hangi down in their very own backyard when they get home, we also provide a few handy tips!

July 6 - Rotorua
Accommodation: Treks, 1278 Haupapa St, Rotorua, Ph: +64 7 349 4088

Today is a jam packed day in Rotorua with 3 exceptional cultural activities on our itinerary. Invigorated by experiencing first hand a "haka" last night during our cultural evening, it is
now time for you to learn the "haka'! You will learn the true meaning, purpose and history of the Haka, learn all the word's, actions, and postures, become a Maori Warrior dressed in traditional Warrior clothing and have your 'Own' MOKO (tattoo) design applied to your face - an awesome photo opportunity! (See one of our previous school groups).
We then make our way to Whakarewarewa Thermal Village. Set amidst a landscape of erupting geothermal activity, hot thermal springs and hot bubbling mud pools is the Living Maori village of Whakarewarewa. We will learn about the traditions and culture which has been passed down and upheld for generations and how in today's world these traditions are still very much alive and strong in the Maori people.
Our guide will shares stories of the Maori migration from the legendary homeland Hawaiiki to Aotearoa, New Zealand. Discover how the geothermal activity came to be in the area and stories surrounding the Mt Tarawera eruption. The Whare Tupuna (ancestral house) are of great significance to the people of this village. This building preserves and retains carved and woven panels which display the genealogy, history and culture of the Tuhourangi, Ngati Wahiao tribe.

The retention of the Maori language is of importance to the people and culture. You will see the pre-school and hear the children as they go about their activities speaking in their native tongue.

This afternoon we explore Te Puia - New Zealand's Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. The main entrance to Te Puia is called Te Heketanga ā Rangi (heavenly origins). Twelve monumental contemporary carvings reach skywards, each representing a celestial guardian in Te Arawa culture. We will spend time in "Te Whare Tapere" where we discover the stories of the
Maori ancestors' arrival and settlement in the valley, and explore the customs and traditions of the people, as well as the geology and natural history. We then will proceed to "Kiwi House" where we see live kiwi's in a specially lit kiwi house, with expert guides and information at hand.

Other areas of interest include "Ngā Mōkai-ā-Koko Mud Pool" - a large pool of boiling mud, whose names means the pets or play things of Chief Koko. The Europeans named it "Frog Pool", likening the plopping mud to leaping frogs and "Te Wānanga Whakairo Rākau" the prestigious art of carving is taught by Master Carvers whilst "Te Rito", a weaving school, training students in the art and skills of traditional weaving.

July 7 - Rotorua to Waitomo Caves

Accommodation: Kiwipaka, Hotel Access Road, Waitomo Caves. Ph: +64 7 878 3395

we continue our journey to Waitomo Caves. Waitomo is a distinctive limestone region where surface water and underground streams have dissolved the rock over tens of thousands of years, creating an amazing system of underground caves. As the small town is only two hours from Rotorua, we reach our accommodation by lunchtime.
You cannot visit Waitomo without experiencing its main attraction - the glow-worm caves, which have attracted people for over 100 years. The moment you enter this subterranean wonderland you'll discover an ancient underground labyrinth of limestone caves and grottos, with its amazing stalactites and stalagmites - Mother Nature's decorations.
Your guided tour will take you through over 250 metres of stunning underground scenery commencing with the impressive Cathedral. Your tour begins at the upper entrance of the cave and proceeds along a low narrow passage to the Tomo, a deep limestone shaft. Other magnificent cave formations include the Banquet Chamber, the Pipe Organ and the Catacombs.

The highlight of your tour is an unrivalled boat trip through the spectacular Glowworm Grotto. As your eyes adjust to the dark, the walls and roof sparkle with the lights of glowworm larvae. Glide silently through the starry wonderland of the glowworm grotto, your way lit by a myriad of tiny glowworm lights glittering, and reflecting off the water.
Your experienced tour guide will deliver a highly informative commentary about the formations and the history of the area. The cave is easily accessible to those with reasonable mobility, with good handrails and paths.

July 8 - Waitomo Caves to Taupo

Accommodation: Tiki Lodge, 104 Tuwharetoa Street,Taupo. Ph: +64 7 377 4545

On the way to Taupo we make a stop at Orakei Korako, an extraordinary geyserland and thermal park. The park is the ideal way to see some great examples of the thermal activity in the North Island and you can walk
around at your own pace. Don't forget your camera - there are some stunning ranges of kaleidoscope colours and truly unique sights to be seen!

After spending approximately 1 hour at Orkaei Korako, we continue our journey south to Lake Taupo.

Lake Taupo was created a few thousand years ago in what was the largest volcanic eruption in 5,000 years. The eruption was so dramatic that records report the sun became hazy in places as far as China. What is left today is a fresh-water lake the size of Singapore and the largest in Australasia.
This afternoon we take you on a guided tour of Taupo and finish with your guide taking you to soak in some naturally-heated thermal rock pools - this is pure magic! It will keep you warm for hours!

July 9 - Taupo to Wellington

Accommodation: YHA Wellington, 292 Wakefield Street, Wellington City, Ph: +64 4 801 7280

On the way to Wellington we drive along the Desert Road that divides the Rangipo Desert, an area with poor vegetation because of bad soil conditions and drying winds. The climate is harsh and in winter it is not unusual to see snow. However, the biggest attractions on this road is that of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe, the volcano better known for Mt Doom in Lord of the Rings.
On the other side of the road is the lesser noticed Kaimanawa Range, home to a breed of wild horses that can be spotted on rare occasions.
After this we pass through the towns of Bulls and Levin, before briefly touching upon the west coastline to reach Wellington in the afternoon.

July 10 - Wellington

Accommodation: YHA Wellington, 292 Wakefield Street, Wellington. Ph: +64 4 801 7280

Today we are exploring the national museum of New Zealand, "Te Papa".
Te Papa is a great place for learning. Students will experience the stories of New Zealand in five floors of fascinating exhibitions and objects, many of which are interactive and utilize cutting edge technology. This means it is very easy to spend whole day here and not see every exhibit!

Te Papa also offers a range of education based programmes. Their programmes, led by experienced educators:
 are activity-based and cover a wide range of curriculum areas
 are designed for all stages of learning, from preschool to secondary
 are specifically developed to fit with achievement objectives
 incorporate bicultural learning objectives and can usually be offered in English and te reo Māori
 are supported by pre-visit and post-visit activities
 can be adapted to meet your specific needs.

July 11 - Wellington to Auckland

Accommodation: YHA International, 5 Turner St, Auckland City. Ph: +64 302 8200

Today we make our way back from Wellington to Auckland with an optional stop en-route at Mokai Gravity Canyon - home of the extreme flying fox and a number of other activities. We will also stop for photo stops at Mt Ruapehu (Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings) and a number of other beautiful panaromas to arrive to Auckland early evening.
This evening we will arrange a special end of tour dinner for our last evening together in New Zealand.

July 12 - Depart Auckland

Today we will transfer you to the airport in time for your departing flight home.