Trek Notes - New Zealand

Volcanic Plateau 5 days

Experience the best of New Zealand's volcanic zone. Inhale the aromas of Rotorua, discover hot streams, hike along lake tracks and among volcanoes. This is the perfect trip if you're short on time or like a bit more comfort as the camping is optional. It includes one of New Zealand's best overnight hikes, among the smoking volcanoes of Tongariro National Park.


Day 1        Join tour in Auckland                   1 hour rafting/2 hours hiking
Your guide gives a briefing before driving south to Rotorua, which is an optional pick-up point (by prior arrangement). Check into your Rotorua accommodation before heading off to raft (optional extra) the wild Kaituna River cascades or walk the scenic track, stopping for a picnic lunch on the way. Afterwards, hike through bush alongside tranquil Lake Okataina. Attend a traditional Maori concert (optional extra) or concert and hangi dinner (optional extra) or check out the local restaurants before coming back to soak in the lodge's natural thermal pool.

Day 2                   Tongariro National Park          1.5 hours hiking
Explore one of the amazing thermal areas south of Rotorua (optional extra). Depending on the season, you can bathe in a natural hot river flowing through the bush or take a relaxing swim in Lake Taupo. Peer over the thundering Huka Falls before reaching Taupo. Lake Taupo, a 600 sq km volcanic caldera crater created in 186AD by the largest volcanic explosion known to human-kind, is the largest lake in New Zealand. After lunch, drive to Tongariro National Park. Established in 1887, it was New Zealand's first National Park. It was gifted to the people of New Zealand by a far-sighted Maori chief who saw the gift as a way of protecting the tapu (respect, sacredness, preciousness) of this land, in particular the summits of its active volcanoes. Take an afternoon hike across alpine grasslands, between smouldering volcanoes, to a hut set in native beech forest beside a stream. In warmer weather, camp near the hut.

Day 3                   Tongariro National Park          4 hours hiking
Explore beech forest, springs, and desert landscapes before hiking to the next hut/camp on the remote side of Tongariro National Park. The volcanoes in the park rumble from time to time. They most recently erupted in 1995 and 1996, when Mount Ruapehu (at 2797m, it is the highest mountain in the park) spewed clouds of ash and steam. Another much younger volcano, Mount Ngauruhoe, is almost perfectly symmetrical and stands 2291m tall. All around this scarlet moonscape, turquoise and green-blue crater lakes add their surreal colours to the landscape.

Day 4                   Tongariro National Park          6-8 hours hiking
Hike up through a moon-like valley of contorted lava flows and ash fields before climbing up a steep section to the emerald lakes, the usual lunch stop. Cross the volcanic plateau, which boasts lava valleys and steaming explosion craters, before descending on the western side. In good conditions, there is an option to climb one of the volcanic peaks. A short drive takes you to an excellent lodge in the National Park alpine village. Have a well-earned beer at the lodge bar with sunset and volcano views.

Day 5        To Auckland or Wellington         2 hours hiking
Have a relaxing morning if you need it - visit the Department of Conservation display centre or stroll the alpine gardens and short walks. Otherwise, hike the loop track to Taranaki Falls. The group will leave the lodge at noon to drop off those catching the early afternoon Overland train to Wellington (arrives 7pm). On the return trip north, you can be dropped off in Waitomo (approximately 3pm) or return to Auckland, arriving between 5pm and 8pm. Central Auckland drop off only.


Finish in Wellington or return to Auckland. This trip can be finished in Tongariro National Park (for the 1:35pm train to Wellington), Waitomo Caves or Auckland. Please note on your booking form if you would like us to book the train for you and add it to the total cost.

One 4km section of the Tongariro hike (middle of Day 7) must be unguided for National Park permit reasons.

Hiking & Fitness

Grade: D

Average 4-5 hours physical activity per day, up to 7 hours on longer days.
Pack weights of 10-12kgs on some days.
Altitude gains of up to 800m.
Uneven track surfaces and river crossings.
No hiking experience necessary. Agility and fitness required.

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