Day 1: Arrival and meet up near Auckland Airport, NZ
Van transfer: 4 hours
Arrive on your own in Auckland, NZ by 10am at our airport area meet-up hotel for the start of your adventure. Once we have you and your gear loaded, we will start our journey to Northland with an intermediate stop for lunch (at your expense) and a chance to stretch your legs on the long, sandy beach at Waipu Cove, which is along Bream Bay If you are already in New Zealand and would prefer to meet at Waitangi, you can meet us at the Start Point hotel after 4pm on this day. We’ll meet up for an “ice breaker” and orientation meeting at the hotel before we head out to dinner at a local restaurant in nearby Paihia. Paihia is a busy seaside resort town in the heart of the Bay of Islands, recognized as “the Jewel of the Bay of Islands”. Paihia dates to 1769 when Captain James Cook sailed into the harbor and named it the Bay of Islands. Please note: if you are interested in pre-event, Auckland Airport area lodging, please let us know so we can arrange this for you (at your cost).
Day 2: Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Haruru Falls
After a hearty New Zealand breakfast at the hotel, we’ll walk over to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand’s most important historic site. Here we will enjoy an informative, full program of guided tours with experienced, local guides including fun to watch cultural performances. This will give you an opportunity to discover the people, stories and events which have shaped Aotearoa New Zealand. Waitangi is also enjoyable if you choose to wander the grounds on your own, with plenty of activities. The grounds offer a panoramic view of the Bay of Islands. After a picnic lunch on the beach on the other side of the Waitangi “One Way Bridge”, we’ll jump into kayaks to paddle up to Haruru Falls. The wide basin below the falls was New Zealand’s first river port and an important transport junction in the earliest days of European settlement. You have the option to paddle back to the beach or to take the 3.1-mile track back. The “track”, or trail, follows the Waitangi River for most of its length, passing through a mature mangrove forest and providing an opportunity to see shags nesting and feeding their young high in the Pohutukawa trees which overhang the river. Kingfishers are also often seen diving for food along the track. Please note: the order we go to the Treaty Grounds as well as kayak and walk is tide dependent. We’ll wrap up our first full day by enjoying dinner at another fine, local restaurant
Day 3: Western Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail and Hokianga Harbor
Van transfer: 40 minutes · Boat transfer: 2 hours
Miles: 35 miles
The Twin Coast Cycle Trail runs 87kms between Opua in the Bay of Islands and Horeke, upstream from Hokianga Harbor. It provides amazing scenery with great views, and an interesting journey through New Zealand’s early Maori and European settlements. This is the first of two days we’ll spend on the trail - one of Aotearoa’s “Great Rides”. We’ll start from Kaikohe, approximately the middle of the trail, where we’ll pick up our rental bikes for the ride west to Horeke. Kaikohe is a farming town. The trail between Kaikohe and Okaihau follows a disused rail line. We will pass through an 80m long, curved rail tunnel built in 1915 before descending to Lake Omapere. We have a water stop (and any bike adjustments) planned at Two Ponga Park in Okaihau (14kms from Kaikohe). From Okaihau, the trail is initially alongside a road and there are many points of interest with storyboards worth stopping to read. Eventually we’ll pass into farmland and an amazing view down the Utakura Valley. After descending a series of switchbacks, we’ll ride alongside the Utakura River. 5.5 kms past Horeke, where we will have our lunch stop (42 kms from Kaikoha), is the Mangungu Mission House – a heritage site rich in history and with spectacular view of the Hokianga Harbor. From Horeke we plan to take a private ferry to Opononi (tide permitting), not far from our overnight lodging. You will be on your own for dinner this evening. There is a fish & chips shop and a pub not far from our hotel.
Day 4: Hokianga Harbor Region
Today is our “rest day” and there are many options available to you. You can bike (or we’ll give you a ride) to these attractions: Opononi for the boat ride to the sand dunes where you can go sandboarding down the giant sand dunes (10 km / 15 mins from our hotel) Arai te Uru Nature Reserve so you can hike along the Waimamaku Coastal Track (1.5 km / 3 mins from our hotel) Waipoua Kauri Forest to see the Tane Mahuta, which is a 5-minute walk from the trailhead (20 km / 20 mins from our hotel) There is enough time for you to enjoy all of these options. Alternatively, you can enjoy attractions such as the beach, kayak, jet ski, catch a few fish or simply take it easy. We’ll make a “brown bag” lunch available after breakfast, so you have maximum flexibility to enjoy your day. We’ll have dinner at the hotel’s restaurant where we’ll trade stories about the day’s adventures.
Day 5: Eastern Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail and Paihia
Van transfer: 1 hour
Miles: 30 miles
Today we are back on the Twin Coast Trail. We’ll start again from Kaikohe and this time bike down to Opua in the Bay of Islands (Kaikohe is the highest point of the trail). You may want to start your day with a stop at the Kaikohe Pioneer Village, which is not far off the trail. It is a 5-acre outdoor museum full of historic buildings and period treasures. As you make your way east, you will be passing through rolling farmland, with beautiful waterfalls and over the Orauta Stream suspension bridge. Lunch awaits you at Kawakawa, a vibrant rural town 34 km from Kaikohe. Kawakawa is the perfect toilet stop – at the world famous Hundertwasser toilets! Kawakawa is also host to plenty of artisan shops. Leaving Kawakawa, we have just 11 kms to go before reaching Opua, a commercial port in the Bay if Islands. It is the first port for overseas yachts arriving in New Zealand after crossing the Pacific Ocean. On our way from Opua back to Waitangi, we’ll drop you off at Paihia so you can explore and find souvenirs to help tell the story of your New Zealand multi-sport adventure. You will be on your own for dinner this evening. There are many great restaurants to choose from in Paihia. We’ll give you a ride from Paihia to Waitangi after you have enjoyed your dinner.
Day 6: Western Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail and Hokianga Harbor
Van transfer: 10 minutes
Sailing: up to 6 hours
The best way to see the Bay of Islands is by (private) sailboat! Bring your swimsuit if you would like to go swimming or snorkeling on our half-day adventure, with an on-board lunch provided. The crews that ply these waters are passionate about this area, where most of them are from. They are ready to share their encyclopedic knowledge! After a relaxing cruise we’ll be dropped off in Russell. The historic town of Russell, originally known as Kororareka, was the first permanent European settlement and seaport in New Zealand. After getting our “land legs” back, we’ll walk up to the Flagstaff Hill Historic Reserve with amazing views of the Bay of Islands. After time spent admiring the views and reading the storyboards about the Bay of Islands, we’ll walk back down to Russell (the Flagstaff Hill Walk is a 2.5km loop) and enjoy a farewell dinner at the famous Duke of Marlborough Hotel. Finally, we’ll head back to Paihia on one of the frequent ferries before transferring back to our hotel.
Day 7: Waitangi Mountain Bike Park and return to the Auckland Airport area
Van transfer: 4 hours and 20-50 minutes
On our final day in Northland, we’ll enjoy the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park. The Park has 30 scenic trails spanning 40kms, with trails catering to all levels of ability, including beginner trails. We have rented full suspension mountain bikes for your use at the park. We’ll have a water stop available to you at the bottom for the duration of our stay at the park. After 3-4 hours of downhill fun, we’ll wrap up our time in the Bay of Islands with a picnic lunch before heading south to Auckland. If you would prefer a more sedate last day, we offer an alternative excursion to the Waiomio Glowworm Caves, where you can tour through a network of nearly 700-foot-long caves with glow-worms, stalactites and stalagmites. One part of the cave is known as “the milky way”, a cavern filled with glow-worms as far as the eye can see. The caves are a 25-minute drive from our hotel. If you are leaving us in Waitangi, you’ll be free to do so after lunch at approximately 1.30pm. On our drive south, we’ll make an intermediate stop for dinner (at your expense) and a chance to stretch your legs on the beach at Waipu Cove. We anticipate arriving at the airport area drop off point around 7pm. Please note: if you are interested in post-event, Auckland Airport area lodging, please let us know so we can arrange this for you (at your cost).