For the adventurous by nature, those who prefer the path less travelled, explore some of New Zealand's best kept secret tracks in the Waikato region, deep in the HEART OF THE NORTH.
Walk our secret back country trails, away from the crowds. Explore the lands that time forgot on some trails even the locals don't know about. Traverse our sanctuary mountain where the air is filled with bird song in a forest alive with some of our rarest native birds, thanks to the world's longest pest-proof fence. Taste traditional Māori delicacies on a local marae.
Hike to the top of the tallest waterfall in the North Island before visiting a fifth-generation, family owned and operated winery and sampling multi-award winning wines. Admire the limestone bluffs that line the gorges of middle earth and wander through the enchanted forests of Pureora. Wrap up the week with a gentle walk along the banks of the stream leading to the purest turquoise spring water of Te Waihou.
Recount stories and experiences from each day's hike over delicious and hearty kiwi meals, matched with a very well-earned glass of wine or beer. Unpack, unwind and take the time to soak up the atmosphere of each place as we base ourselves at a charming guesthouse and boutique lodge for three and two nights respectively.
- Traverse New Zealand’s largest mammal-free ecological
- Wine tasting at local award-winning winery.
Hike to the top of the tallest waterfall in the North Island.
Back country tracks with spectacular limestone-laden valleys.
- Sample traditional Māori delicacies during a local Marae visit.
- Walk the enchanted forests of Pureora that time forgot.
Pristine New Zealand native bush away from the crowds.
Walk to the famous Blue Springs with water so pure and clear that it
supplies around 70% of New Zealand’s bottled water.
A variety of kiwi cuisine experiences, with wholesome home cooking by our local hosts - some even source fresh produce from their own gardens!
Comfortable lodge-style accommodation with local hosts.
Small groups, maximum of 10.
Day One: Sunday
Transfer day. Short walk only, 1 hour.
Your journey starts from either Auckland or Hamilton where our guide(s) will collect you and we head out to Wairēinga Falls. A short walk through lush native bush brings us to a spectacular 55m fall that seems to leap from the sandstone rock bed above. Gathering at our guesthouse at the base of Sanctuary mountain we take in the full profile of tomorrow's climb over a glass of wine. We guarantee you will be made to feel right at home with Mary's delicious cooking where you'll be treated to no less than a four-course meal. Get used to it, because you'll be eating like kings and queens for the next two nights at their guesthouse!
Day Two: Monday
12km (7.4 miles) / 5-6 hours hiking (moderate to hard grade)
Wake to the dawn chorus of native birds singing their happy song thanks to the sanctuary sitting above us. Fuel up at breakfast before a short drive delivers us to the Southern Enclosure of the mountain where we begin our hike to the rocky outcrop with magnificent views across the Waikato basin. Explore primeval forest where ferns, fungi, nikau and native seedlings carpet the undergrowth and huge trees tower over us. An option here to continue up to Pukeatua peak. A trip to the local marae to try some 'kaitimotimo' - traditional Maori delicacies makes for a unique cultural experience and a memorable afternoon.
Day Three: Tuesday
5km (3.7 miles) / 3-4 hours hiking (moderate grade)
Relish in a leisurely morning and home made breakfast before climbing to the top of the tallest waterfall in the North Island. Plunging 153m from the Kaimai range above, a well maintained track winds across bridges with lovely views of cascades, before reaching to our first view of the falls. From here the track gets serious as we climb to the top of the falls for a breath-taking view over the valley and Waikato plains. A visit to a local family-owned and operated winery where we are treated the tastes of their multi-award winning wines rounds off our day before heading back to base for more of Mary's home cooking.
Day Four: Wednesday
13km (8 miles) / 6 hours hiking (moderate to hard grade)
Enter the hidden world of the Tawarau Forest, tucked deep in the heart of limestone-laden bluffs of Waitomo caves country. We have a full programme today with a hike through what can only be described as a true kiwi 'tramping' track, with many idyllic spots to stop and explore along the way. An easy walk on a new track takes us to one of the most impressive waterfalls in the country and a 17m high natural limestone arch. We head south for the night to the newly built Timber Trail Lodge nestled in the Pureora Forest and share stories around the fire pit under the stars.
Day Five: Thursday
5km (3.1 miles) / 3 hours hiking (easy grade)
After a hearty cooked breakfast from our lodge hosts, we head to the Mt Pureora track with a short climb to the summit. The rich and protected rain forest of Pureora bear an abundance of 1,000-year-old podocarp trees, draped with moss and dense with undergrowth. These trees boast a lineage that stretches back to the time when New Zealand was part of the super continent of Gondwana. Walking these tracks truly gives you the distinct sense you've stepped back in time to ancient forests. On a clear day, you can soak up 360 degree views of Lake Taupo, Tongariro, the Kaimanawa Ranges, and South Waikato. We have a couple of other hidden gems to visit today, including our lunch stop at the Waihora lagoon, one of the most beautiful spots on the park.
Day Six: Friday
10km (6.2 miles) / 2-3 hours walking (easy grade)
North bound, we head for the famous Blue Springs of Putaruru, with water so pure and clear it supplies around 70% of New Zealand’s bottled water. But first, coffee. Really, really good kiwi coffee at a stop on the way. Now we are ready to wrap up the week with a gentle walk along the banks of the pristine turquoise stream leading to Te Waihou. Our next stop is a boutique specialty cheese factory and deli where you have the opportunity to sample handcrafted cheeses, in a region known for it's dairy farming. Our local cheesemaker has won more than 75 medals and a dozen trophies from around the world. One final stop for a sweet handmade treat to sweeten off the palate before we deliver you back to Hamilton or Auckland.
Note: This itinerary should be seen as a guide only and is subject to change at any time due to elements outside our control. We will always endeavour to stick as closely to this itinerary as possible to deliver the best experience to you. The above doesn't detail all 'Nosh' experiences in full as we like to keep some things a surprise!
- Return shuttle transfers from Auckland or Hamilton.
Comfortable and spacious transport with air conditioning.
Professional local guide and assistant guide with local knowledge and stories leading the way.
Comfortable boutique lodges or bed & breakfast accommodation with local hosts.
ALL meals. Cooked and continental breakfast options, nutritious and uniquely Kiwi packed lunches, wholesome evening meals with a glass of New Zealand wine, beer or drop of your choice.
Delicious food experiences unique to Nature and Nosh Tours (our secret ingredient!).
First aid kits, safety equipment and all your fresh New Zealand drinking water.
What's not included
- Personal hiking gear such as boots, clothing, poles and day packs. We do have some day packs and walking poles available for hire.
- Travel insurance. We recommend all of our tour guests take out travel insurance.
- Single supplement fee NZ $500 for single travellers wanting their own room.
Moderate to hard (with a couple of easier graded walks included too!).
3 – 8 hours of hiking per day.
Altitude gains of up to 600m (2000ft) on our harder days.
Carrying a small day backpack for your personal gear such as water,
lunch and a rain jacket.
Track surfaces on our Heart of the North tour vary from well maintained paths through to more rugged terrain where you will be walking over tree roots, mud and rocks. Walkers need to be sure-footed, have a good level of fitness and a good sense of adventure. Our guides ensure that the pace is dictated by the group and allow plenty of time for short breaks for water, refreshments, photos and interesting stories on the way. For us, it's about the journey, not the destination. You will get the most out of this tour if you have a good level of fitness and some hiking experience.
We've carefully hand selected our combination of tracks throughout the Coromandel and heart of the North Island for their beauty, diversity of terrain and landscapes, flora, special features and conservation values. The programme of day walks on this tour is designed to have a mix of easier, medium and harder graded walks, with the walk grading varying over the tour, giving your legs a chance to recover in order to make the most of it. Some of our tracks are well-known and are too scenic to leave off our tours, others are so secret that not even the locals know about them!
You will enjoy a variety of kiwi cuisine experiences including wholesome home cooking by our local hosts - some even source fresh produce from their own gardens! Breakfast is an option of cooked or continental to fuel you properly for your day of hiking. Lunches are freshly packed for you in the mornings and we have plenty of snacks for the journey. Evening meals always accompanied by a glass of wine, beer or non-alcoholic beverage of your choice. Our 'Nosh' experiences include a visit to a local Marae for a cultural experience with new flavours, tastings at an award-wining winery, cheese tasting and more.
We stay in boutique-style lodges and a charming guesthouse on Heart of the North, each tucked away in private and picturesque settings. Most of our rooms have ensuites and single supplement is also available. When the weather permits, we have meals outside on the verandah and take in the beautiful mountain and bush views. We have great relationships with our local hosts so you can be sure you'll be looked after the kiwi way!
"I thoroughly enjoyed the Heart of the North Tour lead by Kylie and James. Being my first guided hiking holiday, I was very impressed with the well chosen areas we explored and conversations with the local people we met. The hikes provided a variety in terrain , exciting challenges and beautiful landscape scenery. Kylie and James were fun to hang out with each day like traveling with friends. As experienced guides they also made us feel safe and shared their vast knowledge of the areas we visited. This tour provided me with a greater appreciation of conservation of the local flora and fauna, insights into the Maori culture , tastings of local produce and confidence with tackling a mixture of tramping/hikes. Topped with great food , wine, company and comfortable accommodation at the end of the day, I highly recommend it!!"
- Mimi, Adelaide, Australia
"Did 6 days heart of north trip with Kylie and James. Magnificent scenery and hiking. The itinerary was well thought through. Loved the tramping, food, wine, cheese and singalongs. There was five of us including our guides in the group. I had a great time, it was like me spending 6 days with my close friends. Loved the trip and would do it all over again soon."
- Bun, Adelaide, AUSTRALIA
Tour dates and availability
Pristine coastlines, cascading waterfalls and rugged landscapes. A place where the manicured meets character. COASTAL CHARM - a uniquely Kiwi experience through the Coromandel.