Last Modified: 22 Jul 2012
Northern Spirit Northbound
Trip code: PIKA
Validity: 01 Apr 2011 to 31 Mar 2012
Soak up the spirit of the north on this journey that takes you deep into the heart of New Zealand's culture. Learn about how legends and song bring the Waipoua Forest to life in Northland and discover how Maori arts, craft and culture are being preserved at Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand.
Table of Contents
- Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Days 1-2 Wellington/Tongariro National Park
Kia ora and welcome to Wellington, New Zealand's capital city. Set on the edge of a picturesque harbour and surrounded by rolling green hills, the vibrant city of Wellington offers something for everyone.
You're free to arrive into Wellington at any time today. There are no group activities planned so make the most of the opportunity to explore the city. You'll meet your guide this evening at 6pm and have the night free to explore the many popular restaurants and cafes.
On day 2 we visit the National Museum of New Zealand where we'll explore Te Papa's exhibitions and collections with one of their knowledgeable hosts. These guided tours are fun, informative, and inspiring. Later today we travel through the Kapiti Coast and further north across the vast volcanic plateau of World Heritage listed Tongariro National Park. The three mountains at the heart of the park, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, have cultural and religious significance for the Maori people. We follow the Thermal Explorer Highway to the heart of the North Island travelling through green countryside, beautiful native bush and some of the largest alpine forests in the Southern Hemisphere. This afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy New Zealand's first national park.
- Tongariro National Park
- Wellington - Te Papa Museum
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 3-4 Rotorua
This morning we continue north. We view Wairakei Steam Valley, where thermal energy is harnessed in the world's second largest geothermal power plant. See the spectacular Huka Falls, mouth of the mighty Waikato River and tranquil Lake Taupo, the water filled crater of an ancient volcano. Our journey then takes us to New Zealand's cultural heart, Rotorua. Rotorua never fails to enthral and excite, a geothermal wonderland with bubbling mud-pools, gushing geysers and captivating culture. Your evening is yours to take in the local culture or kick back and relax.
You've got the entire day free to explore today and your options are virtually endless. Tonight there are plenty more fantastic options as well for you to participate in.
- Geothermal park - NZD50
- Thermal pools - NZD20
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 5-6 Paihia/Bay of Islands
Our day kicks off this morning as we depart, travel through Auckland and head further to discover the fascinating history of the Far North region. We journey across Auckland's scenic harbour and north to Parry's Kauri Park to check out a magnificent Kauri tree, whose ancestors once covered the island. Continuing north we reach the seaside town of Paihia in the beautiful Bay of Islands, home to 144 islands, secluded bays and an abundance of marine life.
There's a world of great options here to suit your mood, energy levels and budget! You'll have the chance to swim with the dolphins*, visit Russell*, the oldest settlement in New Zealand or if you're feeling active hike to the Hararu Falls through native bush.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 7 Hokianga Harbour
A leisurely morning this morning, before we make our short journey to Waipoua Forest. Stop to view the towering Kauri tree 'Tane Mahuta', Lord of the Forest, and take a walk to the 'Four Sisters' and Te Matua Ngahere Trees. This afternoon you've got time to soak up the sights and sounds of the Waipoua Forest. Tonight after dinner you'll have your last taste of the "Spirit of New Zealand" with an evening 'Twilight Encounter'. This is an experience that allows visitors to enter the Waipoua Forest at a unique time; a time experienced by not many; a time when its inhabitants change; a time when seeing is replaced with listening and a time when the clouds and sun are replaced by stars and the moon. You'll be moved by the experience!
- Twilight Encounter in the Waipoua Forest
Lodge (1 nt)
Day 8 Auckland
This morning be guided into the Waipoua forest where you will plant a native NZ tree and give new life to the forest before heading south towards our final destination. Our next stop is Matakohe to visit the Kauri and Pioneer Museum which tells a fascinating history of the Far North region. We travel on to Auckland where your journey with us comes to an end.
- Kauri and Pioneer Museum
- Waipoua Kauri Forest Reserve
- PIKA Single supplement (PIKA)
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- Total South Island (PIKS)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
This is the least confronting of Intrepid's product range. English is the native language and the food, customs and access to services will be similar to home.
These trips are a relaxing break. You don't have to worry about doing anything physically demanding unless you want to.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The currency of New Zealand is the New Zealand dollar (NZD). US$1 = NZ$1.15 (rate current for August 2011). For the latest exchange rate refer to www.oanda.com or check at your local bank or in the newspaper prior to travel.
The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). This allows you to draw funds from your personal account at a superior exchange rate. Most ATMs will also give you a cash advance on your credit card but be wary of high fees imposed by banks for this service. Bank fees for these withdrawals can be either a flat rate or a percentage of the amount withdrawn. Check with your bank for information on their international fees. There are ATMs (which accept both Visa and MasterCard) throughout the main stops on our itinerary and these are also accepted by the majority of local service providers. When leaving home don't forget your PIN number and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen.
It is a smart idea to take some of your money in travellers' cheques of a major brand in a major currency ($US, GBP, $AUD and EURO are all fine). Travellers' cheques have security advantages although please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change travellers' cheques in remote locations, on weekends and public holidays.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
In New Zealand, tipping is not expected but for certain things you may wish to for good service. As a guide, tipping applies when you sit down in a restaurant for a meal (10% is a general rule). You may also like to tip for exceptional service such as when we use local guides. When using taxis or buying drinks at a bar, rounding up is acceptable.
You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline NZ$2-5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
NZ$25 departure tax is required for all international departures, except flights out of Auckland where this charge is included in your flight ticket.
Maximum of 14 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Hotel (6 nts), Lodge (1 nt)
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
7 Breakfasts, 3 Dinners
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
You will be travelling in a coaster vehicle specially designed for local conditions. All our vehicles are air-conditioned for your comfort, and large panoramic windows allow for uninterrupted sightseeing.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. In New Zealand your group leader is also your driver, taking you from start to finish in a coaster vehicle. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Our crew are chosen for their driving skills, their knowledge of the country, their personality, and of course their leadership abilities. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting - we think it's the best of both worlds.
Joining point instructions
Catch a shuttle bus from directly outside the terminal. Cost is approximately NZ$15 per person, then NZ$5 for each extra person in the group.
Alternatively, taxis are available; cost approximately NZ$25 from the airport to the Comfort Hotel Wellington.
There is also an orange Airport Flyer Bus, which operates from the airport to Upper Hutt. Leaves the airport approximately every half hour, the nearest bus stop to Comfort Hotel Wellington is Dixon Street, three blocks away. The bus costs NZ$4.50 per person.
The tour commences on day 1 at 6pm.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: No - not required
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: No - not required
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required
For the most up to date information on visa requirements, we recommend you contact the New Zealand embassy in your country or visit http://www.immigration.govt.nz
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
Pack only your bare essentials. Due to limited space and strict road laws limiting gross weight of vehicles, you are required to limit your luggage to one reasonable sized suitcase or backpack (maximum weight limit of 20kg) and a small airways bag/day pack, which can be carried inside the coach. Intrepid Connections cannot guarantee to carry overweight or oversized luggage.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
New Zealand has relaxed attitudes to standards of dress however there are a few practical considerations. New Zealand has a temperate climate but be prepared for colder temperatures even in summer months. The sunshine in New Zealand is harsh and a sun hat and sunglasses are a must.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.