Welcome to Auckland! We'll meet and greet in New Zealand's largest city today, before setting off on our first adventure.Surf's up! Welcome to the laid-back town of Raglan, set along the mesmerising Manu Bay. As well as an easy-going surf culture and word-class swells, Raglan is a tight-knit and eco-conscious community. The people who live here champion numerous green initiatives to ensure the town has an environmental impact, and we'll learn how the residents keep green before hitting the waves. You can do as the locals do and opt for some surf lessons, or if you're after something a bit different, Stand Up Paddle Boarding is a great way to explore the coast with a bit more stability. As the evening draws in, we'll have the option to end our first day in style, with a cruise and dinner while we watch the sunset along the bay. NZ - you've stolen our hearts already, and we're just getting started.
See ya, Raglan; what a cool little town you are. Don't be too sad, though - we're headed onto Rotorua next.When you catch your first whiff of that .. 'unusual' sulphur smell, you'll know we've arrived in Rotorua. Famed for its spurting geysers, bubbling hot springs and lush canopies, Rotorua is a natural wonderland, and then some. It's also home to the Ngāti Whakaue Māori tribe, who will be our hosts for the next two nights. That's right, this is the first Special Stay of our trip, a traditional lakeside Marae, which is a traditional, ornately carved Māori home. Our hosts will make use feel welcome as they teach us Tikanga and Kawa, their customs and protocols. We'll then help them in the preparation of the steam Hangi (dinner) as they tell stories around the kitchen table. After a meal, we'll learn about Māori spirituality and healing practises, before the moment you've been waiting for. Yep, put on your best war face, as you're about to learn a haka! After showing you the ropes, our hosts will show us how it's done with their own cultural performance. Pinch yourself, it doesn't get much more authentic than this.
The day is yours to roam free in this remarkable landscape. If you're feeling active, hike up volcanic Mt Tarawera or go White Water Rafting in the Kaituna River. Alternatively, you can take a Pounamu (jade) carving lesson with a local Māori master craftsman. This stone is sacred to the Māori people, and as well as being an incredible cultural experience, you get a beautiful piece of jewellery at the end of it. Another optional highlight today is the Rotorua canopy tour. This will see you rise with the dawn and watch the sunset from a platform high up in the trees. After a coffee and some breakfast, you'll then harness up and soar through the treetops on your zipline. It's an enthralling way to experience Rotorua's stunning scenery. In this natural playground, the options are limitless and the decisions are yours.
Leaving Rotorua behind, we'll stop off at the Treadright-supported New Zealand Kiwi hatchery, where we'll meet New Zealand's adorable but vulnerable national animal. We'll learn all about the incredible conservation effort being made for New Zealand's native birds, and also get the cuteness overload when we see some of the chicks. Then, staying on theme, we're headed to Blue Duck Station.Another day, another Special Stay! Blue Duck station is nestled in the wilderness of the Ruapehu District, surrounded by Whanganui National Park. The site aims to conserve New Zealand's endangered wildlife, particularly its birdlife. Some of the kiwis we met earlier are released into the area surrounding the Station. Tonight, we'll enjoy an included farm to plate dinner, with produce harvested on the farm and meat that's been hunted in the surrounding bush. It's as sustainable as it gets, and it's utterly delicious.
Rise and shine, we've got endless options for an adventure filled day today. With over 5,000 acres of tracked land, the land surrounding the station is perfect for hiking or horse trekking, as you traverse bush canopies, pine forests and mountain passes. You could kayak the Whanganui river (with a return journey by Jet Boat for the sake of your tired arms), or maybe take a bush safari. On this adventure you'll learn what the Blue Duck station is all about as you hear about their conservation work and even kayak to the Kaiwhakauka falls in summer - eyes peeled for the blue duck itself! In the evening, there's an option to try the Chef's Table fine dining experience. Under the summer night's sky, framed by Mt Ruapehu, you'll enjoy a 10 course degustation menu, with every ingredient sourced from the local land.
We're headed out of the wilderness today and into the compact cultural hub of Wellington.With its stunning hook-shaped harbour and vibrant food scene, Wellington is a city like no other. After getting acquainted with the place with an included city tour, we'll visit the National Museum of Te Papa, before heading into town to explore the food & nightlife scene.
This morning our adventure comes to an end (sob). Hug it out with your New Zealand crew. We're sad to say goodbye, but memories of what we've experienced will put stupid grins on our faces for years to come.