WHY YOU SHOULD GOLook forward to waterside luxury at the Cavalli Beach House Retreat on the Bay of Islands. Back inland, enjoy trekking in the thermal valley of Rotorua and heli trips out to the most jaw-dropping scenery in New Zealand. End up walking on the black sand of Auckland’s West Coast.
From the southern snow-capped mountains, to the stunning northern islands, there’s no doubt that New Zealand is packed with incredible natural beauty. A photographer’s dream, this trip takes place in some of the world’s most dramatic wilderness, while you stay in luxury boutique properties smart enough for the most discerning travellers.
You’ll begin in a forest, Kauri forest to be exact, home to giant Kauri trees traditionally considered by Maori to be kings. Sleeping at the stylish Takatu Lodge in the midst of dramatic wilderness, you’ll relax on walks through native bushland and go snorkelling off Goat Island (a stunning marine reserve with shallow waters and a high concentration of fish) before heading home for a glass of good quality local vino.
And now for an all-time favourite destination of ours: the Bay of Islands. Based at Cavalli Beach House Retreat for three days, you’re perched right over the bay with your own private terrace and beach: utter waterside luxury. Admire the islands majestically rising from the Pacific Ocean, and take a cruise out to see dolphins flipping out of the sea. A must-do trip is by small plane over Cape Reinga, the northern-most tip of New Zealand. Seeing the Bay of Islands, Doubtless Bay and Ninety Mile beach from the air is simply breathtaking. Don’t forget your camera
Having a heli good time
Back inland, it’s time for some trekking in the thermal valley of Rotorua. Staying at the legendary Treetops Lodge, we can arrange Maori Food experiences within the grounds (find your dinner literally growing in the gardens), and heli trips out to some of the most jaw-dropping scenery you’ll ever lay eyes on. Ask us about being flown over to White Island to admire the natural lunar landscapes on foot, and you can also see the (bubbling activity) of steaming volcanic vents, and watch roaring natural rock crevaces explode. This is raw nature at it’s best.
Back in the chopper, you’ll pinch yourself as you hover over more craters and emerald lakes, and land once more to take a dip in the warm waters of Frying Pan Lake: the world’s largest hot water spring, where temperatures reach 200°C at the bottom (and a more bearable 45°C at the top).
Rotorua is bursting with Maori culture too. Take an excursion to Mokoia island for a traditional Maori welcome to this wildlife sanctuary. See kiwi and other indigenous birds before a gourmet picnic on the shores of the picturesque Blue and Green lakes and a visit to explosive geyser and bubbling mud pools.
Glow worms and luxe camping
And finally, as you near the end of your New Zealand adventure experience, you’ll head into the depths of the Taharua Valley for luxury wilderness camping at Poronui’s luxury safari Camp. Ride horses and take hikes through the dramatic countryside: here you feel far, far away from the bustling world with no electronic beeps and gadgets in sight.
Visit incredible labyrinthine caves and subterranean waterfalls covered in glow worms at Waitomo, and glimpse black water rafters braving the gushing falls below. You can even have a go if you like. Riding a tube through rapids in dark caves is an adrenalin-pumping experience like nothing else on earth. End up walking on the black sand of Auckland’s West Coast and breathe your last of New Zealand’s fresh air before hopping on your flight home, refreshed and with photos to wow for a lifetime.