$100 per person at time of Booking, balance 30 days prior to tour date
Breakfasts x 2 (B)
Dinners x 2 (D)
All attractions as listed
October is a fantastic time of year to take a trip anywhere in New Zealand. The weather is warm and settled, the skies are blue, the air is fresh. The flowers are in bloom and the baby animals are bounding playfully in the fields. Its time to dust off your sunglasses and leave those winter blues behind. You are off to the timeless and perhaps most elegant of all hotels. The Grand Chateau Tongariro hotel, is where you will be surrounded by beauty and luxury for the next two nights.
As we make our way towards Rotorua city you will get glimpses of the lakes surrounding the city before passing through . Taking you off the beaten track to showcase New Zealand’s Hidden Valley – Orakei Korako which the Lonely Planet Guide describes as “… arguably the best thermal area left in New Zealand“.
Stopping for lunch at their little café, we’ll take the boat ride across the lake to explore a volcanic world of gushing geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pools. View some of the largest and most amazing silica terraces in the world – stunningly beautiful.
Orakei Korako translated is “Place of Adorning” situated on the banks of the Waikato River, the birthplace and principal papakainga of Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa. An important settlement site of Ngati Tahu for many generations and began its journey as a tourist attraction in 1937.
Further down the road is the wonderful township of Taupo (known as Love Taupo and the heart of our beautiful North Island). At the centre of this region is sparkling Lake Taupo, the great inland sea of New Zealand. As we travel around the lake, you’ll find every landscape you can imagine. Snow-blanketed ski fields in winter and alpine deserts. Ancient forests alive with birdsong and Trout-filled rivers. Steaming geothermal valleys,rejuvenating hot springs and three towering volcanoes in the otherworldly landscape of Tongariro National Park, where you will be spending the next few nights.
Arriving at The Chateau Tongariro Hotel is nothing short of breath-taking. With her grand stature proudly perched below the mountains and overlooking an incredible flowing lawn, the beauty has begun. Timeless & elegant the Chateau Tongariro hotel is in the heart of Tongariro National Park and was constructed during the ‘roaring twenties’ and opened in 1929. She is surrounded by a stunning natural playground bursting with diverse landscapes for visitors to discover.
After checking in there’s plenty of time to walk, or wander through the visitor centre , or maybe just take a hot swim in their pool or watch a movie in their theatre – all before dinner.
Alternatively, indulge with High Tea or a glass of mulled wine by the fireplace in the armchair with a good book may be more inviting?
This is your time for some R&R. We will all enjoy dinner later together.
Overnight in Chateau Tongariro Hotel (D)
The adventure outing is optional. You may wish to stay put and enjoy the comfort of your surroundings and leisure time.
Those that wish to join us, we begin todays adventure heading to the township of Ohakune – situated on the southern end of the Tongariro National Park. Close to the southwestern slopes of the active volcano Mount Ruapehu. Enroute we make a brief stop at Horopito Motors (Smash Palace) – those who have never experienced this place – today is your opportunity. Australasia’s largest vintage car wreckers but known widely within NZ film making history. In 1980 the movie Smash Palace was filmed here staring Bruno Lawrence. It’s worth a quick stop and look see.
We will continue down the road to Raetihi. You probably want to know what is at Raetihi? It is all part of your days adventure. I wonder when you last visited this town. Let us take a look at what makes this place tick, like the Ratana Church and a Dinosaur House.
Then onto Ohakune, a quaint little town known as the après ski capital of Mt Ruapehu. Also known as the Carrot Capital of New Zealand. It is a great location and aptly lends itself to the phrase “where adventures begin”. You must visit Johnny Nation’s Chocolate Éclair Shop. Developed in France in 19th century – it is a super-sized titbit that has literally flown out the doors daily of the small Ohakune bakery for more than 70 years. The eclairs are the size of a large fist and filled with cream. These have become a daily ritual for most people during the ski season which, in turn, means their reputation has gone global. Come and taste the Ohakune Fame (own expense) – late morning tea or early lunch – any excuse will do to try one of these.
With our sweet tooth’s well catered for we make our way to Waiouru stopping along the way at the Tangiwai Memorial. This memorial is in honour to those that tragically lost their lives in the worst railway disaster in New Zealand’s history, which sadly occurred on the eve of Christmas 1953. After paying our respects we will continue through to Waiouru to the National Army Museum. This is an incredible place filled with history, recalling stories of both wartime and peace. Attractions include their Memorial Greenstone Wall, Extensive Medal Collection, Artillery Collection, Iconic Military Vehicles, Life-like Displays, Soldiers’ Personal Stories, and their Research Centre. You may like to enjoy their onsite Home Fires Café for a coffee, snack or lunch. We make our way back to The Chateau for some ‘free to do as you please’ time.
Today is all about enjoying what you have around you. There is no pressure for you to come out on any outing. You may choose to stay at the Chateau and enjoy the atmosphere, the sauna, the pool, the gym, the movie theatre, or just enjoy the quiet spacious library or partake of High tea overlooking Mount Ngauruhoe.
Maybe you would rather enjoy a great walk.
Tawhai Falls a family friendly 20 minute return walk to an impressive waterfall, that tumbles over the edge of an ancient lava flow. This jaw dropping waterfall is also the location of Gollum’s pool from Lord of the Rings. It is well worth the stop.
Taranaki Falls just 40 mins from the Chateau. One of Tongariro National Park’s best short walks. This easy loop is jam-packed with fascinating natural sights including Taranaki Falls which tumbles 20 metres into a boulder-ringed pool. The track is in two parts – an upper and lower – which form a loop with the falls around the halfway mark. The lower track passes through tussock, alpine shrublands, and beech forest where you may see cute native birds. After a while it meets the pretty Wairere Stream and climbs past Cascade Falls before Taranaki Falls come into view. The falls tumble over an ancient lava flow formed by the Ruapehu eruption of 15,000 years ago. Today is all about you, for you to enjoy whatever you wish to do.
We will all meet up again in early evening to enjoy a drink and chat together before we formally dine.
Overnight in Chateau Tongariro Hotel (B,D)
We will begin our day with breakfast at your leisure, before checking out at 10am. However prior to leaving this area, we will take you to the “Top of the Bruce” and for those that wish to, you can enjoy a ride on the Sky Waka gondola (additional cost). It is awesome – just climb onboard and up you go. Sit back and enjoy the vista while you make your way to New Zealand’s highest dining experience – Knoll Ridge Chalet. At a staggering 2,020meters above sea level it is no wonder the views from here are nothing short of spectacular. Grab a coffee from the upstairs deck or simply marvel at the views from the huge floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking The Pinnacles. (This of course is weather dependant).
After taking in the magnificent sights from up the mountain we begin our travels home via Taupo. Here we will stop for a lunch opportunity (own expense) and/or a wander through the shops or around the lakes edge.
There is just one more stop on offer – the famous Huka Falls. For those of you who may have never been here, this is truly a must see! You will have the opportunity to witness the phenomenon of natural hydro power with more than 220,000 litres of water per second barrelling over the 11meter high drop to create New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction. The Huka Falls is the largest falls on the Waikato River and this incredible display is due to the river being just 100 meters wide, and then is forced through a 20 meter wide gorge to create an incredible waterfall. The name Huka means foam in the Maori language , which is most appropriate. Just come and see for yourself – the rapids certainly resembles foam. At the bottom of the falls is a gorgeous blue / green pool, be sure to bring your camera.
This is last opportunity to get some awesome photos, so you cna go home and brag about your short journey and vacation.
From here it is the home stretch via Rotorua before returning home to where your adventure began, feeling well rested and cherished memories plentiful. (B)