Begin your exciting day directly at the Waitangi Wharf after you have tendered ashore from your cruise ship and you meet your guide.
Your first destination is the Haruru Falls, which translates to "big noise." Back in the 1800's, more than 100 Maori villages lined the banks of the Haruru River, and Maori legend says that a taniwha (water monster) lives in the lagoon below the falls.
Next you'll head to Kerikeri, a town with a rich and colourful history, and location of the the Stone Store and New Zealand's oldest building, the adjacent Kemp House. Kerikeri is also known for its successful horticulture and niche food products, so a visit to the Makana Chocolates factory to try their handmade chocolates cannot be missed. Ice cream or coffee from their adjacent cafe is available for purchase.
After free time for lunch on your own, travel inland through farmland and forests to your next destination, the very significant historic Te Waimate Mission House. Built in 1832, it is the only survivor of three mission houses founded in 1830 by the Church Missionary Society. You'll have time to enjoy the beauty of the Mission house, a simple Georgian building which was the Church Missionary Society's first farm and the forerunner of modern agriculture in New Zealand. It is also where Charles Darwin spent Christmas in 1835 on his visit to New Zealand.
Leaving the mission station, you'll travel south to the town of Kawakawa, through which the railway runs in the middle of the road. It is also location to the now world famous "Hundertwasser Toilets," one of the few public toilets seen as an international work of art. They were designed by the expatriate Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who lived in Kawakawa from 1975 until his death in 2000.
Your last destination will be the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves, where a local Maori guide will lead you through underground caverns to see the glow worms, and tell you how the caves came to be found. Located right in the heart of the Waiomio Valley, the Kawiti Caves are home to thousands of luminous glow worms, breath-taking rock formations, and lush green rainforest. Explore the world-famous Milky Way, a cavern filled with glow worms as far as the eye can see. Journey underground through networks of stalactites and stalagmites to hidden chambers like the Waiomio night sky, where the glow worms are so close you can almost touch them. After the caves tour, head north around a forested coastline to Paihia and the ship.
From Paihia, it's just a short drive back to Waitangi to board the tenders to your cruise ship.
Please Note: You may also choose to end your tour at the Waitangi Treaty House (admission not included), or in Paihia to sightsee and shop. Guests ending their tour at the Waitangi Treaty House or in Paihia are responsible for their own transportation back to the pier. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are an approximately 5-minute walk back to the cruise ship, and a return shuttle from Paihia to the ship may be available. The itinerary of the tour may change on any given day depending on travel conditions.
Reviewer: Diane Yanabu
This was a wonderful eye-opening tour. My husband & I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of all the excursions we went on, this one was the best! From the wonderful local guide to the beauty of the Bay of Isles, we learned and saw so much about the area, we were enchanted by the glowworms, never saw anything like it. I encourage everyone to take this tour, its not to be missed!