Sample Itinerary 3: For the visually impaired

The thermal region of the central North Island is a great place to explore for both the mobility and sensory impaired visitor.

Aotearoa Discovered

This Ability Adventures sample tour itinerary explores some of the unique natural features arising from New Zealand's location straddling two continental plates, and its rich cultural history It takes the adventurer into the depths of the Whanganui National Park on a journey of discovery. This itinerary is designed for those who are blind or vision impaired.

Day 1: Arrive Auckland International Airport and transfer to hotel. During the remainder of the day there is the option of discovering some of the highlights of New Zealand's largest city or simply resting and relaxing. Stay Auckland three nights.

Day 2: Nestled between two picturesque harbours, Auckland is also known as the city of sails. It has many scenic islands, a temperate climate and safe harbours, making it a popular place for water activities. Today we take a marine excursion out into the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park to visit one of the predator-free islands which is now home to many of New Zealand's endangered native birds. Here we take in the scents, sounds and textures of the island and enjoy the tranquility of its forested environment.

Day 3: Today we venture to the more rugged western region of the city and into the heart of the regional park for a canyoning adventure, through water-sculpted gorges and hidden pools, into an environment which is otherwise inaccessible. Best of all, you can choose the level of adventure you are comfortable with, and no previous experience is required! Late afternoon return to Auckland.

Day 4: This morning we depart Auckland and make our way south through the Waikato, an area steeped in Maori history, and into the Taupo Volcanic Zone, one of the most active volcanic regions in the world. Here we explore a range of thermal reserves, taking in the distinctive sulphur-rich smells as well as the hissing and bubbling sounds for which the area is so well known. We conclude our day with a traditional Maori feast (hangi) and concert. Stay Rotorua three nights.

Day 5: We enjoy a selection of local activities today, the nature of which will vary depending on your interests. Rotorua has something for all tastes - from adventure activities, Maori cultural experiences, nature exploration, arts and crafts to excellent shopping.

Day 6: Today we travel a short distance to the coastal township of Whakatane where we take a day trip to New Zealand's only active marine volcano. This is a totally unique experience and likened to walking on the moon. The island has virtually no vegetation because of the harsh acidic environment. Lush beds of yellow and white sulphur crystals grow inside the crater walls amongst hissing, steaming, bubbling fumaroles. This is definitely an experience not to be missed. Early evening we relax and unwind at the end of an exciting and energetic day in the medicinal mineral waters of one of Rotorua's thermal pools.

Day 7: Our journey this morning takes us south to Lake Taupo and beyond to the Tongariro National Park, New Zealand's first national park created in 1887. A gift to New Zealand from the local Maori tribe, the park contains the peaks of three active volcanic mountains, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruaphehu. At Whakapapa we learn more of the geological and human history of the park before exploring some of the trails and the unique vegetation, from bush to alpine zone. Stay Whakapapa one night.

Day 8: There is the option today of trekking up to the crater lake of Mt Ruapehu or, alternatively, of further exploring the trails around Whakapapa Village. Late afternoon we journey south into the remote reaches of the Whanganui National Park and prepare for our canoeing and cultural journey of discovery into the wilderness. We are welcomed with a powhiri (welcome) and korero (talk) about the trip with our guides. Barrels are packed with our gear before settling down for the night. Stay Whakahoro one night.

Day 9: We load our waka (canoes) and after last-minute instructions, gear and safety checks, begin our 87km journey down the Whanganui River (Awa). During our four days on the river we will stay at kainga (cultural villages), meet with the local people, share their hospitality and knowledge of the river and its history, as well as visit historical sites and other places of interest. We will witness the overwhelming beauty and tranquility of the environment as we drift along the more placid sections of the river. We will also experience the thrill and challenge of the many rapids as we eventually make our way through to Pipiriki.

Days 10 and 11: On the Whanganui River.

Day 12: After negotiating the exciting and challenging rapids of the river we arrive into Pipiriki where our journey on the Awa ends. After saying farewell to our guides we leave this very special place feeling enriched by the unique experience we have had. We follow the river to Whanganui where its journey from the mountains to the sea ends. In the early evening we continue our way south along the coast to Wellington. Stay Wellington two nights.

Day 13: After a leisurely start we explore some of the many and varied attractions on offer in Wellington. This vibrant city, which is at the hub of New Zealand's politics, is known for its art galleries, stylish shops, cafes and restaurants. A stay in Wellington would not be complete without visiting Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. One of the largest national museums in the world, Te Papa is a treasure trove of historical, cultural and natural history information and celebrates the essence of all that is New Zealand. On this, our last evening, we enjoy some unique New Zealand flavours at a farewell dinner as we reminisce over our adventures of the past two weeks.

Day 14: Our journey in New Zealand draws to a close as we transfer to Wellington Airport and connect with international flights home.