Explore several natural wonders, including a cavern filled with glowworms and a forest of mighty kauri trees that can live 2,000 years and soar more than 150 feet into the air.
Depart from the pier for a short drive inland to the Kawiti Caves, a natural wonderland of caverns owned by the descendants of the Maori chieftain Kawiti. While the caves' bizarre stalagmites and stalactites are breathtaking, the true highlight is the spectacular display of thousands of glowworms illuminating the ceiling. New Zealand's most famous fly, these glowworms belong to the gnat family and are not related to the European glowworm which is a beetle. From a distance, the glowworms' pinpoint blue-green taillights resemble a galaxy of stars in the inky blackness. You'll also notice their unusual, single-string webs hanging from the ceiling to trap small flying insects.
Continuing on, you'll drive to nearby Kawakawa, New Zealand's only town with a railroad track running down the main street. Curiously, Kawakawa is more renowned for its whimsical public restrooms. Designed by an Austrian artist in 1998, the facilities feature undulating cobblestone floors, colorful mosaics and copper handiwork.
Following some free time in Kawakawa, it's on to the Puketi Forest, which once covered most of the Bay of Islands. Walking along the boardwalk through the now-protected forest reserve, you'll see a number of impressive kauri trees, a towering species that rivals California's redwoods in height and girth. The boardwalk allows visitors an up-close look at these magnificent trees while protecting their sensitive feeding roots.
Heading back to the pier, you'll travel through historical Kerikeri for a photo-stop opposite the Kemp House, New Zealand's oldest building, and the Stone Store, which was constructed in the 1830s by an ex-convict stonemason.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 90-minutes of easy to moderate walking and includes 150 steps to negotiate at the caves. The tour is not recommended for wheelchair guests, those with mobility concerns or those who suffer from claustrophobia. Casual, weather appropriate clothing to include a light jacket or sweater; sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Photography is not permitted in the caves.