Where Can I Find Departure Dates?

The hiking season on the Tongariro Northern Circuit Great Walk starts in November and runs through until April. The hut booking system is administered by the Department of Conservation and this opens for booking, usually, in May or June for the following summer season. We don’t have priority access to hut beds so we book dates alongside the general public on open day.

It is best to register your interest in this walk before open day, particularly if you are travelling solo or in a group of 2 or 3. If you’d like to register your interest for this walk, send an email to [email protected] with the names of your walkers and a general idea of what dates you’re hoping for. We’ll book dates that suit as many walkers as we can and notify you of what’s available.

To check available departure dates see Our Walk Calendar

For a more comfortable experience, we recommend checking out our 4-day Tongariro Hiking Tour. You’ll walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing as part of this itinerary, staying in a comfortable 3-star hikers and skiers lodge in an ensuite room, and carry just a daypack. We have scheduled departure dates for the 2024/2025 hiking season available for booking now.

How Do I Get Here?

The 12-day Bucket List Walk departs Rotorua and Matamata roughly once per fortnight, from December to April, inclusive.

Where Should We Meet?

Most of our guests decide to spend a night in Rotorua or Matamata before the trip. We can pick you up from your pre-tour accommodation in either central Rotorua or Matamata. We pick up walkers in Rotorua between 8.00am and 8.30am; we pick up walkers from Matamata at 9.30am.

For suggestions on where to stay in Rotorua, we’ve compiled a handy list over in our blog ‘Best Places To Stay In Rotorua.’ What we mean by ‘central’ Rotorua is anywhere within the CBD or 5 minutes drive of the CBD. If you’d prefer to stay further out of town please be prepared to take a taxi or shuttle into town to meet us on Day 1.

For pre-tour accommodation in Matamata we recommend either Broadway Motel, or Matamata Central Motel – both are within easy walking distance of all essential amenities.

Where Can I Park My Car?

We have options for parking your vehicles in Rotorua City, please get in touch with our team for more information. We can easily drop you back to your car when we return.

Do You Offer An Auckland Pick-Up Service?

For any bigger groups coming from Auckland, we can arrange a private shuttle transfer, just have a word to our team and we’ll get arrangements underway.


On the 12-day Bucket List guided walk, we’ll stay in a variety of boutique and character lodges & hotels, mostly 3-star rated or higher accommodation with ensuites, which have been chosen for their amazing locations and relaxed atmosphere. Rooms are twin-share with comfy beds and crisp linens. You’ll have an ensuite room for each of the 11 nights of the trip.

Between each leg of the trip (night 4 and night 8), you’ll stay the night at a 4.5 star, historic hotel in central Rotorua within walking distance of Government Gardens and EAT St, Rotoruas’ main dining precinct.

Not all rooms are the same, so if you have specific room requirements, please get in touch with our reservations team to secure the best room for your needs.

Laundry Services

Laundry services aren’t available during the Bucket List Walk. We recommend packing enough items to last the 12 days or arranging for laundry to be done in Rotorua City prior to departure.

Power Points

Power points are available in your room on each leg of this walk. If you travel with a CPAP machine, please let us know and we can set you up with a room where power points are located within easy reach.


Air-conditioning is not available at each location. The rooms at our Coromandel location have heating appliances, but no cooling. At Lake Waikaremoana we’ll have both heating and cooling amenities and in Tongariro National Park we’ll have heating, but no cooling.


You’ll have a small refrigerator in your room for each of the 3 legs of this walk, so if you carry medication that requires refrigeration you’ll have access to this within your room.


The meals on the Bucket List Walk are every bit as nourishing and restorative as the scenery you’ll experience. This is a catered trip where the meals are planned, prepared and served to you. All breakfasts, trail snacks, hot drinks, and most dinners are included. There are two self-catered dinners on night 4 and night 8, before we begin our Tongariro National Park leg of the journey, where you’ll be able to sample some of Rotorua’s local flavours or just go where your tastebuds take you!

Breakfasts have both cooked and continental options. Healthy packed lunches are made fresh daily with plenty of nutritious goodies to keep you going. We also provide plenty of snacks and hot drinks on the trail.

You’ll enjoy 2-course, and sometimes 3-course, Kiwi-style meals, with plenty of fresh veggies, crisp salads, and decadent desserts prepared by our lodge hosts, our restaurant partners and your talented guides. We provide a complimentary glass of wine, beer or non-alcoholic option with pre-dinner nibbles and you’re welcome to purchase extra drinks during dinner.

Specialty Diets – Can You Cater For Me?

Absolutely, we are happy to accommodate guests with specialty diets. We appreciate as much advanced notice as possible. If we don’t receive adequate advanced notice, we may not be able to fully cater for dietary needs as we sometimes operate in an extremely isolated environment and it is not always possible to access specialty foods. Please ensure you advise us as early as possible if you have dietary requirements. You are very welcome to bring any foods with you that you’d like to have.

For most evening meals we offer a set menu that we tailor further for anyone who has a specialty diet. For vegans and vegetarians we’ll substitute the animal protein serving with an alternative. When we head out to a local restaurant to eat, we’ll have the benefit of a broader menu to choose from. When we dine in at our lodge restaurants we always provide the kitchen with advance notice of any dietary requirements.

If you have a severe food allergy please let us know in advance so we can alert our caterers and hosts and make sure you’re not only well taken care of, but well fed!


What fitness level do you need to join us on the Bucket List Walk? Firstly, most of the walking trails on the Bucket List Walk are of easy to moderate difficulty. They range from well-formed paths to tracks broken with tree roots, rocks and mud. Some of the trails are harder, such as The Pinnacles and Tongariro Alpine Crossing walks, however these days are optional and we can find other things to keep you busy if you’d rather sit those days out. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the longest and most challenging track on the Bucket List Walk itinerary – it’s 19.4km and includes a heart-pumping climb up the Mangatepopo Saddle, but boy is it worth it! There’s nothing else quite like it in the North Island.

Secondly, on average you should be able to walk for 6 – 7 hours a day and carry a daypack with your lunch, water, raincoat and warm layers. In preparation for completing the Bucket List Walk, it’s a great idea to start a training program beforehand that includes tracks with stairs. Perhaps complete a few shorter multi-day walks in the months beforehand to satisfy yourself that your fitness is adequate. Of the full 12-day itinerary, we will be doing 2 days of moderate-hard grading, 5 days of moderate grading and 5 days of easy graded walks. On the challenging days, we make sure we take our time and have plenty of short, strategic breaks to rest and hydrate.

Most importantly, every evening, over dinner, your guide will give you a detailed briefing on what to expect for the following day. We like to keep things relaxed so the faster walkers can go on ahead and the ‘plodders’ can take their time at the back without worrying about holding anyone up! If you have any issues with heights, please let us know beforehand and we can alert you to the specific areas of each track that you may find challenging. For more in depth information take a nosy through our helpful blog post on fitness for your guided walk.

I’m Travelling Solo – Who Will I Be Sharing a Room With?

The accommodation on the Bucket List Walk is based on twin share, which means two walkers to a room. If you’d prefer to have your own room, please select the single supplement option in the online booking form. The single supplement fee is for the whole trip, not per night. This will ensure you have a room to yourself. If you’re happy to share, we’ll place you in a twin room with another adventure-buddy of the same gender, in separate beds.

What Happens If We Don’t Have Someone To Share With You?

If you’re travelling solo and you are happy to share we’ll place you in a shared room with another solo traveler, of the same gender. If the group configuration means we don’t have another solo traveler to add to your room you’ll receive the private room upgrade at no extra cost.

Will I Be With The Same Group For The Whole 12 Days?

Our 12-day Bucket List walk consists of three of our regular 4-day tours, completed back-to-back. A Walking Legends hiking group can consist of Bucket List walkers, as well as single-tour guests who join the group just for one area. So, depending on the makeup of the group, the cast of colourful characters sharing the trails with you can change from one region to the next. You may also have a different guide for each of the three regions – which is pretty cool because that way you get to really sample all the different kinds of hospitality and story-telling our unique guides offer.

What Should I Pack?

We’ll send you through a full packing list with your formal booking confirmation email within 24 hours after you book online. This will cover what to bring for the days, and nights, that you’ll be in the great New Zealand outdoors. Here in the beautiful North Island, the climate is much friendlier than in the South Island. You won’t need to buy a lot of expensive gear that you’ll only use once. Just a few good quality items should stand you in good stead.

Do I Need Something Nice To Wear In The Evenings?

You’re on holiday after all, so why not!? We visit local restaurants for an evening meal on nights 3, 9, 10 & 11, so it’s a good idea to have something nice to wear out to dinner. They’re not super formal occasions, so you could say the dress code is smart casual. Gents – no ties or dinner jackets required, but covered shoes are a good idea. Ladies – comfortable footwear and covered shoulders are advisable, evenings can cool off quickly.

Because evening meals on the Coromandel leg of the journey are served in a fully covered, semi-enclosed, alfresco dining space we recommend an extra layer. There are outdoor heaters, soft lighting, comfortable seats and full height rain screens.

Will I Need Hiking Boots Or Are Trail Runners Okay?

We recommend you bring hiking boots. Trail runners or running shoes would probably be okay on a few of the walks we do, but it’s best to bring one pair of shoes that will serve you well on all the types of terrain we’ll visit on the Bucket List Walk. After periods of rain certain sections of trail can be muddy, so hiking boots will be best to tackle this. On the days where we do longer, more challenging trails, like the Pinnacles in Coromandel and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, hiking boots are a must-have.

Can I Borrow Gear From You?

Yes! We have raincoats, day packs and pairs of hiking poles that you are welcome to borrow for the trip. Some companies charge you extra for this, but we offer it as a complimentary addition. We ask that you let us know in advance what you’d like to borrow and we’ll have it ready for you on Day 1. We don’t carry all of our hire equipment with us on each tour, we’ll only bring what has been requested, so it’s imperative that you request this before departure.

How Much Weight Will I Be Carrying?

On the Bucket List Walk, we take care of the hard stuff so you can walk with the least amount of weight possible. We’ve designed this trip with your comfort in mind so you can carry the least amount of weight possible. You’ll need a day pack only, with just the essentials for that day.

You’ll be carrying the following:

  • A good quality raincoat – you can carry as much or as little additional clothing as you’re used to having – we recommend just one spare merino or polypropylene layer in your bag
  • Any personal items such as medication, battery banks or camera equipment
  • Daily drinking water – we recommend at least 2 litres every day, more if you’re the thirsty type
  • A packed picnic lunch and snacks – we’ll supply you with a packed lunch each morning in a small, cooler bag
Do I Need To Bring Cash?

No, cash is not essential on the Bucket List Walk. The Bucket List Walk is a largely all-inclusive package so you won’t need to pay for lots of hidden extras. There are two evening meals on nights 4 and 8 that are self-catered and not included in your package – you’ll be in Rotorua city and free to go wherever your tastebuds take you.

You’re welcome to bring a small amount of cash, if you wish, in case we make a spontaneous coffee or icecream pitstop! It’s also a good idea for those times when debit or credit card facilities either aren’t available, or aren’t working correctly. Please note: cheques are no longer an acceptable form of payment in New Zealand.

EFTPOS is a standard method of payment here in New Zealand, as are credit cards and cash. Apple Pay is available in urban centres only, it’s not common in the small towns and settlements we’ll be visiting. The best place to procure currency is in Rotorua before we depart. There are ATM’s in Coromandel township, but from Day 5 onwards we’ll have no access to ATM’s, banks or currency exchanges, so please ensure this is sorted before we leave Rotorua city.

What About Tipping?

Tipping is not common practice in New Zealand and you won’t suffer any embarrassment if you don’t tip your service people. When you dine out at a restaurant in New Zealand the sum on the bill is the sum you’ll pay, there are no sales taxes or tips to factor in on top of this sum. If you receive exceptional service and would like to gift a gratuity, it will be gratefully received but by no means expected.

Do I Need To Pay In Full Now?

There’s no need to pay in full for the Bucket List Walk at the time of booking. We ask just a $900 NZD deposit, per person, to secure a spot on the walk. When you make your booking via our website you’ll have the option of either paying the $900 NZD minimum deposit, or the full amount. You’re most welcome to pay the full amount at the time of booking, if you wish, but it’s not mandatory. The remaining balance is due to be settled around 30 days before departure. We’ll send an email reminder about a week beforehand and make sure everything is okay before we proceed.

We’ve provided a handy guide to our booking process in our blog, you’ll find lots of helpful information there. We are particularly good at making group bookings smooth and clean for group organisers, so if you’ve got a big group and the administrative burden is weighing you down, let us give you a hand to simplify it all.

Ready to book yourself in for the New Zealand guided walking holiday of a lifetime? Visit the Bucket List Walk direct booking page to lock it in.

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