First Light Marathon

20 Jan 2024

First Light Marathon 2024- 5 days Māori Cultural Experience

1 night in Tairāwhiti Gisborne and 3 nights in a Marae learning about Māori culture and traditions.
18-22 Jan
5 days
1 490 NZD

Participants of the Māori cultural experience will be staying at a traditional Māori meeting ground called Marae. Māori see the Marae as their tūrangawaewae - their place to stand and belong.

NB. As is custom in a Marae on important occasions, participants will sleep in the communal room (wharenui) on mattresses lined up against the wall.


It is a communal living of learning, sharing and honoring traditions. 



The itinerary is detailed below. This is what you'll be doing during your stay!

18 January 2024Arrival in Tairāwhiti Gisborne - Shakeout Run

Shakeout Run

All participants will arrive in Tairāwhiti Gisborne either by a domestic flight or by bus. There are several options for domestic flights and buses. Tairāwhiti Gisborne is about a 6/7 hour drive or a 1 hour flight from Auckland. Alternatively, guests might consider renting a car if you plan on doing a bigger tour around the island. If participants choose to fly to the local Tairāwhiti Gisborne airport (GIS), transport to the hotel is included. 
You can also join our Pre Tour starting in Auckland and take you overland in 4 days to Gisborne. For more details about the Pre Tour press here 

Around 18:00, all runners will gather for a short shakeout run guided by a local runner from Gisborne. The run will be a maximum of 5km at a relaxed pace, perfect for starting to get familiar with the beautiful surroundings. After the run, we'll gather for complimentary beer and some fingerfoods, where you can get to know your fellow marathon participants, meet the organizers and raise a glass to the beginning of our Aotearoa New Zealand adventure.  

Meals: Finger food after the Shakeout Run

19 January 2024Traditional Pōwhiri and check into Marae


Early this morning, we offer another optional excursion, "Stingray Encounter," in Tatapouri. During this excursion, you will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with stingrays and other reef dwellers on a reef ecology tour. We'll be back to the hotels in time for the rest of the day's activities. 

All participants will get together in the late morning for a traditional Māori welcome ceremony, known as a pōwhiri. A pōwhiri is a special ritual of encounter and the perfect way for us to experience Māori traditions. It usually takes place at the Māori meeting grounds, called a marae. The ceremony involves singing, dancing and speeches.

The remainder of your stay will be on the Marae living and sleeping in a communal space with fellow travellers and other kiwi’s from around Aotearoa (New Zealand).
Usually you will sleep in same room as 20 other guests on mattresses on the floor. We will provide mattresses, linen and towels. Also it’s expected to take part of the daily routines like washing your own dish after meals, make your own bed etc.

There will be many cultural activities during your stay at the marae. Today you will be introduced to the Maori language & Whanaungatanga

The Māori language is known as Te Reo Māori. It is the language of the Māori people of New Zealand. 

Whanaungatanga is about forming and maintaining relationships and strengthening ties between kin and communities. This value is the essential glue that binds people together, providing the foundation for a sense of unity, belonging and cohesion

Meals: Lunch & Dinner 

20 January 2024Race Day

Today's the big day! 

After an early breakfast at the hotel, you will make your way to the start line, just a short walk away.  As the first light of day crests the horizon, you'll set off with music and excitement thrumming through your body. 

Both the marathon and half-marathon begin at 06:00. Both races will end at 14:00.

Back at the marae it's time to relax before we in the evening will enjoy a delicious meal while listening to Waiata (maori song) 

Meals: Breakfast, light lunch at finish line and dinner

21 January 2024Cultural Experiences & Celebration Dinner

After breakfast and an early morning karakia (prayer) we will be resetting ourselves through body mind, spirit, family and our land. Te Whare Tapa Whā
•    Mirimiri (full body cleansing) 
•    Orokoroa (maori meditation)
•    Hiko Whenua (short guided walk to learn of the flora and fauna)
•    Moemoe (maori sleep class) 
These walls represent taha wairua/spiritual wellbeing, taha hinengaro/mental and emotional wellbeing, taha tinana/physical wellbeing and taha whānau/family and social wellbeing. Our connection with the whenua/landforms the foundation. When all these things are in balance, we thrive. When one or more of these is out of balance our wellbeing is impacted.

In the evening all participants will be driven out to the celebration dinner at a local vineyard. Together, we'll toast our accomplishments and enjoy a delicious meal while the sun sets over the vineyard. 

Meals: Breakfast, lunch & Celebration Dinner 

22 January 2024Farewell Gisborne or Hello Extension

Sadly, it is time to say goodbye to Tairāwhiti Gisborne. After check-out, you'll bid farewell to Aotearoa New Zealand - transfer to the domestic airport is included. Alternatively, if you're not quite ready to say goodbye, join us for an exciting 6-day extension!

Meals: Breakfast


Stingray Encounter

19 Jan | 2.5 hours | 150 NZD

Of all the ways to experience the magical marine environment around Tairāwhiti Gisborne, feeding the stingrays on a reef ecology tour is one of the most memorable. We'll begin with a coach bus out to the bay, where participants will suit up in waders to keep you dry and protected. 

We'll be wading across the reef at low tide, allowing us to observe and interact with Stingrays, Eagle Rays, Kingfish, and various other reef dwellers. The marine life on the reef is not enclosed, so all the animls are free to come and go. The guides will provide information on reef's inhabitants, known as the Tamariki (Children) of Tangaroa, the Maori god of the sea. We'll learn about the different species. the local legends of Tairāwhiti Gisborne, and even gain some insight into some of the methods once used by the Maori to manage their natural resources. 

Upon conclusion of the tour, participants will be driven back to their hotels. 

  • About the Tour

    Duration: 2.5 hours 


    - Transport to/from Tatapouri Bay 
    - Guided reef ecology tour 
    - Waders



Hobbiton & Bay of Plenty

15-18 Jan | 4 days | 1 590 NZD

Pre tour: Overland from Auckland to Gisborne. 

  • Day 1 - 15th Jan: Welcome to Auckland. City Tour

    Welcome to Auckland!  All participants will arrive in Auckland and find their own way to their hotel for the night at Grand Millenium, Auckland. With its approximately 1.3 million inhabitants, Auckland is home to almost a third of New Zealand's population. The city is located on a narrow landmark with water on both sides - the Pacific Ocean to the East and the Tasman Sea to the west - and is thus a true mecca for sailors. The city is affectionately known as the ‘City of Sails’ due to Aucklander’s love of sailing and other water sports.  Auckland is built on 50 extinct volcanoes; and while most of them are miniature in size, as green hilltops or even completely invisible, the three largest - Mount Albert, Mount Eden, and One Tree Hill - reign over the landscape.

    We will explore the exciting city of Auckland through a bus tour, starting from the hotel at 2pm. The route will take us through the cozy suburbs of Parnell, with old, well-restored houses as well as small restaurants and galleries. We will visit the renowned Bastion Point for panoramic views of the city and the sparkling Hauraki Gulf.  After we return to the hotel the rest of the evening is at leisure for you to explore the wonders of Auckland further on your own.

    No meals

  • Day 2 - 16th. Jan: Hamilton Gardens, The Hobbiton and overnight Farm Stay

    After breakfast it's time to leave Auckland and travel over the Bombay Hills, where market gardens supply locals as well as export markets. Subsequently, we will continue along the east bank of the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river, which runs through the cities of Hamilton, Cambridge and Ngāruawāhia.

    In Hamilton we will visit the internationally recognised award-winning Hamilton Gardens for a self-guided tour through these stunning gardens.  The unique theme of Hamilton Gardens is ‘The story of gardens’ which is explored through a series of five garden collections. The Paradise Garden Collection is a highlight of the gardens and features a Chinese Scholars Garden, English Flower Garden, Japanese Garden of Contemplation, American Modernist Garden, Italian Renaissance Garden, and an Indian Char Bagh Garden.  Alternatively, you might be intrigued by one of the Fantasy Gardens – the Tudor Garden; Tropical Garden; Concept Garden or the Mansfield Garden. Try not get lost in the many gardens because you don't want to miss out the next highlight of the tour - Hobbiton.

    Now it's time to visit Middle-earth and the many adventures that await us therein. Our explorations lead us to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the bucolic setting for The Shire  that featured in the Peter Jackson directed films, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The journey begins with a guided tour as we traverse the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. We will exit the car allowing the guide to escort you through the ten acre site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created. The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn, Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films can be easily observed and it's possible to see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle-earth. Upon completion of your tour, we will enjoy a complimentary beverage at the Green Dragon Inn.
    This evening, meet your hosts for a unique overnight farm stay. 

    Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 3 - 17th. Jan: Bay of Plenty - Scenic Cruise & enjoy the Mount

    After breakfast you will regroup with your hosts before we depart over the Kaimai ranges into the picturesque Bay of Plenty. Upon arrival, we will visit the town of Mt Maunganui, often refered to as The Mount by locals. The Mount is a laid back suburb set on a peninsula surrounded by spectacular white sand beaches suitable for both swimming and surfing. Perhaps most iconic is the mountain Mount Maunganui, or Mauao, which rises 232 meters from the sea. The walking tracks to the top of this extinct volcano provide 360 degree views which span the entire length of the Bay of Plenty. We start our visit with a scenic cruise around the area and enjoy its diverse topography; its untouched white sandy beaches, lush green forests, islands and small village settlements, contrasted with the highly developed port infrastructure. Occasionally you may see some seasonal wildlife on your cruise such as blue penguins, sea birds or New Zealandic fur seals. The afternoon is at leisure to spend at The Mount where you can relax on its glittering beaches, hike to the top of Mount Maunganui or go shopping in the many boutiques dotted along The Mount’s main street. We will overnight at Trinity Wharf in Tauranga.

    Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 4 - 18th. Jan: Gisborne

    Following breakfast we will depart to Gisborne. The route takes us along the east coast of the North Island where we will pass through the small towns of Matata and Thornton before reaching Whakatane. Whakatane is the heart of the eastern Bay of Plenty, as it aligns with its spectacular coastal shore and contains a rich cultural history. Here we will have time to purchase lunch before departing through the Waioeka Gorge. As we arrive into the sunny township of Gisborne we will check into our chosen accommodation.   

    Meals: Breakfast

  • Price Information

    Shared double room:  NZD 1590  
    Single room supplement:  NZD +475

  • Inclusions
    • Meals as stated in the itinerary 
    • Transportation as stated in the itinerary 
    • 3 nights accommodation including breakfast 
    • City Tour in Auckland
    • Visit to Hamilton Gardens
    • Hobbiton Tour
    • Scenic Cruise Mt. Maunganui
    • Albatros tourleader
  • Exclusions
    • Personal expenses or gratuities 
    • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary 
    • Beverages
    • Health/travel insurance 
    • Anything else not mentioned under "Inclusions"

Lakes and Legends

22-27 Jan | 6 days | 2 990 NZD
  • Day 1 - 22 Jan: Tairāwhiti Gisborne to Rotorua

    On the first day of our extension, we'll travel north through the scenic Waioeka Gorge before reaching Opotiki, and the lovely beach town of Ohope. From Whakatane, we'll travel along the Matata Straights before turning inland to arrive at Rotorua. 

    Before Rotorua, there is an optional rafting excursion. Participants can experience the thrills and spills of the mighty Kaituna River and take on the world-famous Tutea Falls. Standing at 7 meters tall, the falls are the highest commercially rafted waterfall. Together with your expert guide, your team will enjoy an action-packed 50-minute ride through 14 rapids as the river winds its way through a jungle canyon. No prior experience is necessary, as participants will receieve full and comprehensive training beforehand. All you need is a reasonable level of fitness, a sense of fun and adventure, swimwear and a towel.

    For guests who do not choose to participate in the rafting, the coach will continue into Rotorua so you can check into the hotel. Due to its unique thermal and volcanic landscape and rich Māori culture, Rotorua is one of Aotearoa New Zealand's most popular destinations. The town forms part of the geologically active "Pacific Ring of Fire," and the bubbling thermal activity just below Earth's crust is evident throughout the city, from natural hot springs to bubbling mud pools. 

    In the evening, guests will experience the warmth of the Māori people with a night of ceremonial rituals and storytelling. We will enter a replica pre-European Maori village, where we will see the hangi pit opened and then enter the ancestral Meeting House to enjoy a powerful cultural performance featuring tribal songs, myths, legends, and dance, including the vigorous haka. We will also enjoy a hangi buffet dinner, cooked in the traditional way in an earth oven. 

    After dinner, we'll bid our hosts farewell and return to our accommodation for tonight and the next night, the Distinction Hotel Rotorua.

    Meals: Breakfast* and dinner 

    *Breakfast this day is only included at select hotels (see: inclusions in the 5-day Package) 

  • Day 2 - 23 Jan: Rototura

    This morning, after breakfast, guests are free to choose what they would like to do. We will be offering an optional excursion: zip-lining. 

    Zip-lining: On this exciting adventure, we'll explore native forest on a 1,2km network of Rotorua ziplines, swing bridges, and treetop platforms. In total, there are 6 ziplines that total more than 650 meters. The highlight is the jaw-dropping, 220-meter Tui Son zipline that departs from 22 meters up a 1000 year-old tree. There are also two treetop swing bridges - the longest suspended a full 50 meters! The treetop platforms are located at varying platforms to allow participants to pause and absorb the magic of the environment. Since 2012, the zip-lining operators have been working to restore the native forest in which they operate. With the help of every customer, the forest is flourishing in a mutually beneficial relationship. Come and forget about the real world for a few hours! 

    If guests would not like to join the optional excursion, there will be a coach provided to take guests for a visit to Lake Tikitapu. Famous for its striking colour, the lake is known as "Blue Lake" by the locals. There is an easy 1,5 hour walk the lake that offers good views of both Lake Tikitapu and the nearby Green Lake, Rotokakahi. Alternatively, guests may simply relax on their own in Rototura.

    The whole group will meet in the afternoon for a special Polynesian Spa experience. We'll drive by coach out to Lake Spa, a deluxe hot mineral bathing and relaxation area that overlooks Lake Rotorua. Enjoy tranquil bathing and lake views in the four alkaline rock pools, each with different temperatures (from 36 ̊C to 42 ̊C). Sink into the serene environment as the sounds of waterfalls and reflections of the glistening water in the grotto relax you completely.

    Later in the evening, we'll travel out to Redwoods Nightlights, a 700-meter long eco-tourism walking experience in the heart of Rotorua's Redwood Forest. The tour consists of a series of 28 suspension bridges and 27 majestic Redwood trees that are more than 118 years old. The walk also features 30 exquisite lanterns floating between 9-20 meters above the forest floor, designed by world-renowned designer and sustainability champion David Trubridge. Upon completion of the tour, we'll tranfer back to the Distinction Hotel. 

    Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 3 - 24. Jan: Rotorua to Taupo

    This morning, after breakfast, we'll begin with a guided walk through Waimangu Volcanic Valley. The walk will take around 2 hours as we embark on an ecology-focused exploration of the craters in this beautiful valley. Heading downhill, we'll pass through some of the youngest eco-systems in the world as we view a wide variety of geothermal activity, native plants, and bird-life. See Echo Crater and Frying Pan Lake, the world's largest hot water spring, as well as the mysterious and dramatic Inferno Crater and its beautiful blue hot lake. When we reach Lake Rotomahana, we'll join a 45-minute boat trip to see the Steaming Cliffs, fumaroles, lake edge geysers, unusual thermal plants, and the site of the Pink and White Terraces that were destroyed in the Mt. Tarawera eruption. 

    After the boat ride, we'll be shuttled back to the car park, where we'll reboard the coach and travel south through Kaingaroa Forest plantation and the Wairakei Steam fields. Enjoy a stop at the Huka Falls, where the clear waters of the Waikato River gush through a narrow canyon. We'll continue around the shores of Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, to our accommodation for the next two nights, Lakeland Resort Taupo, where we'll settle in and try to get some good sleep in preparation for the coming day's challenge: the Tongariro Crossing.

    Meals: Breakfast 

  • Day 4 - 25. Jan: The Tongariro Crossing

    This morning, we'll take a short drive to the beginning of our trek. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is 19.4km of pure, rugged Aotearoa New Zealand beauty. The trek is considered the best one-day walk in the coutnry, and is consistently ranked in the Top 10 one-day walks in the world. The Tongariro National Park is a dual World Heritage site - rich in both cultural identity as well as breathtaking natural scenery. 

    Our trail leads up to the saddle between Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro, and then diverts over Mount Tongariro. Fans of Lord of the Rings might recognize Mount Ngauruhoe as Mount Doom itself! At the top of the pass, in the presence of two active volcanoes, we'll experience some of the National Park's special gifts. A cold mountain spring, an active crater, emerald lakes, and hot springs combine to make this is challenging and deeply rewarding experience. 

    Total walking time is around 7 hours, including stops. No alpine experience is required, and we will be accompanied by a guide. 

    Meals: Breakfast and packed lunch 

  • Day 5 - 26. Jan: Taupo to Auckland

    This morning, we'll take it easy as we travel north to Waitomo. In Waitomo, we'll stop for a Footwhistle Glowworm Tour. A short, 3,5 km scenic shuttle will take us to the cave, while an experienced guide reveals the rich history of the area. Then, we'll take a short walk through the native forest and past waterfalls to the cave entrance. From there, walk down into the cave through a natural chasm. 

    The scene in the cave is set for an intimiate cave experience, with solar-powered lights kept low so that we can appreciate the magnificent glowworm displays at their best. Around a corner lies the bones of one of the country's lost treasures, the ancient Moa - a long-extinct bird. The soothing sound of the Footwhistle cave's stream trickles in the darkness below. 

    After the tour, we'll stop for an included lunch at a local cafe before travelling north yet again, through rolling countryside into Hamilton City, Aotearoa New Zealand's largest inland city. Then continue north, following the Waikato River, over Bombay Hills and into Auckland City. Auckland is built atop 50 extinct volcanoes - while most of them appear either as small, green hilltop or are completely removed, the three largest - Mount Albert, Mount Eden, and One Tree Hill - stand proudly over the landscape. 

    Upon arrival in Auckland, you'll have time for a tour of the city. Drive through the cozy suburbs of Parnell, with old, well-restored houses, small restaurants, and galleries. Visit Bastion Point for panoramic views of the city and the sparkling Hauraki Gulf. Perhaps you'd like to stretch out the soreness from the trek at the Auckland Domain, the city's oldest park that is one of the largest in the city. 

    We'll spend the night at Grand Millenium Hotel Auckland City. 

    Meals: Breakfast and lunch 

  • Day 6 - 27. Jan: Farewell Aotearoa New Zealand

    Sadly, it is time to say haere rā to Aotearoa New Zealand. Taxis to the airport are available from the hotel (departure transfer not provided).

    Meals: Breakfast

  • Price Information

    All prices are per person in New Zealand Dollars. 

    Shared double room:  NZD 2990  
    Single room supplement:  NZD +790

    Optional excursions:
    River Rafting: NZD 170
    Zip-Lining: NZD 225

  • Inclusions
    • Meals as stated in the itinerary 
    • Transportation as stated in the itinerary 
    • Polynesian Spa experience 
    • Redwoods Nightlights tour 
    • 5 nights accommodation 
    • Guide across the Tongariro Crossing 
    • Footwhistle Glowworm Tour 
  • Exclusions
    • Optional excursions
    • Personal expenses or gratuities 
    • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary 
    • Beverages
    • Health/travel insurance 
    • Anything else not mentioned under "Inclusions"
  • Tongariro Crossing Terms & Conditions
    • The weather in NZ is extremely changeable and thus difficult to forecast accurately. The operator has the right to cancel an adventure should they consider the weather to cause too high of a risk. 
    • At the operator's base on the morning of the trip, the team will gauge the safety of the route. The operator will deem the weather to be unsafe if there is consistently 10mm or more of rain, combined with wind gusts of 70km/hr or higher, forecasted for the 6-hour period starting at the commencement of the tour. 
    • If the operator believes that the advertised route should not be attempted for safety reasons, they will either suggest an aoternate route where the clients will get to see simliar terrain as they would on the tour booked without the same exposure to the weather. 

Price information

Have a look at package prices below.


Shared double 1 night and dormitory 3 nights:  NZD 1490  
Single room supplement 1 night:  NZD +110 NZD


  • 1 night hotel/motel accommodation in Tairāwhiti Gisborne 
  • 3 nights accommodation in Dormitory room at marae
  • Arrival and departure transfer between the Tairāwhiti Gisborne airport and hotels/marae
  • Guided shakeout run with a beer and fingerfood
  • Pōwhiri (Māori welcome)
  • Cultural Experiences during stay in marae
  • Celebration dinner at The Vines Winery
  • Meals as stated in the itinerary
  • Transportation to the race r/t


  • Transportation to/from Tairāwhiti Gisborne 
  • Race entry
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Optional excursions/extension 
  • Travel and health insurance  
  • Beverages
  • Personal expenses
  • Anything not mentioned under 'Inclusions'

Race Entry

Marathon: NZD 175
Half-Marathon: NZD 100 

Race entry includes: 

  • First Light Marathon T-shirt from Craft
  • Exclusive medal
  • Experienced medical personnel from Peak Safety
  • Timing and results
  • Finish line refreshments
  • Manned water and supply stations along the route 

Booking and Payment

The booking of a trip is binding for both customer and travel agency once the deposit (25% of the total trip price) has been paid at the time of booking on the website. The remaining amount, 75% of the total trip price, will be charged to the customer’s payment card as provided by the customer, 75 days before trip departure. Bookings made later than 75 days prior will require full payment immediately.

The email sent to the customer upon booking a trip acts as the booking confirmation. It is therefore of vital importance that the customer provides a valid email address.

Refer to our Terms & Conditions for further information.

Important Info

Book this package

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