From its live volcanic interior to its beautiful, empty coastlines and pristine forests, the North Island is a nature-lover’s dream. Choose between spectacular hikes up stunning mountains, adrenaline-fueled activities like skydiving or whitewater rafting or calmer pursuits like spending a day by yourself on a perfect, empty beach.
Auckland and Wellington are the island’s two major cities. They provide everything that the modern culture buff could desire. Visit great galleries, eat international cuisine in superb restaurants and experience the excellent festivals and events throughout the year. Both cities are surrounded by water and offer stunning walks around their respective harbors and coastlines.
You can’t visit New Zealand without leaving the city though; the North Island’s best features are beyond the suburbs. The east coast has endless picture-perfect beaches with pristine white sand draped by pohutukawa trees. Northland and the Coromandel are especially blessed in this regard. On the west coast, surf the world-famous breakers at Raglan or Piha or walk alone for miles on empty black-sand beaches.
The North Island is where Maori culture still thrives. Attend one of the cultural shows and enjoy a hangi feast (pork and vegetables cooked underground) when you visit the volcanic region of Rotorua. For a less staged introduction to Maori life, take a drive around the beautiful East Cape, where many Maori communities have been built.
Because it is a long, thin island, the climate ranges from the “winterless north” to the more unpredictable and damper south, with Wellington particularly famous for its rain and wind in the colder months. Summers are hot and sometimes humid, while autumn can often bring long spells of crisp, dry weather.
A good network of buses will transport you around the major sites, but to really experience the best of the North Island attractions, you should rent your own car. Beautiful beaches, pristine lakes and countless other treasures are waiting to be enjoyed.
Shopping, Dining and Family-Friendly
Enjoy fine dining in a rotating restaurant, dive off the tower on a cable-controlled jump or simply enjoy the views from New Zealand’s tallest tower.
Take a walking trail that visits a volcano crater, a 19th-century prison and the historic buildings of this quaint village.
See, smell and touch the exhibits at New Zealand’s hi-tech and interactive free national museum.
Encounter rare and endangered species from New Zealand and across the globe, including the pygmy marmoset and the huge white rhino.
Clear waters, rolling surf and black sand shores are surrounded by emerald cliffs and sub-tropical rain forest at this remote beach.
This park was once an active volcano, and today it features exotic trees, sculptural artworks and a museum.