The North Island of New Zealand is often overshadowed by the South Island. However it’s worth taking some time to explore the North on your trip if you have time. If you find yourself in the North these are my top 5 thing to see and do.
Isolated bliss and white sandy beaches await in Coromandel. A short distance from Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand’s North Island meets the east Pacific to form the Hauraki Gulf. Rarely visited old time gold-mining towns on the west are contrasted by the hippie feel of the coast. Splitting the two sides, the mountains provide endless options for walking.
This geothermal area has more to offer than the smell of sulphur. The population in Rotorua are 34% Maori and there are various Maori related tourist activities available. The main one is Te Puia. There are bubbling mud pools and dramatic geysers to see as well as Kiwi’s and Maori architecture. The Whakarewarewa forest and mountain biking is the big attraction here. There are boundless outdoor activities to do in the 5600 hectare forest including walking and mountain biking. There are near 100km of tracks for bikers of all levels.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The North Island’s most popular walk has more than 100,000 trampers visiting yearly. It takes between 6-8 hours to complete the 19.4 km crossing. You’ll be rewarded with volcanic steaming vents and springs, rock formations and amazing views, including the famous Emerald Lakes.
Bay of Islands
Turquoise waters and water sports are the big attractions here so it’s easy to understand why its a popular summer destination. You can take part in yachting, fishing, kayaking, diving or cruise the waters looking for dolphins and whales.
The wine produced in the North Island is often overlooked in favour of that produced by the South. Yet, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa, Waiheke Island and Auckland all produce some fantastic wine. Which you choose to visit will depend on the type of wine that you like and your itinerary.
We liked the Pinot Noir which is typical of Martinborough located in the Wairarapa. Its location from Wellington makes it an ideal day trip if you’re in Wellington too. The wineries in Martinborough host the Toast, a music, food and of course wine festival on the third Sunday of every November.
Waiheke Island is another prize winning destination. The moderate climate means that a large variety of vines are grown here including reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and whites such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. If you like the idea of Waiheke Island for wine tasting you should also head to Hawkes Bay, as they produce a very similar range.