Top 5 Things to Do in North Island
The sheer beauty of New Zealand’s North Island can make deciding where to go a daunting task when visiting. Its history and cultural significance make it even harder to narrow down. But here are five things you simply can’t miss on your travels.
Bay of Islands
If you’re looking for sub-tropical beach holiday which is known for its history and beauty, look no further than the Bay of Islands. Made up of 144 islands between the Purerua Peninsula and Cape Brett, this is a stunning setting known for its fishing, but where visitors can go surfing and snorkelling, too.
One of the stand-out attractions the Bay of Islands provides is seeing the haven of marine life surrounding it up close and personal. Swim with dolphins in their natural habitat or go whale watching to see some of the largest mammals playing around in the backdrop of a perfect setting.
An absolute must-do for all visitors to the Bay of Islands is a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. The award-winning premier attraction tells the story of two peoples coming together. You can take part in a full day of interactive experiences that include Waitangi’s contemporary museum, powerful Maori cultural performances in an authentic Meeting House, entertaining guided tours, engaging visitor centre, lush native forest and gardens, inspiring art gallery and carving studio. You can even witness a traditional Maori waka (canoe) and hāngi. To relax after a full day of activities why not have a traditional meal in the tranquil café that overlooks the stunning views of the Bay of Islands?
Under the green hills of Waitomo lies an intricate network of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The pitch black underground system is decorated with galaxies of native glow worms that glisten and highlight the sheer spectacular rock forms. One of the easiest ways to experience this unique trip is with a walking or boat tour. Discovering the Waitomo caves is an adventure lover’s dream. You’ll swim, float through the caves on rubber tubes and you can even zip line or abseil further into the darkness. The Waitomo caves are one of the North Island’s most spectacular natural wonders.
Mount Maunganui can be found a short distance away from Tauranga, Bay of Plenty. “The Mount” is the colloquial name for Mount Maunganui. Known for its magnificent beach on the ocean side, if surfing is your chosen sport then get down to Mauao. The beach is ranked as one of the best surfing beaches in New Zealand – and to keep this reputation, they have recently installed an artificial reef that produces consistently perfect waves for beginners and experienced surfers to catch some peeling waves and tubes.
At the tip of the peninsula is a distinctive peak which rises 230 metres above sea level. If you’re looking for a hike in the North Island, you will find it difficult to find better these summit views.
Mauao is an archaeological site of national significance, with a large fort on top of the mountain. The resort town has plenty to keep you occupied including big game fishing, dolphin tours, diving trips as well as an array of shops, cafes and restaurants selling local delicacies.
Most famous for being the location for the Hobbit, visitors can walk around the amazing hobbit-sized village and experience life on a movie set made up of more than 44 unique hobbit holes, the double arched bridge, the Green Dragon Inn and the famous Party Tree. After your day in the Shire, why not visit one of the black sand surf beaches or take a stroll through the stunning city gardens or explore the bustling nightlife and restaurant scene in the City of Hamilton?
Rotorua is most notably known for it crystal-clear streams, explosive geysers, bubbling mud pools and natural hot springs. The city offers attractions for everyone whether you’re looking for an adventure, you want to unwind or you’d like to learn about traditional Maori culture.
The city is surrounded by native forests, mountains and freshwater lakes which provide visitors with the perfect setting to get back in contact with nature. Individuals can marvel at the distinctive landscape and geothermal park where you will get to experience the volcanic activity that lies beneath.
If it’s adventure you’re looking for, the city contains world-class mountain biking trails that will really get your adrenaline running. Other sporting activities you’ll find in the area include horse riding, swimming and kayaking and rafting. For those who are looking to learn about the culture and history of the area then take a tour of an authentic pre-European village or try a hangi feast cooked in the steaming ground.