NZ North Island

New Zealand Flag
The smaller of the two islands, but largest by population, the North Island is a land of volcanic landscapes, vast forests, picturesque lakes and boutique vineyards. The North Island is also rich in Maori culture - Te Puia, the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, and the Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay on Lake Taupo are among the hundreds of culturally significant sights. 
 
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and has all the delights of a large metropolis. New Zealand's capital, Wellington, is home to a vibrant cafe and restaurant scene, while Hamilton is another bustling city in the centre of the rich farm land of Waikato. Outside the cities there are outdoor, cultural and culinary adventures around every corner.

History & Culture

New Zealand's human history begins with the arrival of Polynesian people who would come to be known as Maori. The Maori arrived around 1280, and still practice a vibrant and living culture throughout New Zealand.

The first known Europeans to visit New Zealand were the crew of the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, who arrived in 1642, but it was Captain James Cook who visited more than 100 years later that would pave the way for British sovereignty in the 1830's.

New Zealand has a fascinating history of both Polynesian and European culture which has often become intertwined. Today's New Zealanders enjoy their beer at the rugby (which is more religion than sport) and a fine glass of wine at home, which is often from their very own quality vineyards.

Things are pretty laid back and friendly, and Kiwis are very proud of their nation for its natural beauty, fantastic food, hospitality and sporting prowess.

Pixabay

Natural Wonders

There is no two ways about it ... New Zealand is a spectacularly beautiful country and the North Island has more than its fair share of natural wonders.

While geothermal activity is strong on both islands, the North Island is one of THE places on earth to get up close and personal with the Earth's molten core. Rotorua is a hotspot (excuse the pun) for travellers from around the world, as it offers an unparalleled geothermal experience along with a number of Maori cultural adventures.

The North Island also has some spectacular mountains, especially in the centre of the island, that yield some great skiing in the winter and fabulous hiking and fly-fishing in the summer.

Then there are the beaches ... the North Island has fantastic beaches, from golden sand to pebble-strewn inlets, as well as first-class snorkelling and diving. One of the great things about the coastal north is that you can almost always get a meal from the sea, whether it be fishing for snapper and kingfish, snorkelling for paua (abalone) and crayfish, or spearing mau mau.

Pixabay

Outdoor Adventures

Hiking and fishing are two of the North Island's most famous pursuits. Adrenalin sports also feature heavily throughout the North Island, so whether it's bungy jumping, parasailing or heli-skiing that floats your boat, you'll find it here.

The streams around Lake Taupo are one of the world's fly-fishing hotspots, with the Tongariro River taking centre stage. The Bay of Islands and other northerly coastal waters are also a fishing mecca for the saltwater aficionados.

All of New Zealand is well set up for hiking, and with no poisonous creatures to hamper your journey, hiking is a delight ... if you don't mind getting a bit damp. Tongariro Northern Circuit and Lake Waikaremoana Track are two of the most famous, but there are also a large variety of day treks to choose from.

Chris McLennan

Must-Do Experiences

New Zealand’s North Island is brimming with fabulous eating, stunning scenery and friendly locals keen to say ‘Kia Ora’.

You'll probably start your journey in one of the major cities of Auckland or Wellington ... enjoy the vibe of these western-type cities in the heart of the South Pacific. These two cities have cafes, bars and restaurants to rival those of Europe and North America, but with that distinctive New Zealand ambience.

Outside the major centres, the Bay of Islands are a paradisal collection of holiday islands set in tranquil waters teeming with dolphins and other forms of marine life. The lake and the mountains around Lake Taupo offer skiing, fishing, sailing, hiking and a strong Maori culture. The capital of the Hawkes Bay region is Napier and it sports an Art Deco history worth exploring. Rotorua is where you can find exploding mud, thermal pools, The Lord of the Rings and Maori culture in spades.

House in Hobbiton
Pixabay

Points of Interest

Language
English is the first language. Maori is also commonly spoken.
Currency
New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
Electricity
230V 50Hz
Time
NZST: New Zealand Standard Time runs 2 hours ahead of AEST. Daylight Saving Time is observed from the last Sunday in September until the first Sunday in April.
Visas

Visitors from Australia are eligible for a visa waiver and do not require a visa for stays of less than three months. Full details are provided on the Immigration New Zealand website (www.immigration.govt.nz). For visa, passport, health and security advice for Australian travellers, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website -www.smartraveller.gov.au.

Important Info
Tipping in New Zealand is not obligatory, even in restaurants and bars, although is always appreciated for good service. On public holidays, restaurants and cafes may add service charges of up to 15% to your final bill.

Useful Phrases

Hello / thank you Kia Ora
See you later Hei konei ra
Yes Ae
No Kaore
How are you? Kei te pehea koe?

Best Time to Visit

New Zealand is a fantastic destination in any season – from the hot days of summer, enjoyed at the beach, to the depths of winter when the ski fields spring to life and whales cruise the coast off Kaikoura. Hiking, cycling and wildlife watching number among the memorable activities that can be enjoyed all year round. The peak travel season is summer, December to February, and through to the end of March. For travel during this time, it is recommended that accommodation, rental cars and campervans, domestic flights, and popular activities and tours are booked well in advance. Travel arrangements should also be made in advance for winter ski season holidays. The shoulder seasons are excellent times to visit. Spring (September–November) bursts with new life, from flourishing gardens and frolicking lambs, to gushing waterfalls powered by mountain snow melt. Autumn/Fall (April–May), meanwhile, brings settled weather, vibrant natural landscapes, and the flexibility offered by fewer crowds.
Activity Time
Watch an All Blacks game June to September
Freshwater Fishing October to April
Hiking and Tramping Each season offers a unique experience, though winter is traditionally not a busy time.
Scuba Diving From January to June
White Water Rafting Spring - September to November

Getting Around

Getting around New Zealand is easy and relatively inexpensive, thanks to a well-developed transport network.
 
By road, national coach services crisscross the North and South Island daily, with the Cook Strait in between them crossed via frequent interisland ferries between Wellington and Picton. Scheduled boat services ply other popular routes such as those around Auckland Harbour and Foveaux Strait from Bluff to Stewart Island/Rakiura. Long-distance train travel is limited to the KiwiRail scenic journeys counted amongst world’s most scenic rail journeys.
 
New Zealand is one of the world’s greatest road-tripping countries, with quiet highways and epic landscapes ensuring that the journeys really are as enjoyable as the destinations. A well-planned journey will maximise enjoyment of attractions along the way, as well as alleviate pressure on itineraries. Driving times and distances can be found at www.newzealand.com/int/travel-times-and-distances-calculator

Dining

An abundance of superb ingredients mixes with inspiration from around the world to produce a culinary scene that is diverse and delicious.
 
New Zealand's major cities, the Capital Wellington and the largest cit, Auckland, are both him to vibrant dining and food scenes, and the North Island is home to well-known wine regions, such as Hawke's Bay, as well as some undiscovered gems like Waiheke Island.
 
New Zealand's Mānuka (from Māori) Tree (known as Tea Tree in Australia) is famous for producing the highly sort-after Mānuka honey, which is widely believed to contain anti-bacterial properties (although there is no scientific evidence of this).

Shopping

Shopping is a real pleasure, with plenty of markets, gift stores and designer fashion boutiques, with a high number of unique, independent outlets.

New Zealand-made specialities include beautiful pounamu (jade) and paua (abalone) shell ornaments and jewellery; handcrafted glass and local wood products; luxurious merino or possum knitwear; sheepskin and leather goods.

What to Pack

Visitors should come prepared for all conditions, at any time of year. Local weather conditions and forecasts can be found on the MetService website (www.metservice.com).

Overall, New Zealand enjoys a mild climate with moderate rainfall, although its mountain ranges and maritime environments create varying microclimates and sudden changes in weather. In general, though, the far north of New Zealand is subtropical, with average temperatures generally decreasing towards the south.

Hawkes Bay
The longest place name in the world is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a hill in Hawkes Bay.

The North Island of New Zealand is home to active volcanoes, island sanctuaries, stunning beaches, history and Maori culture. Kayak around beautiful bays and beaches of the Bay of Islands, see its resident dolphins and immerse yourself in Maori history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Experience the mud pools and hot springs in Rotorua, see the Waitomo glow worms. A visit to the North Island is not complete without also visiting some of  the locations where Lord of the Rings was filmed.

 

Our Top Tours and Experiences

Mitai Ancient World Day Tour

New Zealand

Rotorua

Mitai Ancient World Day Tour

Star
  • Operated by Mitai Ancient World.
  • 1½ hour traditional Maori guided tour.
from$35*
OGO X2 Ride Combo Day Tour

New Zealand

Rotorua

OGO X2 Ride Combo Day Tour

Star
  • 1 x Ride on the H2OGO Straight track.
  • 1 x Ride on the H2OGO Sidewinder track.
from$75*
Hukafalls Jet Day Tour

New Zealand

Taupo

Hukafalls Jet Day Tour

Star
  • 30 minute jet boat ride.
  • Complimentary transfers from Taupo accommodation if required.
  • Lifejackets and spray jackets.
from$119*
Rotorua Sights including Hobbiton Day Tour

New Zealand

Rotorua

Rotorua Sights including Hobbiton Day Tour

Star
  • Coach transfers.
  • Guided tour of Te Puia, Agrodome, Rainbow Springs.
  • Fully guided Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie set tour.
from$249*