NZ North Island
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.
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.
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.
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.
Points of Interest
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.
|Hello / thank you||Kia Ora|
|See you later||Hei konei ra|
|How are you?||Kei te pehea koe?|
Best Time to Visit
|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|
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.
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.