With its lush landscapes, black sand beaches, vibrant history, diverse terrains, and friendly locals, it’s said that New Zealand is one of the last remaining paradise islands in the world. If you’re planning on taking a New Zealand North Island tour but aren’t sure exactly what spots and activities you should check out, then read our list of five incredible must-see places that you won’t want to miss!
If you enjoy dining out, nightlife, shopping, and a vibrant urban landscape, then New Zealand’s largest city is a great place to start your travels. Auckland is famous for its amazing wine regions and award-winning chefs that serve delicious locally-produced cuisine. If you want to escape the city noise for some relaxation, then be sure to take a quick visit to the beautiful west coast beaches of Piha, Muriwai, Bethells, and Karekare.
Bay of Plenty
The Bay of Plenty is aptly named as there are so many beautiful sights to see here that you’ll be spoilt for choice! This unique spot is home to New Zealand’s only active marine volcano which you can see up close. For those who prefer a more chilled out experience, grab a relaxing soak nearby in one of the region’s naturally heated hot pools. Add in superb surfing beaches, skydiving, boating excursions, and swimming with dolphins, and you’ll wonder if you even have enough time for the rest of your New Zealand trip!
If you’ve ever fancied living your very own fantasy, then the land of the hobbits in the Hamilton-Waikato region should definitely be on your list of places to see! This is where the iconic film took place, and you can visit the original film set in Matamata. Non-hobbit fans can still get plenty out of the area, as it’s a perfect spot for cycling, caving, shopping, or sightseeing around the region’s towns. The subterranean Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a magnet for families who marvel at the limestone formations and the thousands of glowworms twinkling like stellar constellations. For those with a green thumb, a visit to the Hamilton Gardens is a must! Aside from a number of gorgeous lavender fields and sculpture gardens, this is home to New Zealand’s only tea plantation, where you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon tea and a light lunch.
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari
Mount Maungatautari is an ancient forested volcano that is home to some of the islands most endangered and wonderful species of birds, plus insects and lizards like the Giant Weta and the Tuatara. Sanctuary Mountain was created especially to protect these endangered and little-seen creatures. This is a great spot for families, wildlife enthusiasts, and avid birdwatchers, and you have the option to take a guided tour through the eco sanctuary.
With its bubbling mud and fluorescent sulphur pools, the geothermal marvel that is Rotorua is one of the most fascinating parts of the North Island. Rotorua is also home to a rich and vibrant Moari culture, where visitors and locals alike can learn the world famous Haka. Take a tour of Whakarewarewa, a living Maori village in the area, in order to learn how the Maori people traditionally lived alongside Mother Nature. You can also try the traditional Maori feast known as the Hangi, then relax and watch a performance of cultural music and dance.