There are few countries that are split so perfectly like New Zealand with its North and South Islands. Both are stunning with equally breathtaking sights to behold.
The Islands have some fantastic contrasts, great if you only have time to visit one. The South Island is best known for its mountains and glaciers. The North Island, which is the smaller of the two, is known for its traditional white-sand beaches and active volcanoes.
Whichever island you choose to explore, you will not be disappointed; we take a look at some of the things the North Island has to offer.
Perched close to the top of the island is Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Supposedly built on the world’s youngest volcanic fields, Auckland is home to over 50 volcanoes – there are not many cities that can say that.
If you’re after a walking adventure, thanks to its position between two natural harbours, you can walk coast to coast from the Waitemata Harbour on the Pacific Ocean to the Manukau Harbour on the Tasman Sea. The journey takes around four hours, but you will pass some incredible sights like Mount Eden, a 196-metre-high dormant volcano. You can walk up Eden with the journey taking approximately one hour.
An icon of Auckland is its Sky Tower. Standing tall at 328 meters it has dominated the skyline for 20 years. As well as stunning panoramic 360 ̊ views, it offers adrenaline-filled activities such as SkyJump – where you fall 192 metres straight down and SkyWalk where you will walk around the 1.2-metre-wide platform 192 metres up.
While the centre is easily accessible on foot, it is recommended to look into renting a car in Auckland if you’re wanting to explore the suburbs and further afield.
From the high of the volcanoes to the lows of underground caves, we now visit Waitomo – a village which is both beautiful above ground and under thanks to its famed cave systems which are lit up by thousands of glow worms.
Visitors to the cave will not simply walk through it, but can also enjoy black water rafting (similar to white water rafting but in the dark), zip lining and boat rides to get the full cave experience.
A short drive from Waitomo Caves towards the west coast village of Marokopa is where you will find Marokopa Falls, one of New Zealand’s most stunning waterfalls.
Tongariro National Park
Halfway between Auckland and Wellington is Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s oldest national park which boasts magnificent views of three active volcanoes: Mt. Tongariro, Mt. Ngauruhoe and Mt. Ruapehu.
Things to do here:
- Hike the world-famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing: taking an estimated six and eight hours, you will travel over volcanic terrain
- Family-friendly walks: if a challenging hike like the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is too much, smaller walking trails are available and still offer great views
- Cycling and mountain biking: the area has a range of accessible trails to suit everyone
- Ski or board down an active volcano: Mt Ruapehu Whakapapa and Turoa Ski Areas offer amazing natural skiing and snowboarding terrain for all abilities.
There are not many countries that can offer the level of excitement New Zealand’s North Island can for both underground and above. Whether it’s high on a volcano, or checking out the bright glow-worm lights in the cave: the North Island has some special experiences for everyone.