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North Island, New Zealand, is one of the two main islands that make up the country. North Island is known for its breathtaking national parks, geothermal wonders, cool cities, mountains, and volcanoes. It’s where the majority of the population live and there are plenty of incredible things to see and do. From exploring epic lakes, through to relaxing on beaches and finding out more about Maori culture, here are the 10 best things to do on North Island, New Zealand:
1. Visit Auckland
The city of Auckland has been rated as the ‘third most liveable city in the world’ and it’s easy to see why. Auckland is packed with architecture, museums, cool sights, and has a great restaurant and bar scene. Its proximity to beaches (just one hour in the car) makes it the perfect city to explore and relax. And if you’re looking to keep things on a budget, check out some of the best hostels in Auckland.
2. Learn About Maori Culture in Rotorua
Rotorua is known for hot, bubbling mud pools, geothermal activity, and traditional Maori culture. You can explore forests and streams, and kick back in one of the area’s famous mud baths. As the area is located in the Pacific Rim of Fire, Rotorua is full of geothermal activity and has a distinct, volcanic landscape. It’s also known as one of the best places to find out more about the area’s traditional Maori culture. Rotorua is known as the heartland of Maori culture, and you can explore historic buildings and structures, glide through rivers in traditional wooden kayaks, and hear traditional Maori song.
3. Explore Tongariro National Park
From hiking to exploring volcanoes, Tongariro National Park has so much to offer. The park has three active volcanoes, some of which were used in the filming of Lord of the Rings film. It’s packed with incredible hiking trails that pass through emerald lakes, hot springs, mud baths, green forests, and active craters. Check out some of the top things to do in Tongariro National Park.
4. See the Lord of the Rings Film Set
New Zealand was the main filming located for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The rolling hills and pastures of Matamata, known as “Middle Earth” in the trilogy, are truly stunning. Matama is just a two-hour drive from Auckland. You can explore the real-life village of Hobbiton, where you can have a drink in the Green Dragon and dance under the movie’s famous Party Tree. It’s an iconic movie set and well worth a visit!
5. Swim in Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo is a stunning, crystal-clear lake located in the caldera of the Taupo Volcano. It’s the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand — the size of Singapore — and is a truly breathtaking sight. The lake was created by volcanic activity two thousand years ago, and today you can see fiery craters, geysers, and boiling mud pools in the surrounding area. There’s also the epic Huka Falls, where more than 220,000 liters of water flow over the cliff every second. As for the lake itself, you can swim, water ski and kayak to your heart’s content.
6. Explore the Bay of Plenty
As the name suggests, the Bay of Plenty is filled with plenty of beautiful sights, from stunning beaches to plump fruit trees and the country’s only active marine volcano. In the Bay of Plenty, you’ll find Mount Maunganui, which is known for its incredible beaches and great surf.
7. Relax on the beach in the Coromandel
The Coromandel is known for its pristine beaches and laid-back atmosphere, making it the perfect place to relax. The Coromandel is also one of New Zealand’s most popular holiday destinations. It’s home to more than 248 miles of white-sand beaches, and has a great selection of water activities, from kayaking to jet skiing. While you’re in town, check out some of the other best beaches in New Zealand.
8. The First City to See the Morning Sun
Eastland is the historic spot where the first Polynesian canoes landed and the Maori and European first encountered each other. In Eastland you’ll find the area of Gisborne, which is the first city in the world to see the sun each day, so you can catch sunrise before billions of others.
9. Cycle in Manawatu
Manawatu is known for its dramatic landscapes and great cycling routes. There are plenty of cycle trails to explore, offering stunning scenery and stop-offs where you can get your adrenaline fix by bungee jumping or white water rafting along the way. Get your blood pumping and find out more about bungee jumping in New Zealand.
10. Drink Wine in Hawke Bay
Hawke Bay is an area blessed with fertile soils and a warm climate, making it one of the world’s best wine-producing regions. The area’s wines include reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. There are plenty of wine trails in the area, where visitors can cycle between vineyards, sampling some of the area’s finest grapes. Check out this wine trail route and whet your palette.