A traveller’s paradise, New Zealand’s North Island is an eclectic mix of cosmopolitan cities, vibrant Maori culture and stunning natural scenery. It’s a remarkably versatile place, where travellers can sip on craft cocktails in Auckland or Wellington one day, and explore active volcanoes the next.
When it comes to natural beauty, the North Island boasts the kind of scenery that made Lord of the Rings location scouts go weak at the knees. The island is literally bubbling with volcanic thrills, with highlights including Mt Tarawera, Mt Ngauruhoe, Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park. During the winter months, volcanic alps like Mt Ruapehu are a hotspot for skiers and snowboarders. Venture further afield, and places like Coromandel Peninsula serve up wild surf and gorgeous beaches.
The North Island is big, and the best way to soak it all up is by renting a car or motorhome. Public transport options are great in urban hubs like Auckland and Wellington, with long-distance buses and coaches also an option for those who’d rather let someone else do the driving.
New Zealand’s Maori culture runs deep, and there’s no better place to experience it than on the North Island. The country’s indigenous people account for a much higher percentage of the population and prefer to call New Zealand by its native Maori name, Te Ika-a-Māui. Opportunities to experience Maori culture are abound, with “hangi” feasts, traditional songs and fearsome “haka” war dance performances eternally popular with tourists.