First time travellers to New Zealand are often tempted to tackle the whole country in one go. If you’ve got plenty of time it could be doable, but our tip is take it one island at a time.
Let’s start with some of the highlights on the North Island, and you’ll see what we mean.
You might know the name from trivia questions designed to trip people up, because it’s not Auckland but Wellington that’s the capital of New Zealand. You could also know it by its nickname of ‘Windy Wellington’, thanks to the strong Cook Strait winds that cut through the city. What this capital lacks in skyscrapers and six-lane highways, it makes up for in culture, colourful timber houses, delicious cuisine and a distinctly unique character that doesn’t disappoint visitors.
Must see in Wellington: Te Papa, the national museum
Must do in Wellington: Take a ride on the iconic Wellington Cable Car
Māori culture is alive and well in Rotorua. The city is the ideal place to learn more about the history and traditions of New Zealand’s indigenous people. Rotorua is also renowned for its geothermal activity, so if you fancy a natural steam bath or mud spa treatment, this is your place. In fact, Rotorua boast something for everyone, with adventure activities, romantic escapes, galleries, fishing, golf, bush walks and more all nearby.
Must see in Rotorua: historic Government Gardens with the impressive Bath House Building that houses the Rotorua Museum.
Must do in Rotorua: visit Te Puia, the centre for New Zealand’s Māori culture and geothermal wonders.
Lake Taupo is perfect for those who want to take a moment, take a breath and take it all in! The stunning lake is at the heart of the North Island and you’ll be surprised as just how much is going on here. As you travel around the lake you can find everything from ski fields and thundering waterfalls, to rivers rich with trout and geothermal valleys with hot springs.
Must see in Lake Taupo: Tongariro National Park with three active volcanic mountains.
Must do in Lake Taupo: take a thrilling jet boat ride up the river to Huka Falls.
We couldn’t leave the North Island without mentioning Auckland. It’s New Zealand’s largest city (remember, it’s not the capital) and a multi-cultural hub for all things delicious, exciting and maybe even decadent. Based around two picturesque harbours, you’ll find superyachts moored in the marina and plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants to enjoy.
Must see in Auckland: Ponsonby Central is a great outdoor area for finding chic cafes, quirky boutiques, all sorts of great street food and tasty cuisines.
Must do in Auckland: go to the top of Sky Tower for amazing 360 degrees views and head to Mission Bay Beach for a seaside promenade.
As you can probably tell, we’ve hardly scratched the surface of things you can do, see and experience on the North Island. Go to our trips to see more of what’s on offer and reach out to us any time for more New Zealand travel tips.