Sun-drenched beaches, volcanic activity and rich Māori culture make New Zealand’s northern island one of the most visited destinations in the Pacific.
The more densely populated of the country’s two main islands, the North Island of New Zealand is home to some 3.5 million residents spread out across 12 major metropolitan regions. While the guidebooks may be dominated with images of the South Island’s towering mountains and fjords, it’s on the North Island that you’ll find New Zealand’s often-overlooked beaches, bubbling geothermic activity and rich Māori culture. Rent a car to explore the coastal towns and rural villages of the island or base yourself in one of the North Island’s major cities for a cosmopolitan experience.
Visit Auckland, the bustling capital of New Zealand, to discover Kiwi culture. Sample local produce and some of the country’s famous wines at a restaurant. Visit one of the many museums and galleries found throughout the city. New Zealand’s unique position in the Pacific means the Auckland’s top restaurants have access to an outstanding standard of seafood.
In the south of the island you’ll find New Zealand’s “cultural capital”, Wellington. Visit a fashionable café to see why New Zealand baristas have a global reputation for making some of the best coffee in the world.
In both cities you’ll find rich enclaves of Māori culture but the most populated region for New Zealand’s indigenous people is in the northeast. Visit the East Cape to try local food and to take part in traditional dances.
Bubbling beneath the surface of the North Island is something very exciting. The geothermic activity of the island is responsible for a series of hot springs and an active volcano that attract visitors from around the world. Venture deep into the forest of Great Barrier Island to discover a naturally heated pool and indulge at Te Aroha in a resort-style hot spring. You don’t have to get wet to experience the Earth’s activity. Fly above the bulbous summit of Mount Tarawera and look down into its crater. In winter, ski down the slopes of Mount Ruapehu, an active volcano in the south of the island.
New Zealand’s pristine beaches are remarkably free of people, even in summer. Enjoy stretches of idyllic sand and shallow water as far as the eye can see in Northland, or bring your surfboard to tackle the wild swells of the west coast.
Fly to the North Island via Auckland or Wellington, both of which have major international airports. Once on the island, navigate the cities using public transport or explore farther afield with a rental car. A network of trains and buses also service the island.