An island nation, New Zealand’s environment is incredibly diverse for its small size. Both the North and the South Islands are dramatically different in terms of environment, scenic highlights and culture. Below, we’ve put together a bit of a guide to what the North Island is all about – it will help you to get a feel for New Zealand and the parts of the country you might like to visit.
Island sanctuaries, geothermal action and a kaleidoscope of history and culture characterise New Zealand’s North Island. Warmer temperatures – especially in the far North - are complemented by miles of picture-perfect coastline, and hundreds of renowned vineyards make for beautiful wine and food experiences. Maori culture is rich and strongly present in many parts of the North Island, adding a colourful element to the spectacular landscapes. A small group tour of New Zealand’s North Island is one of the best ways to soak up the unique landscapes and friendly way of life.
A geothermal wonderland
The centre of the North Island sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Here, volcanoes rise like sentinels out of the landscapes and geysers shoot sky-high into the sky. Colourful sulphur terraces and bubbling mud pools showcase the earth’s forces – here, the natural forces that shaped New Zealand are most evident. New Zealand’s only active marine volcano – White Island – is found just offshore from Tauranga; on a clear day it can often be seen from Rotorua or the mountains of the Central Plateau. Naturally heated hot pools are found throughout this part of the country, the perfect way to relax weary bodies at the end of a long day exploring.
Friendly Maori Culture
Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand and make up 14% of our population. Their culture, history and traditions are central to the Kiwi way of life. In many parts of the North Island, Maori culture is rich and thriving – Rotorua, the East Cape and the Far North have strong Maori cultural influences. There are towns in the North Island that haven’t changed for hundreds of years – Maori locals still live off the land, ride horseback and love catching a feed of fish for dinner. To catch a glimpse of their fascinating traditions and way of life, head to an authentic Maori hangi (earth oven) and show – Rotorua is home to some of the best. Through traditional dance, song and crafts you’ll learn more about their legends and their history, and the hangi-cooked feast at the end of the night is a real highlight.
Endless, pristine coastline teeming with marine life
The North Island is home to thousands of kilometres of perfect, pristine coastline. North of Auckland, the Bay of Islands offers perfect beaches, untouched islands and incredible marine life – dolphins, whales and orcas frequent these waters because of the abundance of food here. Spotting these wildly beautiful creatures up close on a boat cruise is a definite holiday highlight. Further south, the Coromandel is a peninsula known for its beautiful coastline and fascinating gold mining and kauri logging history. The West Coast of the island is distinctly different to the east – wild waves, black sand and stunning rock formations make for a uniquely different beach-going experience. Beaches around the Bay of Plenty and the East Cape are stunning and are off the tourist trail – go out of your way to visit them, and chances are you have them all to yourself.
Inspired to explore New Zealand’s North Island? Consider a small group tour with MoaTrek. From the geothermal beauty of Rotorua to the Maori culture found in Eastland and the perfect beaches of the Coromandel, our tours showcase the very best of New Zealand’s North Island. Find out more here or contact us now.