The north island of New Zealand can often be overlooked. It’s better looking big sister steals away most of the glory with her huge mountain ranges, capped with snow and framing almost every photograph. In comparison the top side of NZ can seem a little less exciting, a bit more flat chested one may say.
I’ve lost count of the times people seem to have tagged on a visit north as almost an afterthought to their trip and, honestly, that’s a damn shame. What with marrying a proud North islander it was this part of New Zealand that I first encountered and fell in love with; although I did go a bit mountain crazy this year, if pressed I couldn’t choose a favourite.
So here’s why I love New Zealand’s North island, and why you should too.
Amazing Beaches – everywhere!
It’s hard to believe that New Zealand is home to so many perfect looking beaches. I honestly didn’t expect it! But everywhere we explored I came across white sand and blue water that had me thinking we’d accidentally hopped off the plane in Jamaica. And did I mention they were always totally empty? Plus there is the black sand and surf of Raglan and hot water beach, where a well placed spring means you can dig your own hot tub. Awesome!
You can explore the Waitomo Caves
When I first heard about the glow worm filled caves of Waitomo I knew it would be high on my list of must do’s, and it did not disappoint. Walking through caverns, using only the light from the thousands of ‘stars’ above us was an experience that genuinely moved me. 10/10 would do again!
It’s where the hobbits live
Visit Matamata and you can pay a nice price for your tour of Hobitton…or of course just drive through the Waikato district that looks like a huge film set created for Frodo. Seriously, on our drives I kept expecting to see some hairy feet poking out of a bush.
Crazy geothermal activity
It was only recently that locals in Rotorua stopped tapping in to the geothermal activity in the area to power their houses. Crazy. Everywhere you go there are ventilation pipes and huge pools of sulphur. Like, literally right next to a road. We even found some new, tiny vents along paths that would someday swallow up the sidewalk. Genuinely incredible to see. And what goes with all of this? That’s right: spas with hot springs baby!
This point is basically me just weeping about the fact that I can’t have some Coromandel seafood right now. The area is famed for it’s scallops and mussels, and the shop that sells smoked seafood is worth a flight in itself. I could very happily spend a few weeks here eating my weight in fish, then washing it down with a nice crisp white wine.
Awesome scuba diving
It might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but New Zealand really does have some world class diving sites. From Poor Knights to the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior there is a huge variety of dives to try. It’s also not unheard of for divers to be visited by dolphins and orcas!
Lake Taupo is extraordinary
Technically it’s a huge volcanic crater that could blow any second, killing us all. But forget about that – Taupo is gorgeous. On clear days you can see all the way to Mount Ngauruhoe, aka Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings series, and the lake is perfect for sailing across. Plus the nearby Huka falls is a waterfall that displays the pure brute force of nature. You could easily spend a few weeks here exploring the various bays, or just a half day to visit the only McDonalds with an actual plane as their restaurant seating area.
Errrr…..the home of L&P!
Easily the best thing though? Visiting Paeroa, the home of the most delicious drink in the world. Mmm.
And guys? This is just scratching the surface. I haven’t covered Wellington, The Bay of Islands, Napier, Gisbourne or even Auckland. The north island of New Zealand is amazing, so please don’t forget it!
What do you think? Do you agree? Is there anything I’ve missed that you loved about the north island?