Geyser "Lady Knox" in Rotorua
The North Island or "Te Ika-a-Maui" in Maori language which means "the fish of Maui" is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, the second being the South Island. Slightly smaller than the southern one, the North Island hosts two large agglomerations that are Auckland in the north (1,300,000 inhabitants) and Wellington in the south (180,000 inhabitants). This last one is also the capital of the country. Between these two cities, you will find a set of natural wonders, sublime and varied landscapes to take your breath away. It's very difficult to resist to the beauty of the Comorandel Peninsula or of Egmont National Park and its fabulous summit Mount Taranaki which overlooks the sea and the city of New Plymouth, without forgeting the touristic "Tongariro National Park "The volcanic activities of Rotorua, the wonderful "Waitomo Caves"or the Northland with the tempestuous" Cape Reinga "and the tranquil" Bay of Islands". The rich Maori culture is omnipresent in many parts of the North Island and is fairly easy to discover. Travel through its stunning countryside, discover its fascinating coastline and world-renowned mountains that make the North Island an incredible destination to rekindle the adventurer in every one of us.
The Coromandel Peninsula is one of New Zealand's most popular place and one of the most appreciate destinations in the North Island. Located just 1h30 from Auckland, this great peninsula extends into the Pacific Ocean with in the west the golf of Haoraki, the "first of thames" and the immense peninsula of Northland. This piece of land, 85 km long and 40 km wide, offers many activities and attractions. You will find on this rustic peninsula, preserved and relaxed, a warm and calm atmosphere. Discover the magnificent beach of "Cathedral Beach" an extraordinary place, almost unreal, or canoe through the many islets hidden around the village of Hahei. Not to mention the famous "Hot Water Beach" where many locals and tourists dig the sand at low tide in search of hot springs. The tip of the peninsula is getting wild and you should walk or take a 4x4 to explore this part of the peninsula. On the west coast, the road runs along the "First of Thames". In the heart of the peninsula are magnificent mountains hidden in the lush tropical forest of Coromandel Forest Park. Discover Karangahake, formerly exploited for the gold mines, it makes today the happiness of the travelers. Karangahake is a very pretty gorge where crashes the Ohinemuri River. This peninsula is full of small organic farmers and local artisans who also make the charm of "Coromandel". The fine sandy beaches, the magnificent forests and the steep mountains make the Coromandel Peninsula a splendid place sublimated by the welcome of the New Zealanders as warm as they are benevolent.
First National Park created in New Zealand and the fourth in the world, Tongariro National Park is located in the heart of the North Island, 330 km south of Auckland and 320 km north of Wellington. This jewel protected by UNESCO includes the Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro volcanoes on more than 795.98 km2. To discover the beautiful scenery of Tongariro National Park, the easiest way is to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (19.4 km) that crosses most of the park. You should know that the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is not a loop. The first 6 kilometers of walking leading up to Soda Spring are fairly easy through fairly poor vegetation and volcanic rocks. From there a slight climb of two kilometers will take you to South Crater. This last one is the access point to reach the summit of the volcano Ngauruhae (2.291 m / 3h Return trip) and Volcano Tongariro (1,978 m / 1h30 round trip). Incredible and even spectacular views are offered to you along this hike where pebbles and volcanic sand make the paths slippery on the steep slopes. The highest point of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is the Red Crater which gives sublime views of this desolate landscape of almost dreamlike life as well as the 3 Emerald lakes with captivating colors. Despite the smell of sulfur, many hikers take their lunch break at the feet of the latter as they are generally well sheltered from the wind. The last 10 kilometers are made on a slope of 1,000 m which allows to contemplate the beauty of Lake Taupo before arriving in the forest then in the parking. Note that it is necessary to pay attention to climatic conditions before starting the walk! Unfortunately this hike is a victim of its success and you will have a high chance of being in Indian row during the summer season in this ultra-tourist walk. We also advise you to hike the "Taranaki Falls" which is a 6 km loop to explore the park from another angle and see, as its name suggests, the beautiful Taranaki waterfall. Tongariro National Park, whose peaks are mostly snow-covered, offers an almost lunar volcanic landscape that makes this place an extraordinary site, out of time. Only hikers can discover these depths of the North Island!
Tongariro Alpine Crossing / Taupo Lac
Nicknamed the "sulfurous" city because of the hydrogen sulfur that spreads in the air, Rotorua (65,000 inhabitants) remains an unmistakable place of New Zealand. Located in the Bay of Plenty region, it is characterized by an exceptional geothermal activity, colorful lakes, mountains and forests and the peaceful Rotorua Lake. A fascinating Maori culture place, ancestral land of "Te Arawa", a people who came to the region more than 600 years ago. You will find many attractions leading to the discovery of their culture. However, we often come here to observe the turbulent, creative forces of New Zealand. The underground activity goes up to the streets of the city. Many hot springs and bubbling mud ponds are hiding in the surrounding area. The easiest and most sublime way to discover this volcanic activity is to go to the huge geothermal park of Wai-O-Tapu ("Sacred Water" in Maori) located 25 minutes away from Rotorua. There is the famous "Champagne pool", as wide as deep with its 65 meters in diameter. It owes its name to the bubbles which rise to the surface. The green color of the water at 75 °C indicates the presence of Arsenic. The orange edges consist of deposits of antimony and the white soil is composed of silica. This park hides natural beauties as fabulous as dangerous. A few minutes by car from the park is the Geyse called "Lady Knox" which starts every day at 10.15 am with a little help from the employees of the park. Far from being an intimate moment with nature this is still pretty impressive! If you have time to explore the Rotorua region in more detail, go into the RedWood Forest with its 60 km of mountain bike trail or visit the interesting Rotorua museum.
No stay on the North Island would be complete without a stopover in the amazing and remarkable area of Rotorua.
This fabulous almost symmetrical mountain is on the west coast of the island, overlooking the city of New Plymouth. For some years the official name of the mountain is "Mount Taranaki" or "Mount Egmont". Taranki being the original Maori name of the mountain. This sublime mountain hypnotizes the eyes of all travelers and locals. It was declared National Park in 1900. This National Park is the second in New Zealand after its neighbor the Tongariro National Park. The park and its 34,170 hectares encompass a beautiful, temperat humide forest with beautiful hidden waterfalls and exciting wildlife. Mount Taranaki is an ancient sleeping volcano whose last eruption dates back to 1775. The main walk of the park is Mount Taranaki summit Track (8-10h) which allows to climb to its summit. Do not take this walk lightly but once up, an exceptional view is offered to you on the Tasman Sea, New Plymouth, the New Zealand countryside and in the distance the Tongariro National Park! You will find all kinds of walks ranging from the treck of several days like the loop of Poukakoi, circuit, or even the small stroll of a few minute, If you have time go up the Dawson Fall. More than a mundane mountain, Mount Taranaki and in general the Egmon National Park are symbols of New Zealand that will fascinate travelers.
Mount Taranaki and New Plymouth
Mont Taranaki Summit Track
Bay of Islands
Bay of Islands
Dolphins in the bay
This postcard-like nommed "Bay of Island" is located 260 km north of Auckland on the east coast of Northland. Difficult to resist the beauty of these 144 charming islands, delicately laid on a turquoise blue sea, with sublime creeks and divine fine sandy beaches. While
some of these islands have been transformed into private property, most of the remainder remain intact and uninhabited. Many
New Zealanders come here on holiday or to buy a second home! The South Tropical climate and the sunshine make it a very attractive area of New
Zealand. Despite its incredible popularity and major historical interest, the Bay of island has remained authentic.
Several charming villages are to be noted in this magnificent bay such as Russel or the very exotic Pahia. Russel is a small coastal town with a clear view of
the bay. Once a smuggler's landmark, it has become a romantic village. The Anglican church of 1836 is one of the few buildings to have survived the
centuries. By visiting his cemetery you will notice the impact of bullets on the gravestones! The tourist village of Pahia, very lively during the summer season, has 3 sandy beaches (Horotutu, Main Beach and
Teti). The small town of Waitongi
counts barely 800 inhabitants and hosts an immense crowd each year during the national holiday. It was here that the Treaty of Waitongi, the
founding act of New Zealand, was signed on February 6, 1840. Try to do a little cruise on the bay. Most often the tours are made in
Ferries with a stopover in Urupukapuka, one of the biggest islands of the bay endowed with an immense beach of fine sand.
Cape Brett is at the tip of the peninsula. Maori and Westerners met for the first time and coincidence or not, it is also here that the Polynesian ancestors of the Maoris landed. In the distance from Cape Brett lies the island of Piercy. This colossal rock emerging from the water is inaccessible to man. There is an arch carved into the rock by the erosion so-called "Hole in the Rock". In the waters of "Deep Water" lies the wreck of the "Canterbury". In 2007 the New Zealand government voluntarily sank a Royal Navy frigate to create an artificial reef that today has become the attraction of divers. It is also possible to visit the infamous "Raimbow Warrior" in the bay of Mataury. The single attack perpetuated by France in New Zealand has long poisoned relations between the two states. A place as beautiful as charged with history, one of the favorite playgrounds of New Zealanders. The turquoise waters, the permanent sun and the many creeks will make you want to stay longer!
Located at the southern end of the North Island, nestled between a sparkling harbor and
green hills, Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. It is
the gateway to the South Island. With its 180,000 inhabitants it is the third largest city of New Zealand behind Auckland and Christchurch. In good capital, Wellington welcomes Parliament and ministries, as well as luxurious boutiques and lively cafés. It offers a vibrant nightlife, including
professional theater, live concerts, humorous shows and dance performances.
Not to mention beautiful green spaces and museums, including the excellent and gigantic "Te Papa Tongarewa" where you will discover the whole history of the country. Wellington is a capital with a lot of style, culture, dynamism, and art.
You will find many attractions like the Wellington Cable Car, an iconic cable car, taking you to the Carter Observatory for a virtual journey through the stars; Or enjoy Mount Victoria for a 360 degree panoramic view of the city as well as the harbor and admire the sunset leaving sublime colors on the capital.
Wellington is known for being compact and full of character, the gusts that sweep across the strait have the unfortunate tendency to return umbrellas. However, the city enjoys a mild and pleasant oceanic climate all year round. Whether you want to delve into history or enjoy yourself, Wellington is a capital with a lot of style. Enjoy!
litghroom of cape Reinga
Cape Reinga, 100 km long, is located at the north end of the country on the northwestern tip of the Aupour Peninsula. It is on the provisional list of UNESCO. Impregnated with a pioneering history and a Maori legend, the region has a great spiritual significance for the Maori as a place of departure for souls. What particularly attracts travelers is seeing the encounter of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean which causes a dramatic swirl of currents. On the tip of the Cape there is a lighthouse offering an exceptional panoramic view of the cliffs and the rock formations coming out of the ocean. On your way along the endless Ninety Mile Beach known for its spectacular sunsets and boasting as one of the best surfing spots in the world, Ninety Mile Beach is an almost endless paradise. Come enjoy the pristine beaches to swim, snorkel, take the time to enjoy the best fishing waters of New Zealand or go hiking in the area of Cape Reinga.
Located south of the city of Hamilton in the renowned King Country, the Waitomo Caves are an important part of the program of your trip.
The caves were carved by subterranean streams across the limestone for thousands of years.
The glow-worm, Arachnocampa lumino-sa, is unique in New Zealand. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their light on these chalk walls. Enjoy this luminous boat display where you will slip silently in boat into the wonders of the cave from glowworm. Admire the ceiling of worm lights similar to a starry night of a magical and spectacular glow. Entering this galaxy, you will immediately discover a serene atmosphere and you will be fascinated and intrigued by these tiny lights that illuminate your path. In these sumptuous cellars there are also stalagmites and stalactites forming a "Cathedral" encrusted with incredible dazzling crystals. The Glowworm cellar being the main one, do not miss the exploration of the caves of Ruakuri, Aranui and Spellbound also surprising. Enjoy walks as well as natural wonders such as the Marokopa Falls and the Mangapohue Chalk Natural Bridge. There is so much to see above the ground below. The Waitomo caves, a popular destination for travellers, remains a magical and unforgettable place.
Leave the city and enter into a contemporary style of rural life that fully embraces the pleasures of good wines and good food. Wairarapa is about an hour and a half drive north of Wellington. The area is bordered by the rugged mountains of Tarara to the west and the wild coast of the Pacific Ocean to the east. Around Martinborough, wine village famous for its award-winning Pinot Noir, you will discover a multitude of welcoming vineyards and taste excellent wines. Visit also Greytown, New Zealand's first inland historic city, with its colonial character and well-preserved wooden Victorian buildings, an ideal place to savor all the flavors of Wairarapa. Located in the heart of an ancient forest, Mount Bruce National Wildlife is a conservation center that integrates captive breeding for threatened bird species. Discover the largest city in Wairarapa, Masterton home to many museums and art history, it is also the center of the great annual events, including the international competition of the Golden Shears and the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. Beyond Masterton, spectacular scenery available to you such as Castle Point beach, with a picturesque lighthouse that looks the sea towards Antarctica. Cape Palliser is the southernmost point of the North Island. Take your camera, a picnic and take the Pinnacles Putangirua Scenic Reserve to see some spectacular rock formations. Or climb the 250 steps of the lighthouse of Cape Palliser where you will see the largest colony of fur seals of the North Island. Known for its warm and languid summers, the Wairarapa is a refined, relaxing place, far from the pressures of urban life.
Located north-west of the North Island, Auckland is the most populous city in New Zealand. With over 1.4 million inhabitants, the greater Auckland region includes many cities, bays and varied landscapes. Nestled between two enormous ports and dotted with extinct volcanic cones, the center of Auckland is known for being a cosmopolitan place with its incredible artistic and cultural scene, bordered by many trendy restaurants and bars located on the waterfront. Main Street of Auckland, Queen Street is the hub of the city center, with an abundance of shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes. Discover the lively and entertaining nightlife of this street where you will find many activities such as concerts, international theaters, street shows ... There is plenty things to do! Looking for thrills, discover the Sky Tower, located in the heart of Auckland, with over 320 meters high from which it is possible to do a bungee jump and a to leave an unique sensation. A few kilometers from the city center, explore the islands of the Gulf of Hauraki by ferry or boat, stroll along the forest trails of Waitakere Ranges, or follow the wine roads and enjoy the relaxing pleasures of urban life, near the cities of Mission Bay, Kohimarama, Takapuna or Milford. New Zealand's largest transit center, Auckland is steadily increasing over the years due to its many attractions, it will seduce you with all its cultural diversity as well as its New Zealand ambiance.
Auckland / Tony Smith Photography