Discover some of North Island’s most unique features. Start with Auckland, a buzzing metropolis with beautiful vineyards, black sand beaches and exciting harbour activities. Then travel to Rotorua - a place steaming with excitement because the geothermal attractions never stop. And The Coromandel is home to beautiful coves, a stunning coastline and the famous Hot Water Beach.
Begin your New Zealand holiday by immersing yourself in Auckland’s rich arts scene, Maori culture and history at Auckland Art Gallery and the Auckland Museum. Then indulge in retail therapy at a bustling central city precinct. Next day, drive to Auckland’s wind-swept west coast black sand beaches (Piha, Muriwai, Karekare and Bethells’s to name a few). Great for surfers, they are also an ideal spot for picnics, relaxing walks and swims. If you don’t want to drive, tour operators offer trips to Piha and Muriwai.
The ultimate island retreat, Waiheke is a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland. Stunning views, beaches, great food and world-class wineries have earned it a spot on Lonely Planet’s top travel destinations for 2016. Enjoy wine tasting at one of the many vineyards – tours are also easily available. Most vineyards boast stunning onsite restaurants where you can sample the local cuisine. Explore the island’s galleries and boutiques before settling on a sandy beach – you’ll be spoilt for choice!
Head south to Rotorua, a geothermal wonderland where you can experience the best of the Maori world and soak in natural hot springs. Places such as Te Puia offer cultural experiences that combine dramatic Maori performances (including the haka) with delicious Maori food and arts. It is also a geothermal reserve and home to the famous Pohutu Geyser. Wrap up your day by soaking in a steaming mineral pool while taking in glorious views or enjoying a wide range of treatments at one of the city’s many health spas.
Spend the day exploring the majestic Mount Tarawera. Revered by the local Maori, it is infamous for its violent eruption in 1886, which destroyed the legendary Pink and White Terraces, and created the youngest geothermal valley of Waimangu. The crater of Mount Tarawera can be explored with a guided walk or a scenic flight. There are a number of tracks surrounding Lake Tarawera, located at the foothill of the mountain, which are also worth exploring.
Journey north to the coastal paradise of The Coromandel. Cloaked in native rainforest with dazzling white sand beaches and picturesque coves, it a favourite holiday spot with locals and visitors alike. Cathedral Cove is a popular attraction whose naturally-formed rock arch demands photographic attention. A kayak or boat trip is a great way to explore this region’s volcanic coastline and magnificent sea caves.
Head down to Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your own natural spa. You will need to time your visit carefully, as you need to be at Hot Water Beach within two hours of low tide to access the naturally heated water. If you have a spade or shovel, bring it with you. Otherwise you can hire one from the local cafes. Rejuvenated, take the scenic coastal route north to Auckland. Grand Pacific Ocean views guaranteed!