Golden and black volcanic sand beaches line the coasts of the North Island and geothermal wonders weave their way around lush native forests. Make sure to add these top experiences to your wish list when travelling through the North Island.
Another world awaits below Waitomo, and the big reveal is almost beyond belief. Derived from a combination of Māori words, 'wai' translates as water and 'tomo' as entrance or hole, this aptly named underground world is made up of a maze of limestone caves – lined with stalagmites, stalactites, and galaxies of glowworms. Explore the caves on a guided walk or boat tour or a thrilling Black Water Rafting trip through subterranean waterways.
The Pouakai Crossing(opens in new window) is a 19-kilometre trail that takes in the highlights of Egmont National Park. Winding across the slopes of the mighty Mount Taranaki, this track is one of the best full-day hikes in the North Island. You'll get spectacular views, particularly at the picturesque Pouakai tarns. On a clear, calm day, these small alpine pools reflect the mountain perfectly, offering unmissable photo opportunities.
Few road trips are as magical as Northland's Twin Coast Highway, which traces a seemingly endless procession of beautiful beaches and harbours, and reaches the remote extremity of Cape Reinga. Also known as Te Rerenga Wairua, this unforgettable place is where spirits are said to leap off on their final journey, across the swirling waters where two oceans meet.
Middle‑earth™ comes to life in the lush, green Waikato countryside where scenes from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit™ trilogies were filmed. Go on the Hobbiton™ Movie Set Tour(opens in new window) and put yourself in the picture on a spellbinding tour of the permanent movie set with its Hobbit holes, Party Tree, and the Green Dragon Inn where you can make merry with a pint of Southfarthing ale.
Beneath the water around the Poor Knights Islands lie caves, arches, cliffs and tunnels, creating a submarine playground to explore. The unique biodiversity of this marine reserve make it an excellent diving or snorkelling location. Jacques Cousteau famously rated the Poor Knights Islands as one of the top 10 dive spots in the world.
On the boat trip out to the islands, located 23 kilometres off the Tutukaka Coast in Northland, you might spot dolphins, orca, or Bryde's whales.
Just a short ferry ride away from Auckland, you will find the vineyards, olive groves and white sandy beaches of Waiheke Island.
Choose to explore with a wine tour or go at your own pace by hiring a bike or a scooter. Make sure you visit famous vineyards such as Stonyridge(opens in new window) and Mudbrick(opens in new window).
Fed by the mighty Waikato River, Lake Taupō and the Taupō region is abundant with water and waterfalls. Huka Falls is a thunderous fall where nearly a quarter of a million litres of water bursts through a natural gorge. You can visit Huka Falls via a short walking track to a viewing platform, or for an added thrill take a jet boat ride up the river. Other spectacular falls in Taupō include Otupoto Falls, where the water comes out of a cliff and falls straight into Lake Taupō, and Tieke Falls, which you can reach via the popular Waihaha River Cycle Trail(opens in new window).
Street after street of stunning and beautifully-restored Art Deco buildings have made Napier famous for being one of the most complete collections of Art Deco buildings in the world. Learn more about the fascinating history of Napier’s pre and post-earthquake buildings with a 2-hour walking tour, or let experienced guides chauffeur you in a vintage car an Art Deco Vintage car tour(opens in new window).
Napier is also home to many wineries including the country's oldest winery, Mission Estate Winery(opens in new window). Go on a wine tasting tour and visit some of the greats such as Church Road Winery(opens in new window), Te Mata Estate(opens in new window) and Craggy Range(opens in new window).