From the volcanic cone shaped mountains to picturesque golden beaches, geothermal wonders, and just as many Lord of the Rings-inspired locations, factor some of these fabulous attractions into your North Island itinerary.
Rocky outcrops are the first sign that another world awaits below Waitomo, but the big reveal is almost beyond belief. This amazing maze of limestone caves – lined with stalagmites, stalactites, and galaxies of glowworms – can be explored on a guided walk or boat tour, or a thrilling Black Water Rafting trip through subterranean waterways.
New Zealand's quirky little capital has an outstanding foodie scene.
Stroll down Hannah's Laneway to taste Wellington-made artisanal peanut butter at Fix and Fogg(opens in new window), locally-famous salted caramel cookies at Leeds Street Bakery(opens in new window), or seasonal dishes paired with organic wines at Shepherd(opens in new window).
On the beverage front, Wellington's many cafes take their coffee seriously. Talented baristas, locally roasted beans and a deep pride in coffee culture means great coffee is easy to come by.
Sample the products of a thriving craft beer scene at spots like Garage Project(opens in new window) in the bohemian Aro Valley.
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 might 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 extremety 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.
Hokianga Harbour, located an hour's drive west of Kerikeri and the Bay of Islands, is steeped in history and offers an interesting mix of activities for all. Visit the lush Waipoua Forest to stand face to face with Tane Mahuta – the world’s largest Kauri tree. For a truely magical experience, embark on a tour with Footprints Waipoua to learn from a local storyteller who will guide you into the ancient kauri forest at twilight.
For those who enjoy getting their heart rates up, explore the harbour at high spread on a jet ski safari tour(opens in new window). And make sure you don't leave Hokianga without having the best fish and chips in the area, at the Opononi Takeaway – try the famous Opo Burger for a real treat.
The Coromandel is famous for its golden beaches. The most famous is Cathedral Cove, which features a majestic limestone archway.
You can reach this stunning beach via a short coastal walk, on a kayak trip, or by taking a scenic cruise.
Hot Water Beach, only a short drive from Cathedral Cove, is another must-see.
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. 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. More about Hobbiton™ Movie Set Tour(opens in new window).
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. 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.
Another great spot for snorkelling is at Goat Island Marine Reserve, located near the Auckland town of Leigh. Go on a glass bottom boat tour(opens in new window) or to get an even closer look, kayaks, wetsuits and snorkel gear are available for hire at the beach.
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).
With the vast expanse of Lake Taupō, fed by the mighty Waikato River, the Taupō region has water - and waterfalls - in abundance.
Huka Falls is a thunderous fall where nearly a quarter of a million litres of water bursts through a natural gorge. The giant torrent of blue water is a testament to the power of nature. 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, close enough to the base of the falls that you will feel spray on your face.
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.
Rotorua's naturally hot and therapeutic waters are perfect for relaxation, health, wellness and beauty.
Enjoy a natural hot pool and some of the world's best spa facilities. Delight in a massage at the lakeside Polynesian Spa(opens in new window), bathe in healing mud at Hell’s Gate(opens in new window), or discover thermal pools hidden amongst the forest at Kerosene Creek or Lake Tarawera’s Hot Water Beach.