About the North Island
Although Wellington is the capital, Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and its main gateway. Known as the ‘City of Sails’, its lively waterfront area and huge choice of cafés, bars and restaurants are popular with locals and visitors alike. Towering above the shops and eateries stands the Sky Tower, the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
By contrast, three hours north, is the stunningly beautiful Bay of Islands, an area seeped in Maori culture. To the south are the rainforests, deserted beaches and small country towns of the Coromandel Peninsula leading around to the fruit orchards and holiday resorts of New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty.
In the scenic central region, the caves of Waitomo, the steaming geysers and the bubbling mud pools around Rotorua are natural phenomena not to be missed. Nearby is magical Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, a walker’s paradise and home to North Island’s highest mountain.
On the east coast is Hawkes Bay and the delightful art deco town of Napier. The slopes around here are scattered with vineyards, producing some of the country’s finest wine.
The historical harbourside city of Wellington on the island’s southern tip has some fine museums and galleries and is the seat of national government. Take the cable car to the botanical gardens to watch the ferries head out across the Cook Straight to South Island.