If you’re looking for both adventure and breathtaking scenery on your next holiday, make sure to put New Zealand’s North Island on your travel list. Offering everything from bungy jumping, and geothermal hot pools, to secluded beach caves and active volcanoes, the North Island is home to some truly unique experiences.
To help you plan your road trip through New Zealand’s North Island we’ve put together the 5 spots you can’t miss!
- Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Often described as New Zealand’s greatest day walk, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing will take you on a 19km-journey across unique landforms and volcanic peaks. The stark landscape of Tongariro is scattered with different coloured craters of varying shapes, mountain springs, scoured volcanic rocks, and vividly coloured emerald lakes.
This challenging hike begins 1120m above sea level, climbing the Mangatepōpō Valley to the saddle between Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe. It then passed through the South Crater before climbing again to the Red Crater, the highest point on the crossing at 1886m.
2. Geothermal Wonders, Rotorua
Rotorua is a volcanic wonderland with extraordinary landscapes and incredible geothermal attractions that are rich in Maori history and folklore. Take a journey to Rotorua’s most famous thermal attraction, Hell’s Gate which is a sacred Maori site boasting 50 acres of mud pools, geysers, hot springs and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest hot-water waterfall.
To experience even more Maori culture and hot springs, make sure to visit the Whakarewarewa Village which has been sharing the legacy of the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people for over 200 years. With approximately 500 hot springs, the terraces and pools are known as a Living Thermal Village.
3. Cathedral Cove, Coromandel
Located on the Coromandel Peninsula, Cathedral Cove is arguably one of the most picturesque spots on the North Island. From the north end of the beach, a one-hour walking track will lead you along the cliff top and then descends into the Cove. Here you’ll find a gigantic arched cavern that passes through a white rock headland to join two secluded coves. The cathedral-like arch gives the whole area an air of grandeur. The beach is sandy with shady pohutukawa trees along the foreshore – a perfect place for a picnic and a swim.
Just off the beach at Cathedral Cove you’ll also find a large pinnacle of pumice breccia rock known as ‘Te Hoho’. Over centuries this has been sculpted by wind and water – it now looks like the prow of a large ship steaming into the beach.
4. Hobbiton Movie Set
A must do for movie buffs and The Lord of the Rings Fans, the idyllic village of Hobbiton is the ultimate place to experience Middle‑earth magic at its best. The movie set is based within a picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges and is open 7 days a week for visitors.
Take a guided tour around all 44 Hobbit Holes that make up The Shire – with smoking chimneys and bluebell flowers, you’ll feel as if you have stumbled into Tolkien’s fantasy world. While you’re there, stop in at the Green Dragon Inn, where you can enjoy a light lunch and a handle of sobering thought ale.
5. Taupō adrenaline buzz
If you really want to get your heart racing, then head to the lakeside town of Taupō. Here you’ll find an abundance of adventure including bungy jumping, sky diving, parasailing, jet boating and whitewater rafting. The town also boasts incredible landscapes that encompasses volcanic mountains, discover the mighty Tongariro and Waikatorivers and the largest freshwater lake in Australasia, thundering waterfalls and ancient native bush.
The famous skydiving area allows you to choose your jump from 9,000, 12,000or 15,000 feet within the Taupō dropzone, and will see you taking in the incredible views from coast to coast, over the snow-capped mountains of Tongariro National Park and beautiful Lake Taupō, New Zealand’s largest lake.
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