1. Bay of Islands
It is a nice place to be very up north at the North Island. The artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser lived here as well as many other expats. It’s not just natural attractions that are on offer: History hangs here. The site of the earliest settlements of both Maori and Europeans, Northland is unquestionably the birthplace of the nation. Stay in a backpacker or hotel in Paihia and you are right in the middle of the Bay of Islands.
2. Cape Reinga
Maori consider Cape Reinga the jumping-off point for souls as they depart on the journey to their spiritual homeland. But not only that. It is just a wonderful place on our planet where you can even enjoy sand boarding from high dunes and racing along the legendary Ninety Mile Beach.
3. Coromandel Peninsula
I just love this place on earth. It is only about 2 hours drive from Auckland. Thinking about Cathedral Cove, New Chum’s Beach and Hot Water Beach, which are places you MUST visit. There you find some of the North Island’s best white-sand beaches and picturesque stony bays which have long been a refuge for alternative lifestylers. And Coromandel Town is a real jewel.
I do consider Napier as my favorite town on the North Island. It is a charismatic and sunny city with the air of an affluent English seaside resort. After the terrible 1931 earthquake it was rebuilt in the popular architectural styles of the time, considered now as the Art Deco capital of the world with an annual Art Deco festival. Don’t miss it!
35 percent of the population is Maori. Rotorua is one of the most touristed spots on the North Island. The city is not too appealing but where else can you see a 30 meters geothermal geyser? Indeed, Rotorua’s sulphur-rich airs is New Zealand’s most dynamic thermal area, home to spurting geysers, steaming hot springs and exploding mud pools. 2 or 3 days there are enough to get it all.
This place has a postcard-perfect setting on the shores of lake Taupo. There is an abundance of activities on offer. Famous for hiking is the Tongariro National Park with its 3 volcanic peaks and stunning walks. Taupo itself has a cute museum and a pleasant lake side. On a boat ride you can discover the Maori Rock Carvings.
7. Waitomo Caves
You like caves or dark tunnels? If yes, that’s the place for you. There are 300-plus mapped caves in the area. The 3 main caves are Glowworm, Ruakuri and Aranui. I visited Ruakuri with impressive stalactites and stalagmites and a large cavern known as the Cathedral. And you see many glowworms in the caves. The larva glowworm has luminescent organs that produce a soft greenish light. It is kind of magic. They are endemic for New Zealand. Don’t miss the experience!
Well, windy and rainy Wellington. But I like New Zealand’s capital city. Why? Because of its great art scene, the wonderful museums (don’t miss Te Papa with its amazing architecture!) and of course, its parliamentary complex, the Beehive. Welly has a great waterfront for strolling along and a good vibe. It is definitely worth a visit.
Recommendation: I travelled about 6.500 Kilometers around New Zealand in a car from Go Rentals. They have great rates. More Info here!