New Zealand is divided into 28 regions, and each region offers something unique. Below, we briefly summarize the regions of the North Island.
Head out of Auckland heading North and you soon enter the warmest and most northern part, Northland. Beautiful beaches are in abundance, as well as stunning bays (Matai & Taupo Bays are two amazing places). While Paihia and Russell are deservedly two tourism hot spots, the beauty of this area can be discovered and enjoyed in so many other places.
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. It has around 1.4 million people who live here. Due to its location on what is known as an isthmus, the city is spread out over a large area and it can feel like a long drive to make your way from one end of the city to the other. Surrounded by water and with fantastic nightlife (and day life!), there is plenty to explore, from the volcanoes and parks to the rugged west coast beaches.
The Coromandel is the holiday home destination of Aucklanders and noticeably increases in population each weekend of the summer. With small townships like Whangamata, Waihi Beach, Tairua, Hahei, Cooks Beach, and Whitianga, you could spend hours exploring the coastline and enjoying the hospitality of these towns.
4. Bay of Plenty
Tauranga is a coastal city, a short drive from Mount Maunganui. The Mount as the locals call it is the perfect place to walk on the beach, trek up the Mountain, soak in the saltwater hot pools, and finish up with ice cream at the delicious Copenhagen Cones.
Hobbiton and the Waitomo Caves are located here, as well as plenty of cows. The lush green countryside provides fantastic land for dairy farming. Raglan is well worth a visit, you will find there a surfy hot spot is just 40 minutes from Hamilton.
Rotorua is one of the most popular destinations in the country, and with good reason. You could find yourself lugging in the morning, walking through mud pools in the afternoon, and watching a cultural performance in the evening.
The East Cape of the North Island is one of our gets away from it all parts of the country. If you are driving around the Cape, it is common to feel like you are isolated and away from it all. Gisborne or Gizzy is the largest town in the area and a perfect place to stock up on provisions before you drive around the Cape.
Taupo township is located on the lakefront and on a clear day, the view of the mountains is spectacular. Taupo is a mini adventure capital with bungy jumping, skydiving, and jet boating all available.
9. Mt Ruapehu
Mt Ruapehu is approximately one-hour drive from Taupo. It is one of three beautiful volcanoes located in the Tongariro National Park. The Tongariro Crossing is one of the most popular walks in the world. The small and lively township of Ohakune is located on the South side of the mountain.
Mt Taranaki is a spectacular Mt Fuji-shaped cone that dominates the scenery on a clear day in this region. New Plymouth is a city that has developed world-class arts and outdoor facilities over the past two decades. Check out the 12 km Coastal Walkway and the newly opened Len Lye Center.
11. Hawke’s Bay
The fruit bowl of the North Island, Hawke’s Bays, grows masses of apples and stone fruit over the summer and autumn months. Napier is the Art Deco capital of New Zealand due to an Earthquake rebuild that took place in the 1930s.
The Whanganui river winds its way through this small city. Check out Kowhai Park with its array of fun nursery rhymes turned playground entertainment. Virginia Lake at the top of Saint John’s Hill is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy a 25-minute walk around the lake.
The small town of Bulls is an entertaining stop-off, full of small boutique shops and fun signs that incorporate the word ‘bull’ into it. You will drive past Ohakea Airforce base before heading along the long straight stretch of road known as the Himitangi Straight.
The Wairarapa contains a number of small towns that are surrounded by farming countries and a mountain range. Greytown and Martinborough are particularly enjoyed by visitors to the region, while to get off the beaten track, an explore the Southern most part of the North Island, Cape Palliser lighthouse, should be on the agenda.
Wellington is a compact capital city that has its fair share of hipsters going on. You are spoiled for choice with eateries located both centrally and on the coast. You could pick up a great coffee and walk along the rocks to share your latte with a view of seals and the South Island.