13 Best Attractions in New Zealand’s North Island according to Lonely Planet
13. Hawke’s Bay Wine Country
Hawke’s Bay is a region of New Zealand, located on the east coast of the country’s North Island. Hawke’s Bay is recognised on the world stage for its award-winning wines. The regional council sits in both the cities of Napier and Hastings. It derives from Hawke Bay which was named by Captain James Cook in honour of Admiral Edward Hawke who decisively defeated the French at the Battle of Quiberon Bay.
12. Napier Art Deco
Napier is a popular tourist city, with a unique concentration of 1930s Art Deco architecture, built after much of the city was razed in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake. It also has one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the country, a statue on Marine Parade called Pania of the Reef.
11. Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel Peninsula is on the north-eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand. There are fabulous golden and white sand beaches with magnificent coastal scenery and a rugged, forest cloaked interior waiting to be explored. This peninsula separates the Hauraki Gulf and coasts around Auckland from the Bay of Plenty.
10. Auckland’s Pacific Island Culture
Welcome to ‘The Big Taro’, where around 180,000 residents of Polynesian descent make Auckland the capital of the South Pacific. The influence of Pacific Islanders from Samoa, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Fiji, Tokelau and Tuvalu is evident throughout Auckland. On the sports field, the city’s professional teams showcase the best of Polynesian power, especially the NZ Warriors Rugby League team.
9. Maori Culture
New Zealand’s indigenous Maori culture is both accessible and engaging: join in a haka; chow down at a traditional hangi (Maori feast cooked in the ground), carve a pendant from bone or pounamu (jade), learn some Maori language, or check out an authentic cultural performance with song, dance, legends, arts and crafts.
Wellington is the capital and third largest city of New Zealand. The Windy City is on the foreshore of Wellington Harbour and ringed by hills, providing the scenic home of many of New Zealand’s national arts and cultural attractions. Wellington offers a blend of culture, heritage, fine food and coffee, together with lively arts and entertainment.
Rugby Union is New Zealand’s national game and governing sporting preoccupation. If your timing’s good you might catch the revered national team (and reigning world champions), the All Blacks, in action. Watch some kids chasing a ball around a suburban field on a Saturday morning, or yell along with the locals in a small-town pub as the big men collide on the big screen.
6. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
A 19.4km walk across the volcanic landscape of Mount Tongariro, taking 6 to 8 hours. Said by some to be the best one-day walk in the world. Steep climbs, great views and colourful lakes. The track reopened in May 2013 after being closed by eruptions in 2012.
5. Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is an historic area and very popular tourist destination in the Northland region of the North Island of New Zealand. This region of New Zealand is rich in history and a fantastic example of why New Zealand has much to offer the traveller. This area of New Zealand is where the first missionaries settled in the early nineteenth century.
4. Geothermal Rotorua
Rotorua is known as the thermal wonderland of New Zealand. Its hot springs and geysers have attracted tourists for over a hundred years. Rotorua is built over a geothermal hot spot. There are numerous natural vents, hot pools and other geothermal features in and around the city. Many of these are in parks and reserves.
3. Waitomo Caves
The world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves are one of New Zealand’s top tourist attractions, located just outside the Waitomo Village, easy to find and within easy reach of all local accommodation. It is home to the famous Waitomo glowworms, tiny creatures that radiate their luminescent light.
2. Urban Auckland
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, with a population of over 1.5 million. It is in the northern half of the North Island, on a narrow isthmus of land that joins the Northland peninsula to the rest of the island. Auckland is often called the “City of Sails” for the large number of yachts that grace the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf. It could also be called the “City of Volcanoes”.
1. Hauraki Gulf
The Hauraki Gulf is a coastal feature of the North Island of New Zealand. It has an area of 4000 km2, and lies between the Auckland Region, the Hauraki Plains, the Coromandel Peninsula and Great Barrier Island, which surround it in anticlockwise order. Most of the gulf is part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.