New Zealand’s North Island

Typically, the South Island gets all the attention as New Zealand’s outdoor playground, but the North Island features sublime forests, rolling green hills, a geothermal playground, mountains and beaches.  Go on a ‘Great Walk,’ take a kayak journey to Cathedral Cove, peek in Hobbit Holes, abseil into a cave, take in the rich Maori culture or sip some of the best wine.  Try ascending the volcanic cones around Auckland for some amazing city views.  Head south to Lake Taupo and you’ll find one of the planet’s biggest volcanic eruptions no a gateway to Tongariro National Park.  It’s easy to see that the North Island is full of adventure.

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Have you heard of the All Blacks?  We’re huge fans of this Kiwi rugby team.  Did you know that their history, as well as New Zealand’s, is steeped with the rich culture of the Maori.  The Maori are the tangata whenua, the indigenous people of New Zealand.  It’s said that their ancestors came to New Zealand 1000 years ago from their dreamy Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki. All across the North Island you’ll find Maori culture permeating from everywhere.  You can go on organized tours in Auckland, Rotorua, and Canterbury.  Experience a traditional Maori welcome with a pressing of noses.  View a traditional Maori mare (tribal meeting grounds), catch cultural performance with traditional Maori song and dance.  If you’re lucky you’ll get to see the haka live!  Just as everyone else, there’s an appreciation for community and food, which you can experience at a hangi, a Maori feast cooked in earth ovens!

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If you’re a foodie or a wine-o (maybe a bit of both?) New Zealand is the place to be.  New Zealand’s cool-climate climate wines- Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and the Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend)- have been receiving awards for decades, and the vineyard restaurants do not disappoint. Spend some time in Hawke’s Bay and enjoy some of the best wines in New Zealand.  You can tour the vineyards by bicycle or hire a chauffeur, both exciting ways to take in sites and flavors.  New Zealand food goes above and beyond fish and chips.  Contemporary New Zealand food is full of diverse and unique ingredients from the Maori and other Southern Pacific cultures as well as the classic traditional kiwi food, creating a distinct Pacific Rim cuisine.  Seafood is all the rage, be ready to indulge yourself in plenty of mussels, lobster, oysters and fresh fish.  Don’t forget about the delicious cheeses and New Zealand’s famous lamb.

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Nature is ever present on both islands.  Connect with wildlife in the bush or in the sea.  There are loads of forests and nature preserves, as well as marine reserves, like Poor Knights Marine Reserve.  Go for a dive and find yourself face to face with all sorts of marine life.

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New Zealand maybe two main islands, but there are many others to explore.  The Bay of Islands is a subtropical micro-region of New Zealand.  Renowned for its stunning beauty and history.  If you love beaches and water sports, you’ll be in paradise.  About a 35-minute drive north of Auckland, you’ll find the 144 islands of Bay of Islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula.  You’ll also find the quant boutique towns of Opu, Paihia, Russel, and Kerikeri along the way.  Take a cruise, charter a yacht, or go sea kayaking.  Once you’re around Tapeka Point, you’ll find an aquatic playground with loads of wildlife.  Keep your eyes open for penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales, gannets and more!  You can also explore walking tracks or set up camp on Urupukapuka Island.

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Don’t forget about Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.  Make sure you stop here and enjoy the shopping, dinging, and natural wonders this metropolitan has to offer.  Just imagine an awesome city where the beach is only half an hour away at most, hiking trails surround you, a sunny climate, and the rhythm of culture and outstanding food abounds.  That’s Auckland.  Oh and don’t forget the Volcanoes.  This region is dotted with 48 volcanic cones, which provide amazing panoramic views of the city and harbour.  Many of these cones are surrounded by lush parks as well.  Make sure you get the chance to visit Waiheke Island while you’re here.  Known as the island of wine, you can enjoy local wine, stay at the fabulous Boat Shed and enjoy its world-renowned cuisine! Click here to read more about a New Zealand honeymoon itinerary featuring Waiheke Island.

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Are you ready to start planning your New Zealand getaway?  Give us a call today at 312-951-8518, or keep your imagination flowing and check out our other unique handcrafted vacations here.