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New Zealand - North Island

North Island New Zealand is where New Zealand's main population lives. New Zealand's largest city, and main international gateway of Auckland is located here; as well as New Zealand's capital city of Wellington. In the 2006 census the North Island of New Zealand had a population of 3,059,420 or about 75% of New Zealand's total population.

Where to go in New Zealand North Island - The top 15 Places of interest in New Zealand's North Island centre around New Zealand's Maori and European Heritage, as well as the North Island's volcanic centre.

1) Rotorua

New Zealand's Geothermal Centre and Maori Heritage capital, Rotorua is the number one must do place to visit in New Zealand's north Island. With a myriad of different attractions, Rotorua is a place you need to spend at least 3 or 4 nights.

2) Bay of Islands

New Zealand's sub tropical north, where cruising the famous Bay of Island's to see the "Hole in the Rock" and the dolphins; as well as visiting Waitangi National Park, where the famous treaty was signed between Europeans and the Maori are on everyone's list.

3) Coromandel Peninsula

A region that has a beautiful coastline, rocky on the west coast, and interserpsed with many headlands and fine beaches on the east coast, Coromandel Peninsula has a long gold-mining history, and is popular with Aucklanders as a weekend getaway, or overseas visitors on a self-drive itinerary.

4) Waitomo

New Zealand's caving capital, with the famous Waitomo Caves. As an alternative consider visiting Ruakuri caves, not as well-known as it's famous older cousin, but even more spectacular. For those seeking a little bit of adventure, and something different there is a huge range of options from the rambo adventure of Haggas Honking Holes, to abseiling Lost world, and exploring St Benedicts Caves, where you do not even get wet!

5) Auckland

New Zealand's largest city and main gateway for international flights. Often overlooked as just an entry or departure point for New Zealand, Auckland has many attractions including cruises to the Hauraki Gulf, wine growing, black sand beaches, Auckland Harbour and great shopping! A climb to the top of Sky Tower to experience the view is not to be missed.

6) Hawkes Bay

The wine growing centre of New Zealand's north island, Hawkes Bay is famous for food and wine, as well as art deco architecture in Napier. Not to be missed are the weekend farmer markets, where you can stroll around the stalls and buy some of the local produce.

7) Lake Taupo

The largest lake in New Zealand is Lake Taupo, formed by the biggest volcanic eruption to occur in the last 5,000 years.  Lake Taupo is a great place to try your hand at trout fishing in the lake from Taupo, or in one of the many streams and rivers at Turangi. At Taupo there are many geothermal areas to visit, as well as small bars and cafes to relax in.

8) Wellington

The capital of New Zealand, Wellington is a small city built around the harbour, with a vibrant cafe and bar culture, great shopping and dynamic theatre scene. Wellington is where the InterIsland ferries connect, when travelling between North and South Island's.

9) Tongariro National Park

The volcanic peaks of Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro that make up Tongariro National Park were made famous for Mount Doom, Mordor, Orc country, and Ithlien in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, The region is great for hikers with the Tongariro Crossing being a great day walk, or the Tongariro Northern Circuit being the ultimate three day challenge. For skiers there are a great range of trails at Whakapapa or Ohakune Ski Areas in winter.

10) White Island

New Zealand's only active marine volcano, White Island is a little off the beaten track for international visitors. However, the trip is well worth the time. You can take a boat trip from Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty for a 6 hour tour, allowing you to explore the inner volcano, see the colourful fumaroles and steaming crater-lake. Other alternatives are helicopter trips from Tauranga or Rotorua.

11) Bay of Plenty

One of the sunniest regions in New Zealand, the Bay of Plenty is a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders. A fruit growing area, with orchards, maori culture and spectacular surfing beaches. The Bay of Plenty is a major area for the production of kiwi fruit. The Bay of Plenty is located on the Pacific Coast Highway between Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula and Hawkes Bay.

Other North Island Destinations

These lesser known gems, are certainly not to be ignored.

12) Wairarapa Wine Region

Located only an hours drive north of Wellington, the Wairarapa has many small towns to explore, including the art and gardens of Carterton; historic Greytown with boutique arts and crafts shops, and cafes; and heritage museum of Featherstone. Whilst in the Wairarapa visit  Martinborough, centre for premium wine growing.

13) Taranaki Region

Dominated by magnificent Mount Taranaki, with its perfect cone shape dominates New Plymouth and the surrounding farming area. It is well worth the time to stop and see the gardens and parks of the region. If you are a keen gardener come in spring for the Taranaki Rhododendron and Garden Festival, or alternatively come during the TSB Bank Festival of Lights, held every year from Christmas to early February.

14) Poor Knights Islands

One of the top dive sights in the world, the Poor Knights Islands located just north of Whangarei  are a great place for a cruise, experienced or beginners diving, kayaking and snorkelling.

15) KatiKati

Don't blink, or you will miss it. KatiKati is a small town in the Bay of Plenty. However if you are driving through on the Pacific Coast Highway, it is well worth stopping and spending some time to explore. The main attractions in KatiKati are the many open air art murals that have been painted on the walls of many of the buildings in the town. Stop at the Tourist Centre and pick up a map which will give you details of the location of all 44 murals.