Where to go North Island?
The North Island is a huge volcano; the northern tip of which is subtropical with warm humid summers. Lake Taupo is right in the middle and was formed when the volcano blew its top 27,000 years ago. It’s as lovely as our own Lake Tahoe and people come from all over the world to fish for Rainbow Trout here. Continuing south is Mt Ngauruhoe, the fictional Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings, and on to Wellington, New Zealand's most cosmopolitan city, at the southern tip.
The treaty establishing the country was signed here at Waitangi just outside the seaside town of Paihia. Its rolling hills covered with giant tree ferns and the massive Kauri trees, the biggest of which the Maori call Tane Mahuta; father of man and forest. Further north is Cape Reinga, where the spirits of the dead are believed to enter the underworld.
Situated between two gorgeous bays, NZ’s largest city (with over 1/4th of the population) looks a lot like our own Seattle and even has a space needle. On sunny weekends it seems as though every Aucklander is enjoying their own sailboat and a day trip to Waiheke Island (or an overnight) is a must do.
The heart of Maori culture and known for the extensive thermal activity found here; New Zealand's Yellowstone. It’s also the best place to experience a Hangi (Maori feast), and there are a lot of adventure activities in the area.
The North Island is one big dormant volcano and Taupo is the very center, and was formed when the volcano last exploded, some 27,000 years ago. Today it's a stunning deep blue lake with many world class trout streams flowing into it, and the magnificent Huka Falls just below.
Napier may be the best example of Art Deco architecture in the world, and is the center of Hawke's Bay, one of NZ's premier food and wine regions. Following a devastating earthquake in 1931 the city was rebuilt in the then fashionable Art Deco style, and the city has taken great pains to preserve that era. Art Deco tours run daily and are a facinating way to experience the styles of that time.
The capital city and most cosmopolitan, with the best dining and shopping. It’s also a great jumping off spot for the South Island, as the Wellington to Picton ferry departs here, which is the best way to arrive there. A visit to Te Papa, the museum of New Zealand, is a must do here. Nearby Wairarapa is NZ's premier Pinot Noir region.