10 Reasons to Visit New Zealand's North Island

  • 01 of 10

    East Coast Beaches

    Sunny day on a New Zealand beach with white sand, fresh green juicy grass and turquoise color ocean under the blue sky
    ••• Onemana, Coromandel. PHOTOS WITH LOVE by Irina Panyukova. Touch the beauty. / Getty Images

    The eastern coast of the North Island is filled with lovely beaches and bays of every description. Sheltered from the western weather by mountain ranges, you will find most of the beaches protected from the wind, with lots of sunshine and golden sand. Ideal for swimming, sunbathing and all water sports. The best beaches are in the northern half of the island, from Northland to East Cape.

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  • 02 of 10

    West Coast Beaches

    Father and son loading their surfboards into their car after surfing on 90 Mile Beach.
    ••• Ninety Mile Beach. Amos Chapple / Getty Images

    The beaches on the west coast are very different from the east coast but equally worth visiting. The entire coast is wild and rugged, exposed to the prevailing westerly wind that flows in from Australia. Many of the beaches also have black sand, which can be extremely hot in the summer. If you like wild waves and surfing, the west coast is for you. Best beaches include Ninety Mile Beach in the far north and the beaches close to Auckland.

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  • 03 of 10

    Sailing and Boating

    Sailing boats on Waiheke Island, Auckland, North Island, New Zealand, Pacific
    ••• Sailing boats on Waiheke Island. Matthew Williams-Ellis / Getty Images

    With its sheltered beaches and many offshore islands, the east coast of the North Island is a wonderful place to explore on a boat. Kiwis are great sailors and there are boats of all types on the water in the summer months. The best places for sailing and boating are the Bay of Islands in Northland and the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland.

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  • 04 of 10

    Shopping

    Cuba Mall district, Wellington City, New Zealand
    ••• Cuba Mall district, Wellington. Claver Carroll / Getty Images

    Auckland and Wellington are both international cities and offer a huge array of places to shop. You'll find all of the international brands as well as many local ones. New Zealand has a world class reputation for fashion, clothing, wine, gourmet foods and art. You should also pick up a unique local Maori and Pacific-inspired souvenir or two while you are here.

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  • 05 of 10

    Entertainment and Nightlife

    Fireworks over Auckland Skyline
    ••• Kanwal Sandhu / Getty Images

    With a third of New Zealand's total population living in Auckland, you would expect the city to offer world-class evening entertainment. In addition to great bars, clubs, and restaurants there are always shows and concerts being held at one of several city venues. Auckland also has New Zealand's largest casino and the tallest building, the Sky Tower, right in the heart of the city.

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  • 06 of 10

    Native Forests

    Boardwalk around Four Sisters kauri trees, Waipoua Kauri Forest, New Zealand
    ••• Boardwalk around Four Sisters kauri trees, Waipoua Kauri Forest, New Zealand. Anders Blomqvist / Getty Images

    The North Island was originally covered in forests. Today there are still many areas where you can enjoy the unique and magnificent trees and plants. Amongst the native trees are the totara, rimu, and matai but the most impressive of all is the kauri. These can grow to an enormous size and age. There are many great examples still left in areas north of Auckland.

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  • 07 of 10

    Pohutukawa Tree

    Pohutukawa tree in flower at Narrow Neck Beach Auc
    ••• Pohutukawa tree in flower at Narrow Neck Beach Auckland. David Hallett / Getty Images

    The pohutukawa is found all along the coast of the North Island and provides welcome shade on the beaches in the summer. It is also known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree because of the bright red flowers it produces around Christmas time.

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  • 08 of 10

    Maori Culture

    Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand
    ••• Rotorua is a major destination for both domestic and international tourists, and there are many fine examples of the traditional Maori culture and history. LatitudeStock - TTL / Getty Images

    The culture of the native New Zealand people, the Maori, is much more evident in the North Island than the South Island. Explore their fascinating culture and history at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands (where the original treaty between Maori and European was signed in 1840) and Rotorua in the North Island

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  • 09 of 10

    Geothermal and Volcanic Activity

    Steam rising off a geo-thermal pool
    ••• The famous Champagne Pool of Waiotapu. Christopher Chan / Getty Images

    The center of the North Island sits right on top of an active part of the earth's crust and is a wonderland of volcanic activity. Visit the geysers and thermal pools of Rotorua, the large volcanic lake, Lake Taupo, or the active volcanoes at White Island and Tongariro National Park.

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  • 10 of 10

    North Island Wines

    New Zealand vineyard
    ••• Vineyard of the Gisborne wine region. Oliver Strewe / Getty Images

    World class wines are made in several parts of the North Island, including Northland, Auckland and the Wairarapa north of Wellington. The two largest areas make some of the best wines of their type in the country; Gisborne is renowned for chardonnay and gewurztraminer white wines, while Hawkes Bay is home to leading reds from cabernet sauvignon and merlot.