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New Zealand: The North Island

New Zealand’s name in Maori is Aotearoa, which means ‘land of the long white cloud', and nearly ninety percent of the Maori population call the North Island home. From the sub-tropical fauna to the sacred snow-capped volcanoes, this is an astounding part of the country, offering natural diversity, modern city life and high-octane activities in every corner of its lush landscapes. 

Taranaki Three Sisters

City Life

The more densely populated north island features Wellington, the southernmost capital in the world. Wellington has a creative vibe, cafe culture and a thriving craft beer industry. Te Papa, New Zealand's innovative national museum, is not to be missed. Both Auckland and Wellington are two incredibly diverse harbour cities, each offering world-class dining, arts and culture to go with the beaches and hiking tours. 

Auckland is known as the City of Sails for its waterfront lifestyle and superb skyline, and Manukau Heads Lighthouse (pictured) is a particularly scenic viewpoint in this area. 

Manukau Heads Lighthouse

There are fifty volcanic cones in and around Auckland and fortunately, most are extinct. The most prominent is Mount Rangitoto, which can be seen from the harbour and various viewpoints above.

views of Auckland city, the Hauraki Gulf, Rangitoto IslanD


Spread over a 1,250-acre sheep farm south of Auckland in Waikato, Peter Jackson returned to film The Hobbit trilogy in 2009 and decided to build a permanent set of 44 Hobbit Holes (plus the Green Dragon Inn!) for Lord of the Rings fans and tourists to enjoy for years to come. Three years later the Hobbiton Movie Set opened to the public for tours and became one of the most popular New Zealand tourist spots.

Hobbiton village

The Rotorua District

On the southern shore of Lake Rotorua in the Bay of Plenty region is Rotorua District, an area in which half the population are Māori. Rotorua has been welcoming visitors for more than two hundred years, and Hamurana Springs (below) is an example of what is on offer in this wonderfully wild part of the country. 

Hamurana springs

The scent of sulphur hangs in the air around much of Rotorua, where geothermal hotspots provide spouting geysers, boiling mud pools and warm springs: the southern hemisphere's Iceland in the summertime!

Geyser hot springs

Hawke's Bay

Blessed with a sunny and warm climate, the landscapes of Hawke's Bay begin with the elevated green Ruahine and Kaweka Ranges and sweep down to the Heretaunga Plains, where multiple river channels flow out into the Pacific.

Hawke's bay sunset

Mount Taranaki

Mount Taranaki (aka Mount Egmont) is an active but quiet stratovolcano on the west coast of the island. The 8,261 ft mountain is one of the most symmetrical volcanic cones in the world and owing to its resemblance to Mount Fuji, provided the backdrop for the film The Last Samurai.

Mt Taranaki, New Zealand.

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