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The North Island is the most populous of the three major islands of New Zealand. It also home to many of New Zealands most wonderful sights including great surfing, sailing, volcanic activity and hiking in the remote hills around the Bay of Plenty. No trip is complete without some time spent on the North Island.
There are 9 regions on the North Island:
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Wellington is situated at the southern edge of the North Island, a short hop from the South Island. It is the capital city and invites visitors with its lively café culture and interesting galleries and museums. It is for many the gateway to the south island as the Interislander ferry makes many trips daily back and forth.
Rotorua probably is the cultural capital of New Zealand, located in the heart of the North Island. Although touristy, a deeper inside view of the Maori culture is recommended when you visit this town. Other features include the thermal springs and mud pools. A walk through the city park with its sulphur (rotten eggs) smell is great as well. It is often described as a capital of Mauri culture.
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The North Island is warmer than the South Island of New Zealand. Summers are from November to March with average temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius in most areas. The northeastern peninsula (Bay of Islands for example) is even a bit warmer on average. Winters are from June to September with mild weather, though differences between Wellington in the south and the extreme northeast can be significant, feeling more like autumn versus spring.
Wellington International Airport (WLG) and Auckland Airport (AKL) function as the main international gateways to the North Island, with flights to Australia, South America, Asia and the Pacific, mainly from Auckland. There are also flights to and from the South Island, for example to Christchurch International Airport (CHC). Airlines serving the North Island include Air New Zealand and Qantas though carriers like Cathay Pacific and Lan Chile fly as far as Hong Kong and Santiago de Chile.
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Interislander operates a regular ferry service between Wellington on the North Island and Picton on the South Island. Bluebridge also operates between the North (Wellington) and South Islands (Picton) with up to four sailings a day between the two cities.
There are flights to various destinations on the North Island, though they are hardly of any use to travellers, as distances are not that big. Probably Auckland to Wellington is the most useful one.
Renting or buying a car is incredibly cheap and easy.Coupled with the relatively short distances it helps explain why road transport is the preferred way to travel around New Zealand. It is quite possible to see several major attractions in the space of a few weeks when travelling by car. Driving is on the left hand side of the road. Explore More is a cheap rental option with depots in Auckland offering several car and camper types. Some of the other options to rent cars include the following companies:
The distances and infrastructure make bus travel a great way to see a lot of the island inexpensively. The Kiwi Experience, Magic and Stray backpacker buses are a popular "hop-on, hop-off" method to travel around, visiting most of the major sights with commentary and advice provided by the driver. There are many different long-distance bus providers, which are all listed on the Bus and Coach Association New Zealand website. The two main bus companies are Intercity and Nakedbus.
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I lived there for 12 years.
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