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North Island (New Zealand)

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Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia New Zealand North Island

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Introduction

Rotorua

Rotorua

© All Rights Reserved Alli

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.

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Cities

Auckland

Auckland Night Cityscape

Auckland Night Cityscape

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The "City of Sails", Auckland is a growing city strung between Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea at the northern edge of North Island. Boasting the country's largest population and the largest Polynesian population in the world, it's a unique, stylish city well worth visiting. Although not the official capital of the country, Auckland is known as the financial capital of the country. Its large harbours and ports as well as its northern location make it the most accessible city for ships coming from Asia and Australia.

Wellington

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

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.

Other Cities

  • Hamilton is a city on the banks of the Waikato River, south of Auckland.
  • Tauranga is a growing city on the northern Pacific shore. It is popular for its outdoor activities. It is the kiwifruit capital of the world and like many townships in the region has several volvanic hot pools to boast of.
  • Gisborne is a town on the east coast of North Island. It is famous for being the first place in the world to see the sunrise. Making it a popular destination for all night parties on new years eve.
  • Hastings
  • Napier is a picturesque seaside town in Hawkes bay. It is an extremely popular destination for backpackers during the summer season. Famous for its art deco style which is celebrated every summer with the art deco festival.
  • New Plymouth
  • Palmerston North

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Sights and Activities

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is a lake situated in the North Island of New Zealand. It lies in the caldera of the Taupo Volcano. With a surface area of 616 square kilometres, it is the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand, and the second largest freshwater lake by surface area in geopolitical Oceania after Lake Murray (Papua New Guinea). Motutaiko Island lies in the southeast area of the lake.

Lake Taupo has a perimeter of approximately 193 kilometres and a deepest point of 186 metres. It is drained by the Waikato River (New Zealand's longest river), while its main tributaries are the Waitahanui River, the Tongariro River, and the Tauranga Taupo River. It is a noted trout fishery with stocks of introduced brown and rainbow trout.

Lake Taupo lies in a caldera created by a supervolcanic eruption which occurred approximately 26,500 years ago. According to geological records, the volcano has erupted 28 times in the last 27,000 years. It has ejected mostly rhyolitic lava, although Mount Tauhara formed from dacitic lava.
The volcano is currently considered to be dormant rather than extinct because of moderate fumarole activity and hot springs along the shores of the lake.

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro Lakes

Tongariro Lakes

© All Rights Reserved PaulO79

Home to the highest mountain on New Zealand's North Island, the 9,000 feet volcano Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park is one of the highlights of any visit to New Zealand. Centered on the highest village in the country, Whakapapa, the region is a paradise to lovers of the outdoors all year round. Tongariro is the name of one of the 3 massive volcanoes the dominate the area, the others being Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe which made an appearance in "The Lord of the Rings" as Mt Doom. I can assure you that the region is far pleasanter than Mordor though!

Other Sights and Activities

  • The Sky Tower is located in downtown Auckland. This large observation and telecommunications tower is over 328 metres tall making it the tallest free standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. For the more adventurous traveller there is even an option to Sky Jump off the tower at speeds up to 85 km/h.
  • Napier is one of the best preserved examples of art deco architecture in the world.
  • Coromandel Peninsula is a lush and peaceful stretch of coast in the North Island, popular as a getaway for Aucklanders.
  • Mount Taranaki, also known as Mount Egmont, is an enormous hull of an extinct volcano dominating the region of Taranaki in the South of the North Island.
  • North Cape is a haven of culture and beaches. Cape Reinga is the northernmost point of New Zealand.

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Events and Festivals

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Weather

The North Island is warmer than the South Island of New Zealand. Summers are from November to March with average temperatures between 20 °C and 25 °C 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.

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Getting There

By Plane

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.

By Boat

Ferry 017a

Ferry 017a

© All Rights Reserved Ali-Mike

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.

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Getting Around

By Plane

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.

By Train

Toll New Zealand operates trains and there are even a few overnight trains between Wellington and Auckland, but without the possibility of having a sleeping cabin.

By Car

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:

By Bus

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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Sleep

Like the rest of New Zealand, there are numerous options, from simple camping to luxurious hotels in major cities and main tourist areas. And everything in between. Some of the best deals are smaller hotels, motels or B&B's, which offer comfortable options for relatively little money.

Staying connected in New Zealand is an easy affair in most towns and cities, although naturally if you are heading off the beaten path it can become harder.

Internet

Internet cafés are widely available throughout New Zealand at rates of around NZ$2-4, though sometimes more in smaller places. Besides internet and e-mail services, most big internet cafés also offer some way for travellers to connect their digital camera and burn cds. Many public libraries have public Internet access, and most of them offer short free internet sessions. Wi-Fi access is getting more and more common in for example coffee places or fast food chains. It is becoming more common for Wi-Fi to be provided at hotels and motels, though sometimes at a fee. Wireless Hotspots are located in many cities and towns all over New Zealand from dedicated Wireless providers from whom you can buy connect time. Many camping holiday parks also have such services available.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Dial 111 for emergency police, fire or ambulance services. The worldwide emergency number for GSM mobile phones, 112, can also be used.
The country code is 64.

Most payphones in New Zealand require the use of phone cards for payment and it is getting harder to find payphones that accept coins. As phone cards are available at a lot of outlets, they are easy to purchase and very handy as a backup in case of emergencies. Many of them also accept creditcards. Local calls are free from residential phones and charges for calling outside that area can be found at the front of the regional phone books, amongst many other services.

Mobile telephone coverage is effectively national in near urban areas although the mountainous terrain means that outside the urban areas, and especially away from the main highway system, coverage does have huge dead patches. Do not rely on mobile phones in hilly or mountainous terrain. Mobile telephone users can call 555 only to report Non-emergency traffic safety incidents, such as a breakdown, road hazard or non-injury car crash, to the Police. There are currently three major mobile carriers in New Zealand.

  • Telecom operates a UMTS (3G) network, named XT Network, nationwide on 850MHz with supplementary 2100MHz in metropolitan areas. (the same frequencies as Telstra in Australia and AT&T in the U.S.)
  • Vodafone operates a GSM network on 900MHz/2100 MHz and a UTMS (3G) network operates nationwide 900MHz with supplementary 2100MHz coverage.
  • 2degrees operates a UMTS (3G) network (2100MHz) in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, with supplementary GSM coverage provided elsewhere by Vodafone.

A prepaid sim-card connection pack with $10 credit from Telecom or Vodafone costs around $30, and prepaid sim-cards from 2degrees cost $10. It is possible to pick up a free 2degrees sim-card on the SkyBus service that runs between Auckland airport and the CBD. Telecom has broader coverage in remote areas away from major cities compared to Vodafone and 2degrees.

Post

Most areas have dedicated PostShops, however stamps can also be bought at grocery shops, supermarkets and book stores. There are two main formats for domestic mail, namely Standard Post and Fast Post. Fast Post is used next day delivery between major towns and cities (two days from rural areas), whereas Standard Post will take a few working days to deliver nationwide. Standard costs NZ$0.50 for letters/postcards (NZ$0.80 for larger envelopes), Fast Post costs NZ$0.80 (NZ$1.20 for larger envelopes). International mail takes about 3-6 days to Australia (NZ$1.50), and 6-12 days to Europe, Asia and the United States (NZ$2). Post boxes are white, red and black and can be found in many areas throughout towns and cities, including information about when their contents are collected. Most post offices and smaller post shops have opening hours from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 12:30pm on Saturday. You can buy stamps here, or at newsagents and general stores. For parcels, you can use the NZ Post or otherwise courier companies like TNT, DHL, UPS or FedEx.

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Contributors

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North Island (New Zealand) Travel Helpers

This is version 17. Last edited at 9:49 on May 3, 17 by Utrecht. 41 articles link to this page.

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