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North Island (New Zealand)

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

Emerald lakes, Tongariro NP

Emerald lakes, Tongariro NP

© All Rights Reserved Cinttu

  • Tongariro National Park is home to the highest mountain on North Island, the 2797-metre-tall volcano Mount Ruapehu. It became the first cultural landscape on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1993.
  • The Sky Tower is located in downtown Auckland. This large observation and telecommunications tower is over 328 metres (1,076 feet) 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.
  • Lake Taupo is a beautiful lake near the town of Taupo. It is one of the largest lakes in the southern hemisphere.
  • 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 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.

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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

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North Island (New Zealand) Travel Helpers

This is version 12. Last edited at 13:56 on May 22, 13 by Sander. 36 articles link to this page.

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