New Zealand is truly a magical country. With beautiful landscapes, a rich culture, and enough sheep to shake a stick at, you won’t be disappointed in New Zealand, no matter what you do. But for those looking for a bit of guidance to the “land of the long white cloud,” here are some great places in New Zealand to visit on the North Island.
Places in New Zealand to Visit
Auckland is the most populous city in New Zealand and you’d better believe there are 1001 things to do here. Often known as the City of Sails for its sailboat-dotted harbor, Auckland boasts an amazing nautical community and hosts many sailing events. You’ll want to check out Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World which has an aquarium tunnel, Antarctic Encounter, and Stingray Bay. There is also the Auckland Zoo which houses species indigenous to both New Zealand and Australia, 3 rare Sumatran tigers, and hundreds more animals.
You don’t want to miss Sky Tower, which is the tallest free standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. It looks similar to Seattle’s Space Needle however, it has been updated to hold LEDs to increase energy efficiency. You can visit the top of the tower and look down through the glass flooring at the world below.
Finally, if you go nowhere else in Auckland, visit Mount Eden. It’s the highest natural point in Auckland City and you can a 360-degree view of Auckland. Mount Eden is a volcanic cone with a grassy crater and has beautiful terraces on the southern slope. The Mount Eden area is also home to Auckland Cricket and the Auckland Rugby Union- just in case you want to catch a game while you’re in town.
2. Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo is in the middle of the North Island and is roughly the size of Singapore. It was formed when a super volcano erupted about 26,500 years ago. The eruption was so massive, the skies darkened in China and in Europe. Now, millions of tourists visit the lake each year to fish, bike, and view the surrounding mountains and waterfalls.
3. Rotorua and Hot Springs
Rotorua is one of the hubs of the Maori culture in New Zealand. Rotorua is most known for its hot mud pools and geysers. Many tourists visit this area to spend time at hotel spas, where hot tubs are heated with geothermal energy. Tourists can soak their feed in a bubbling mud pool in Kuirau Park. Rotorua is also known as a mountain-bikers paradise with dozens of trails to explore. Remember, because of the natural geothermal energy, Rotorua is also nicknamed “Sulfur City” for its occasionally pungent sulfur (or rotten-egg) smell.
The capital city of Wellington is a must-visit for those who make the trek to New Zealand. Wellington replaced Auckland as the capital in 1865 and remains the most remote capital in the world. While Wellington was also nicknamed “The Coolest Little Capital in the World” by Lonely Planet and Positively Wellington Tourism, Wellington may be most known for its movies. Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and the Weta Workshop/Weta Digital all call “Wellywood” home and many scenes from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, Avatar, and The Hobbit were shot in Wellington, or other parts of New Zealand. New Zealand is also affectionately known as “Home of Middle Earth.”