The Kiwis, meaning the people of New Zealand and not the tasty fruit, know just how lucky they are to live in such a fascinating and varied country and, especially after the recent Hobbit movies, the news is getting around. They call it “Godzone,” a shortened form of God’s own country, and they certainly don’t go far wrong by saying that.
There is so much to see on the two main islands of New Zealand (North and South), it would be impossible to do it all in one trip, but the following gives an idea of just some of the attractions on offer, besides the major cities. This article covers some interesting and slightly off the beaten track destinations in North Island and a great way to see these attractions is to hire a campervan and simply hit the road, stopping off wherever looks of interest.
Heading from busy Auckland right up to the tropical north of New Zealand is Northland. Dubbed by the locals as the “Winterless North,” due to the wonderful temperatures enjoyed in the area, visitors can enjoy warm seas, white and golden beaches and flourishing fruit plantations and vineyards. Northland falls between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea and it is possible to see where these two mighty oceans meet off Cape Reinga (pictured above), which is accessible for strollers on the sands of Ninety Mile beach.
Down the east coast of Northland are some magnificent headlands, hiding a series of beautiful and peaceful coves, perfect for a quiet day at the beach. However, the west coast is the total opposite with the strong Tasman breakers hitting the coastline, making it dangerous to swim.
The northern-most city in New Zealand is the lovely town of Coromandel, which sits beneath the craggy mountainside at Coromandel Harbor.
While the town of Coromandel is pleasant to visit in itself, close by can be found the stunningly beautiful Bay of Plenty, which occupies the area from the Coromandel Peninsula right through the East Cape.
This area is famous for the popular kiwi fruit enjoyed worldwide and from which the locals of New Zealand get their nickname, and enjoys mild weather with warm summers and mild winters, giving year round fascinating possibilities for the visitor getting around the country.
In this area the cities of Tauranga and Mount Maunganui are worth a visit for the great restaurant and bar scenes, as well as boat trips on offer to visitors. Also of interest is the possibility to swim with the dolphins off the coast.
Inland from Tauranga there are some pretty picnic spots with swimming holes, including McLaren Falls, lovely for a day out from the city life. Both cities are popular with not only overseas visitors, but with local holidaymakers too who head there in the summer months.
While in the area, Whakatane is a good location offering daytrips to the volcanic White Island and an interesting bird reserve on Whale Island.
All the way through this area of New Zealand it is possible to learn more about the original Maori inhabitants of the islands. While this article only touches on a few of the many fascinating attractions available when getting around in the North Island of New Zealand, the video below shows in more detail many of the wonderfully scenic areas of Northland.
By Anne Sewell
Cape Reinga CC-by-SA Noel Jones
Coromandel Peninsula CC-by-SA (WT/de) Thorsten
Beach in Tauranga CC-by-SA Abaconda Management Group