Transport yourself to a magical underground world at the Waitomo Caves. Image by Tourism New Zealand.
Besides the five highlights of New Zealand’s South Island, the country’s North Island also exudes plenty of appeal. With its rich culture, buzzing cities and natural attractions, this region of the country especially shines when it comes to offering family-friendly experiences.
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Whether you’re looking for a relaxing holiday where your tribe can just kick back and unwind with some interesting sightseeing or searching for a spot of adventure to add a little excitement to your vacation, the North Island has got you covered. Here are the five essential activities you should partake in when you visit the destination!
Delve into the Waitomo glowworm grotto
As one of the country’s premier attractions, the Waitomo Caves offers a captivating encounter to visitors. Choose to go on a guided walk or leisurely boat tour through the extensive underground system, where you’ll be awed once you come across the sight of thousands of glowworms flickering on the walls of the inky black grotto, replicating the beautiful starry sky right before your very eyes. Appreciate the serene moment before you slowly exit back into the light, where your knowledgeable guides will gladly share interesting anecdotes about the history and geology of the area.
Auckland’s bustling waterfront is a huge draw for visitors. Image by Tourism New Zealand.
Take in the cosmopolitan vibes of Auckland
Known as New Zealand’s largest urban area, Auckland brims with vibrancy and diversity from every corner. With bustling harbours on two different bodies of water, the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, it comes as no surprise that the city’s waterfront is a big draw. Admire Auckland on a leisurely cruise aboard a luxury boat, or go for a relaxing stroll to see the docked superyachts up close. An exhilarating ride on a helicopter will give you a birdseye view of the buzzing city and is also a great way for you to soak in Auckland’s lively atmosphere.
Go behind-the-scenes at an authentic movie set. Image by Tourism New Zealand.
Uncover the Hobbiton’s secrets
Live out your fairytale fantasies at the Hobbiton, where the blockbuster trilogies “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” were filmed. You’ll get to imagine what it would be like to live in Middle-earth as you duck into hobbit holes, drink traditional ales in the Green Dragon Inn and wander the gardens of the Shire. As you explore the scenic surroundings that impressed director Peter Jackson so much that he was compelled to build the movie set in the area, your friendly guides will also let you in on filmmaking details to draw you further into the magical world.
Watch local warriors paddle a waka, a Maori canoe. Photo by JSilver / CC BY 2.0
Embrace local culture with a Maori initiation
If you’re curious about local culture, hop over to Rotorua. Here, you can immerse yourself in all things Maori by touring a historical village, partaking in ceremonial experiences, feasting on a hangi meal, where the food is cooked with heated rocks in a pit oven, and learning the haka, a Maori war dance. This experience is not only entertaining but will also give you a fascinating insight into the Maori culture so you leave with a greater understanding of the indigenous people’s way of life.
Visit the unusual Emerald Lakes on a day hike. Image by Tourism New Zealand.
Go on an outdoor adventure at Tongariro
The country’s oldest national park, Tongariro is also the holder of a dual UNESCO World Heritage area for its geological significance and spiritual importance to the Maori culture. It is here where you can embark on the country’s most popular day hike, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Not for the fainthearted, the eight-hour hike covers a total distance of 19 kilometres. The views, however, make the effort worthwhile; trek up the valley for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and volcanic landscape, and admire the startlingly green Emerald Lakes. If you’d rather try an alternative activity, whitewater rafting, paddle boarding, kayaking and fishing are also available in the park.
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