I've been working on this post for quite some time. I loved New Zealand so much I wanted to get everything just right. Oddly, I've been so busy planning vacations for people and raising a baby that I haven't been able to give this article proper attention. (Who knew building your own business and raising a kid were so much work?) No more! Lots of interest in this breathtaking destination, has spurred me to finally publish.
When planning our trip to New Zealand, all people could talk about was the South Island. People said "The South Island is amazing" and "you should skip the North Island." We took the hint and planned just over a week in the North Island with the rest of our month in New Zealand spent touring the South Island. In the end, we really wished we had spent more time on the North Island. Don't misunderstand me. I loved the South Island too but North Island doesn't get near enough credit for all of the amazing things it has to offer. This blog post will attempt to give the North Island of New Zealand some proper travel love!
There are many great vineyard regions on the North Island. If you don't want to venture too far from the major cities, There are options near Wellington and Auckland. Make it a day of water and wine and check out the vineyards on Waiheke Island, which are just a ferry ride from Auckland. Martinborough, in the Wairarapa region, is about an hour's drive from Wellington. Rent some bikes or explore the art in between vineyards. We really enjoyed the vineyards in the Hawke's Bay area too. Napier's art deco buildings will intrigue architecture aficionados. Travel back in time to the 1930 during their art deco festival! Nature lovers can also enjoy the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. There is also an incredible 5 star luxury property of the same name if you're looking to stay in style (I've got connections when booking there so don't forget to reach out).
A visit to Rotorua is a must. While the town can start to smell of the sulfur hot springs, it didn't bother us. You can pamper yourself with a day at the spa and a soak in the hotsprings. The geothermal wonderland of Waiotapu is an incredible site to explore that reminds me of Yellowstone. Rotorua is also the best place for experiencing Maori culture. You can see traditional dances and dress or eat in the homes of a modern Maori family.
The Tongariro crossing is considered one of the greatest day hikes in the world. We spent several days waiting for the weather to clear up so we could do the hike but had to settle for accounts from our friends and clients who have been lucky enough to make the trek. For those of you who flock to New Zealand for the outdoor adventure, this is a must for your itinerary.
There was this little movie called the Lord of the Rings... well 6 movies from the series in total that may have quite the following. Many travelers flock to Hobbiton to see the set of the shire. Remember, this was only used for filming the outside scenes, as there is nothing behind the doors. My husband and I had seen the movies but weren't super fans or anything like that. I just thought it would be fun. I lured my husband there with promise of a beer at the tavern included at the end of the tour. It was a fun stop.
Glow worms were the top item on my list for New Zealand. It sounded so magical, and it was! You can't take pictures because it harms the glow worms so you'll just have to take my word for it! Magic!
This post is already way too long and I didn't even talk about the cities. There's some great museums in Auckland and lots of delicious food. Check out the Taste of Auckland festival if you can! If you’re hanging out on the southern part of the North Island, there's a great museum, food, wine and beer scene in Wellington as well! We may have spent an extra hour at The Malthouse tasting some of the delicious craft brews from the other sides of the globe…
If you didn’t figure it out yet, the North Island is worth some hearty consideration when planning your New Zealand visit. (I am certified by the New Zealand Tourism board as a Gold Specialist so I know what I’m talking about.) I love the South Island too but take some time to consider what the North Island has to offer before you cut it out!