Anyone who has seen Lord of the Rings has likely dreamed of visiting New Zealand's North Island. With beautiful beaches, sprawling farmland and rows of active volcanoes, this land really is like something from another world. A warm and gorgeous adventure awaits.
When the adventure is over, come home to the chic and modern capital city of Auckland. One-third of the Kiwi population live in this vibrant and multicultural city known for its bars, boutiques and breweries.
This magical place is full of dynamic and spectacular scenery. Get out and explore the fields of farmland and the peaking volcanoes. Take walks and hikes and see as much as you can.
If you decide to stay in Auckland, there are plenty of things to do and see in this exciting city. For starters, the Auckland Art Gallery is lined with turn-of-the-century portraits of Maori leaders through history. These exquisite paintings also detail leaders' intricate tattoos. Deeper into the gallery, you will find works from some more contemporary Kiwi artists.
Some travelers want nothing more than to interact with other species on vacation. At Mt. Bruce National Wildlife Center they can do just that. Just outside of Masterson, this conservation center is your spot to see Kiwis the bush parrot known as the Kaka. Watch dozens of native New Zealand birds soar overhead.
For a little background on this beautiful vacation destination, visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It is not just war memorabilia on the three floors of this museum. There is plenty to be seen regarding the native Maori culture or the national kiwi bird. Learn history, geography and traditions from interactive exhibits all through the building.
New Zealand's North Island is divided into nine regions: Northland, Auckland Region, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Central North Island, East Coast, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Taranaki, Manawatu, Wanganui. Horowhenua and Greater Wellington.
With all that beautiful scenery, you are sure to want to get outdoors as much as possible. Snorkeling, diving and kayaking are all options for the adventurer who cannot get enough of the North Island. You can also consider an overnight cruise of the Bay of Islands, or even a hike up Mount Edna for a unique sunrise experience. Mount Edna is one of the dormant volcanoes rising 650 feet above sea level giving you the priceless picture that makes the whole hike worthwhile. This spot lets you see almost all of the city of Auckland.
A trip to Parnell Farmers Market might be one of the most perfect ways to begin a New Zealand day. Begin by taking a stroll through the Auckland Domain. The is 185-acre park just outside the city has tranquil paths circling grassy lawns taking you right to the Farmers Market. Here stalls are lined up with fresh fruits and produce. Try bacon and egg sandwich while listening to the sounds of local street performers and seeing all the flavors and gifts the vendors have to offer.
Take a ride up to the best view in Auckland. The city's Sky Tower stands at over 1,000 feet tall with visitors riding to the top for the incredible 80-kilometer view form all sides. Glass-front lifts ensure you never miss a moment of this experience traveling to the viewing platforms. The real thrill-seekers can even sign up to do a SkyWalk around the pergola or a SkyJump off the Tower.
Food and Dining
Auckland is a large and multicultural city likely to have any dish you might be looking for. If you are searching for a more authentic, traditional experience head to Central North Island. A meal in this region will come with Maori cuisine, world-class wines and fresh fruits. Head to Hawke's Bay to follow the gourmet trail of cheeses, honey, olives and more. The Maori cooking tradition is strong in Rotorua, and to up your wine game, head over to Bay of Plenty.
The North Island is full of national bus companies servicing the entire area. The InterCity is New Zealand's national bus company. With fares as low as $1 this system makes stops at over 600 destinations nationwide. There are cheaper, more long distance bus services between cities in this region, too.
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