There's Something for Everyone in New Zealand - North Island Part 1
By Sue Taylor
Are you thinking about your next vacation? Fancy going somewhere exotic? You need look no further than New Zealand. Perhaps you enjoy dining out, maybe you love hiking, perhaps you are an adventure junkie or maybe you just like to laze around on the beach. New Zealand has it all.
New Zealand consists of two major islands. They are very different in terms of scenery and both islands are packed with a variety of holiday options.
The North Island has 2 major cities, Auckland which is the largest city in New Zealand by far with a population of 1.2 million people. Still not that large a city by most countries standards but it is very spread out land wise. Auckland is located in the northern part of the North Island and is the main gateway for travellers coming in to the country. The other major city is Wellington which is located at the southern tip of the North Island. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and there is an efficient ferry service providing the connection between the North and South Island.
The major holiday areas are as follows but don't be confined to these areas as there is a lot more on offer.
Bay of Islands
Located around 160 miles or 260 km north of Auckland, this region consists of 144 islands and bays. This area has a very temperate climate and is well equipped for visitors. There are many accommodation options and plenty of things to do to keep you occupied. Many of the activities are focussed around the water as wherever you are, you will be surrounded by water containing an abundant marine life. If you are a keen fisherman, you will be in heaven.
Approximately one third of the whole population of New Zealand lives in the greater Auckland area. If you enjoy shopping, beaches or sailing, you could spend your whole time in Auckland. Auckland has often been voted the best lifestyle city in the world with its cosmopolitan city and beautiful harbour and beaches close by. As with any big city there are multitudes of top quality restaurants, cultural activities great shopping and as it has a beautiful harbour, lots of water activities.
Rotorua is a unique area of New Zealand. Located about 2 hours drive from Auckland, it is an area which has a very strong Maori history and many of the cultural activities focus around this history. A very distinctive smell of sulphur assaults the nostrils as you drive into Rotorua but you soon get used to it and don't smell it any more. You will also notice steam escaping into the air which results from the geothermal activity in and all around the city. Rotorua has a longstanding reputation as a spa city and has recently undergone a renaissance offering a wide variety of treatments. Rotorua has accommodation ranging from basic through to deluxe and plenty of it.
Taupo is located approximately an hours drive from Rotorua in the middle of the North Island. It is also a thermal area complete with geysers and mud pools. The town is built around the famous Lake Taupo, the shape of which was created by an enormous volcanic eruption. The lake is very famous for trout fishing. Any trout caught which weighs under 4 pounds (1.8 kg) is considered to be a waste of time! Taupo is well set up for tourists and offers hot thermal pools, adventure activities, good shopping and great cafes and restaurants.
The Hawkes Bay is a beautiful area located on the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The area consists of 2 major cities, Napier and Hastings. Napier is a very interesting city as it has the highest concentration of Art Deco buildings of anywhere in the world after being virtually destroyed by an enormous earthquake in 1931. Hawkes Bay is also a major wine growing area, being one of the hottest and sunniest areas of New Zealand. There are around 40 wineries offering a wide variety of red and whites. Many of the wineries have cellar doors and restaurants so there is plenty of opportunity to try the local wines.
The Wairarapa up until about 20 odd years ago was a sleepy area which appeared to be caught in a time warp. Not any more! It is now a major wine producing region within New Zealand and produces some of the finest Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in the world. Pinot Noir is a notoriously difficult grape to grow but the Wairarapa climate suits this grape. There are more than 50 wineries in the area with a great range of restaurants and accommodation. All of this within an hour of Wellington.
As mentioned earlier, Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. It has a reputation of being very windy which it certainly can be, but on a clear day, there is nowhere nicer. There is not a lot of flat land in Wellington so almost everywhere you go, you are treated to fabulous views of the harbour and city. There are more than 300 cafes and restaurants in the city, the highest concentration per capita of almost anywhere in the world. Wellington is rich in culture and the arts and has a bursting calendar of events as well as many interesting museums and galleries to visit. Shopping is also excellent in Wellington catering to all whether you consider yourself to be funky, intellectual or just plain indulgent. Many tourists overlook Wellington which is a pity as it offers so much within a very compact area.
Look out for Part 2 of this article covering the South Island coming soon.
About The Author
Sue Taylor is the author of several articles about New Zealand. She and her husband Grant travel frequently and have developed several websites telling of their travels and offering hints. For more information see http://www.newzealandtravelsite.com