Welcome to North Island
Although the North Island is the smaller of the two main islands of New Zealand, it is much more vastly populated. It is home to the largest city in New Zealand - Auckland, also known as the 'City of Sails', and the Capital City of New Zealand - Wellington. The North Island has four national parks that are home to thermal fields, hot springs, ski areas, local forest, rivers and significant Maori sites. Rotorua is renowned as the heartland of Maori culture. The mountains on North Island are volcanic in nature, and many remain quite active. The country's largest lake, Lake Taupo occupies an extinct volcanic crate. Along the northeastern coastline, the Bay of Islands is famous for its 125 (or more) scenic islands and secluded coves and, with nearly 100 km of white sand, the Bay of Plenty is New Zealand's premier beach area.
The beautiful region in the far north is known as Northland and includes the picturesque Coromandel Peninsula, reaching into the sea between Auckland and the Bay of Plenty, with magnificent kauri forests of enormous 3,000-year-old trees, stunning coastal scenery, beaches and scenic bays, quaint seaside townships and mountain ranges. The Bay of Islands is the most popular destination with opportunities for sailing, diving, snorkelling and kayaking on the clear blue waters around the islands. The top of the island tails off into a rugged desolate finger of land with sand dunes and the long white sandy stretch of Ninety Mile Beach along its west coast.
At the heart of the North Island is the Central Plateau, the centre of the country's volcanic activity. Volcanoes, bubbling mud pools, hot springs, spouting geysers, steaming lakes and rivers are strewn across the landscape. Rotorua, the Maori cultural heartland, sits at the edge of the most concentrated area of activity and is characterised by the unmistakable smell of sulphur. Lake Taupo, formed by one of the greatest eruptions ever recorded, has beautiful views across to the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park, with excellent hiking, and is regarded as the trout fishing capital of the world.
At the southern tip of the island lies New Zealand's capital, Wellington, a beautiful city in a striking setting around a harbour and surrounded by mountains. It is the centre of the country and a major travel crossroads between the North and South Islands.
Information & Facts
The official languages in New Zealand are English and Maori.
Local currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), divided into 100 cents. Most businesses accept MasterCard and Visa, and while Diners Club and American Express are also widely accepted in the main tourist centres, they might have limited acceptance elsewhere. Travellers cheques and foreign currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some hotels. ATMs can be found in all towns and cities.