For many travellers on a New Zealand vacation, Auckland and the North Island are where their holiday begins. Here's a look at some of the most popular sights and attractions in this part of the country:
Auckland: Auckland is an attractive, diverse city, and where most visitors begin their New Zealand vacation. The large Polynesian and Maori population gives it a South Pacific feel, although the population is over 1 million. There’s some really nice things for couples to do to. We enjoyed a great trip across the harbor to volcanic Rangitoto Island, and took a “tractor train” to the top for some nice views of the Hauraki Gulf.
We found some funky shops and cafes in Parnell Village and Ponsonby Street. Mixed with the locals at the weekend markets in Takapuna (some hot deals on clothes there too), and saw the wild coast out at Bethells Beach.
Auckland has it’s touristy things too like the Sky Tower and Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World . And I’m sure you could also find a sheep shearing show around town pretty easily. But there is quite simply a nice feel to the place. Just wander down by the harbor, past where the America’s Cup Village was, and take the boat over to Devonport for tea on a pleasant, sunny afternoon. We just loved it.
Bay of Islands: Located near the semi-tropical top end of the North Island. Some of New Zealands best beaches are here. The desolate landscapes of 90 Mile Beach and Cape Reinga are amazing. Try make it up to the Cape Reinga lighthouse, and just spend a few minutes gazing out into the open Pacific crashing below! You’re at the top of New Zealand now…
Lake Rotorua: You’re in volcanic hot springs country here! The smell of sulphur will greet you as you approach. This popular tourist area is also New Zealand’s largest thermal area – you’ll actually see steam rising from the ground all over the place (even behind our motel!). Treat yourself to a dip in one of the thermal pools or mineral baths in the area. There’s also a nice cruise you can take on Lake Roturua in a paddle steamer, and in the evening various Maori cultural shows.
Taupo: Sportsmen come here for the world class trout fishing, we just love it for the beautiful countryside and nearby Huka Falls. If you’re quite active, you’ll find bungy jumping, tandem sky diving and canoeing/kayaking close by.
Wellington: The capital of New Zealand, which houses the parliament in a building known as the “beehive” (one look and you’ll know why!). Wellington’s café, eating and art scenes are really starting to catch on, despite the fact that it tends to get very windy here. It’s almost like a “mini-San Francisco” with homes perched on the sides of scenic steep hills overlooking the harbor.
A really romantic excursion is the cable car ride up to Kelburn, where you can relax at the restaurant which has excellent view of the city and the water. After, you can wind your way down by foot with a walk through the Botanic Gardens.
Copyright © 2004 Excellent Romantic Vacations
Greg Mattson is the editor of Excellent Romantic Vacations – A guide to great romantic vacations & getaways in Canada, the USA and around the world. Find out more about New Zealand in our New Zealand Vacation section.