New Zealand is famed for its spectacular landscapes, pristine beaches and relaxed city living but with so much on offer it can be tough to construct your itinerary. From areas of geothermal activity and active volcanoes, to picturesque peninsulas and the sandy beaches of the tropical north there is something on offer to suit every travelers taste and budget.
The Bay of Plenty
49km from the shores of Whakatane sits White Island, a submarine volcano with a tempestuous heart. While the island itself looks relatively sedate, the white plumes of steam that billow from its belly hint at the power it harbours within. Rated at level 1 the island is at a constant state of unrest and offers visitors the chance to witness Mother Nature at her most ferocious.
For the adventurous traveler there is the opportunity to hop aboard a catamaran and spend a day exploring the rugged terrain of the volcano’s crater floor. Walk past bubbling pressure mounds and pools of boiling mud, follow the path of a mighty molten river now cooled to form a solid black path, and marvel at the great lake formed by condensed toxic gases escaping from deep within the volcano.
If you’re looking to add a trip to White Island to your itinerary we recommend staying in the quaint seaside town of Whakatane. With the opportunity to indulge in a trip to the local hot springs, sample local Māori culture at a sacred meeting house and tickle your taste buds at the surroundings, there are so many reasons to add the Bay of Plenty to your itinerary.
The Coromandel Peninsula
Just a couple of hours drive from Auckland, you’ll find yourself on the Coromandel Peninsula. The quintessential Kiwi holiday escape; this rain forested spit of land is one of the most spectacular spots in which to relax to the max.
The Coromandel is known as the road trip region and there are a number of routes to head off and explore from your base. Follow the Hauraki Rail Trail to Thames, a beautiful historic mining town nestled under the Coromandel ranges, then over to Paeroa the home of the World famous L&P bottle. Skip across to Waihi, a historic gold mining town with old world charm, and then soak your weary body in the Te Aroha Mineral Spas after a hard day on the road.
If relaxing by the beach is more your style then pack a picnic lunch, a good book and choose a spot on the 400km of secluded coastline. For the trampers amongst you there are hundreds of bush walks and coastal tracks to explore ensuring each day on the peninsula offers new scenic views to enjoy.
Set in the fiery heart of the North Island, the town of Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity. Steam pours from cracks in the pavement and a primordial stench fills the air.
Staying in Rotorua offers the chance to get up close to some fascinating natural anomalies including vibrantly coloured toxic pools and erupting geysers. While those on a budget can see small patches of geothermal activity in the town itself there are a number of operations that offer a more immersive experience.
The alluring pools of the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Reserve showcase the phenomenal diversity of Mother Nature’s design. Walking a 3km track through untouched eco reserve you can get up close to some of the elements that surrounded the first life on our earth.
Hot springs bubble and pools of mud boil, the smell of sulphur, sickly sweet, draws you towards huge caverns where bright yellow crystals adorn pressure mounds of escaping toxic fumes. Rotorua is a wonderland of mesmerising attractions and offers a unique opportunity to witness the magnitude of power hidden deep within our earth.
The Bay of Islands
New Zealand’s Northland is a sub-tropical paradise offering visitors the chance to explore diverse marine life and the lush environment of the sun kissed north. With miles of undisturbed coastline and a living link to the prehistoric world of the past, this is one region of New Zealand not to be missed.
The Bay of Islands is an aquatic playground of azure blue waters and golden beaches. Home to the world famous Poor Knight Islands Marine Reserve, scuba divers and snorkelers from all over the globe flock to the region throughout the year to witness beauty of this rich underwater world.
With volcanic architecture of countless caves, tunnels and archways to explore both above and below the waterline, visitors can kayak, dive, swim, sail and snorkel in a bid to delve deep into the natural heart of this area. Innumerable species of fish, shark, ray and dolphin call this area home and, for those with a keen eye for detail, macro life of the most vibrant colours can be found resting on the black rocks of the islands shores.
Home to one of the younger additions to New Zealand’s volcanic CV, Mount Taranaki is just a wee nipper in comparison to some of its neighbours.
From your base in New Plymouth, head out to explore Mount Taranaki as part of a tour, or freestyle with a local map as your guide. Visit the beautiful black sandy beaches that boast incredible surf, join a kayak tour and paddle out to the Sugar Loaf Islands or hike through the lush native bush land.
After a few days of action packed adventure retreat back to New Plymouth for a little culture fix and explore the streets lined with historical buildings and art galleries, restaurants and boutiques.
With all this natural splendor easily accessible from Auckland and Wellington, the central hubs of the North Island, there is really no reason to limit your itinerary to one location. Head off the beaten path and explore the scenic landscapes and hidden treasures that New Zealand has to offer.