The sheer variety of experiences available makes exploring New Zealand’s North Island, known as Aotearoa (the Māori name for the nation), so beautiful. Many of the nation’s most cosmopolitan cities are found on the Island, but its rural centers are also teeming with cultural and historical landmarks. Then there is the breathtaking natural splendor, with breathtaking vistas in almost every direction.
Here are eight breathtaking places you should visit if you are a nature lover first and foremost. After reading the article, all that is left to do is reserve your lodging and get ready for something like the experience of a lifetime!
# 1 Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve
The Poor Knights Islands are one of the best diving spots in the world, and they are situated 35 minutes by boat from Tutukaka off the east coast of North Island. Due to the marine reserve status of the waters surrounding the islands, sea life is able to flourish there. It is a great experience to explore the sea caves, cliffs, and kelp forests, and going to the marine park is among the favorite tourist excursions.
The islands themselves, however, are off-limits because they are home to numerous rare and endangered animal and plant species. In Tutukaka, there are a number of tour companies that provide marine experiences for people of different ages and interests. The hottest waters, at 20 to 23 degrees Celsius, with the best visibility of up to 20 meters, are from January through May.
# 1 Tāne Mahuta
The oldest kauri tree in New Zealand, Tāne Mahuta, is thought to be 2,000 years old. Kauri trees are members of the Araucariaceae family of conifers. If you visit North Island, you must see this woodland colossus for yourself. By Māori, who view the vitality of these plants as a reflection of the healthiness of the entire forest, the kauri is regarded as a “taonga (treasure)”. Despite all efforts to conserve them, the trees are unfortunately in danger from the kauri dieback illness, which poses a threat to their survival. Between Hokianga Harbour and Dargaville, in the Waipoua Forest, is where you may find Tāne Mahuta. It takes 2.10 hours to get there from Whangārei by way of Kaikohe and 1.45 hours through Dargaville.
A carpark is located across the street from the woodland entry, and there are obvious signposts. You will pass through a sizable wash station as you approach the forest, where you are expected to clean and sanitize your shoes. Tāne Mahuta can be reached after a quick five-minute stroll from there. You’ll be astounded by this tree’s grandeur when you eventually see it. When you combine Tāne Mahuta with other local treasures like Museum in Dargaville, The Kauri Museum, and Ngawha Hot Springs, a trip to Tāne Mahuta from Whangārei may be a lot of fun.
# 3 Waitomo Caves
One of the most visited tourist destinations in New Zealand is the Waitomo Caves which can be accessed after a 2.10- or 1.50-hour trip from Auckland or Taupō, respectively. This mysterious underground setting delivers an adventure unlike any other. The Glow Worm Caverns and the Ruakuri Cave are two of the three caves that can be reached on foot, and glow worms are the main draw there (accessible by wheelchair too). Although the Aranui Cave lacks glow worms, it is well known for its stunning stalactites and stalagmites.
A black water rafting adventure is also available and is a ton of fun for the adrenaline fanatic. An informative summary of all three will be provided by a guided tour of the caves, which are rich in geology, fauna, and history. To guarantee there will be a capacity on a tour the very day you arrive, all experiences must be reserved in advance. When you mix experiences, you can get some fantastic discounts.
# 4 Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto, the newest volcano in all of New Zealand, is only 600 years old. The Rangitoto Island’s name, which translates to “bleeding skies”, was given by locals who saw it form after an eruption. To appreciate the hikes and views the island offers, thousands of tourists visit there every year. The largest “pōhutukawa” (also known as the New Zealand Christmas tree or bush) forest, which blossoms from late November to Christmas, is located on the island. It is a striking sight. Ferries run for 25 minutes from Devonport or central Auckland to the island, making transportation simple. You may schedule a visit to the island to last anywhere from a few hours to the largest portion of the day because there are numerous ferry excursions every day.
The route to the peak via the lava caverns is the most well-liked hike on the island. Give yourself at least four hours on the island and 30 minutes to go to both of these locations. You can go down to the lighthouse and use the coastal track for a longer route back to the wharf. Old floating docks and baches that provide some charm to the coastline can be found as you go closer to the wharf. There might be one of these batches available for public viewing.
# 5 Tongariro National Park
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, known as the best one-day trip in New Zealand, is a must-do for any experienced hiker. The track is situated in Tongariro National Park, the oldest national park in New Zealand and the setting for three very different volcanoes (Tongariro, Ruapehu, and Ngāuruhoe). After a one-hour journey from Taupō, you can reach it. The nature reserve has been designated as a joint world heritage site, recognizing both its significance to Māori heritage and its extraordinary natural elements.
This 19.4-kilometer one-way track begins at the Mangatepopo parking lot and calls for a fair amount of physical condition. Given that it is an alpine hike, the weather needs to be taken seriously, and those who undertake it need to be ready. When planning to take the trek, keep in mind that the weather can change quickly. The best way to gather all the information you require is to call the Whakapapa Visitor Information Centre.
Between November and May, when there is probably little to no snow, is the greatest time of year to go unguided. You should reserve a guided excursion while there is snow if you are not an expert alpine hiker. It is recommended to schedule drop-off and pick-up at any time of year because parking restrictions (a limit of four hours) are in effect from October through April. There are numerous shuttle providers around who can assist with transportation.
# 6 Waimangu Volcanic Valley
The Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the world’s youngest geothermal system, and it is located 45 minutes from Taupō. It was produced by Mount Tarawera’s 1886 eruption, which is famed for burying the iconic pink and white slopes that were a striking feature on the beaches of Lake Rotomahana. The terraces were the planet’s greatest deposits of silica sinter and were once regarded as the eighth world’s wonder. Walking across the valley today will allow you to take in the geothermal wonders, such as the hot springs, steam vents, and mud pools. The stunning Inferno Crater Lake rises and descends as the Frying Pan Lake, one of the largest hot springs in the world, heats and cools.
A 45-minute boat excursion on Lake Rotomahana with a captain-led complete commentary is an option at the bottom of the valley. You can also board one of the frequent buses that transport guests to and from the cafeteria and gift shop if you do not feel like trudging back up the hill.
# 7 Putangirua Pinnacles
Some of New Zealand’s most amazing rock formations may be found in the Putangirua Pinnacles. It takes 1.40 hours to drive there from Wellington, but everyone who has gone will tell you it is well worth the effort. The pinnacles were constructed from old gravel layers that were gradually concreted together and then progressively exposed to the weather over several tens of thousands of years. They are so uncommon that The Lord of the Rings trilogy’s third film, directed by Peter Jackson, included this region.
There are several possibilities for walking the distance needed to reach the pinnacles. The Putangirua Pinnacles Scenic Reserve in the Aorangi Forest Park, however, is where they all begin. There are easy trails that lead to the pinnacles’ bases, and you may also climb to a vantage point (a decent ascent involved). The pinnacles should be seen after about 45 minutes of pursuing any of the tracks, although it may take up to four hours to complete the entire loop. If you want to experience this amazing natural wonder in one day, make sure you dress in sturdy shoes, bring a hat and sunblock, as well as some food and water.
# 8 Whanganui River
The Whanganui River is the longest passable river in all of New Zealand, and it can be reached from Palmerston North in 50 minutes. It rises atop the majestic Mount Tongariro and then meanders through the Whanganui National Park and Taumarunui to get to Whanganui and the Tasman Sea. The Māori people arrived in the area some 800 years ago and settled along the banks of the river, which is rich in resources and history. Both the descendants of the original settlers and numerous traditional “marae (a fenced-in complex that belongs to a particular tribe)” still exist. When the first Europeans arrived, they too were struck by the abundance of the river and the surrounding areas and started farming there.
Outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to this river because it offers so many amazing activities, such as canoeing, bicycling, hiking, and jet boating. Visitors to the area frequently take trips to the Bridge to Nowhere. From Whanganui, there are two choices for getting there: by boat and a stroll, or by hiking or bicycling 35 to 40 kilometers (one way). There are many attractions to see along the way, making a road drive all along Whanganui River Road from Whanganui a fantastic day out. Hiking app is the perfect way to make the most of your outdoor experience.
Canoe trips along the Whanganui River are listed among New Zealand’s Great Walks even though they are not really walking. Starting in Taumarunui and ending in Pipiriki, the five-day journey. There is also a three-day option.
The national rugby team (three-time world champion and always among the favorites at bookmaker-expert.com/country/new-zealand/ to win any major tournament), the Māori culture, and the stunning environment of New Zealand are all well-known. We specifically wanted to draw your attention to the latter point because New Zealand is incredibly rich in magnificent scenery, hospitable locals who are always up for a good time, activities galore, delectable food and drink, and an atmosphere that is unmatched elsewhere in the world.