There are certainly places In the North Island I could visit every year, but it’s difficult to limit it to only five. Of course, it does also depend a bit on who I travel with. So here we go, my suggestions for the Top 5 Getaway places in the North Island of New Zealand:
1. Winter Family get-away to Rotorua – of course a great place for couples too
To me, Rotorua is the perfect place for a winter get-away in the North Island of NZ, if you don’t want to go skiing. There is so much to do there, even in Winter. The luge is always fun and sort of reminds me of being in the snow. Experience some Maori culture; visit Tamaki Village and enjoy a hangi on a cold winter evening. There are endless walking options, Green and Blue Lake, Tarawera Trail and of course The Redwoods. The Redwoods Tree walk is great to do in the evening. Hell’s Gate Mud Spa is the perfect place to soak and ease the joints after a walk. Don’t forget to visit one of the amazing Geothermal wonders, Wai-O-Tapu never disappoints or visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley. What I also like, the hotel rooms are always nice and warm and there are of course the thermal hot pools at the hotels to warm up.
Blue lake walk
The Bay of Islands are nice, but when it comes to stunning beaches, my favourite place is further north. The Karikari peninsula has beautiful walks and the white, sandy beaches are empty. Matai Bay has a camping ground and is a bit busier. I prefer Karikari Beach or Puwheke beach, however you need to walk to get there.
Travelling further north to the top of New Zealand and visit Cape Reinga. Make sure you have enough time to stop at a few places on the way. Take the gravel road of SH1 to Rarawa Beach, where the finest, whitest sand awaits you. The sea can be a bit rough, but even a walk along the white, silica sandy beach is wonderful.
Heading North, stop on the western side of the peninsula and you can enjoy the 90 Mile beach, which is a bit darker in colour. Further north, near the top of the North Island of New Zealand, take a detour to the Paki Paki sand dunes, and don’t forget your boogie board – it’s good fun!
Paki Paki Sand Dunes
3. Girls Weekend or Team Building in Waiheke and some wine tasting
Waiheke is a 30-minute ferry ride away from the centre of Auckland, however, once you are there you could almost be in a different country. The perfect weekend getaway. The vibrant Saturday market in Ostend is a great place to buy some tasty treats and experience the Waiheke community.
Get transferred to Tuscany while having a long Sunday lunch at Poderi Crisci. Head to the Eastern end of the island and enjoy a pizza and of course some fantastic wine at Passage Rock.
Besides wine tasting, you may want to do some walking. On the Te Ara Hura walking track network, you can explore the coastline and pass through native bush, beaches, and historic sites. After a swim and some relaxing at Onetangi Beach head across the road to Three Seven Two, a multi-award-winning restaurant.
Hotel on Waiheke
4. Tongariro National Park - World Heritage Site
The highest mountain in the North Island of New Zealand is Mount Ruapehu, an active volcano, located in the Tongariro National Park. Mt Tongariro and Ngauruhoe are the two other active volcanoes in the park, which are better known as Mt Doom from the LOTR movies.
In winter you can ski in the park at the two ski fields. The rest of the year the park is a great place for hiking, walking, and mountain biking. The world-famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a fantastic one-day hike. The landscape is moonlike with different lava flows, red-brown and black craters, emerald and blue lakes, thermal steam and sulfur smell, views over the Desert road and Lake Taupo and, to finish off, tussock-covered slopes and podocarp-hardwood forest. There are many other hikes with fewer people, easily done with a guide to arranging transport on either side and you could stay in the comfort of a nice lodge in Turangi instead of the Department of Conservation (DOC) hut.
A must-visit place during any North Island trip.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
5. Taranaki Region – North-west Coast of the North Island of New Zealand
While travelling in New Zealand many people miss out on this beautiful region. I like the rainforested Egmont National Park with the volcano Taranaki, where you find great hiking trails and a small ski field. The drive from Manaia Road through the forest is spectacular and the walk to Dawson Falls is well worth it. Not far from the mountain is the beach and State Highway 45 is also called Surf Highway due to the number of prominent surfing breaks and ocean swells. Heading further north along the coast you can see the ‘Three Sisters and Elephant Rock’. Well, there are actually only 2 ‘sisters’ left, erosion is hard at work and changing the Elephant rock as well, as it has lost its trunk in 2016. It is best to visit at low tide; you can then walk along the river and around the point to see the formations close up.
The beach is spectacularly wild, with the finest black sand and at some places with beautiful rocks. Before you leave this less-visited region of the North Island, look back and you can see Mt Taranaki watching over the region in the distance.
Egmont National Park