A Local’s Guide: Best Places to Visit on North Island, New Zealand

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There are many great places to visit in New Zealand, and the North Island is no exception.   Home to around 75% of New Zealand’s population, the North Island has some of the country’s largest cities, including Auckland and Wellington. 

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North Island has plenty of natural beauty, including gorgeous beaches, mountains, hikes, and geothermal attractions. In addition, it’s the best place to experience Māori culture in New Zealand. 

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The city of Auckland is based around two beautiful harbors and is sometimes referred to as the “City of Sails” for its abundance of sailboats and fancy yachts.  One of the best things to do in Auckland is hopping on a scenic cruise or ferry to neighboring islands like Waiheke Island, Rangitoto, or Tiritiri Matangi.

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A 3-hour drive north of Auckland leads you to the Bay of Islands, a subtropical district in the Northland region filled with beaches, history, and beautiful coastal scenery. The main towns in the Bay of Islands are Paihia, Russell, and Kerikeri, which make a great home base for exploring the area.

Bay of Islands

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Mount Maunganui is a picturesque coastal town known for its long stretch of golden sandy beach and its namesake volcanic cone: Mount Maunganui, or “the Mount,” as locals often refer to it. One of the best things to do here is to hike up Mount Maunganui, where you’ll get incredible panoramic views from the summit.

Mount Maunganui

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One of the top destinations on New Zealand’s North Island is Rotorua, famous for its geothermal attractions and Māori culture. In Rotorua, you can visit geothermal sites like the Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Te Puia or soak in a relaxing natural hot spring.


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When many people think of New Zealand, the first thing that comes to mind is the Lord of the Rings film series. At the Hobbiton movie set, you can tour the exact fictional village that starred as the Shire in the Lord of the Rings films. Hobbiton is nestled amongst rolling green hills and looks just as idyllic as in the movies. 


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