Central North Island
Rotorua, Taupo, Napier & More
The main touring areas here Rotorua, Taupo, and Napier. But there is much more to the region – beginning just south of Auckland.
This village was hardly on anyone’s map until the Lord of the Rings trilogy became world famous. Now devotes of those films and The Hobbit come here. Do let us know if you are Lord of the Rings fan because there are LOTR sites in many other places in NZ. And, you don’t have to be a LOTR fan to appreciate the beauty of Hobbiton! The farm offers absolutely stunning scenery!
Tourists from around the globe started sailing to NZ in the mid 1800’s to visit the hot springs and the famous Pink and White Terraces. The terraces were destroyed by an immense volcano eruption in 1886, but there are numerous thermal areas and some hot springs visitors enjoy today.
Maori culture is another big draw. Because the Maori are still living in several villages right in Rotorua, it is easy to do. In one you can see how they cook in steaming hot water holes right in their back yards and bathe in a large communal bathhouse. In another you can see a re-created Maori village of by-gone days.
There are scenic flights, guided walks in the forests, trout fishing – and New Zealand’s latest crazy sport: zorbing. If you have ever wanted to get in a large ball and be rolled down a hill, here is your chance!
The Waitomo Caves
It’s not just the glowworms! There are more caves to explore as well as high adventure activities like black water rafting.
Taupo is just south of Rotorua, but like many drives in New Zealand, has several wonderful stops along the way. One of our favorite thermal areas, Orakei Korako, is less crowded and offers a lot of variety. Stop to Huka Falls, where the Waikato River narrows and drops dramatically in a thundering waterfall.
Top things to do in Taupo: an early morning scenic flight over the three volcanoes here – one of which, Tongariro, is still active; a boat ride on Lake Taupo – the largest lake in the North Island; fantastic trout fishing (never tried it? This is the place to “give it a go” as they say downunder.) Top notch golf, arts and crafts, walking through the Whiranaki Rainforest. Accommodation varies from basic motels to world famous inns.
Tongariro Crossing is called “New Zealand’s best one day hike.” Famous – if not infamous – for dramatic weather changes, we always book a guide for this demanding walk. The lodge here is a great place to just relax and soak up the scenery.
Napier and Hastings
Napier and Hastings are southeast of Taupo on the coast of Hawkes Bay. Best known as one of New Zealand’s top wine growing areas, it also draws visitors interested in Art Deco architecture, golf, and birding.
White Island and East Cape
Ever want to visit an active volcano? Yes, an unusual activity but clients who have done this said it was a trip highlight! You get to wear a hard hat and a gas mask. Photos of that alone will thrill the folks back home who read your travel blog! East Cape is Maori country. Stunning back roads, dense forests, a lake that is 840 feet deep, the beach where the movie Whale Rider was filmed, and awesome offshore fishing, Maori villages and more. The only marae in the USA, which is at the Field Museum in Chicago, came from here.
Explore the Central North Island
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