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The North Island is the geothermal and cultural heart of New Zealand. It’s here you can experience a locally cooked meal made underground, or fly over the coast to an active volcano island to explore on foot. The variety of landscapes is incredible: an Art Deco seaside town surrounded by wineries, the remote coves of the Bay of Islands or the breathtaking hikes that make up New Zealand’s greatest walks. The North Island really is the place to experience New Zealand's renowned manaakitanga (hospitality in Maori). 

Jane Dumble
Travel Designer

With a landscape that encompasses a coastline of black sand beaches, active volcanoes and unique geothermal activity, New Zealand’s North Island is as diverse as it is beautiful.

The island is also home to the country’s cosmopolitan cities of Auckland – the vibrant heart of New Zealand – and Wellington, the trendy capital on the lowest point of the North Island.

In contrast, the Northland and the Bay of Islands are dotted with early colonial towns, quiet coves and clear Pacific waters. Further south, past ancient giant Kauri trees, is New Zealand’s geothermal wonderland of Rotorua: complete with bubbling mud pools, bursting geysers and colourful, steaming lakes.

With natural beauty to spare, the North Island’s hiking trails offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to traverse ethereal landscapes and see the local flora and fauna up close.

The rich rewards of this island extend to luxury lodges, fine wines from Hawkes Bay and Māori cultural experiences that allow you to better understand the local relationship to this fertile heartland.

Browse the example plans above and talk with our New Zealand experts to create your very own personal itinerary.

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Our favourite places to stay in the North Island

Wharekauhau Country Estate
Immerse yourself in the grandeur of a bygone era at the spectacular Wharekauhau Country Estate, an Edwardian lodge set on a hill with spectacular views of the thundering sea below and working sheep farm around. Breath-taking scenery and a welcoming, friendly atmosphere will make this a visit to remember. Take in the dramatic vistas of Palliser Bay from the 13 cottage suites, or find the utmost privacy at either luxurious Owners Cottage or home Wharepapa Cottage, each with three bedrooms. Natural materials are used throughout the suites – clay tiles, pebble mosaics and rich New Zealand wool carpeting add to the experience. Each room in the main lodge has its own distinct touch, complete with carefully-selected antique furniture and classic fireplaces. Unwind in airy open lounges flooded with natural light, or curl up with a book in a cosy corner. Whether relaxing in front of a crackling fire, or sharing a light-hearted moment in the sunny kitchen, at Wharekauhau you’re considered part of the family. An elegant formal dining room flows through into a country kitchen and conservatory, making mealtimes extra special. The kitchen’s ‘farm to table’ philosophy means fresh produce from the lodge gardens and surrounding areas – so look out for the chefs roaming the grounds collecting the freshest ingredients for the evening meal. With 5,500 acres of private land including ancient forests, peaceful lakes, rivers, and a wild and rugged coast to explore, guests are spoilt for choice when it comes to a route for walking, mountain biking, horse riding or ATV quad bike adventures.
Poronui Lodge
Poronui is a magical wilderness retreat, a 16,000-acre private estate in the breathtaking Taharua Valley in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island. The collection of luxurious lodgings make it the ideal getaway for hikers, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Dotted across the reserve, places to stay include the main lodge and seven individually appointed guest cabins that have transformed a rustic fishing camp into one of the world’s finest sporting lodges, with a kitchen serving up gourmet seasonal cuisine – much of it sourced on the estate – and a convivial feel to be found around the crackling fires. There’s also the private use Blake House, sat overlooking the Taharua River, with two grand suites as well as two bunkrooms making it ideal for families and small groups. The kitchen here is well equipped for either guest use or with your own personal chef. Finally, the two canvas and wooden huts of the rustic Safari Camp provides an authentic wilderness experience without foregoing creature comforts like crisp cotton sheets, hot running water, flushing toilets, gourmet food and fine wine. For the use of all the guests at Poronui, the stables contain modern gym and health club facilities – including steam, sauna, and massage treatment rooms. Also located in this complex is a full-sized antique English billiard table and two additional dining venues – the cabana (outdoor barbeque) and the atmospheric underground wine cellar. Activities at Poronui are suitably outdoorsy, and range from incredible fly fishing to horse riding, guided walks, hikes, cultural experiences with the Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe of the Maori, mountain biking, archery and shooting. Poronui is also close to various attractions such as the geothermal lands of Central North Island, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and adventure sport enthusiast favourite Taupo.
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