New Zealand’s North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui) is a treasure trove of attractions. But where are the top spots to stop in North Island? These are our picks for the top 5 stops you shouldn’t miss.
1. Fish and chips on the way to Paihia
Northland is renowned for its fresh local kai moana (seafood). Call into any fish and chip establishment on your drive north to Paihia and ask the friendly staff for their recommendation. Find yourself a comfy spot – a local park is good, the beach is even better – and tuck in. Best eaten immediately with gusto.
2. Hot Water Beach
An underground river of naturally-heated water flows just below the golden sands of the aptly named Hot Water Beach on Coromandel Peninsula. Visitors come from near and far to dig a pool and enjoy a soak in the mineral water, only metres from the refreshing ocean waves. Bring your own spade or hire one from a local café.
There is something extraordinarily magical about stepping into Hobbiton, and you will be delighted to find that it remains exactly as it was depicted in the Lord of the Rings. Meander along the paths of the little village with its gardens and hobbit holes, and down to the mill on the river. Finish your tour in true hobbit style, with a beverage at the world-famous Green Dragon.
4. Huka Falls
Located only a few minutes north of Taupō, the dramatic Huka Falls is an incredible sight to behold and New Zealand’s most visited natural wonder. You’ll hear the deafening roar of the falls before you see it.
The banks of the Waikato River narrow abruptly, forcing a huge volume of water through the rocky gorge. 220,000 litres per second comes thundering over a volcanic ledge and crashes 11 metres into the river below, creating a broiling mass of white water. The bridge that spans the river is perfectly situated for viewing the cacophonous spectacle, the riverside track offers a pleasant walk as well as some different vantage points.
5. Art Deco Napier
Napier was devastated by a major earthquake in 1931, and almost entirely rebuilt in the Art Deco style. The stunning buildings have been lovingly preserved and the city is often referred to as the Art Deco Capital of the World. If you’re a true fanatic you should time your visit to coincide with the annual festival, but there are plenty of year-round tours showcasing the grand old sights. Whether by bus, on foot, or chauffeured in a classy vintage car, you can step back in time in this special city.
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