A to Z of Adventure Travel: N is for North Island, NZ

16 04 2009

 waitomo-caves-wm

 

     Got a flat tyre? Call the Waitomo Caves Pit Crew! (Waitomo, New Zealand)

 

New Zealand’s North Island is the 14th largest island in the world and home to 76% of the country’s population and its biggest city, Auckland. While its South Island is renowned as one of the world’s great adventure and outdoor playgrounds, the North Island should never be overlooked.

 

Auckland is a cosmopolitan city of hills and extinct volcanoes on the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. Having several times hosted the America’s Cup, at any given time, its harbour is filled with some of the most impressive and expensive private and racing yachts in the world – with the latter often available for charter or sightseeing trips. Restaurants, pubs and nightlife abound making it the perfect starting point for exploring this South Pacific nation.

 

To the north of Auckland almost at the northern-most point of the country lies Paihia and the Bay of Islands with its spectacular coastline. Boat trips are offered in search of dolphins and whales as well as skydiving, parasailing and scuba diving.

 

The geothermal capital of New Zealand is Rotorua, located south-east of Auckland. Rotorua is a wonderland of spas, bubbling mud pools and geysers, providing you don’t mind the smell of sulphur! Rotorua is also the centre for Maori culture and offers plenty of opportunities to learn more about New Zealand’s first nations through visitor centres and cultural villages.

 

For those seeking something different, there’s Zorbing! Created in New Zealand, Zorbers roll downhill in enormous clear-plastic spheres…a bit like being trapped in a large bubble machine except with gravity. If you want to try something that your neighbours haven’t and that doesn’t involved flinging yourself off a bridge, this is it!

 

Beneath Waitomo lies a vast network of caves displaying stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms as well as the cave weta – a spider that even horror film directors couldn’t exaggerate! The subterranean world can be explored by abseiling from ground level and then wading and swimming through eel-infested waters before wriggling through narrow openings into chambers that seem undiscovered and untouched! Alternatively there are boat tours through the glow-worm caves or cave rafting down underground rivers. Great for the adventurous…but not for the claustrophobic or squeemish!

 

If after all your giant spiders, eels, geysers and zorbing you just want to relax and enjoy some beautiful scenery, North Island offers something for everyone from Wellington and Napier all the way to Cape Reinga.

 

 

Post by: Simon Vaughan © 2009

Photo by: Doug Fry

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