The North Island has many superb physical features, and it's home to New Zealand's two major cities, Auckland, the 'City of Sails' and the capital, Wellington. It offers island-studded bays and sailing, volcanic activity and geothermal wonders, wild rugged coastlines, and fascinating Maori culture and history.
The beautiful region in the far north is known as Northland and includes the picturesque Coromandel Peninsula, reaching into the sea between Auckland and the Bay of Plenty. It has magnificent kauri forests of enormous 3,000-year-old trees, stunning coastal scenery, beaches and scenic bays, quaint seaside townships, and mountain ranges. The Bay of Islands is the most popular destination with opportunities for sailing, diving, snorkelling, and kayaking on the clear blue waters around the islands. The top of the island tails off into a rugged desolate finger of land with sand dunes and the long white sandy stretch of Ninety Mile Beach along its west coast.
At the heart of the North Island is the Central Plateau, the centre of the country's volcanic activity. Volcanoes, bubbling mud pools, hot springs, spouting geysers, steaming lakes and rivers are strewn across the landscape. Rotorua, the Maori cultural heartland, sits at the edge of the most concentrated area of activity and is characterised by the unmistakable smell of sulphur. Lake Taupo, formed by one of the greatest eruptions ever recorded, has beautiful views across to the volcanic peaks of Tongariro National Park, with excellent hiking, and is regarded as the trout fishing capital of the world.
At the southern tip of the island lies New Zealand's capital, Wellington, a beautiful city in a striking setting around a harbour and surrounded by mountains. It is the centre of the country and a major travel crossroads between the North and South Islands.
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