Central North Island

The Central North Island area is made up of six smaller regions - Waikato, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Taupo, Ruapehu and Hawkes Bay.


The Waikato is the first region south of Greater Auckland. It has two spectacular landscapes - one above ground, the other below. Above ground the view is dominated by the serenity of the Waikato River and the rich rolling green of productive farmland. Massive subterranean caverns are adorned with stalactites and stalagmites - formations that have been millions of years in the making. Visitors can glide through the darkness on a water-borne barge and admire the beauty and deep silence of the cave where the glow-worms overhead give the effect of an eerie underground sky.

Top Attractions in Waikato

• Take a paddleboat cruise on the Waipa Delta from the city of Hamilton.
• Check out the Hamilton Zoo which has the largest free-flight aviary in the Southern Hemisphere.
• Spot birds of the flightless kind at Otorohanga Kiwi House near Waitomo.
• In Waitomo, take the Glow-worm Cave tour and boat ride through the glow-worm grotto (tours leave every half hour).
• Squeeze into a wetsuit, pick up an inner tube and take the original 'black water rafting' tour. A glow-worm and soft adventure combination in Waitomo.
• Abseil 100m into wondrous The Lost World chasm at Waitomo.
• For Indiana Jones-style caving and abseiling through waterfalls and tunnels, try Haggas Honking Holes also at Waitomo.

Cormandel Peninsula

The Coromandel Peninsula lies east of Auckland, on the other side of the Hauraki Gulf. An impressive, heavily forested mountain range runs right up the middle of this peninsula - it's bordered on each side by kilometres of spectacular coastline. On the west coast, there's a never-ending parade of beaches, coves and harbours lined with pohutukawa trees (a red flowering native of New Zealand) . The eastern side of the Coromandel is furnished with an amazing collection of white sand and surf beaches.

Top Attractions on the Cormandel Peninsula

Put a few hours aside to make your own bone carving in Whitianga.
• Whitianga is also an excellent base for fishing, diving, sea kayaking, dolphin swimming and horse treks.
• Find a spot on Hot Water Beach and dig your own thermal spa pool.
• Stop at the largest thermal pool in the Southern Hemisphere, Miranda Hot Springs.
• Take a guided bushwalk or wander the well-marked trails yourself.
• Cathedral Cove is a magical beach framed by a massive natural rock arch.

Bay of Plenty

The Bay of Plenty lies east of the Kaimai-Mamaku Ranges and south of the Coromandel peninsula. It's a place of beautiful harbours, long white surf beaches and an easy going lifestyle. Everything you need for a perfect holiday is here - sun, sand, sea and a myriad of great places to eat and shop.

Top Attractions at the Bay of Plenty

• Swim with the dolphins in Tauranga or Whakatane.
• Put aside a half-day or full day for a deep sea fishing charter.
• Take a scuba dive in the Mayor Island marine reserve.
• Hop in a helicopter or on a cruise to White Island, NZ's only continually active volcano (you can walk right into the crater area).
• For awesome views of the coastline, put an hour and a half aside for a walk to the top of Mount Maunganui.
• On Matakana Island (in Tauranga Harbour) you can take a guided tour in a covered wagon pulled by Clydesdale horses


The focus of the Taupo region is Lake Taupo - New Zealand's largest lake (619 square kilometres) and the heart of the North Island. Lake Taupo was created a few thousand years ago, by a volcanic eruption so big the sun went hazy in China. Trout fishing is a major attraction here. Just a few minutes north of the Lake at Wairakei you'll find geothermal fields, boiling mud pools and steaming geysers. The nearby Huka Falls area is great for picnics and nature walks - or you could take a thrilling jet boat ride right to the foot of the thundering water.

Top Attractions in Taupo

• En route stop off at thundering Huka Falls
• Sail, ski or fish the lake for brown and rainbow trout. (If you catch a trout, ask your hotel or a local restaurant to cook it for you - restaurants aren't permitted by law to sell trout but they are allowed to cook for you!)
• Go whitewater rafting or bungy jumping over the Waikato River.
• Suspend your fears at Rock'n'Ropes on the Giant Swing, Flying Fox and High Trapeze.
• Try the barbequed prawns at Taupo Prawn Park.


The Ruapehu district is located in the central North Island, midway between Auckland and Wellington. The 80,000ha Tongariro National Park (a World Heritage Area) is the centre of attraction for this district. The active volcano Mount Ruapehu dominates the landscape, rising to 2,797m from the surrounding countryside. It has Mount Ngauruhoe (also active) and Mount Tongariro to keep it company. The three volcanoes are a spectacular sight on a clear day - in the colder months they are capped in snow. Mount Ruapehu is the site of the North Island's premier ski fields - Whakapapa and Turoa.

Top Attractions in Ruapehu

• Visit Tongariro National Park for a dynamic landscape that includes hot springs, a lush rainforest, a desert-like terrain and the snowy volcanic peaks of Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Ruapehu.
• Ski Mount Ruapehu from Whakapapa. There are slopes for beginners (with excellent instructors) and long treeless slopes for the experienced skier.
• Raft the Tongariro River, have fun on a 4WD-farm bike or relax with a fishing rod.
• Want a big walk? The 49km Tongariro Northern Circuit is one of New Zealand's Great Walks. For a small walk, the Tongariro Crossing is generally regarded as the country's best one day walks.

Hawkes Bay

Hawke's Bay is loved for its sunny climate, fabulous beaches, sheltered coastal plains and long-established vineyards. It is also one of the country's largest pip fruit growing areas. Napier, the main city of the region, has one of the largest concentrations of Art Deco buildings in the world. It was razed by earthquake and fire in 1931, and rebuilt in the art deco style which was fashionable at the time.

Top Attractions at Hawkes Bay

• Visit the vineyards for tours and tastings.
• Fish, swim or kayak
• Spend some time in the art deco city of Napier. The Art Deco Trust has guided afternoon walks.
• Swim with dolphins in Napier.
• Indulge in some local truffles.
• Try your hand at trout fishing in the streams and rivers around Hawke's Bay.

Lake Taupo Hawkes Bay Vineyards Waikato River Huka Lodge Huka Falls Jet Boat Ride