Australian Natural Adventures
nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific
New Zealand: the North Island
The North Island of New Zealand is home to Auckland, the nation's largest city, and Rotorua, the current center for the Maori culture. It's a land of rolling hills, numerous bays, coves and small islands, and a yachting mecca.The Maori originally arrived in New Zealand at the north of this island in the 11C, in wooden canoes called waka.
Virtually all trans-Pacific flights arrive in New Zealand in Auckland ( a few are direct to Christchurch), and you can fly direct to Australia from Christchurch on the South Island. Auckland is virtually surrounded by water - it is on an isthmus between two bays - and Kiwis, as New Zealanders are called, use the waters of the Hauraki Gulf extensively. An offshoot of the everpresent water is the development of the Pacific Rim cuisine, featuring fresh seafood and meats served in innovative ways. One excellent way to join Kiwis in the love of yachting is to try your hand on an America's Cup yacht, either as a normal sail, or in a match race with another "cupper." More information can be found here about this exciting opportunity - a great way to shake off the cobwebs of the plane flight.
A little north of Auckland is the Bay of Islands, one of NZ's most scenic areas, and a good place to jump on a sailboat. The island of Tiri Tiri Matangi is a conservation area, safe from introduced predators. A day's visit will reveal a host of NZ's endemic birds. The Coromandel, on the west coast, with its inspirational natural beauty and peaceful environment, has long been a haven for artists and craftspeople, and is popular for bush walking and its beaches. At Hotwater Beach you can scoop out a hole in the sand which is then infills naturally with thermally heated water - a perfect outdoor batch, with a view.
As you approach Rotorua you know something is different. The smell of sulfur infuses the air, and then bubbling mud pools, geysers and warm geothermal springs and ponds, in a kaleidoscope of colors, make an appearance. With one third of New Zealand’s population Maori, Rotorua is a stronghold of Maori culture, arts and crafts, and the best place to experience this culture. Mitai Village includes warrior culture, ancient dances and the welcome haka, and a hangi, a traditional pit-cooked meal. In addition to the Maori culture of Rotorua a favorite activity in this region is trout fishing, in crystal clear streams.
At the southern end of the island is Wellington - Windy Wellington, as it's known - the nation's Capital. The Hutt River region is a prime walking and adventure area.
In addition to the cities, towns, bays, wildlife and people, are the sheep - lots of sheep. Some of the world's finest wool comes from this small island, and no visit to New Zealand is complete without taking in some aspect of the farming life, either with an actual farm visit, or perhaps the Agrodome, a display of the sheepfarming life, complete with trained, working sheepdogs.
Temperatures are generally warm to mild on the North Island, though like all of New Zealand, variation is the spice of life.
Spring (Sep-Nov) 48 - 66 F