The North Island of New Zealand houses an excess of natural wonders. It is also home to about ¾ of New Zealand’s population and the country’s biggest city Auckland. The North Island is a hub of cosmopolitan cities, volcanic activities, Kiwi food, and the distinct Maori culture. One trip will convince you that the country is one class apart. By Shubhanjana Das

1. Auckland

Apart from being an easy-access centre for inter-country travel, and the largest Polynesian city in the world, Auckland is an adventure in itself. If you are as much of a city person as one who likes to embrace the surprises of nature, Auckland will enthrall your senses. The city parks with beautiful art, sleeping volcanoes with awe-inspiring views, the Auckland museum, and a culinary abundance that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere — Auckland has it all. While Auckland’s Sky Tower and Summit Point promises mind-boggling views, don’t miss out on the Harbour Bridge, a Kiwi icon.

2. Northland

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Maori culture and its distinct folklore can be found preserved in Northland. Here, you can try your hand at sailing, big game fishing, or go for leisurely cruises. Cape Reinga and Spirits Bay at the northernmost tip of the island are believed to be the places from where the dead souls depart for their journey to the afterlife, as per the Maori folklore. It is the most sacred site in all of Aotearoa. Owing to the same, visitors are requested not to eat or drink in its vicinity. Access is forbidden to people visiting to Te Renge Wairua (Leaping Place of the Spirits) where the 800-year-old pohutukawa tree is. It is at this point that the actual departure is believed to take place.

3. Rotorua

Rotorua is the bubbling volcanic heart of New Zealand, often referred to as the Sulphur City for good reason. Even though the place smells like rotten eggs, thanks to the hydrogen sulphide oozing out of earth’s vents — the place has unique geothermal activity that you won’t find elsewhere. Mud pools in Kuirau Park, small geysers, colourful mineral pools, and hot foot baths are a common site here. Rotorua is also where you have the opportunity of coming closer to the Maori Culture and experience their traditional dance along with the hearty hangi meal, which is cooked for hours in an earth oven!

4. Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay

Gisborne on the sunny eastern side of North Island is one of the first places in the world to see the sunrise. While Gisborne is big on Maori Culture as it shelters more than half of its population, the entire region, including Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s drawcard for its world-class wineries, which churn out some of the best Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. So, it goes without saying that a wine-tasting along with a traditional, locally produced meal that the winery serves is an absolute must when in Gisborne or Hawke’s bay.

5. Wellington

Wellington is North Island’s capital city and is also often misunderstood to be grey and monotonous. The beautiful rocky coastline of the city outlines its nightlife, culture, and art along with a warm and welcoming population. If you believe in culinary exploration of a place, let us tell you that Wellington happens to have more cafes and bars per head than New York.

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