When you’re in the Central North Island New Zealand, drive an hour in any direction and witness the landscape transform. Red flowered Pohutukawa trees give way to golden sandy beaches, coursing rivers lead to black sands and jagged coastlines. It’s not just nature that transforms. It’s the culture too. Beach towns turn into wineries and bed and breakfasts dotting the countryside. Modern cities showcase Indigenous traditions. Every bend in the road reveals a new opportunity to experience the diversity of New Zealand in all its glory.
Away From it All in The Coromandel
This is New Zealand’s nature at its most pristine. Follow the mountain trails of The Pinnacles and experience the green landscape and golden sands that take you back to the days before human habitation.
Flavours of the Bay of Plenty
An idyllic stretch of coastline from Waihi Beach to Tauranga that showcases the bounties of the sea. Stay in a bed and breakfast and spend your days meeting new friends over fresh seafood, prawn toast, cheese scones, and classic fish and chips.
Sacred First Light in Tairāwhiti Gisborne
In the 13th century, one of the first sights early Māori explorers would’ve laid eyes on is Maunga Hikurangi, the first place in the world to see the sunrise of a new day. Hike up the mountain before dawn to witness the sunrise, seeing the land and the sky with the same eyes as New Zealand’s first inhabitants.
Wines & Cellar Doors of Hawke’s Bay
Mission Estate winery opened its doors in 1851. Today, it is the oldest winery in New Zealand and emblematic of the rich wine culture that awaits visitors in Hawke’s Bay. Recently crowned a Great Wine Capital of the World, the region has more than 200 wine producers showcasing everything from complex, buttery Chardonnay to deep, full-bodied Bordeaux blends and Syrah.
Award-Winning Gardens & The Shire in Waikato
Middle-earth is real in Matamata, where the Hobbiton™ Movie Set lets fans of The Lord of the Rings live out their fantasy. To the west, the lovely city of Hamilton offers a relaxed atmosphere in the midst of gorgeous gardens and a great restaurant scene.
Manaakitanga in Rotorua
Manaakitanga is Māori generosity and respect. Rotorua, the nation’s most populous Māori city, is defined by manaakitanga. Dive into Māori traditions, enjoy a hangi (underground oven) feast, visit a village that recreates the pre-European period, and, of course, hit up the famous geothermal sites bubbling throughout the region.
Taupō’s Call to Adventure
The crystal clear waters of Lake Taupō are calling you. Hike or bike the Great Lake Trails where you can experience ancient forests and unsurpassed lake views or gaze upon the mighty Huka Falls. Taupō is a paradise for nature lovers and adventurous souls.
The Greater Outdoors of Ruapehu
Two of New Zealand’s finest national parks lie in Ruapehu. Hike the world-renowned Tongariro Alpine Crossing with its otherworldly volcanic landscapes or embark on an adventure along the sacred Whanganui River. Book a local guide for an immersive experience.
This article was originally published in No. 31 of Globetrotting Magazine.
Get the latest travel trends & hear about the best deals on vacations around the world.
If you’re a Globetrotter, these are the newsletters for you!