New Zealand is made up of two islands, North and South Islands. The two islands are completely different, however both offer so much. We decided to explore the North Island as Dad was born here and most of his family live in the North Island. Dad has lived on the South Island and Mum has visited there several years ago. It was time for us to catch up with Dads family and explore the beautiful countryside of the North Island.
Are you thinking the following?
- Should I visit the North or South Island?
- What are the main attractions of the North Island?
- Are there beautiful beaches?
- Can I free camp?
- Is it easy to navigate my way around?
North Island, New Zealand
The North Island of New Zealand is a wonderful place to explore if you love nature. It is famous for its volcanic activity, beautiful national parks and cosmopolitan cities. It is certainly the place to take off your shoes and be grounded by nature. Auckland is the country’s largest city, which is where we arrived at the International Airport. Three quarters of New Zealand’s population live on the North Island. The capital of New Zealand is Wellington which is situated on the southern tips of the North Island. Auckland is surrounded by bays and islands, hence it being known as the “city of sails”.
The best way to explore New Zealand is to hire a car, go on a tour or grab a camper van.
Should You Visit The South Island or North Island?
This is a tough question which can only be answered by yourself, however the below may assist you in making your decision.
5 Reasons Why You Should Visit The North Island of New Zealand
- You want to be grounded by nature
- Have an interest in the historical gold mining towns
- Geothermal activity interests you
- You love adventure
- Seeking world class surfing breaks
Places We Explored On The North Island, New Zealand
Take a look at the below links of beautiful places we explored on the North Island. Note these are just a few of the amazing places to take an adventure. We still have so many places to explore!! If anyone tells you that 10 days is enough to explore, think twice!! Suggest you take at least 3-4 weeks.
- Lake Taupo
- Waitomo Caves
- Rotorua including Redwoods Forest, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Rotorua Gondola
- Thames the start of the Coromandel Peninsula
- Coromandel Peninsula including Hot Water Beach, Catherine Gorge
- Karangahake Gorge, southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula
We landed at Auckland Airport and headed too Warkworth. Warkworth was our first stop. Here we explored the areas nearby before heading off to explore the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua, Waitomo Caves, Raglan and then heading back up north of the island for another visit to Warkworth before heading further north along the East Coast and across to the west to Dargaville.
We totally enjoyed our journey around the North Island and have come home looking forward to our return trip!!
South Island, New Zealand Attractions
Whilst my parents have explored the scenic places below and talk highly of them it was years ago and we don’t have photos to share. The below are just a few of the wonderful places South Island has to offer. I’m sure it won’t be too long for this to change as the South Island is on my parents bucket list for us all to explore together. I can’t wait as my parents talk highly of the South Island.
- Milford Sound
- Fox Glacier
- Free Camping
- Snow Fields
- Rugged Countryside
Milford Sound which is a fiord in the southwest of the South Island of New Zealand holds many fond memories for my Mum. The Milford Sound is a popular area for tourists to explore by boat. Mum recalls the beauty of the area, fresh air, the serenity, being drenched on the front of the boat as they came close to the falls!
One of Mums highlights was exploring the Fox Glacier. The glacier is named after New Zealand’s prime minister from 1869-1872, Sir William Fox.
Mum went on a small plane that flew over the Fox Glacier to provide that spectacular birds eye view. She was fortunate to land on the glacier and walk around. This was a moment she will treasure forever and totally recommends anyone and everyone to experience!
Free camping otherwise known as Freedom camping in New Zealand to us would be the perfect way to explore this amazingly beautiful island. Whilst neither of my parents have experienced free camping in the South Island of New Zealand they have both driven past and seen the numerous gorgeous places they’d love to camp at. My parents have a Toyota Hiace Camper van which they love travelling in Victoria, Australia. Needless to say the journey in a camper van around the South Island is definitely on the “to explore” bucket list.
South Island is definitely the island to explore if its ski season and you’re wanting to head to the ski fields. There are 4 awesome areas in and around Queenstown to ski, The Coronet Peak, The Remarkable’s, Cardrona and Treble Cone. All the ski fields are suitable for all ages and cater for all skill levels. The ski fields are easily accessible by coach or car.
Both my parents loved the rugged countryside of the South Island. The mountainous countryside. My Mum recalls the countryside being full of sheep and loved listening to the sound of them.
Have you explored either the North or South Islands? Can you share with us your experiences or tips on where we should explore?