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The Road Less Travelled: Best Kept Secrets In New Zealand’s North Island

Cathedral Cave - NZ

It’s the greatest debate in New Zealand; which one is the better island? It’s kind of like comparing one sibling to the other – you love them both for different reasons. NZ’s North Island is literally brimming with secret spots, incredible vistas and geographical marvels, meaning there’s basically no feasible reason not to visit, like, ASAP. We’ve compiled some of our favourite spots from the road less travelled (with a little help from some friendly cuzzies in the know), to help you on your way…

The Coromandel

Welcome to the gateway to endless adventure. Tucked away in the North island is the Coromandel, an 85-km stretch of perfect beaches, misty rainforests and secret hideaways making this the ideal location to relax and escape from the busy crowds. 

New Zealand's north island - Cathedral cove in the coromandel

What to do?

Consider yourself a beach baby? Lucky for you, the Coromandel offers plenty of options, from New Chums beach, voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world by Lonely Planet, to the relaxing and natural Hot Water Beach, where you can actually dig up your own spa! Once you’re feeling rejuvenated, be sure to visit Cathedral cove and go on a spectacular coastal walk. This iconic location is famous as the opening scene to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!

Mt Maunganui

Ask any local where the most underrated beach town in New Zealand is, and surely Mount Maunganui will be the hot topic. This pretty as pie town is at the Southern end of Tauranga and features a giant sandbar with a sheltered bay on the inner harbour side and a surf beach on the ocean side.

What to do? It wouldn’t be right of you didn’t do a hike, rising 230 metres above sea level. Although a tough climb, the breathtaking views are worth it.

Bay of islands

The Bay of Islands is no tropical island, but alas – with 144 islands between Cape Brett and Purerua this subtropical region is every water lover’s dream. Whilst it’s probably impossible to visit every island (though points for trying), Paihia is the perfect stop-off to explore the Bay of Islands.

What to do? Join a cruise, sea-kayak or go snorkelling and explore what’s lurking beneath the waters where you’ll be met with a maritime playground of penguins, dolphins, marlins, whales and more. Our tip? Bring a GoPro!

Mt Tongariro a.k.a Mt Doom

Thanks to LOTR, Mt Tongariro a.k.a Mt Doom is an unmissable and iconic location. You can see it in two ways, either by passing through Lake Taupo, or by following in the footsteps of Frodo and hiking through the Tongariro Alpine crossing. Although a treacherous walk, it’s been done by many non-experienced hikers and the view of the turquoise coloured Emerald lake makes the struggle all worth while.

New Zealand's north island - Emerald lakes - NZ

What to do? If hiking isn’t your thing, never fear. With Mt Tongariro at 1,978 metres, it’s a hard one to miss from afar. If you’re visiting or passing through Lake Taupo there are plenty of vantage spots to catch a glimpse of this remarkable active volcano.

New Zealand's north island - Lake Taupo

Blue Springs 

Imagine visiting the very place 70% of the NZ population drinks water from? Welcome to The Blue Spring. It takes up to 100 years to filter through, hence the purity of the water that produces that oh so sweet crystal blue colour.

What to do? Follow the walking trek from the Te Waihou walkway or grab a bike and follow the Waikato River trail.

Travel to beautiful New Zealand with Contiki. 2016/17 trips available now. Watch epic video by NZ tradie turned blogger and videographer below.