This article was created in partnership with Tourism New Zealand.
Bubbling hot pools, active volcanoes, vast beaches and a rich Māori culture are just some of the highlights New Zealand’s North Island tantalises visitors with.
Lush, surprising and utterly beautiful, the North Island is the kind of place that just calls to you to get lost, go off grid, and seek adventures.
So where should you go? These are the spots the guide books don’t want you to know about…
Tucked away amongst lush native bushland, Kerosene Creek is a geothermal heated stream just thirty-five minutes south of Rotorua. Here, a pretty 2 metre waterfall drops down to an opening where hot spring and freshwater spring meet, creating a temperature that is not too hot, not too cold, and the perfect place to float away an afternoon.
Like the sound of rainforest, wetlands and a mysterious ‘goblin forest’? That’s what Lake Waikaremoana has in store for you, located 40 minutes outside of Wairoa. One of New Zealand’s greatest walks, the track follows the shores of the great lake and is one of the largest areas of native forest in the North Island. Completing the full walk will take you 3-4 days, but OMG will it be worth it as you pass by surging rivers, waterfalls and eerie valleys of mist, not to mention nearly every native North Island bird in existence.
Hokianga Rangi Point sand dunes
Want to combine a feat of nature and a hit of adrenalin? Get yourself to Hokianga, and go sandboarding. Located on the northern part of Hokianga Harbour, the north head sand dunes are spiritually significant to local Māori, and feature huge sand sculptures and vast sand canyons. Be conscious of where you can and can’t go here (from both a respect and a safety point of view). Access to the dunes can be gained be catching the Hokianga Express from the wharf in Opononi, and boards are readily available to hire or buy in the town.
Hot Water Beach
Odd name for a beach, right? But as it turns out, entirely accurate. For most of the day Hot Water Beach is just a regular (beautiful) stretch of surf – think rolling waves, craggy rocks and a seemingly never ending horizon. But come low tide, it’s a different story. For every day, regardless of weather or season, you’ll find people visiting either side of low tide, digging holes for themselves in the sand.
For one reason only – to dig their own spa pools, taking advantage of the naturally heated mineral water bubbling up from deep within the earth. Part weird, part wonderful, and all parts memorable.
Just 45 minutes outside of Auckland, you’ll come to Piha beach, a much loved sanctuary to escape city life. But instead of heading straight to the beach, we’ve got something way better for you. At the end of Glen Esk Road, take a hike down the Kitekite track, enjoying your rainforest surroundings until you reach the main event – a waterfall with six long drops, ending in a large lake-like pool at the bottom. Welcome to Kitekite Falls! Plan ahead and bring a picnic, and enjoy a day of cooling off waterfall style.