Winding its way from the Tasman Sea to the highest slopes on the North Island, the Waikato River is a historic vein running right through the middle of Hamilton. This is the way that native Maori began to eventually move inland — exploring and venturing away from the coast until finally reaching Lake Taupo. It’s also the waterway Englishmen used when slowly colonizing the North Island, sporadically battling Maori tribes as they gradually settled Waikato.
Ninety Mile Beach, despite it’s name, is 55 miles long. Even with the coastal misnomer, however, there are seemingly over 100 different activities on Ninety Mile Beach. One of the most popular activities is bodyboading and sledding your way down the towering dunes, where views stretch out towards the Tasman Sea as you rapidly slide towards the surf. The beach itself is actually a highway at periods around low tide, and coastal tours of Ninety Mile Beach let visitors experience driving on the beach from the window seat of a bus. When stopped at low tide, dig in the sand for tuatua—a popular Northland shellfish—or strike up a chat with local fisherman casting their rods in the surf.
New Zealand’s capital city of Wellington is artsy, trendy, quirky and chock full of good food. However, Wellington is also wet. The city receives almost 50 inches of rainfall every year, with much of it centered around June and July during the middle of New Zealand’s winter. Whipping winds often accompany the steady Wellington drizzle, and the city suddenly becomes a place best experienced indoors. If you get caught in a storm when visiting, here are some rainy day activities in Wellington that can rescue a dreary day.
Auckland has a bit of a poor reputation as a place to visit in winter. The weather here can be gray and wet, and it isn’t cold enough to snow. The summer festival circuit goes dormant, and ferries to some of the offshore islands simply close for the winter. While winter definitely has its set of challenges, Auckland remains a great place to visit. Here are four reasons to visit Auckland in winter.
A hub of geothermal activity, Lake Taupo offers a few hot springs resorts where you can soak in landscaped pools of varying temperatures — for the price of admission. If you’d rather a more authentic (and free!) experience, head instead to Spa Thermal Park just outside of Taupo, the lake’s main town on the northeast shore.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that children love Rotorua. After all, who wouldn’t love a place that’s home to geysers, rivers, adrenaline parks and pools of bubbling mud? Sure, the air might smell a bit like sulfur from all the natural geysers, but it’s fun to simply tell the kids it smells like eggs. For an idea of where to take the tykes in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island, here are some the best activities for kids in Rotorua.