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    Top Rated North Island Destinations

    The very best North Island destinations showcase a diverse range of travel opportunities, from wine tasting and golf to wildlife viewing and cultural encounters.

    Our top North Island destinations for luxury travel are:

    • Bay of Islands / Northland – Marine wildlife, secluded beaches, and golf
    • Auckland – Bustling city scene with nearby wine regions and beaches
    • Coromandel Peninsula – Stunning volcanic coastline and native forest
    • Central North Island / Rotorua / Taupo – Geothermal springs, lakes, Maori culture, volcanoes, glowworms, and Hobbiton
    • Hawke’s Bay – Wineries, golf, and Art Deco
    • Wellington – New Zealand’s most enchanting city

    The North Island is the cultural centre of New Zealand, with a rich Maori history and a long tradition of farming and wine growing. Here you will find idyllic beaches, fantastic marine wildlife, picturesque rolling farmland, dramatic volcanoes, and Maori cultural heritage destinations.

    Read on to learn more about our recommended North Island destinations for luxury travel.

    The Best North Island Destinations for Luxury Travel

    Bay of Islands / Northland

    Northland is a largely undiscovered region, characterised by long stretches of untouched coastline and pristine beaches. The iconic lighthouse at Cape Reinga marks the end of the northernmost road in New Zealand. Meanwhile, the Bay of Islands is a top destination for boating, encountering marine wildlife, and experiencing the rich history of New Zealand’s earliest settlements.

    Top activities include:

    Swimming with dolphins, cruising through the Bay of Islands, experiencing Maori culture, and playing golf at the exclusive Kauri Cliffs.

    Northland North Island destinations


    Home to one quarter of New Zealand’s population, Auckland is a diverse city that offers more than just urban experiences. With two harbours flanking the city, Auckland is a place of maritime pursuits and picturesque islands. Many hills and islands in the area are volcanic cones – 48 are perched within 20 km of the city centre. These remind us of the powerful forces which shaped this region. Boutique wineries, dramatic black sand beaches, lush rainforest (or “bush” as it is known here), and marine wildlife add to the flavour of this international city.

    Top activities include: 

    Whale and dolphin safaris, harbour dining experiences, Waiheke Island wine tours, visiting the iconic black sand beaches (Piha and Muriwai), and soaking in the city scene.


    Coromandel Peninsula

    The Coromandel Peninsula is a wild, rugged coastal region. Here you will find lush native bush, ancient Kauri forests, and some of the most photogenic beaches in New Zealand. From the iconic Cathedral Cove to Hot Water Beach, a great family destination, the Coromandel Peninsula is remarkable for its diversity. With a laid-back vibe and an abundance of secluded white sand beaches, this is the perfect destination to relax and unwind.

    Top activities include: 

    Boat tours to Cathedral Cove, kayaking the volcanic coastline, admiring the grandeur of the old growth Kauri groves on forest walks, and exploring the landscape from above by helicopter.


    Central North Island / Rotorua / Taupo

    The central North Island is the volcanic heart of New Zealand. This is a landscape of extremes – towering volcanic cones, rugged lava-strewn valleys, sulphur springs, and geysers. Rotorua is one of the most significant Maori cultural centres, with a rich and storied history that revolves around the geothermal wonders in the region. And deep underground, in the heart of the Waikato, the Waitomo Caves wait to dazzle with otherworldly glowworm displays and magnificent cave formations. This is a region that really packs a punch!

    Top activities include: 

    Scenic floatplane flights over the volcanic cones of Tongariro National Park, Maori cultural experiences with cultural shows and traditional Hangi-style dinners, indulgent sulphur spa visits including a mud bath and massage, Waitomo Glowworm Cave tours (or even blackwater rafting), and adventure activities such as rafting, jet-boating, skydiving, and bungy jumping. This is also the home of the Hobbiton Movie Set, which offers tours and immersive evening banquet experiences.

    Rotorua North Island destinations

    Hawke’s Bay

    Hawke’s Bay is one of the warmest, driest regions of New Zealand. This has led to its rise as one of the country’s leading wine producers – especially notable for its red wine. The region is also famous for its Art Deco buildings, which lend a distinctive character to cities like Napier and Hastings.

    Top activities include: 

    Wine tours, Art Deco tours, golfing at Cape Kidnappers, and scenic gannet safaris.

    Hawkes Bay


    Otherwise known as “Windy Welly” for the fierce gales that blow off the Cook Strait, New Zealand’s capital city is a compact, easily walkable and vibrant town. With a thriving cafe scene and picturesque harbour, Wellington is a city that invites you to explore. Stroll down the walking mall at Cuba Street, visit the Te Papa National Museum, or get a behind-the-scenes look at the Lord of the Rings movie magic at Weta Workshop.

    Top activities include: 

    Lord of the Rings tours, riding the Wellington Cable Car, visiting Te Papa National Museum, and sailing in the harbour.

    Wellington North Island destinations

    Visit the Top North Island Destinations

    Browse our North Island luxury itineraries as you begin planning your New Zealand vacation. In these North Island places to visit, you will find exquisite luxury lodges and hotels, unforgettable activities, and Kiwi hospitality.

    Contact New Zealand Luxury Escapes today to begin work on your New Zealand luxury vacation. Use our recommended itineraries for inspiration, or work with a personal travel consultant to design a bespoke experience.

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