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The North Island

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On the North Island discover cosmopolitan Auckland, an ancient Kauri forest, the geothermal pools of Rotorua, crystal clear trout streams near Lake Taupo, miles of quiet beaches and smoking volcanoes. It's also the center of Maori culture, the Polynesian people who first settled the island some 1,000 years ago.

Auckland

In beautiful Auckland, New Zealand's largest and most cosmopolitan city, you'll find luxury hotels, world-class theaters, sophisticated clubs and fine international cuisine, as well as colorful outdoor cafes.

Visit the Harbor Bridge, Domain Parks and Gardens, The War Memorial Museum (with its fine collection of Maori artifacts), Tamaki Waterfront Drive, Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World & Antarctic Encounter, and the summit of Mt. Eden for magnificent views over Auckland City.

For an unforgettable New Zealand vacation experience, we recommend sailing aboard an America's Cup yacht, used in New Zealand's successful cup win in 1995. There's nothing better than the hands-on experience of helping to sail this state-of-the-art vessel. Under canvas, the experienced crew will guide you in the exhilarating aspects of real sailing. Auckland is known as the "City of Sails" and what better way to experience it?

Bay of Islands

Among the world's most spectacular regions one must count New Zealand's Bay of Islands, the deep blue waters of which is dotted with 150 islands. Set sail through the incredibly scenic waters, stopping at quaint beach towns.

We're well versed in the many wonderful lodging options to be found in this gorgeous area: let us know your style. Stop along the way at Ninety Mile Beach, or Spirits Bay, where souls of the Maori are said to depart this world. Witness the majesty of ancient Kauri forests, with hardwood trees reaching more than 165 feet high and 50 feet in diameter, in the forests of Waipoua, Puketi and Omahuta.

Rotorua

We highly recommend a visit to the Rotorua area, home to bubbling mud pools, multicolored silica terraces and soothing hot springs. Don't miss Whakarewarewa during your New Zealand tour, where Maori villagers use the hot water for bathing, cooking, washing and heating.

Indeed, this is the hub of New Zealand's Maori population and culture, and your local Maori guides will unravel the mysteries of Maori culture, legends and history. Relax and enjoy a swim in the natural soothing waters of secluded thermal creeks and rivers.

Take a guided hike through the Whakarewarewa National Forest and Rainbow Springs wildlife sanctuary. Tour the Maori Arts & Crafts institute and museum to gain insight into the culture of New Zealand's natives. Perhaps embark on a 4WD volcanic excursion to Mt. Tarawera, site of New Zealand's last great volcanic eruption.

Ask us about the wide range of New Zealand activities available in this area, including trout fishing, golf and flightseeing.

Taupo

Visit Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake. Hot springs enter the deep blue lake, providing an opportunity to swim in water that is alternately hot and cold. Spend the day on a small sailing ship, gliding around small inlets during your New Zealand tour or walk through the Waipihihi Botanical Reserve, which teems with rhododendrons, azaleas, alpine herb gardens and exotic ferns; or visit the dramatic Huka Falls.

Head south to the stunning Volcanic Plateau and Tongariro National Park, with its cluster of dormant-and a couple active-volcanoes, glaciers, a hot crater lake, hot springs, barren desert, alpine terrain and spectacular Southern Hemisphere skiing.

Lake Taupo is considered among the best trout fishing spots in the world; your hosts at the lodge can help arrange this if you'd like. There are also great walking tracks in the area: hike along the magnificent Huka River to the thundering Huka Falls; or walk through subtropical forests to enticing geothermal hot springs. By all means stay at the award-winning Huka Lodge while exploring this lovely area. The lodge is set in 17 acres of lawn, gardens and trees on the banks of the Waikato River. A blend of European and New Zealand style infuses each individually designed suite, as well as the luscious cuisine served here.

From here it's possible to take a helicopter into the surrounding wilderness area for a bird's eye view of Taupo's dramatic landscape and an amazing New Zealand travel experience. Explore the mountainous terrain, and fly fish in streams of breathtaking clarity so undisturbed you'll be forgiven for believing you were the first to discover them.

Hawkes Bay

This scenic coastal area is worth a day of exploration. Visit Napier, a gorgeous, unique town that will fascinate architecture buffs. The town's original brick buildings were essentially destroyed by a massive earthquake in 1931 and the town was rebuilt in the whimsical style of the day.

Indeed, Napier is considered home to the world's most significant collection of art-deco architecture. The Hawkes Bay Museum features an art gallery and an interesting collection of Maori cultural artifacts.

The area around Hawkes Bay hosts one of New Zealand's best wine-producing regions. Enjoy tours and tastings at sprawling vineyards or small, family-run wineries.

Visit the remarkable gannet colony at Cape Kidnapper's Sanctuary, then travel to the town of Gisborne set on Poverty Bay-where the first Europeans stepped ashore in 1769.

Waitomo Caves

This day trip from Auckland or Rotorua is an absolute must when touring New Zealand. Cross the rich farmlands of Waikato, on your way to the fabulous Waitomo Caves.

These subterranean limestone caverns contain incredible stalactite and stalagmite formations, massive columns and a famous glow-worm grotto, an amazing phenomenon where thousands of tiny glow worms shine like stars in the darkness. This is truly spectacular! Take an hour-long boat ride through the caves. If you're feeling adventurous try the Black Water Rafting option.

Black Water Rafting

An unusual-but super fun-way to explore the subterranean scene. It involves an inner tube, a wet suit, a helmet, a headlamp, an adventurous spirit and three hours of tubing on an underground river. If you're looking for an extraordinary New Zealand travel experience-this is it!

Wellington

Perched on the windswept southwest tip of the island, visit Wellington, the country's capital city, during your New Zealand holiday. This small but cosmopolitan city has charming gabled cottages, impressive Gothic architecture and some of the country's best restaurants, featuring international cuisine. Stroll along the seaside promenade for sweeping views of the bay.

To the north are massive ranges of hills, to the west, long stretches of beaches and sand dunes. In the south find low-lying coastal land and to the east see New Zealand's first sheep stations. From Wellington you can fly to the South Island or take the leisurely inter-island ferry to Picton.