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The Great New Zealand Travel Guide
For the North Island

Welcome to the New Zealand travel guide, which is dedicated to providing valuable travel tips and information to help you discover the "real NZ".

Our goal is to get you off the well beaten track, avoid the main tourist traps and experience genuine Kiwi culture.

Our guide is maintained by New Zealanders who really know their country intimately.

Their knowledge has been gained through extensive experience of hiking, kayaking, horsetrekking, cruising, helicoptering, driving, dining out and being accommodated by every means possible.

Every destination or service we promote, is added because of its uniqueness and ability to capture the "real essence" of Kiwi culture and heritage of NZ.

Search the following links to some of our hot New Zealand travel guide picks, which include great places to visit, quality activities to enjoy and best places to wine and dine.

Kawhia Harbour is the number one New Zealand travel guide destination for the month, followed by Aotea Harbour.

These beautiful harbours located on the west coast of the North Island, are only a few kilometre's apart.

Virtually undiscovered by the tourism masses, this King Country region is steeped in rich Maori history.

This is where many hundreds of years ago, the famous "Tainui waka" arrived and settled in the Kawhia harbour and the equally famous "Aotea waka" arrived and settled in the Aotea harbour.

The Maori tribe "Tainui", consider these sacred places, their spiritual and ancestral homeland.

40 k's further up the coast, New Zealand Travel Guide introduces you to Raglan, another beautiful harbour and the Waikato's oldest town.

Raglan was European settled from the 1830's and named in the 1850's by patriotic colonists after Lord Raglan, commander of British forces in the Crimean war.

The Maori name was Whaingaroa and the tangata whenua still call it that even today.

Raglan is now a gentle, palm-shaded seaside town of approx, 2000 people, which swells considerably in the summer by an invasion of swimmers and surfers, who come to enjoy some of New Zealands best surf.

The extinct volcano of Mt Karioi, looms over the town, also much favoured as a weekend retreat by pop musicians who help bring the place alive.

A drive to Whale Bay has superb views of the rugged West coast.

Next New Zealand Travel Guide destination is approx. 60 k's away and King Country's premier travel destination...the Waitomo caves.

The Waitomo caves is one of New Zealands most commanding natural wonders.

The three main caves (Aranui, Ruakuri, and Waitomo) may be visited with ease in one day.

Drifting through Waitomo Caves, Glow Worm Grotto in a boat, is an unforgettable experience.

The grotto is illuminated by thousands of luminous larvae suspended from its ceiling. The Waitomo Caves Museum (open daily) rounds out the experience with displays, an audio visual show, a cave-crawl, working models, collections of fossils and a program of excursions into the surrounding region during the summer holiday period.

There are also adventure caving tours through lesser known caves.

It is well worth lingering in order to explore some of the strange terrain in which the caves have grown, especially on the road to Marokopa (which incidently leads you to Kawhia and Aotea).

Whether you arrive in the King Country from its regional neighbors, the mighty Waikato or the fascinating Taranaki this is one part of New Zealand, you definately cannot leave out of your travel itinery.

From here, our New Zealand travel guide zooms way up North to the what is considered the cradle of the nation (Northland).

Nowhere in New Zealand is land entangled more vividly with sea than round the long, lumpy and sunny Northland Peninsula.

This is where the Ninety Mile Beach, a magical place, can be found.

The bustling town of Kaitaia, also the centre of a busy tourist area, is well worth stopping over and using as your explorative base.

Kauri Bushman by Jeanette Blackburn

Prints at NZ Fine Prints.

This is also the home of the magnificent Kauri tree.

For bulk and timber content, the Kauri has no peer.

It soars up to fifty five metre's tall, its girth can be sixteen metre's, its age two thousand years old.

Nor is there a region where the landscape and arcitecture speak more potently of New Zealands history and prehistory.

The lands human beginnings have left plain print here.

More than a thousand years ago, Polynesian voyagers made homes in its many harbours before dispersing deeper into the country they called Aotearoa.

Next, the New Zealand Travel Guide introduces you to the Bay of Islands.

If New Zealanders are posessed of the notion of an earthly paradise, it has to be the Bay of Islands, where their history began.

On this tide washed stage, the first act of a nation-making drama was played.

Nature provided a magnificent arena, humanity a cast of thousands.

Nature's design work remains vivid; the human presence is less apparent.

Today many New Zealanders dream of retiring to beachcomb lazily somewhere along its bright shores.

Most will do no more than visit and go home to dream again.

Next New Zealand Travel Guide destination is Whangarei

Whangarei, Northlands one city, and undisputed capital of this thinly populated region, has a population of more than 40,000.

The attractions of Whangarei's natural environment are many, but the sea-flavoured city itself holds some pleasing surprises.

Not least of these is the remarkable Claphan Clock Museum, where 500 clocks of three centuries click, tick, ding and sing the hours away.

A fine view of Whangarei and its harbour can be seen from the war memorial on 241 metre Parahaki.

The wandering entrance to this far Northern harbour, hardly visible from the small settlement on its eastern shore, makes it one of New Zealand's most spectacular.

Its fiord-like character comes from jagged volcanic pinnacles soaring from the waterside and, in particular, the curious domes of St Peter and St Paul at its head.

History has added its own drama.

In 1809, the convict vessel "Boyd", here to take on kauri spurs, was razed to the waterline.

More than 60 people were slaughtered and at least some apparently served up in a cannibal feast.

The massacre stemmed from the ill-treatment of Maori seamen during the vessel's voyage from Sydney.

Auckland the place of a million lovers, is the next introduction from the New Zealand Travel Guide.

The Maori named the ithmus of New Zealand's largest city, washed by the tides of two harbours, "Tamaki-makau-rau, 'the place of a hundred lovers'.

Today it has a million suitors-nearly one third of the country's population.

Close to that number disport themselves spaciously across Aucklands urban expanses.

Queen Street, once a swampy canyon hosting a murky creek, is now typical of the big city golden mile.

Its skyline changes shape, year to year as fast dollars flow into further speculation.

Here, and in arcades wandering off it as well as in neighboring small streets, are most of the high fashion boutiques, galleries, craft and souvenir shops one might expect of any modern city.

New Zealand Travel Guide tip:

As soon as your ready for a break from the city, head out towards the islands of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park in a launch or hovercraft, and sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning views.

Island after island begins to air its idiosyncrasies.

Each has its own story to tell.

The Maori called them "motu whakatere", the floating islands.

The youngest of the islands, Rangitoto is also the most striking.

It lifts above the city skyline and shelters the sealane into Waitemata Harbour.

Almost all other islands in the gulf are remnants of land never completely swallowed up by the Pacific when the last ice age ended.

Heres a video of a huge cruise ship in the harbour and watch for the great shots of Rangitoto in the background.

Coromandel akin to Northland in climate and marine character, shares one of New Zealand's sunniest locations, with the surf-beaten Bay of Plenty.

Similar in many respects, both regions melt into each other on the upper east of the North Island.

There the surf-washed side of the rugged Coromandel Peninsula meets the low-lying curve of coast called the Bay of Plenty.

Coromandel is now the leafy last stand of an older, quieter New Zealand - and of tenacious conservationists.

Its craggy and sea-circled mountain spine gives the Coromandel the appearance of an island.

Its landforms and rainforest call Tahiti and Hawaii to mind.

Backed by the Coromandels peaks and the Kaimai range, with the North islands hot heartland beyond, the Bay of Plenty has more recent volcanic character.

Coromandel has a permanent population of not much more than 1000. This tranquil township is set on an island-studded coast beside a harbour once busy with ships taking on kauri timber and depositing gold seekers.

Its name was derived from the British naval vessel HMS Coromandel, which took aboard spurs in 1820. A lively colonial character remains, though typical inhabitants are no longer miners and millars, but fishermen, oyster farmers, potters and other craft workers.

Thames a close neighbor and unlike most towns of gold-rush days, is still thriving.

When gold-seekers stormed into the Coromandel in the late 1860's, Thames had a population of 20,000 - close to double that of Auckland.

However a century of slow decline has left no impression of a ghost town. Few of its colonial facades are faded and the town has never emptied.

Arcitecture, apart from the largely undistinguished main street - tells the story of New Zealands first true industrial town, from the graceful homes of mine managers to the simple cottages and villas of miners.

From here, the New Zealand Travel Guide takes you east to Tauranga.

The citys name means 'resting place' or 'safe anchorage'. It is the best natural harbour between Auckland and Wellington.

For the Maori, it was a haven; for the Europeans a port. Close to the Volcanic Plateau's great pine forests and its associated industries, the harbour is still the city's most important resource.

Bulky ranges and thundering surf, shadowy forests and shimmering lakes - and a dramatic history, make up the East Coast - Urewera region - the land of the proud Tuhoe warriors.

Its character origins from Maori tribesmen still tenaciously in place on their traditional land, from the terraced hilltop forts of their ancestors, and from newly carved meeting-houses that argue undiminished Maori pride.

New Zealand Travel Guide: From the north, its beginnings are distinct a few kilometres past the Bay of Plenty town of Opotiki.

Whether you take the route to Cape Kidnappers, the promontory named by James Cook after Maori attempted to kidnap a young Tahitian boy sailing on the Endeavour.

Its original name was Te Matau-a-Maui, meaning the fish-hook of Maui. Maui was the legendary Polynesian folk hero who fished up the North Island from the deep Pacific ocean.

The New Zealand Travel Guide spotlight on Taupo: The resort town of Taupo, one of the more conspicious results of New Zealands 20th century affluence.

Taupo began as a military outpost in the 1860's, and its beginnings may be glimpsed at the heart of the modern town.

The armed constabulary who used Taupo as a base for their patrols into territory menaced by rebel leader Te Kooti, were also the first Europeans to exploit the thermal virtues of the region; the baths they established (now known as the A.C. Baths) to take the sting from saddlesore buttocks and frozen feet have been used and appreciated for more than a century since.

The New Zealand Travel Guide spotlight on Wellington: No New Zealand city is more cursed, none more celebrated than Wellington.

Outsiders may libel the capital's citizens, lament its wild weather, scorn its stark situation. Nevertheless, there is no New Zealand city more a metropolis, nor one with more fervent lovers.

Painters, writers, and phtographers have all found poetry in Wellington, from its harbour to its height.

Wellington began with its harbour, and could concievably end under it.

A monument to human optimism, the city has grown on one of the major faults in the geologic structure of the North Island; it lives on the whim of our planets grinding tectonic plates.

Thanks for journeying with the North Island - New Zealand Travel Guide. This is our first edition and we will be making regular updates and adding other regions/districts/towns to this North Island - New Zealand Travel Guide. The South Island - New Zealand Travel Guide will be online very soon.

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