Published on September 17th, 2012 | by Emma Hackwood0
Adventures on New Zealand’s North Island
New Zealand is the place to go when looking for adventure. Our Flightie Michelle expands on some of the exciting adventures she took part in when she travelled to the North Island of New Zealand with Topdeck Travel.
I recently went on the Northern Explorer tour of New Zealand with Topdeck Tours, a tour company that specializes in tours for 18 to 30-somethings. During our tour of the northern island I had a chance to participate in many wonderful excursions. If you are an adventurous person who loves to have fun and try new things the north island has heaps of great things to do.
In Auckland you can visit the Sky Tower and participate in a SkyWalk or even jump off of it if you dare. There is also a ferry you can take to Rangitoto, a unique volcanic island only 20 minutes away from downtown Auckland.
In the Coromandel region I had the opportunity to go on a mussel barge and see where some of the great seafood actually is grown, as well as a chance to actually do a little fishing. If you are interested in something a little out of the ordinary there is a great little train ride at the Driving Creek Railway which takes you up a mountain to the “Eyefull Tower” which offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Hauraki Gulf. The train, originally built by local pottery artist Barry Brickell was opened to the public in 1990 and operates as a pottery workshop as well as a conservation site for the indigenous Kauri Tree.
The north island city of Rotorua is a hot spot for geo-thermal activity. You can’t miss Te Puia which is home to the national carving and weaving schools in New Zealand. You can’t miss the Kiwi House, one of the few places you can still see the endangered bird, and if you are there at the right time you may be able to see one of the spectacular geysers spouting. Not too far from Te Puia is the village of Whakarewarewa, a thermal village where you can see firsthand how the geothermal activity is used in cooking and bathing. There are cultural shows throughout the day showcasing the villagers’ song and dance as well as some traditional poi dancing with audience participation. If you are looking for something a little less educational and more fun, take a Skyline Gondola Ride up to the luge track. The luge offers heaps of fun times whether you are there with family, friends, or even your special someone. There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced tracks to suit all skill levels and once you’ve gone once you’ll swear you could spend the whole day at the luge track.
If it is a Topdeck Tour you are on, you can be sure you will be hitting up the Taupo Bungy on your way between Rotorua and Tongariro National Park. Taupo Bungy boasts one of the world’s tallest water-touch bungees at 47m. If you love a thrill the combo of Bungy and Cliffhanger Swing will be perfect for you. The combo offers a discounted rate plus a free t-shirt so you can brag to all your friends about how brave you were to throw yourself off a platform to the cool waters below. Of all the activities the bungee was my favourite, and the swing is equally adrenaline inducing.
In Tongariro National Park there are a number of activities for those who like to get outdoors. If you are up to it, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a great way to spend the day taking in the views of the volcanic lakes and breathtaking scenery. For those who are looking for a more relaxed way to spend the day like myself, there is a great hiking trail which only takes 2 hours to complete the loop. The trail takes you down to the base of Taranaki Falls where you can relax and enjoy a nice picnic lunch. There are many great hikes around the park for all fitness levels; the most difficult part will be deciding which hike to go on.
The city of Wellington has a variety of different attractions for every taste. My personal favourite was the National Museum Te Papa. There are loads of great interactive exhibits for the young ones and the young at heart. There are even rides for a small fee, and to top it all off you can see the 495kg colossal squid!
Zealandia the Karori Sanctuary is a must see. Only minutes from downtown Wellington, it feels as though it is miles away from everything. If you are lucky enough to do an evening tour you may be able to see a Kiwi bird in the wild. Another great place to go is the Carter Observatory located at the top of the famous Wellington cable car. At the observatory you can enjoy various interactive exhibits as well as take in a planetarium show and see the night sky from a completely different perspective.
If you are planning a visit to New Zealand you will definitely have tonnes of great activities to choose from and great sights to see. I sampled only a small amount of what the north island has to offer and I will definitely be going back to explore the South Island, hopefully on another TopDeck tour.
Want to learn more about adventure opportunities in New Zealand? Michelle Windrum is an International Travel Consultant at our Mayfair branch in Victoria, British Columbia, and can be reached by email or by calling 1-888-388-4788.
New Zealand’s North Island has been highlighted on the Flight Centre map