North Island Attractions
Northland. This long peninsula north of Auckland combines subtropical beauty with historical interest. New Zealand's most historic spot is Waitangi, close to Paihia, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. A photographic copy of the Treaty and many historic pictures may be seen in the Treaty House. Nearby is a whare with Maori carvings representing all Maori tribes and, in another shelter, there is a Maori canoe 117 ft long. Just across the bay is Russell, formerly known as Kororareka, New Zealand's first capital. The Anglican Church, built in 1835, shows bullet holes and battle scars in the walls. Pompallier Roman Catholic Mission House, built in 1839 and recently restored, contains many relics of this era. Waipoua Forest, a huge stand of kauri trees (some more than 1,000 years old), stands on the opposite side of the peninsula. A smaller, more concentrated grouping of kauris can be seen at Trounson Park.
Waitomo Caves. Of a group of limestone caves at Waitomo three – the Waitomo, Ruakuri and Aranui Caves – are well known as tourist attractions. The Ruakuri is the largest of the caves and is a series of long galleries and lofty chambers, the Aranui is famed for the beauty of its stalactite and stalagmite formations, and visitors from all parts of the world are fascinated by the Glow Worm Grotto of the Waitomo Caves. On the walls and ceiling of this vast cavern live tens of thousands of larvae of a glow worm (Arachnocampa luminosa). Unlike glow worms in other parts of the world, this is a species of fly of which all stages are luminous. The fly is small but the larva may be as much as 1 ½ in. in length, and lives for many months. Each is found in its silken-lined tunnel in walls and ceilings, and forms many long silky sticky threads, which hang towards the water. It is by these that the larva obtains its food, for when tiny midges become entangled, the threads are drawn up. Guides take visitors through this cavern by boat on the underground river. They travel in darkness and silence, for glow worms are sensitive both to light and to noise, and can extinguish the light. The canopy of myriads of glow worms and the reflection of them on the water is a sight which must be seen to be believed.
Thermal Wonderland. Rotorua and Wairakei are centres of what many international travellers consider the most spectacular thermal region in the world. It has amazing variety and contrast, from spectacular geysers, hot springs, boiling pools, and bubbling “mud volcanoes” to restful lakes and forests. The many lakes attract tourists for fishing, boating, and swimming amid beautiful surroundings. As Rotorua is one of the main centres of the Maori people, there are many fine examples of their meeting houses, their carving and artefacts; and Maori concerts are given during the season. There is thermal activity at Waiotapu and other places, but the centre of thermal activity is the Geyser Valley at Wairakei. This was a wonderland to many visitors, but of recent years the man-made bores of the geothermal project, which harnesses underground steam to generate electricity, have been a detraction from the natural wonders.
Lake Taupo. The largest lake in New Zealand is drained by the Waikato River, with Huka Falls and Aratiatia Rapids nearby. Here are many attractions for the tourist and magnificent views of snow-clad mountains across the lake. Taupo is popular for swimming, boating, and hot mineral baths, but especially for trout fishing. Anglers from far afield are seen here throughout the season.
Tongariro National Park. Tongariro National Park, in the centre of the North Island, contains three closely grouped mountains – Mount Ruapehu (9,175 ft), a permanently snow-capped mountain with a warm crater lake; Mount Ngauruhoe (7,515 ft), a mildly active volcano; and Mount Tongariro (6,458 ft), an almost extinct volcano. Mount Ruapehu is one of the most popular resorts for climbers and enthusiasts in winter sports.
Mount Egmont. An extinct volcano, Mount Egmont (8,260 ft) is an almost perfect cone, and for symmetry closely rivals Japan's Fujiyama. It is popular with trampers and in winter there are snow fields within easy access of many places.
Lake Waikaremoana. Lake Waikaremoana (“Sea of Rippling Waters”) and a small lake, Waikare-iti, are set in bush-covered mountains. They are acclaimed the most beautiful of all the North Island lakes.