The Champagne Pool at Waiotapu ("Sacred Waters") thermal area, near Rotorua
The North Island of New Zealand is warm, with scenery ranging from sandy beaches, through rolling farmland to active volcanic peaks. Although it is smaller than the South Island, it is much more populous, with half of New Zealand's population living north of Lake Taupo in the middle of the North Island.
The Māori population of the North Island is much larger than that of the South Island and, in the 2006 census, 24% said that they could carry out an everyday conversation in the Māori language. For more than two hundred years this island was known as Aotearoa, often translated as land of the long white cloud, by Māori. Recently, there has been an increase in use of the alternative name of Te Ika a Māui – "the fish of Maui". In 2009, the New Zealand Geographic Board discovered both the North and South Islands had never been officially named. In October 2013, the island was officially named North Island / Te Ika-a-Māui.
Auckland International Airport (IATA: AKL) is the primary arrival point, handling 70% of all tourist air travel, and is serviced by most major airlines. There are also international flights to Wellington airport.
A significant number of people arrive in Auckland by cruise ship.
Bluebridge and the Interislander ferry companies sail across Cook Strait from Picton in the South Island through the Marlborough Sounds to Wellington. The ferries take bikes, cars, buses and trains and the scenery on a good day is spectacular. The ferries are substantial ships designed for the sometimes rough conditions and the journey takes 3-3.5h.
InterCity Coachlines is New Zealand's national coach company and operates over 150 services to more than 600 destinations nationwide.
Nakedbus.com is the cheap alternative to Intercity with tickets starting from $1 - book early and get bargain bus travel. They do not have quite as many routes or services as Intercity but are catching up fast.
The North Island may not be quite as well known for its outdoor attractions as the South Island, but it still has an impressive selection. As it has the greater share of the country's population it also has a good selection of urban sites.
Exploring Te Papa, the national museum, in Wellington can easily fill a day. It is an excellent exhibition of New Zealand history, natural history and art in an impressive modern building. Other museums and galleries in the city could occupy another day.
Auckland War Memorial Museum is also a good general museum of New Zealand history and natural history. The Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum is particularly worth visiting if you are interested in sailing.