If you are considering a trip to New Zealand, chances are that you have most of your days planned in the South Island, a part of the country popularised by travel magazines and itineraries. But if you are someone who likes charting their own course, you might want to give the stunning North Island – the land of volcanic activity, lush outdoors, thriving city life as well as traditional encounters with local tribes -a chance.

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Here are out top recommendations for the five off-beat places you can visit during your trip to the North Island in New Zealand:

White Island

White Island or Whakaari, located to the east coast of the North Island, is the only active marine volcano in New Zealand. The hot bet of geological activity, the volcanic area is easily accessible and doesn’t require visitors to climb any mountains as majority of it sits under the sea and allows tourists to directly visit the crater complex. The steam evaporating in the vicinity, the bubbling pits of mud as well as orange and yellow hues of sulphur everywhere make this place a photographer’s dream. We recommend taking a guided tour of the area in order to learn about its geological history.

Waitakere Ranges

A chain of hills located in the Auckland Region, the Waitakere Ranges are blessed in plenty with offerings from the Mother Nature. Spread across 16000 hectares, the ranges boast native rainforests, thriving wildlife, the rare black sand beaches as well as gushing waterfalls. A great place for family picnics, adventure trails, hiking, bird and animal watching, canoeing, camping or for a peaceful walk in the nature – the Waitakere Ranges are one of the best places in New Zealand to answer to the call of the wild.

Karangahake Gorge

If you visit New Zealand seeking its best scenery and the most picturesque locations, Karangahake Gorge should be high on your travel wish list. Once an important centre for gold mining, the gorge has a special charm for history buffs who can see the area’s past come alive through the many gold mining relics along the trails here. Whether you choose to walk or explore the gorge on a cycle, you are sure to be swept away with the beauty around the tramway tracks, the rail trails, the natural lakes as well as the bridges that offer panoramic views of the area around.

Volkner Rocks

Located in the Te Paepae o Aotea marine reserve, the Volkner Rocks are volcanic rock stacks that rise 112 metres above the sea level. Once, navigational guides for early Polynesians, the rocks are now a haven for snorkellers and divers as the underwater area around them boasts a great variety of marine life and a high underwater visibility. The visitors can also access them through frequently running boats from the Bay of Plenty. The rocks are also of a great significance to the Ngati Awa, a Maori tribe, which considers them the departure place for the spirits of the deceased.

Rangitikei Valley

Adventure enthusiasts will love it at the Rangitikei River Valley, the sight of New Zealand’s         premier grade 5 white water rafting trips. The 12-kilometer long rafting trip along one of the most beautiful rivers in New Zealand is an experience that leaves fond memories of the place. Besides, the valley in itself is a patch of lush greens fields, giant mountains and rolling hills that can be trekked or explored on the back of a horse. It is also an ideal place to be explored on cycle with friends or family.

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