New Zealand’s North Island is often described as less spectacular than its neighbor to the south, the island that’s known for essentially being Middle Earth incarnate. However, with endless beautiful beaches, deep redwood forests, and alien landscapes that seem to transport you to other worlds, the Northland contains a ton of wonders that should not be missed. No tour of New Zealand can ever be all-encompassing, but if you want to get a feel for what makes the North Island truly unique, these are the locations you simply have to visit.
1. Cape Reinga
is filled with geysers, hot pools, and a constant scent of sulfur in the air—you'll know exactly where you are as soon as you step outside. It’s also the official entry point to Hobbiton, the permanent version of The Shire built for both Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and for The Hobbit. Bilbo’s house, Sam’s garden, The Green Dragon Inn—they’re all there, and even if you aren’t a huge Tolkien fan, it’s impossible to escape the magic of the place.
5. Tongariro National Park
© 2016 AFAR Media