Fire and Ice – touring the North Island of New Zealand's central plateau

New Zealand’s North Island plateau is one of the world’s most active geothermal wonderlands. Hit the fresh powder trails on New Zealand's only skiable volcano then soak away the day in one of the regions geothermal hotspots. Witness the rumble of powerful Huka Falls or head below ground on a magical cave tour illuminated by thousands of glow worms. Then witness the majesty of gushing geysers and boiling mud pools. This utterly unique place is a dramatic landscape that offers a winter holiday like no other.

Explore a landscape formed of fire and ice.

Your journey of discovery through a land of fire and ice begins in Auckland city, New Zealand. Set within the Waitakere Ranges with twin harbours and stunning views, this city delights with incredible natural beauty, a diverse and delicious dining scene, vibrant shopping, cultural precincts, and the landmark SkyTower.

Set out only a couple of hours south and you’ll find yourself in the underbelly of the earth at the fascinating Waitomo Caves. This network of 300 known limestone caverns thrills with activities like abseiling, zip-lining and black-water rafting. One of the major highlights is simply setting adrift in the dark on an underground river to view the glowworms, spread like a blanket of iridescent stars across the roof of the cave.

In this dramatic landscape of lakes, volcanos, geysers, hot springs and underground caves you can experience a winter holiday like no other – full of fire and ice.

Continue your journey to a volcanic landscape of lake, mountains and the winter resort town of Taupo. Taupo is a bustling lakeside resort town with a buzzing cafe and restaurant scene, and it’s the perfect place to base yourself to enjoy world-class skiing. Whakapapa Ski Area on Mt Ruapehu opens in early June and Turoa Ski Area opens early July, offering peak skiing and boarding all the way through to October. There are 54 runs to choose from within a total ski area of 1050 hectares, or hop on the sightseeing chairlift to lunch at Knoll Ridge Cafe, New Zealand’s highest cafe. You might also wish to spend time close to the mountain in National Park or Whakapapa Village, smaller settlements close to the Whakapapa ski area.

A visit to Great Lake Taupo wouldn't be complete without a day on the crystal-blue lake fishing, boating, sailing or viewing the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings, followed by a hot soak in one of the many thermal hot pools. Great Lake Taupo is also an adrenaline junkie’s mecca. Jet boats, bungy jumping, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, boating, sailing and skydiving are all on offer in this nature lover’s paradise, and be sure to experience the power and roar of the mighty Huka Falls, one of New Zealand’s most photographed scenic wonders.

New Zealand’s North Island plateau is one of the world’s most active geothermal wonderlands

Next, set your sights on Rotorua. This epicentre of geothermal activity is alive with bubbling mud pools, gushing geysers and natural hot springs that make for the ideal relaxation point after all that exploring. This central North Island hotspot also happens to be the perfect spot to immerse yourself in rich Maori heritage, with a cultural evening that culminates in a traditional hangi feast.

Any trip to the North Island simply isn’t complete without a stop at the Kaimai Ranges to follow in the footsteps of Frodo at the Hobbiton Movie Set. Transporting you to the world of JRR Tolkien’s famed Lord of the Rings trilogy, you can learn all about this real-life creation of Middle-earth. It’s a unique end to an equally unique journey.

For more information and bookings contact the team at Taupo iSite at taupovc@greatlaketaupo.com, 0800 LAKE TAUPO (0800 525 382) or +64 7 376 0027.

Explore a landscape of fire and ice