New Zealand - North Island or South Island?

New Zealand’s North Island or South Island? Let Scenic guide you

New Zealand, ‘the land of the long white cloud’ as the Maori call it, is an ethereal wonderland. Between its two main land masses, known as North Island and South Island, New Zealand is home to a variety of treasures that will be appreciated by every kind of traveller. Wherever you go, the warmth of the friendly locals and their deep-rooted values of manaakitanga (hospitality) will instantly appeal to you.  
The North Island, with a warmer subtropical climate, beautiful twin-harbour cities, and wonderfully fertile volcanic soil, is home to about three-quarters of the country’s population. The South Island hosts some of the most spectacular glacial landscapes and snow-capped Southern Alps. The dramatic fiords have been fittingly called the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ by none other than Rudyard Kipling. So, which of the two islands should you explore with Scenic? This handy guide will help you decide.  

North Island

Rich culture

A majority of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people reside in North Island. Rotorua is especially famous for the many cultural experiences it offers. The geothermal wonderland finds mention in several Maori legends and is just the place to soak in the poignant traditions. From intricate Maori woodcarvings to dramatic dances, experience the rich ceremonies first-hand. On a handcrafted Scenic land tour through New Zealand’s North Island, you will have the option to enjoy a traditional hangi dinner, a delicious feast cooked in an underground oven, during an included Scenic Freechoice activity.  
A visit to the ‘Lord of the Forest’ Tane Mahuta is a particularly moving experience and Scenic’s local Maori guide will tell you all about the 2,000-year-old kauri tree and its intriguing folklores during an exclusive Scenic Enrich experience.  
Scenic Enrich - Tane Mahuta, North Island, New Zealand

Excellent gastronomy

Visit the birthplace of New Zealand’s wine industry at Mission Estate Winery, founded in 1851 by pioneering French Missionaries. During a signature Scenic Enrich experience, you will enjoy an exclusive wine tasting event with the makers, followed by a sumptuous dinner.  
Scenic Enrich, Mission Estate Winery, New Zealand, North Island
Taste of Waiheke, North Island, New Zealand

Geothermal marvels

New Zealand’s place within the Pacific Ring of Fire means the country is home to incredible volcanic spectacles and the world’s most active geothermal fields. North Island’s Rotorua is home to mighty spouting geysers that are known to reach a height of up to 100 feet. Take a walk around the steaming vents; keep an ear out for the tell-tale dull thundering sound of a soon-to-erupt geyser and observe the strange bubbling mud pools that seem straight out of a sci-fi movie. At the end of your day, be immersed in the natural therapeutic waters of the award-winning Polynesian Day Spa, overlooking Lake Rotorua – an included Scenic Freechoice activity.  
Te Puia geyser, Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand

Tolkien treasures

You do not have to be a J. R. R. Tolkien fan to appreciate the quirky Hobbiton™ Movie Set, located in the Waikato region. Set amid rolling green plains filled with grazing sheep, thriving vegetable gardens, and chocolate-box hobbit homes, it is a truly idyllic location to spend your day in. Finish with a Hobbit-themed beer at the Green Dragon Inn.

The ‘Safari of the Scenes’ Scenic Freechoice tour will introduce you to the real locations of Sir Peter Jackson’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ trilogies. Take the most memorable pictures in authentic replica props amid the breathtaking mountain and forest scenery of North and South Islands.  
Hobbiton, New Zealand

South Island

Adrenaline rush for the young at heart

When you find yourself in the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown, you are sure to undertake one of the many exhilarating activities. Your included Scenic Freechoice Dart River Safari will highlight awe-inspiring World Heritage-listed scenery, taking you on a breathtaking wilderness jet-boating adventure and introducing you to the region’s rich Maori heritage. 

While on the Scenic Freechoice Shotover Jet Adventure, hold tight as your driver skilfully whips past rocky outcrops and through narrow inlets for one of the world’s most exciting jet boat rides. You can also choose to explore the Skippers Canyon gold mining area in 4WD minibus for a dramatically different scenery.  
Dart River Jetboating, South Island, New Zealand

Famous wines

South Island is home to New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc capital, Marlborough. The region produces 90% of the country’s Sauvignon Blanc wines and is a must-visit for wine lovers. The first vines in Marlborough were planted over a century ago and today the wine country also produces fruity Chardonnays and crisp Riesling. 

Choose an included Scenic Freechoice wine tasting tour of Marlborough to sample the country’s famous white wine variety and stroll through the sprawling estate of lush green vineyards amidst ocean fringed rugged scenery.  
Scenic Freechoice, wine tasting, South Island, New Zealand

Natural wonders

Milford Sound is the most famous natural wonder of South Island. Known as Piopiotahi to the Maori, this stunning fiord was carved by an ancient glacier over millions of years. Scenic’s leisurely Milford Mariner cruise will give you ample time to soak in the pristine environment, as you capture the reflections of the surrounding mountains and forest, on the glasslike waters and drift past picturesque waterfalls. To fully appreciate the beauty of the eighth wonder of the world, your cruise docks overnight in Milford Sound – a Scenic Special Stay – so that you can explore by kayaks as well as wake up to its breathtaking beauty.  

Later, take an optional helicopter* flight over Franz Josef or Fox Glacier and experience the wonder of a landing on an actual glacier. For a truly otherworldly experience, Scenic will take also you to Te Anau caves to view the large colonies of glow-worms, shimmering in the darkness.  
Milford Mariner Cruise, New Zealand South Island

Native wildlife

When in New Zealand, make time to view its rare native wildlife. From seals and sea lions to albatross and Fiordland crested penguin, a vast range of native species call New Zealand’s South Island home. Nevertheless, the one native species that piques everyone’s curiosity is the kiwi bird. These shy, endangered, flightless birds are rarely observed in the wild and your best bet to view them would be at a nature reserve.  

During a signature Scenic Enrich experience at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, you will learn about the passionate conservation work that is helping preserve New Zealand’s delicate ecosystem, as well as observe many of the country’s native wildlife up close, including the kiwi bird.  
New Zealand native wildlife, Echidna

*Additional charge. Please book prior to departure 

Our recommendation would be that you experience the whole of New Zealand, top to bottom and what both islands have to offer. Experience the extraordinary and so much more on a Scenic handcrafted journey to New Zealand – but don’t forget to pack your camera!