This year has begun with a blast when finally one of my bucket list dreams came true in January. I was on an airplane flying to Auckland, New Zealand! All the hard work of planning and saving for this trip has finally came to an end. It’s was time to jump to an awesome adventure!

I was going to spend about 1 week on the North Island and 2 weeks on the South Island. I know it’s a lot in such a short time, but I was determined to make it happen. You should definitely spend more time in this beautiful country, if you have the chance. Both islands have long distances between the popular towns and sights, so prepare to drive a lot. Our goal was to keep the driving time to a maximum of 3 hours per day.

So what’s the difference between the North and the South Islands? And why you should visit both of them?
To get the feeling of the whole country, you should definitely visit both Islands. Yes they have some similarities between them, but to me, both of the Islands felt like a two own worlds. Here are the main differences between the Islands:

Climate

If you like spending time at the beach, you may consider the temperature between these two Islands. During summer time (from December to February), North Island’s average temperature is usually 20 degrees, but the South Island is colder (about 15 degrees). Of course temperatures may vary on the exact location. No matter which season you travel, there will be rain so make sure that you plan things to do on a rainy days too!

Civilization

If you love the big city vibes, North Island is for you. It’s three times more populated than the South Island. Auckland and Wellington are the biggest cities with international airport on the North Island. The South Island has one international airport in Christchurch.

Nature

New Zealand has it all! Waterfalls, green hills, golden and black sand beaches, lush rainforests, peaceful lakes, snowcapped mountains and so on. Make sure to visit at least one of twelve national parks when travelling to New Zealand.

North Island has interesting geothermal activity with the smell of sulphur in the air, a redwood forest, volcanoes like the famous Mount Ngauruhoe from the Lord of the rings movie and even cool caves with glowworms.

South Island has more dramatic views mainly because of the Southern Alps. Mountains are the highest in the whole country with beautiful layers of snow even during the summer. The South Island has glaciers, mystical fern forests that make you feel like you’re in a Jurassic Park movie, turquoise lakes and rich wildlife with rare penguins, dolphins, seals and even native alpine parrots called Keas.

Sights and activities

Nature is not the only thing why you should travel to NZ. In the North Island you can experience

  • Maori culture
  • Popular Tongariro alpine crossing hike
  • Wine tasting
  • Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the rings movie at Matamata
  • Zorbing
  • Black water rafting in Waitomo
  • Soak in the hot thermal baths
  • Visit Alphra lavender fields

South Island has Queenstown, which is the adventure capital of the word. Whatever you can come up with, you can do it in here.

  • Rent a kayak and have fun
  • Try extreme sports like paragliding, bungy jumping, jet boating or skydiving
  • Fly on a helicopter
  • Hike on a glacier
  • Skiing is a good option too

Which Island is your favorite? In the next post I will write about my adventure in the North Island of NZ.