Countries, cities and islands often do battle over who is the better, and it is no different for the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The former is often thought of as the rank outsider compared to its southerly neighbor, but no visitor to this spectacular country should ever forgo visiting the North Island.

Home to the majority of Maori villages and a breath-taking variety of wild beaches, there is plenty for visitors and cyclists to embrace on a trip here. While the South Island vaunts its adventurous side, you are in a prime spot to soak up history and culture in the North.

There is a far greater population of Maori in the North Island, meaning many more opportunities to absorb the fascinating culture. The 74 km (46 mi) Te Ara Ahi trail in particular will take you weaving through Maori villages on your way from the island’s luxurious thermal resort in Rotorua. Meeting the locals will afford you an excellent opportunity to hear the dialect, chow down on a feast and, of course, observe traditional songs and the intimidating world-renowned haka dance.

While not marveling at the local culture it’s always nice to relax; doing so in Rotorua is easy with its numerous bubbling mud and natural hot pools to soak away your aching joints.

Do not be fooled in thinking there is nothing to get the adrenaline pumping on the North Island. Waitomo’s spectacular glow worm caves are a must for exploring, and the possibility of black water rafting, zip lining, rock climbing and much more in this underground abyss is sure to satisfy thrill seekers.

If beaches are your thing then the North Island is where it’s at; there are numerous wild surf beaches too alluring to resist, particularly when you have pedalled a fair way and need to take a dip for some much needed relief.

The North’s variation is sure to get your blood pumping, chill you out and take you head first into a culture overload and introduce you to a side of New Zealand you cannot afford to miss.

Best Seasons:Sep - Jun
Popular Locations:The Te Ara Ahi trail, Hobbiton, Waitomo Caves, Rotorua