15 OCT 2018: On an island where you're more likely to encounter grazing sheep than humans, the nature scenes are definitely a big bonus. That's because New Zealand – a pint-sized nation compared to the behemoth neighbour across the Tasman Sea – packs in sunshine, splendid sea views, and homegrown solitude, the kind that's luring one particular newlywed Royal Couple to hopefully tour some action-packed areas on North Island.

Known for its volcanic activity, national parks and cosmo cities, North Island is home to the country's largest city of Auckland. An added plus - three magnificent touring routes: The Thermal Explorer Highway, The Pacific Coast Highway, and the Volcanic Loop are ideal as 7-9 day road trips, offering some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand.

Representatives from New Zealand's Explore Central North Island educated and inspired a group of trade and leisure media on the largest, oldest and newest wonders in the southern hemisphere.

Travel reps from Destination Rotorua, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism, Destination Great Lake Taupo, Visit Ruapehu,Tourism Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay Tourism shared their regional stories.  In addition, five tourism operators (Adfrift Tongariro, Chris Jolly Outdoors, White Island Tours, Volcanic Air Safaris and Tree Walk Rotorua) also were keen. 

And if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, don't get a chance to experience some of these areas during their upcoming tour on October 30 (for us it'll be on October 31) Travel Industry Today has compiled a must-see list of things to do.

White Island/Whakaari

Patrick O'Sullivan, the general manager of a long-standing tour company, has no fear entering the country's only active marine volcano.  The intrepid traveller has taken countless tours over the past decade.

Around for 27 years, White Island Tours promises exceptional original experiences. Groups of up to 45 participants can embark on a sea-land voyage sailing from either Tauranga or Rotorua, (sussing out marine life along the way) then transferring onto a zodiac that stops you at the edge where clients offload to start the thrill of a lifetime. “With the majority of the volcano sitting beneath the sea it means we are able to disembark directly into the crater complex – no mountain climbing required,” he says matter-of-factly on what sounds like an easy-peasy amble. Sitting 49km off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, this is one of the world’s most accessible live volcanoes.
Trip time: 5 hours

Redwoods Treewalk

Bruce Thomasen from Redwoods Treewalk, an out-of-this-world tree top tour in Rotorua has a glow-in-the-box tree tour by night. Picture colourful spotlights and 2.5 metre tall lanterns suspended on 117-year-old Redwoods by the blissfully peaceful Whakarewarewa Forest. It packs in big Wows. Called Redwoods Nightlights, it's New Zealand's first design led tourism experience. Unfortunately Prince Harry and Meghan I'm told won't have a chance to experience the nightly attraction.

The Royal Couple will likely arrive in the afternoon at the mountain biking trail to meet with local youth. Given any chance to meet Prince Harry, Thomasen has chosen his topic of discussion. “We're going to talk about the ancient forest,” he enthuses.  

Bay of Plenty: 'It's in Our Nature'

The new brand identity is “It's in Our Nature,” covering the wild natural environment and the spirit of those who live there.

Denise Siviter, trade marketing manager for Tourism Bay of Plenty, suggests Waihi Beach, a 9-km stretch of sand revered as a safe surf beach and home to a bustling beachside community for a Royal break. “It's somewhere where they can put their feet in the sand.”

They might not find the lost Eighth Wonder of the World, a.k.a. The Pink and White Terraces, any time soon, but clients are in for super sights and connecting with locals along the way. In 1886 a super volcano erupted causing the largest silica sinter deposits on earth to vanish. The whereabouts of the Pink and White Terraces, once New Zealand's most famous tourist attraction, remains a mystery.  

Destination Great Lake Taupo

Another Made in New Zealand trek is over to the largest volcanic lake in Australasia. Great Lake Taupo, roughly the size of Singapore is really an ancient crater that resulted when one of the largest volcanic eruptions occurred, over five millennia ago.  

For Royal fans and clients interested in outdoor luxury accommodations, Karen Rainbow, business events and trade manager with Destination Great Lake Taupo, says there's one place fit for a Queen. Huka Lodge, a 1920s classic (originally a fishing lodge) now lures naturalists and outdoor lovers. “The Queen comes here,” she divulges as she describes New Zealand's original luxury lodge.

Located near Huka Falls and scenic Lake Taupo, the remote luxury property invites you to a world where hospitality meets sophistication and style. Ideal for soft adventures, clients have a range of options including golf, trout fishing, helicopter rides, scenic boat cruises, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking. Also take garden tours and partake in the finest stargazing.

Another stargazing favourite: Poronui, an eco-luxe retreat. Located in the backcountry above the Taharua River there's a special place in the heart of all New Zealanders who enjoy hunting, hiking and “going bush.”

In the foothills of the Kaimanawa Mountain Range, Poronui imbibes true wilderness. Inquire about the honey making connection using Manuka flowers. Of course, fly fishing, horseback riding; mountain biking and guided property tours are also popular.

Oh, to be in New Zealand on October 30. What will the stars profess on the night of our Hallows Eve? It's anybody's guess on this island of hot spots and volcanoes.

For more details see: Explore Central North Island

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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