Those in-the-know are all too aware that the northern most region of New Zealand's North Island is one of its biggest drawcards. This pristine stretch of subtropical land is a veritable playground for those that seek the sweet scent of fresh air and undisturbed sweeps of ancient kauri forests, beautiful beaches and indigo ocean waters. There's no doubt serenity is available by the bucket loads, but the call of adventure is just as strong. If you take your holiday with a healthy dose of adrenaline, you'll find more than one activity to get that heart rate up ...
Seeing a beach on the ground is all well and good, but how about seeing all of the beaches at once from the sky? There's no better view than that of a parasailing adventure, and there are plenty of spots that offer tours that will get you up in the air. 1,200 feet in the air, to be exact. Even better, it's an activity the entire family can participate in as most providers will accept passengers as young as five years old.
If parasailing just doesn't quite do it for you, up the thrill factor with a skydive. You'll strap yourself to a highly trained expert and ascend to the skies for a thrilling descent where feeling the wind in your hair is truly an understatement. With packages available from 9,000-, 12,000- and 16,000-feet, you can choose just how brave you want to be. The biggest reward (aside from knowing you had the courage to jump out of an airplane) is the amazingly beautiful views over the whole Bay of Islands area.
One of the highlights of the Bay of Islands are the cheerful dolphins that bound through the ocean waters. Set out on a cruise to find these playful creatures, spotting their pods swimming through the water. If you're a keen swimmer, tours are available that allow you to spot them from the water. Tours are great for the whole family, though there are age restrictions on getting in the water.
There's something to be said for leisurely skimming the waters through the Bay of Islands to enjoy the scenery as you sip a glass of champagne. Such cruises are certainly available, but if you want to up the ante, island adventure cruises are the way to go. Setting out in a smaller, faster vessel, you'll be able to get to the remotest reaches of the Bay of Islands, going right up to the shorelines, with options available that include walking tours or cliff and hidden cave adventures.
Northland's beauty doesn't stop with it's beautiful islands and ocean vistas. There is just as much awe-inspiring scenery to take in under the water's surface. In fact, many experienced divers consider Northland to be one of the best diving spots that New Zealand has to offer. Get under the water at the Poor Knights Island Reserve off Tutukaka Coast for clean and clear waters that reveal dive wrecks, drop-offs and colourful sub-tropical reefs.