Give a North Islander some time off, and chances are they will head straight for the coast, a lake or a river. Even the most isolated spots are only a short distance from water, and the range of activities for locals and visitors is huge.
About 900,000 New Zealanders go fishing at least several times a year, and most of them live in the North Island. They may drop a line off a wharf, cast from a beach, or follow in the wake of the American writer Zane Grey and cruise out to deeper water in a fast launch to tag or catch a marlin or other gamefish.
The northeast of the island offers some of the best coastal sailing in the world, and in almost any weather yacht crews will cast off and head out to the protected waters of the Hauraki Gulf, the Bay of Islands or the Coromandel Peninsula.
There‘s almost as much activity under the water. The Poor Knights Islands off the Northland coast are one of the world‘s premier diving sites, but snorkellers and scuba divers descend all around the coast in search of crayfish or shellfish, or to explore reefs and wrecks.
The coast has its wild side, too, and surfers from around the world head to spots like Raglan and New Plymouth in search of long, clean waves. Just about every child at a surf beach catches waves on their boogie board, stopping only when a parent insists that it‘s their turn now. The distinctive sails of kiteboarders are becoming increasingly common in estuaries and bays.
The North Island‘s lakes and rivers have their own attractions. Trout fishermen head particularly for Taupo and Rotorua, but many other lakes and rivers are home to the prized fish. Rafters go in search of white water and rapids for their thrills, or head for Waitomo to float down underground streams on tubes or rafts.