It's not hard to see why New Zealand is a staple on the Gap Year circuit. Breathtaking scenery around every corner, more activities than you can shake a Kiwi bird at*, and a total lack of terrifying creatures wanting to kill you (sorry Australia, we're looking at you) combine to make it a must-visit destination.
*Not that you'd ever actually shake a Kiwi bird. Jesus, you're not a monster.
But while the South Island has been visited by pretty much every backpacker since the beginning of time (just say the words 'Ferg Burger' to anyone who went travelling and watch their reaction), some tend to miss out on the (much warmer) North Island.
This, in the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, is a big mistake. Huge. Why? Allow us to explain.
It may sound like a cliché, but there really is something for everyone oop North - whether you're looking to chill out on a gazillion glorious beaches, enjoy city life in Auckland, or marvel at GIANT Kauri trees in the lush rainforest.
It's also a thrill seeker's DREAM, with countless activities to get the heart-pumping, the blood-flowing, and your mum saying 'oh darling, be careful' every time you Skype her.
Here's 5 we tried out on a recent trip to NZ's glorious North:
Sky Jump or Sky Walk (both equally terrifying) in Auckland
Auckland's distinctive Sky Tower isn't just for looking at, oh no - for those who like to live life on the edge, you can LITERALLY live life on the edge.
Choose between the Skywalk: inching around a narrow walkway 192 metres above the city, or the Sky Jump: NZ's only base jump by wire, which involves hurling yourself off the top and falling back down to Earth at 85km per hour.
It also makes you look a bit like a flying squirrel, which is kinda cool. Unless you have a chronic phobia of flying squirrels, but we're not sure that's a thing that exists.
Sea Kayak to Rangitoto Island and watch the sunset
You might wanna give your biceps, triceps, and any other arm muscles you possess a little pep talk ahead of this - trust us when we say they're gonna *feel* the hour and a half kayak each way to this island just off the Auckland coast.
We made the trip across with Auckland Sea Kayaks, which included an AWESOME steak dinner cooked by our guide when we arrived, a trek up a volcano (better include ya leg muscles in that pep talk) and a magical paddle back in the dark. FYI Singing Justin Bieber songs really makes kayaking much easier. Who knew?
Pro tip: Sky Jump in the morning and kayak in the late afternoon for a real jam packed day of fun.
Zipline on Waiheke Island
A short 45 minute ferry trip from Auckland will deposit you on the stunning shores of Waiheke Island. Known for its wineries (we had lunch at this one and it was aces), white sand beaches and sheltered bays perfect for swimming in, there's also the option to ramp things up a gear with EcoZip.
Y'know, if flying across the tree canopy like a majestic bird on a zip wire is something you're interested in. Which it should be.
Sand board on the Ahipara sand dunes
We're really not exaggerating when we say this is one of the MOST FUN THINGS we've ever done.
Not only will the awesome guides at Ultimate Sand Safaris - the only company who have an agreement with the Maori people to take tourists on these dunes - let you drive the buggies if you want, but you'll also speed down the huge golden dunes on boogie boards, just like this:
Oh and you can also seriously up your insta-game with vids and pics like this:
Sky Dive in the Bay of Islands
The ultimate adrenaline kick, no trip to NZ would be complete without hurling yourself out of a moving aeroplane, right? Ahem.
This jump at the Bay of Islands is pretty special though - it's not every day you get to gaze down upon crystal clear blue waters studded with islands from 16,000ft in the air.
So yes, if you're looking to play more every day, New Zealand is where it's at. Because everything is so super close, you waste very little time actually on the road (or in the air), and can pack in a whole lotta fun into whatever time you have.
Fancy it? STA Travel offers a 24-day New Zealand Encompassed package from £2229 per person including activities, accommodation, meals, a local guide and all transport between destinations and to/from activities.
Add on return economy flights from London Heathrow from just £575 per person. The tour starts in Auckland and finishes in Wellington.
Book now and travel before 30 June or between 07 November and 08 December 2016. To book please visit www.statravel.com, call 0800 988 0390 or visit one of the STA Travel stores.
You should also visit newzealand.com for loooooooads more info and inspiration.